Follow the directions below to make your own craft center.
For the base of our craft operations, we used a basic 3- by 4-foot bookcase. You could use a cabinet, part of a larger bookcase, or a rolling cart instead.
The clear plastic bin is our storage unit of choice. One large bin holds bulky felt and fabric scraps; another holds coloring supplies--crayons, colored pencils, markers, and chalk--further divided into labeled ziplock bags.
Smaller bins hold themed supply sets, all further divided into labeled bags: clay (modeling clay, cookie cutters, rolling pin); string (embroidery floss, plastic lanyard, yarn, twine); paint (watercolor sets, small tubes and bottles of acrylics, powdered tempera paints); and so on.
Tall, clear plastic jars are best for collections of uniform materials such as pom-poms or pipe cleaners.
A shower caddy makes for a durable paint bottle holder. Hang smocks on the washcloth hooks.
In/out boxes let you store paper, card stock, and sheets of craft foam in individual slots.
Fill the bottles of a spice rack with glitter, googly eyes, buttons, beads, shells, confetti, and other tiny materials.
Put a lazy susan to work holding glue, tape, and other often-used items.
Attach a paper towel holder where your kids can reach it with grubby little hands.
A cutlery tray provides open-air storage for still-damp paintbrushes.
A large basket holds miscellaneous recyclables, like egg cartons, empty bottles, and packing materials--the kind of bulky stuff that has "craft project" written all over it, but no particular assignment.
Every successful craft center abides by the following organizing principles:
A place for everything. The system lets kids easily find what they're looking for, and easily return it.
Like prefers like. Similar supplies are kept together so kids can hunt logically for needed items.
Show what's there. Neat labels or transparent containers let kids see what materials are available and thus visualize a project.
Maintain as you go. The center is kept orderly. Supplies are restocked, refilled, recycled, or discarded. Bins are relabeled as their contents change.
Magnetic knife strip: Keep scissors and hole punchers from straying.
Tackle boxes: The clear ones offer mini compartments just right for beads and jewelry findings.
Old shower curtain: Use as a floor cloth under the work area.
Recyclables: Diaper wipe boxes, margarine tubs, egg cartons, small jars, and bottles can be used to store everything from beads and sewing supplies to half-finished projects and modeling kits.
Skirt hanger: Use one to easily store a dozen of your child's works in progress.