It's fall, and winter is on the way — a time to sort, toss and save. Collecting and squirreling away supplies for artful indoor and outdoor fun with your kids in the months ahead can be a creative activity in itself.
If you have space, set aside an area in your home and call it the "Imagination Center": a place to create! Organize the big stuff in a large bin or box, and smaller "project parts," like ribbons, buttons and nature finds, along with craft-store items (crayons, paints, brushes, paper and glue) in easy-to-open and -close containers, jars and drawers.
Kids love tools, too, like hole punches, pliers, pencil sharpeners and staplers. And don't forget stuff from the toolbox and hardware store, like sandpaper, wire, nuts and bolts.
As you set up your crafty center, think with your children about how you can use ordinary things for something other than their intended use. When you look at your home through another filter, suddenly stuff headed for the recycle bin can take on amazing possibilities:
• Plain paper bags for making garlands and holiday wrapping paper
• Buttons and lace off old clothes for decorating doll clothes or for jazzing up a Halloween costume
• Blooper or unused printed family photos for designing personalized cards and posters
• Pine cones outside your door for creating miniature forest people and animals
• Ribbons off opened presents for colorful ties on baked-good gifts
• Yarn for stringing, trimming and tying anything
• Milk and juice jugs for birdfeeders
• Egg cartons and yogurt containers for sorting small stuff
• Tin cans for handy, attractive containers for paintbrushes, colored pencils and scissors.
Once you've gathered everything and you're ready to create and play, you can just dig in; pull out a bin for the large things and a drawer for the little things, and get to having fun.
MAKE BUSY BOXES
Put aside a box or two and designate and label with special themes for pretend play. Fill them with items related to the topic as you collect them and save for when friends come by. For example, fill one with items to play "supermarket," such as play money, empty food boxes and tote bags.