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Organizing Craft Supplies

If you do crafts with children, it's a tremendous help to have your supplies well organized. When your craft supplies are easy to find, you'll be more inclined to get creative when you have time for a project.

It may be helpful to have two separate craft storage areas. Designate one for supplies to be used with supervision and one for supplies kids can use freely. If you store your supplies in a bookcase or cabinet, for example, put free- use craft supplies on lower shelves and other supplies on higher shelves.

When it comes to storing supplies, plastic bins can't be beat. They're inexpensive, come in many different sizes, and are easy to keep clean. Medium-sized bins with handles are easy for kids to carry and put back on their own, which is important if your crafting location is different than your storage location. If supplies will be stored out in the open, you may prefer attractive storage baskets with handles.

Before you shop for craft storage make a list of the supplies you have. This will make it easier to find the right storage options for each item. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Paper: Paper can be one of the most difficult supplies to store neatly. Kids rummage through the stack looking for just the right color, usually leaving a mess behind. Try storing paper in a three tier paper organizer. You can use one tier for construction paper, one for drawing paper, and another for cardstock. Put out just a few sheets at a time to control the mess.

Colored Pencils/Markers: Store markers in a lidded bin with a handle for easy toting. If your child leaves the caps off, store them out of reach to preserve your sanity. Crayons and colored pencils fit nicely in an inexpensive plastic pencil box or upright in a coffee can.

Other tools: Scissors, rulers, hole punches, glue sticks, and tape can be stored in a utensil caddy with one type of item per compartment. The caddy makes the tools portable and the supplies easy to find. Keep only a couple of each item in the caddy. Store extras in another location to minimize loss and waste.

Small Craft Items:Sequins, beads, wiggly eyes, and other small items can be stored in clear spice jars. Add a label to the lid of the jar to make it easy to find what you're looking for. Store the jars in a plastic bin or small spice rack. Larger items such as pipe cleaners, pompoms, feathers, and craft sticks can be segregated in labeled containers or storage bags.

Paint. Keep paint jars and paint palettes together in one large bin. Stash a jar or coffee can inside the bin to store paintbrushes. Keep a basket of smocks (or old t-shirts) nearby.

Ribbon/String: Toss these in a lidded box to contain the mess, or mount a tension bar inside a bookshelf to hold spools of ribbon. Kids will be able to cut off what they need without removing the whole spool.

Other supplies. If you save Styrofoam trays, coffee cans, magazines, paper towel tubes, and other items for the kids to craft with, designate a large box for extra supplies. As you come across things you think might come in handy for a craft, just toss it in the box.

A neat, well organized craft area is a pleasure to use. It also makes it easier for kids to help with cleanup and lets you see at a glance when supplies need replenishing.

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