Creative & Simple Activities For Kids

Written by monthly contributing writer, Michele at Frugal Granola.

My children love it when I announce, “It’s project time!” (And I love giving them simple, supervised outlets for their creativity, instead of discovering they’ve emptied out all the soap in the bathroom or honey in the pantry…)

I keep a simple stash of art supplies; nothing too fancy or extensive. We regularly replace items as they get used up (such as crayons. glue, or paper), but most supplies (such as small bottles of paint or glitter) last quite awhile- as long as they’re safely stored away from little hands.

Your list could certainly be even shorter than mine, and you would still be well-equipped for some creative fun! These are just the items we’ve gathered over the years, often from thrift stores or gifts.

Our Creative Supply List:

  • Crayons (including “chunky” ones for toddlers)
  • A few small bottles of Acrylic Paint or Watercolor Paint (mostly primary colors)
  • Watercolor and/or Colored Pencils
  • Pens & Pencils (plus a sharpener and eraser)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Markers (we rarely use these, actually)
  • Chalk (Try making your own with this Pavement Chalk recipe!)
  • Paper (Doodle Paper, Colored Paper, and Watercolor Paper)
  • Old Magazines (used for collages)
  • Glitter
  • Glue Sticks & Liquid Glue
  • Child-Safe Scissors
  • Beeswax
  • Fabric Scraps & Yarn/Ribbon
  • Felt
  • Art Smocks or Aprons
  • Grass Seed or Flower Seeds
  • Rubber/Foam Stamps (Or, make your own stamps with potatoes, celery, broccoli, apples, etc.)
  • Washable Placemats (homemade with paper collages covered in clear contact paper)
  • Pantry Items: Natural Food Coloring, Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch, Essential Oils, Salt, Cream of Tartar
  • Outside Items (gathered by children as needed): Flowers, Leaves, Rocks, Acorns, Wood Pieces

Here are a few of our recent favorite projects:

Play Slime

Based on this “Clean” Play Slime Recipe, we mixed up a batch using arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, since that is what I had on hand. My daughter wanted purple slime, so we mixed in some natural food coloring (reinforcing that “blue & red make purple”), and she also put in several drops of essential oil.

Homemade Recycled Crayons

You can see my post on these at Frugal Granola, where we gathered up all our random crayon pieces on a rainy day. They are the perfect size for little hands! We followed the instructions from Make & Takes.

Painted Rocks

My daughter loves gathering rocks from outside, and I gave her some acrylic paint to decorate a few. We also added a bit of glitter at the end, along with a few googly eyes & sequins (a gift from a librarian friend). I started just with primary color paints, and we practiced making secondary colors to decorate the rocks. She had so much fun making up names & characters for her rocks!

Some other versions of Rock Crafts:

Homemade Gluten-Free Playdough

We have our recipe, along with color/scent combination ideas at Frugal Granola. This is the most-requested project in our home!


We were inspired by these lovely Finger Knitted Flowers.

As we get ready for the new school year to begin, I’ve been preparing a list of new creative projects, along with our school plans. I keep my ongoing inspiration links at Pinterest, where I can refer to them as I make my plans.

Some future project ideas on my list are:

What are your children’s favorite creative activities?

About Michele

Michele and her husband Calvin live a simple & sustainable life in rural Washington with their two- going on three- (busy!) little ones at Hampton Creek Inn. She takes joy in the daily ministry of delving into creativity, traditional homemaking & hospitality, homeschooling in everyday moments, and smooching her husband in the woods. Michele loves encouraging women and equipping them for frugal, natural living through her blog, Frugal Granola.

9 Responses to Creative & Simple Activities For Kids

  1. jenney September 8, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    THANK YOU for the gluten free playdough recipe. I have a gluten-free child, and have a Celiac child in my Sunday School class.

  2. Charise September 7, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Wow!! How amazing!! I was just thinking this afternoon that I needed to find a gluten-free playdough recipe for my son and I get your e-mail the very same day. Fantastic!! Can’t wait to give it a whirl!!!!!!

  3. Susie September 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Painted rocks…..we did that one year with our young sons. I had the bright idea of them making paperweights for their grandparents as inexpensive Christmas gifts. They turned out great! What I didn’t take into consideration was the fact that mailing rocks 2/3 of the way across the U.S. could be a little pricey…. LOL

    Anyway, great post!!

  4. Wall Paper Borders September 7, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    This is a great article, im going to do the clean slime you linked to. We recently put up a whole bunch of wallpaper around the house and the kids loved sticking each other with the glue. It was a project after the project getting them clean :D

  5. Jessie @ Blog Schmog September 7, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Oh my goodness you are awesome~ Thank you, thank you. I am so not good at simple, little kid friendly fun. Strange admission since I have five little kids. :) I’m counting the days till they are teens-seriously weird I know.

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola September 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

      Yes, it can be challenging to find creative projects for the little ones sometimes, where they don’t have to wrestle with too many new skills (such as scissors) or turn it into body art (such as markers). :)

      Have fun!

  6. Stacy September 7, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    These are great ideas! I know my kids love doing some of these things too.

    I’m always amazed at how long kids can play with playdoh. it keeps them busy for such a long time. And it’s often better than leaving them unoccupied (when they tend to get into mischief!)

  7. Rebecca September 7, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    Thanks for this post! I am always on the look out for things to do with my four boys. Painted rocks sounds fun! I think we’ll try it!