Art Supplies and Ideas for Small Spaces and Large Families

Children are natural artists. They will sketch and color on just about anything if left to their own devices. They don’t typically need encouragement to be artists (unless somewhere along the line they got the notion in their heads that they were NOT good at drawing – this is usually from an outside influence, and will take a lot of coaxing to correct – BUT, that is a totally different post ūüėČ ).

Obviously, we need to set boundaries for a child’s artistry (so they don’t draw on the walls!), but we most definitely should allow for creativity in our school day. ¬†Having art supplies at the ready is a must for any homeschool!

I have a unique situation in that I have a lot of kiddos of varying ages needing art supplies and a small space in which to store them – the art supplies, that is. ūüėČ ¬†Here are some of my favorite art supplies and ideas for small spaces and large families.

How to manage art with varying ages and abilities |

This post is sponsored by:Large Family Art Ideas |

Use coupon code:
10% off ART CLASS
+ 10% off all other SEE THE LIGHT products on the same order

Large Family Art Supplies

Keeping art supplies on hand for the large family can be a full time job!  I just discovered yesterday, my stock of glue sticks was frighteningly low, and I JUST bought a stash of them from our local store!

Years ago, I found a wonderful place to buy massive quantities of high quality supplies. ¬†In fact, I only had one child in school when I discovered Discount School Supply. ¬†When my son was 5, I placed a big order, and some of those supplies JUST ran out last year! ¬†That’s 12 years of stock! ¬†And I can honestly say the products were just as good 12 years later as they were when I first purchased them. ¬†(just typing all that brings me back to those early years of homeschooling…*sniff*…time goes so quickly)

So, let me give you a few suggestions from the Discount School Supply website that are large family friendly – you can click the pictures to see more information about them.

Large Family Art Supplies |

Large Family Art Supplies |

Large Family Art Supplies |

Large Family Art Supplies |

Pretty much anything you need art-wise can be purchased there for a great price!

Storage and Organization of Art Supplies

In our home, art supplies are kept in a few different areas. ¬†My recommendation for separating out art supplies would be based on RULES OF USAGE. ¬†In our house, there are 3 different Rules of Usage –
1.  Anyone can use any time.
2.  Only some can use any time.
3.  Supervised use only.

Anyone can use any time – Under our bookshelves, we have supplies I am okay with the children using on a daily basis without needing to ask.

Large Family Art Supplies | I love using the plastic containers you find at the store for around a $1 to fill with supplies.  I have a larger open one for pencils, erasers, and sharpeners (to allow for easy access), and several smaller closed ones for crayons, colored pencils, and markers (to allow for ease of transport).

I used to keep individual boxes for each child when I only had 4 children using supplies. ¬†I bought each child their “color” and wrote each of their names on the lid. ¬†However, now that there are 7 children using supplies, I haven’t found this method¬†to be the best choice. ¬†Instead, I have 4 crayon boxes, 1 colored pencil box, and 1 marker box that are able to be used communally. ¬†The markers (even though they are shown in this photo) are not allowed in this area. ¬†My daughter accidentally put them there when she was cleaning up.

Notebooks make up the main paper supply for this area because they are tidy. ¬†The children are allowed to use loose paper from time to time, but that falls into the next category…

Only some can use any time – The markers, loose paper, scissors, glue, and the more expensive art supplies belong in this group. ¬†I have these items on top of the bookshelf in the dining room in totes. ¬†My oldest daughter also has her own stash of expensive pencils, colored pencils, and charcoals in a locked box in her room. ¬†These were either gifts or purchases she made on her own, so they are “hers” and do not belong to the community at large.

Supervised use only РThe supervision-only items are on the top shelf of my closet in a bag I can easily pull down.  These items include seasonal art supplies (like those needed for Truth in the Tinsel) and the blacklight I use for the See the Light chalk art projects we do during the holidays.  I keep pipe cleaners and coffee filters, beads, and glitter in this bag, along with anything else that I would not want to be used without my permission.  I also keep paints and the bulk items I mentioned above on this shelf.

How to Incorporate Art into Your Homeschool

I believe¬†art belongs in nearly every aspect of your homeschool ¬†From your nature studies to history to math and beyond, I believe sketching and adding color to your work is a great way to truly enjoy studying¬†as long as your child doesn’t get wrapped up in the artistic side to the detriment of their studies. ¬†Don’t be afraid to let your child doodle while you teach or color their workbook after their lessons are finished. ¬†I always allow notebooks and pencils during Tapestry of Grace time, and I do not get wrapped around the axle over doodles in their math books.

