Updated: Oct 19, 2021
As any parent knows, raising a child is EXPENSIVE. That's why I put together these tips to help parents save money while homeschooling too. Here's a list of the 10 things that I save in order to not only keep costs low but also teach kids important lessons about reducing waste in the environment.
Baby Food Jars
Baby food jars are great to save to use again in crafts. Not only are they they perfect size for little hands to hold but they have lids too. I use them to keep liquids in that otherwise might get really messy like paint or glue mixtures. They make clean up much easier too because if there is paint left over instead of tossing it or trying to pour it back into a bigger bottle I can just close the lid on the jar. This lets me buy paint in bigger jars like these and save money over all. Also there are TONS of crafts that reuse these so they are always a good thing to keep.
Egg cartons are great to save because they have so many uses! Kids can do sorting and counting activities in them. They are great for holding small items like beads and pom poms for crafts and there are lots of crafts that reuse egg cartons too. I will say these take up quite a bit of space so I'm always mindful of how many I keep however they are a great addition to any classroom.
Plastic Take out Containers
These food safe containers are my new best friend. They have locking lids that don't let things escape making them absolutely perfect for containing the small pieces that go with each of my center activities. Also the lids are clear so I can see what is in each container easily. I'm a huge fan of baskets for keeping things organized but almost every activity that I do needs something smaller that could fall out of the basket and that is where these containers come in. Give them a really good wash and let them try and they are great for keeping those small things contained.
This stuff is a great thing to keep for crafts! Not only does it just seemed to descend on my house, (hello holidays) but it also has colorful patterns that kids absolutely love to play with. Letting kids use it for projects or art can be a fun (and cheep) way to add a little bit of color to a board. This is always a keeper for me.
Greeting Card Fronts and Postcards
Before I throw away any of the cards I get I cut the picture off the front and save it. Kids love to use the colorful images for so many reasons, including as postcards to send to other family members! Just like wrapping paper the imagines can be repurposed in a ton of different ways and are worth holding onto. The thick cardstock that greeting cards are made from makes them easy to save as well. If there are small images on the card cutting them into small pieces and letting the kids use them as stickers with some double sided tape has also been a hit.
Toilet paper and Paper Towel Rolls
I save these simply because there are so many crafts that use them. That said, I have also saved TOO many of these and had a moment of wondering why there was no space left in my craft cabinet. My new rule of thumb is that I never keep more than enough for 2-3 crafts around since these are easily replaceable, but they are certainly worth keeping in small amounts.
Soda / juice bottles and milk jugs
There are about a billion ways that you can find on the internet to re-use these things for crafts or just to "upcycle" however like toilet paper rolls, I find that these seem to multiply when left in a cupboard without my attention too long. They also need a VERY good wash or they get stinky, so like toilet paper rolls they are worth saving only in small numbers. That said small children LOVE to use them for pouring activities and they do have some very fun crafts. I keep enough around for two crafts and then recycle the rest.
Bottle Caps / milk jug caps / juice bottle caps
Bottle caps however I always keep! Kids can use them for crafts but they also make great counters for math, hot glue a foam sticker to them and they become a DIY stamp (for almost no cost) and they are very easily cleaned. I have even done sensory bins that are just filled with bottle caps since kids seem to like the feeling of them so much. They also don't take up too much space, so these are worth keeping.
In an age where everything is shipped to us we get a lot of boxes so I'm a bit choosy about the boxes I decide to keep for any length of time. Generally I follow the same rule with the boxes as I do with the toilet paper rolls which is no more than enough for two crafts (sometimes one) because boxes take up a lot of space! Also I tend to keep things like tissue boxes over something like a big amazon box. While big boxes are amazing for imagination play you can always go and get them from your nearest big store when you want them. My experience has been any grocery store is more than happy to give kids a big box to play with, so be picky about the space in your house.
Things found in Nature
While I don't keep every rock that the kids stumble across, the really interesting things like flowers, acorns, interesting leaves etc. I do keep and put in the craft bin for them to use later. Kids love exploring these items that they find and they can be used for counting games and science experiments too. I have even sometimes grown the seeds that they find as part of learning about the natural world. The possibilities are endless and it really builds on the natural curiosity that kids have about nature.
These are the ten things that I keep in order to reduce the cost of crafts. What do you keep? Leave a comment and let us know!