By Jessica Wilson Do your kiddos clamor for art fun? Need a distraction for them while you’re lunching it up with friends and/or family? Whip up an assortment of these nifty bento-style art kits and your wee ones will be golden! The key to a bento-style art kit is filling it with only enough supplies to do one or two different types of projects – I find that this focus tends to help kids dive more deeply into art-making. Switch out the supplies a couple of times a week, and hopefully your kiddos will be pleased with the novelty of it all.
Bento box Small glue stick Blank paper and paper scraps Child-sized scissors Tiny stapler Miniature paper cups/cupcake cups Soy sauce container, optional Small tins Ink pad Travel wet-wipes Various art supplies
Step 1: First you will need your bento box and other small containers. If you are lucky enough to have a Japanese Dollar-style shop in your town, wander in for a bento box or two and an assortment of accoutrements such as paper food cups and soy sauce bottles. You can, of course, use any plastic food container, but a bento box adds so much more color and is a bit cuter. The small size also makes it a challenge to fill, which usually results in sheer brilliance, don’t you think?
Step 2: It’s paper time. Paper, index cards, repurposed grocery bags, lunch bags, construction paper, newspaper, phonebook pages, wax paper, and tinfoil are just a few options. Whatever material you choose will need to be cut down in size to fit nicely in the bottom of your box. You won’t need to add too much paper – ten sheets is probably good. This box here will be a collage kit, so an odd assortment is a good thing. I have also included a small pile of paper scraps for cutting, tearing, and gluing.
Step 3: Now we need to add goodies for your kiddo to create with. Markers, crayons, colored pencils, and paints are a good place to start. This being a collage box, I’ll add a few colored pencils or crayons to make marks with, but the focus will be the glue and other doodads. Twist-ties are excellent for keeping crayons and such together.
A glue stick is the perfect adhesive for paper collaging. You can also add tiny rolls of tape and stickers or glue-dots if you like. If some of your doodads are more dimensional, then I would also add a tiny bottle of craft glue. Luckily, you can find these at your local craft or drug store. You can also fill a small soy sauce container with glue if it has a screw top.
Think outside the box here and use what you have. If this is a gift, then go all out and pretty it up! (Cover that gluestick with a piece of pretty paper and color coordinate your supplies.) Don’t forget scissors if your kiddo will need them! Travel scissors or child-sized scissors should fit. Ultimately, it shouldn’t cost too much money to create a super-nifty art kit that is cute to boot!
Step 4: It’s time for doodads. This is the bulk of your art kit and the easiest way to pretty it up. Fill small containers and/or cupcake liners with collage embellishments like pieces of cut-up straws, sequins, pompoms, and buttons. You can use felt and other fabric bits to separate various doodads. Keep your eyes open and use what you have. Envelopes? Film containers? If it has a lid your kiddos can open and is small enough for your bento box, you can make it work.
Step 5: Like a traditional bento meal, you will want to fill your kit to the brim so that all the little loose doodads won’t spill out and make your kit look less-than-happy. Take a look at what you have and add small bits to any holes you see. Pompoms work wonders here. Tiny re-sealable bags are also good for keeping small bits in order, or better yet, inflate them to take up empty space in your kit. The aim may be for cute, but I’m also realistic.
When you are finished, pop the lid on and you’re good to go!
Step 6: Personalize your kits to your kiddo’s quirks. Here are two more fun kit ideas for ya:
Make an ATC (Artist Trading Card) kit for your older kiddos and add a trio of liquid watercolors in those tiny soy sauce containers (Smart & Final sometimes carries these.) Use cotton swabs instead of paintbrushes, or add a handful of watercolor pencils and fill those tiny containers with water instead.
Toss in a rainbow ink pad, index cards cut down to size, and a trio of tiny markers, and your kiddo can create all sorts of thumbprint characters. Add a couple of individual wet wipes to wipe off excess ink from their fingers, keeping the mess fairly minimal.
About the Author: Jessica Wilson is most happily known as “jek in the box” and spends most of her time crafting it up and taking pictures. She can often be found standing on benches over on Flickr and creating all sorts of kiddie crafts on her blog scrumdilly-do! She lives a life of scrumdillydilly and loves to share.