Rev Up Your Child’s Art-Making Practice with 10 Household Items


Are your art-making invitations to your child met with unenthusiastic groans? Is the box full of broken crayons and unsharpened colored pencils not sparking joy for them? Looking for ways to reinvigorate your art-making at home? I know I am! Look no further than items you already have all over your home–in the kitchen, bathroom, junk drawer— you name it. These are all items I have tried and tested as a mom of two and an early childhood art educator. Here are ten items to spice up your art-making routine and reuse and recycle.


Fly swatters dipped in paint encourage experimentation and movement.


  1. Cotton swabs: Use this bathroom superhero as a substitute for a paintbrush. It makes for the perfect dotter and, as a plus, can be tossed at the end of the experience for easy clean up.
  2. Cardboard tubes: Where do I begin? Turn them into binoculars. Press them into paint and stamp out circles. Roll them into paint and create new patterns and lines. Cover them in paper and drawings to create puppets. I could write a whole post about the versatility of this item!
  3. Fly swatter: Bring on the action art. Take this one outside, but once you do, you might not get this back from your kids. The process of dipping them into paint and smacking them onto paper is addicting!
  4. Plexiglass: Have an old photo frame lying around with the plexiglass still inside? Use it as a clear painting surface for a fun twist, or use it to create monoprints. Cover the plexi in paint with a roller or brush and use a dry brush or Q-tip to carve out designs. Press paper onto the plexi and watch as your print appears.
  5. Lazy Susan: This kitchen or dining room object can easily be covered in paper (brown bags work great!) and used as a drawing prompt. Set out markers, colored pencils, pastels, or whatever you have. Spin the wheel while you place a drawing instrument on the paper and watch your dizzying designs.
  6. Balls and cars: Raid the toy box for small balls and cars. Plop them in some paint and roll them over a large piece of cardboard or paper. This takes playtime to a whole new level!
  7. Styrofoam: Don’t toss that packing material just yet! Give this material a new life in the form of a sculpture. Poke wires, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks into the styrofoam to create an interesting sculpture. Then paint or draw your surface to add color and details.
  8. Bubble wrap: Same goes for bubble wrap! Cover a smaller piece of cardboard in bubble wrap and then brush it with paint. Press your homemade stamp onto paper and experiment with repeating patterns.
  9. Egg cartons: These make for wonderful paint palettes and sculptural material. Paste a bunch of them to a large piece of cardboard or paper and prop it upright for a textural painting experience!
  10. A fence: You might be thinking, um, what now? Have a fence in your yard, school, or community with holes or openings? Enter weaving! Bring out yarn, fabric, ribbons, or streamers and weave designs in and out of the openings. If the fence isn’t yours, no problem. Just remove the items when you’re done!


Lazy susan drawings encourage collaboration and teamwork.


What unusual items do you like to use for art-making with your child?