I also think it is important to teach some formal art to give your child the tools to create something beautiful with a certain amount of mastery.  I recommend using an art program that incorporates many ages and stages and does not require a ton of extra supplies.  We use Art Class from See the Light Art.  You can read my full review HERE.  It spans the ages well with short lessons, solid instructions, and doable art projects that are beautiful!

Large Family Art |

Right now, you can get Art Class (and anything you else you order at the same time) 10% off + FREE SHIPPING in the U.S.  Coupon Code: VIRTUAL

Large Family Art Ideas |

Saving Art Projects

Every parent I know wonders how they are going to keep all the lovely art their child creates. ¬†Nearly every day, one of my children creates something that is super cool and something I would love to keep, but with a large family, these amazing works of art quickly become clutter. ¬†That’s why I LOVE the Keepy App. ¬†I can have as many children on the app as I want and all I have to do is snap a photo, add a few words about the project, and I am free to throw away the original. ¬†Yes, I do keep some REALLY phenomenal works of art, but those are few and far between and go into a file in the filing cabinet.

Unique Ways to Acquire Art Supplies

The last thing I want to address is how you can gather art supplies. ¬†The only word of caution I have here is that in the acquiring of supplies, be sure they don’t become clutter and chaos.

Make art supplies a gift РMy 4 year old got a big stash of art supplies for his birthday.  Most of these became community supplies because at his age, sharing is fun, but you can allow each child a small tote that is just their own.  Ask for art supplies as gifts or give them yourself Рthey are consumable and always welcome!

Recycle РBoxes, packing paper, jars, yarn, ribbon, sticks, and so much more can easily become art mediums.  The rule in our house is that you get to play with recycled items for a one day and then they must go to the trash (unless the thing created is well-constructed and will last a long time without becoming a big mess Рexample: the dollhouse my daughter made from a cardboard box).

Garage Sales – One of the best garage sale finds I made when my two oldest kids were little was a huge bag of notepads! ¬†You will often find these types of things grouped together and selling for little to nothing. ¬†You might also find some more specialized supplies, but be certain you NEED them before you buy, and be certain the quality is worth the cost. ¬†Low quality crayons and other supplies just aren’t worth it no matter how cheap.

Deconstructed Items – Search the term “UPCYCLE ART SUPPLIES” on Pinterest and you will find a treasure trove of ideas! ¬†Take a gander at the ideas there and start to see ordinary items in a new light.

No matter how you do art in your home, let it be free-flowing and fun! ¬†This isn’t a time to be strict and structured, and criticism needs to take a hike. ¬†In fact, I would even encourage mama to sit down and create alongside her children. ¬†Color, cut and paste, and enjoy the time with your children! ¬†You want art to be something your child has fond memories of!

Large Family Hacks – Play Shoes Crate

When you have a lot of kiddos, you have a lot of shoes!  They are everywhere all over the house, yet the crazy thing is it is next to impossible to find a matching pair when you need them!

Enter our newest organizational tool…the Play Shoes Crate!Large Family Hack - Play Shoe Crate to keep shoes contained and easily found! |

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Back when we used to do Workboxes, I purchased several black milk crates to house the files we were using for a modified workbox system.  However, years later, the milk crates were just taking up space in storage.  (Funny how I have storage items IN storage!)

With all these little boys, we end up with a lot of play shoes and no great place to put them Рespecially when they are muddy.  So, I decided to pull 2 of the crates out (black was definitely a good color choice!), and put one by each of the most used doors.

Large Family Hack - Play Shoe Crate |

Piling the shoes into the crate is easy work for any one of the children, and it keeps the floors by the doors free of shoe clutter and the shoes easy to find. ¬†On really muddy days, I’ll put a junk towel by the back door to line the shoes on and get them dry before putting them in the crate, but for the most part, when you come in from playing, your shoes go in the crate – thank you very much!

Large Family Hacks - learn the little things that make their homes run smoother! |

Find all the Large Family Hacks here!

Large Family Hacks – Built In Step Stool

Our family spent the evening with¬†another large family (12 children) we’ve been friends with for many years. ¬†I am always inspired when I visit¬†their home, not only by their faith and joy, but by the little tips and tricks they have put into place to make their home run smoother. ¬†It made me realize there are many things large families do that are a matter of efficiency and survival that would be great to share with others, no matter their family size.

So, I decided to start a series here on Raising Arrows entitled Large Family Hacks for that very purpose!

Large Family Hacks - learn the little things that make their homes run smoother! |

Today’s Hack is from last week’s¬†visit with our friends. ¬†Over the years, they have been slowly building their home debt free, adding to it a little at a time. ¬†One thing they added in the bathroom was a built-in step stool that is the perfect hack for a large family!

