Children are natural artists. They will sketch and color on just about anything if left to their own devices. They don’t typically need encouragement to be artists (unless somewhere along the line they got the notion in their heads that they were NOT good at drawing – this is usually from an outside influence, and will take a lot of coaxing to correct – BUT, that is a totally different post 😉 ).
Obviously, we need to set boundaries for a child’s artistry (so they don’t draw on the walls!), but we most definitely should allow for creativity in our school day. Having art supplies at the ready is a must for any homeschool!
I have a unique situation in that I have a lot of kiddos of varying ages needing art supplies and a small space in which to store them – the art supplies, that is. 😉 Here are some of my favorite art supplies and ideas for small spaces and large families.
Large Family Art Supplies
Keeping art supplies on hand for the large family can be a full time job! I just discovered yesterday, my stock of glue sticks was frighteningly low, and I JUST bought a stash of them from our local store!
Years ago, I found a wonderful place to buy massive quantities of high quality supplies. In fact, I only had one child in school when I discovered Discount School Supply. When my son was 5, I placed a big order, and some of those supplies JUST ran out last year! That’s 12 years of stock! And I can honestly say the products were just as good 12 years later as they were when I first purchased them. (just typing all that brings me back to those early years of homeschooling…*sniff*…time goes so quickly)
So, let me give you a few suggestions from the Discount School Supply website that are large family friendly – you can click the pictures to see more information about them.
Pretty much anything you need art-wise can be purchased there for a great price!
Storage and Organization of Art Supplies
In our home, art supplies are kept in a few different areas. My recommendation for separating out art supplies would be based on RULES OF USAGE. In our house, there are 3 different Rules of Usage –
1. Anyone can use any time.
2. Only some can use any time.
3. Supervised use only.
Anyone can use any time – Under our bookshelves, we have supplies I am okay with the children using on a daily basis without needing to ask.
I love using the plastic containers you find at the store for around a $1 to fill with supplies. I have a larger open one for pencils, erasers, and sharpeners (to allow for easy access), and several smaller closed ones for crayons, colored pencils, and markers (to allow for ease of transport).
I used to keep individual boxes for each child when I only had 4 children using supplies. I bought each child their “color” and wrote each of their names on the lid. However, now that there are 7 children using supplies, I haven’t found this method to be the best choice. Instead, I have 4 crayon boxes, 1 colored pencil box, and 1 marker box that are able to be used communally. The markers (even though they are shown in this photo) are not allowed in this area. My daughter accidentally put them there when she was cleaning up.
Notebooks make up the main paper supply for this area because they are tidy. The children are allowed to use loose paper from time to time, but that falls into the next category…
Only some can use any time – The markers, loose paper, scissors, glue, and the more expensive art supplies belong in this group. I have these items on top of the bookshelf in the dining room in totes. My oldest daughter also has her own stash of expensive pencils, colored pencils, and charcoals in a locked box in her room. These were either gifts or purchases she made on her own, so they are “hers” and do not belong to the community at large.
Supervised use only – The supervision-only items are on the top shelf of my closet in a bag I can easily pull down. These items include seasonal art supplies we do during the holidays. I keep pipe cleaners and coffee filters, beads, and glitter in this bag, along with anything else that I would not want to be used without my permission. I also keep paints and the bulk items I mentioned above on this shelf.
How to Incorporate Art into Your Homeschool
I believe art belongs in nearly every aspect of your homeschool From your nature studies to history to math and beyond, I believe sketching and adding color to your work is a great way to truly enjoy studying as long as your child doesn’t get wrapped up in the artistic side to the detriment of their studies. Don’t be afraid to let your child doodle while you teach or color their workbook after their lessons are finished. I always allow notebooks and pencils during Tapestry of Grace time, and I do not get wrapped around the axle over doodles in their math books.
I also think it is important to teach some formal art to give your child the tools to create something beautiful with a certain amount of mastery. I recommend using an art program that incorporates many ages and stages and does not require a ton of extra supplies. We use Art Class from See the Light Art. You can read my full review HERE. It spans the ages well with short lessons, solid instructions, and doable art projects that are beautiful!
Saving Art Projects
Every parent I know wonders how they are going to keep all the lovely art their child creates. Nearly every day, one of my children creates something that is super cool and something I would love to keep, but with a large family, these amazing works of art quickly become clutter. That’s why I LOVE the Keepy App. I can have as many children on the app as I want and all I have to do is snap a photo, add a few words about the project, and I am free to throw away the original. Yes, I do keep some REALLY phenomenal works of art, but those are few and far between and go into a file in the filing cabinet.
Unique Ways to Acquire Art Supplies
The last thing I want to address is how you can gather art supplies. The only word of caution I have here is that in the acquiring of supplies, be sure they don’t become clutter and chaos.
Make art supplies a gift – My 4 year old got a big stash of art supplies for his birthday. Most of these became community supplies because at his age, sharing is fun, but you can allow each child a small tote that is just their own. Ask for art supplies as gifts or give them yourself – they are consumable and always welcome!
Recycle – Boxes, packing paper, jars, yarn, ribbon, sticks, and so much more can easily become art mediums. The rule in our house is that you get to play with recycled items for a one day and then they must go to the trash (unless the thing created is well-constructed and will last a long time without becoming a big mess – example: the dollhouse my daughter made from a cardboard box).
Garage Sales – One of the best garage sale finds I made when my two oldest kids were little was a huge bag of notepads! You will often find these types of things grouped together and selling for little to nothing. You might also find some more specialized supplies, but be certain you NEED them before you buy, and be certain the quality is worth the cost. Low quality crayons and other supplies just aren’t worth it no matter how cheap.
Deconstructed Items – Search the term “UPCYCLE ART SUPPLIES” on Pinterest and you will find a treasure trove of ideas! Take a gander at the ideas there and start to see ordinary items in a new light.
No matter how you do art in your home, let it be free-flowing and fun! This isn’t a time to be strict and structured, and criticism needs to take a hike. In fact, I would even encourage mama to sit down and create alongside her children. Color, cut and paste, and enjoy the time with your children! You want art to be something your child has fond memories of!