We keep a large plastic container in the corner of our family room. At first glance, it might seem like it is full of trash. Inside the box, plastic soda bottles, egg cartoons, and empty mint tins crowd for space. This is not trash though, this is our project box.
The kids know that they can paw through the box and use whatever they find. I like not having to search for empty cartons and containers when they are inspired. I also like the physical limit of the box. It can only hold so much. That way I don’t end up with cabinets exploding with egg cartons and grocery sacks and shoe boxes. If the box is already overcrowded, I don’t feel guilty about throwing an egg carton away.
What else goes in the project box? Buttons. Leftover papers from a collage or scrapbooking project. Scraps of denim from making a cover for the sofa. Leftover beads and ribbon from when we made beaded bookmarks for Christmas. Right now we have colorful feathers and tiny bits of mosaic paper that I found on clearance at the craft store. We also have bits of telephone wire we found on a walk. Other things we’ve had are felt scraps, tea tins, pipe cleaners, postcards, greeting cards, lids to bottles, broken crayons, outdated business cards, bits of yarn, bottle caps, socks without mates, shoelaces, and rocks.
You should of course make sure that the things in your box are age appropriate and be safety conscious. For example, if my children were still very young, I wouldn’t include buttons or rocks that they could swallow.
I love seeing the inventions and art projects the boys come up with when they dig through the project box. They’ve made spaceships and clocks, banks, traps for leprechauns, and once an RV for some plastic dog toys. I like the open ended-ness of the project box. There’s no right or wrong projects here, no ideal craft project – just an opportunity for children to use their imagination and to create.
More on creating and using scraps: