Creative Kids: Making Do With What You Have

I’m off learning great things at a blogging conference this weekend, so I’d like to introduce Faigie Kobre to you all. She shares all sorts of creative kids goodness at  Edu Art 4 Kids, and she is my guest blogger for today!


What can I do with...?


Do you ever look at some of the materials you have at home and think “Hmmm! I’ll bet my kids could make something from that”?

If you do (and even if you don’t) you’ll find this post very helpful. It’s about using various materials you have around your house, in a very open ended manner, without a pre-determined idea of what they should make with the materials.

It’s a great activity to do with one child, a few children or even a whole group. We did this all summer long in our summer art camp a few years ago.

We found that there was some dead time when the children were coming in the mornings and we needed an activity for them to choose, that was not necessarily for the whole group at a time.

Even though our camp is very non craftsy and very creative focused, we decided to use this period to be even more open ended then we usually are.

We started by collecting all kinds of regular household materials. Each time the children only receive selected items.

Sometimes there was no rhyme or reason as to what we gave them but, other times I felt that certain materials would pair well with others. (For example…toothpicks go perfectly with styrofoam).

The instructions were for them to use the materials given to them ONLY. No going over to the shelves to get something else they felt they needed.

The point of this activity, as in many of the activities I give to children, was to get them to think.

Children create according to their developmental (often tied in with age) level. When they are allowed to create without following someone else’s model.

It is very hard to see if a child is at an appropriate level if they don’t get to do what they want in a controlled setting.

If a child is in the 5 or 6 yr old range and is delayed developmentally, then they usually are not thinking like a regular 5, 6 yr old and will perform at a lower level. (we sometimes can spot issues children have this way)

Below are some images of the material we presented to the children along with some images of what they created with them.

After the images I have a list of some ideas for you. These should only spark your own creativity to come up with your own ideas based on what you have at home.

Aluminum foil, scotch tape, crayons and markers


With all of these activities, when you work with a few different ages you get to see a wide array of efforts on the childrens parts.




Pieces of colored yarn and straws
(scissors were given as well to cut the straws)



Strips of construction paper, glue and scissors




Pieces of styrofoam, pipe cleaners and tooth picks


This larger one was actually created to be some sort of house.


This smaller one was more of experimentation with the materials.


In general, the older the children get, the more they will tend to do representational artwork. Since very young children should only be doing process only artwork (basically learning the materials and concentrating on process, not product) the more variety in materials you give them, the more they can experiment.

Once they learn the properties of the material they are working with, as they mature, they will know which materials will work for which projects.

Here are another few ideas of materials and combinations you can try with children:

  • Paper plates, yarn, hole puncher
  • Hole punchers, strips of paper, yarn and glue
  • Craft sticks and glue
  • Craft sticks, construction paper strips, cardboard pieces and glue
  • Buttons, yarn and glue
  • Buttons, craft sticks, tagboard, glue, string

Of course, you can adapt this list to any materials. It is important to vary the materials and sometimes make it a little hard for them so they have to think a little more.

When I recently gave some children a torn paper art activity and told them no scissors, it took them a minute to acclimate to this new reality but, they did just fine without them.

The one main ingredient you need to do this activity with kids is to be flexible. Whatever they make is fine and don’t expect anything representational. If they do make representation art, then you know you can give them lots more materials for them to create many more masterpieces.


Faigie Kobre is the owner of Edu Art 4 Kids. Her goal is to teach parents and teaches how to give children great art that makes them better learners. She has given many workshops in schools to teach teachers how to get away from cookie cutter, copycat crafts. She has 2 FREE reports that you can get here now. The first one explains in detail what exactly is wrong with copycat crafts and the other is a pdf of 6 great, non messy activities, that can be done over and over again and keep kids occupied for hours.

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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  1. It’s nice to see Faigie here! She did a wonderful post for me on 4 Surefire Ways to Develop Your Child’s Self Esteem. I did not realize that she also does art workshops. I love the idea of using stuff around your house. I am so bad at doing that. What wonderful results it yields!

  2. I like the freestyle approach that’s being taken here with creativity. This seems like a good idea to practice daily: just leave out a bowl of random household items (changing them out periodically) and when kids are in the mood for some unstructured, non-pressured creativity, let them have at it. It can be as simple or involved as they’re in the mood for, kind of like an adult’s version of doodling while on the phone or in a meeting.

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