Cheap Art Supplies

Low-cost (and free) ways to be Creative

recycling item

Looking for cheap art supplies? I can’t blame you since daycare providers by and large are not “raking in the money”. There are, however, lots of ways to find affordable art supplies so there is lots of creativity going on in your daycare.

Start by looking around your own home. Most people have crayons, paper and glue, ... some have yarn or bits of ribbon. Place any crafty items you find in a single container. Then, keep looking...

Many items that you would normally recycle should be at the top of your cheap art supplies list. These items can be used creatively in a multitude of ways. The following are great items to save for all types of art projects:

  • Milk Cartons
  • Plastic Bottles
  • Bathroom Tissue Tubes
  • Assorted Sized Cans
  • Baby Food Jars
  • Cereal Boxes
  • Small Plastic Fruit Baskets
  • Egg Cartons
  • Old Magazines
  • Plastic Bottle Caps
  • Paper Towel Tubes
  • Styrofoam Trays
  • Buttons from Old Clothing


While you are stocking up on the above items, use the following ideas for even more cheap art supplies.

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Shop at dollar stores, thrift stores and yard sales to find an abundance of craft supplies. All three are good sources for craft foam, glitter, yarn, fabric, pipe cleaners, buttons, and paper. At yard sales, especially, I’m always on the lookout for cheap art supplies. Thanks to summertime sales, I have a large box of art supplies and almost never need to buy new to create any project.

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Wait for the “after” holiday sales to stock up on seasonal crafts. Many times if you wait a few days you’ll be able to get great items for 75-90 percent off. You’ll have to wait a year to use them, but for those providers who provide care year after year it’s a big money saver.

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When school supplies go on sale, start shopping. Pencils, colored pencils, markers, crayons and glue are much more low-cost prior to school starting than any other time of the year. Take advantage of this fact and stock up.

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Start a wish list for parents. Let parents know (via e-mail, newsletter, bulletin board, or word-of-mouth) that you are looking for particular craft supplies. More often than not, parents will come through.

I had a parent stop in once to ask if I’d like a roll of paper. He had retrieved it from a dumpster at work and wondered if I would find it useful for my daycare. Of course, I said “sure”, and was stunned when he brought it in. Seriously, it was huge… with near daily use, that paper roll lasted well over a year. The best part was, the paper was perforated, so each piece of paper could be easily ripped off. Parents simply need to know that you are agreeable to accepting art supplies.



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Looking for step-by-step instructions to start your own successful home-based daycare?

Check out my START A DAYCARE section. An all-free list of articles to guide you every step of the way.

For even more helpful hints, take a peek into the DAYCARE TIPS area.

Visit the FREE PRINTABLES section to make planning daycare activities incredibly simple.

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