Alternative Art Materials

While it’s important to have good-quality art materials around, it’s also important (and fun) to look around for alternative materials of the free, recycled, and edible (yes, edible!) variety. Here are some ideas to get you started from The Creative Family (Trumpeter, 2008) by Amanda Blake Soule.

The Pantry
This makes a perfect opportunity to clean out any food that might be too old to eat (but not necessarily too old to play with). Think beyond pasta necklaces, and head for other grains, beans, and seeds. Think about color and texture as you pick your materials. Your chosen food can become the contents shakers, objects to be glued on paper or wood, or baubles to be strung.

There’s no greater source for materials that out in the world. Look for small rocks, leaves, acorns, bar, pine cones, and more. The hunt for material will become an adventure itself. These items, along with a bit of glue and paper or wood, can become a beautiful collection of mixed media art for your little ones.

Yes, you read that right. I mean garbage–or perhaps a little less frightening, the recycling bins. Take some inspiration from the great recycling artists out there and get creative with the stuff that you (or others) are getting rid of. Keep an art box for the kids full of random pieces that are otherwise headed for the trash: Old newspapers for papier-mache, and magazines and old calendars for collages.

Thrift Shop
Scour your local thrift shop or charity shop for alternative art materials at a good price. Dishes, fabric, leather–so many “thrifted” things can have a new life when you and your children put your creative minds to the task.


ANA MARIJA R4 years ago

Thank you.:)

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Still, I wouldn't like to be a child again.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

interesting ideas

May Howie
may Howie5 years ago


Lupe G.
Guadalupe G5 years ago

I implemented each of the ideas mentioned in art class for summer camp students. They loved the concept of reusing & being crafty & it kept my projects green & on a thrifty budget.

Zarka Mansuri
Zarka Mansuri6 years ago

I like the thrift shop idea, help others while helping yourself. :)

Erica D.
Erica D6 years ago

Great ideas! I do art journaling, and I never even thought to go to a thrift store to find supplies. But, now that you mentioned it, I think I will!

Valentina G.
Ve G6 years ago


Linda J.
Linda J6 years ago

Thanks for article.

Linda J.
Linda J6 years ago

Thanks for article.