If you understand that it’s important for you to provide and encourage your child’s creativity by providing materials but just can’t manage all those messy supplies, welcome to the club. While I don’t claim to be an expert in organising (expert? you must be kidding), I’ve tried different strategies to organise his art and science supplies and have finally settled for a method that works for both me and my son.
My son’s creative supplies were always fully accessible to him even when he was a toddler (age specific materials), but…
- We could not contain the mess at all. Things were scattered everywhere making it difficult to find one when he needs it. I also didn’t have a system where I can teach him to clean up after himself.
- My son’s play room is also his bed room and I do not want the space to be messed up. Every science project my son plans involves mixing up smelly potions (he loves to mix things up and experiment) and it’s not fun to send him to bed in a room that smells of vinegar.
- I tried moving his creativity centre to a room that is easy to clean so I wouldn’t mind a mess, like a kitchen corner or the laundry room. But as the saying goes “out of sight, out of mind”, very soon, he had totally forgotten his creativity supplies and was content with playing in his room without them!
After researching a dozen different articles about organising kids art supplies, I put our creativity centre on wheels. That way,
- My son could just push the cart around the house where it needs to be for a particular kind of project.
- Since everything has it’s own space inside the cart, it’s easier for him to put things back after using them.
- It can go home to his bedroom when the activity is done.
I already had a trolley storage cart for many years and so I just decided to use it.
Fine tuning the details
Next, I had to figure out how to use the precious space I had found. It was very tempting to fill it up with attractive art materials. But knowing my son is not big on art, I had to restrict the space to only the most essential art materials, ones he loves to use and the ones I want him to use to encourage creativity. I decided to include his science lab equipment and materials in the cart too. My cart had 4 bins, so I dedicated 2 each.
While every child’s creativity centre must be personalised differently, some ideas or guidelines would help. Here’s what we have in my son’s creativity centre right now:
Making the most out of the space
It does sound like too long a list of things to fit inside a small cart like this. But most of the art supplies are fewer in quantity though there are more varieties. Here are some tips to save space:
Small items like pompoms, googly eyes and confetti are contained in small candy cases.
- I give him very few papers of each kind/colour at a time. Which means that he is more likely to try different types of paper instead of wasting them. But it also means that I will have to check and replenish stock every now and then.
- Most drawing supplies are placed in transparent a5 size pouches (I picked them up for ¢90 each from Popular Bookstore here in Singapore). They are very convenient, space saving and the transparency make them easier to find and take out.
The bottom bin which has all the science lab equipments also has my son’s own small cleaning kit. He uses the mini broom and dust pan for dry items and the rags and spray bottle (with water) for all wet mess. Well, I wouldn’t say I could just let him clean by himself, many times he creates more mess unknowingly by trying to clean up. But I use this to teach responsibility.
The mini vacuum cleaner is an added advantage and son loves to use it. Most stubborn waste, like spilt glitter gets super clean easily!