Built-In Step Stool {Large Family Hacks} |

This step stool can hold up to 150 pounds!  It is housed underneath their bathroom sink on a metal track.

The reason this is so great for a large family is because there are so many ages and stages in a large family. ¬†You might¬†have teenagers and toddlers and everything in between trying to use the same sink. ¬†Having a step stool you can slide under the sink eliminates the “kick the stool out of the way” game.

Additionally, large families need even their littlest ones as self-sufficient as possible.  Having an easy way to reach the sink to brush teeth or wash hands is a great way to give little people something they can do on their own!

It would even be a great addition for fixing little girls’ hair so you don’t have to bend down so far!

Built-In Step Stool {Large Family Hacks} |

There are¬†a lot¬†of different plans out there for this type of thing. ¬†This one from Ana White calls for making use of the toekick¬†at the bottom of the vanity. ¬†This one I found on a woodworking forum has some extra perks built in. ¬†This one has storage space inside the stool! ¬†(I’m always looking for more storage space!) ¬†No matter how you build it, it would be a great addition to any bathroom¬†you want to make small child friendly!

Large Family Hacks - learn the little things that make their homes run smoother! |

Visit the Large Family Hacks page

The Large Family Living Pinterest Board

Large Family Living Home Page

My New At-A-Glance Schedule {2015}

Make your day run smoother by using an At-A-Glance Schedule! |

For those of you new to Raising Arrows, let me quickly explain what an At-A-Glance schedule is…

An At-A-Glance Schedule is a rough sketch of your day. ¬†It is not a schedule for the entire family. ¬†It is Mom’s Master List. ¬†It isn’t super structured or binding. ¬†It is a bare-bones approach that keeps you on track without making you feel guilty.

I was looking back at my old At-A-Glance schedule¬†and realized how very outdated it was. ¬†We haven’t had piano lessons on Wednesdays in well over a year! ¬†Ideally, an At-A-Glance schedule would be re-assessed¬†as circumstances change, or at the very least, every year. ¬†It may not need to be changed every year because remember, it isn’t a tight schedule, so you won’t have things like “Baby’s Nap” on there or other things that change often.

This past weekend, I quickly worked through my old schedule to create one I believe will be a good fit for this year. ¬†By the way, when I say “year”, I mean “school year.” ¬†About this time of year, I am going through all of my homeschool materials and resources¬†to see what I need for the upcoming school¬†year, and figure out what that school year should look like. ¬†(I like to be able to share with my readers what the intricacies of our homeschool looks like, so expect upcoming posts that highlight the changes for the 2015-16 year!)

It really is very easy to revamp an old At-A-Glance Schedule once you have the template of your day, so if you can find the time to put together your first one, any that follow will be very simple to make!

{affiliate links included}

Here is a quick guide to creating your first AAG:

1. ¬†Write down the natural rhythm of your day. ¬†If you get up at 8 am, don’t write down a wake up time of 7 am. ¬†If you start school at 10 am, don’t write down 9 am. ¬†This is the REAL routine you follow. ¬†There will be time later to decide if you need to change your routine.

2. ¬†Make a list of the things you would like to do¬†in a day that are not on your “natural rhythm schedule”.¬† Don’t get crazy, but do get it all out. ¬†This is a good exercise in realizing what things you THINK you should be doing, and the actuality of what can be FIT in to your schedule. ¬†This list is there to help you work through what’s in your brain and start releasing the guilt you have for not doing EVERYTHING.

3. ¬†Prioritize, Plug In, and Cull. ¬†Sometimes all it takes is being purposeful and plugging it in. ¬†Sometimes you have to have the sense to just let it go. ¬†By writing out the things you WISH you had time for and comparing them to the natural rhythm schedule you wrote down in #1, you can see if you really do have the time for those things. ¬†For instance, I would love to get back to sewing, but this isn’t the season for that because there are other things that NEED to be in the schedule. ¬†I can let go of the guilt of not sewing because I know the things I have plugged in are PRIORITIES.

When you have a list of things that truly NEED to be on the schedule, then you can think about where they go.  Again, your AAG is NOT a full-blown schedule, so you are not looking for a place to plug in every single thing, but rather you are making sure there is enough MARGIN in your day to accommodate the things that are truly important.

Margin by Richard Swenson is a good book to help you understand the WHY and HOW of margin in your day.

4.  Write it out, type it out, post it.  I always write a rough sketch, go over it in my head, go over it with my older children and my husband, and make sure it is doable and everyone who has a choice is on board with it.  Then, I type it out, laminate it (with this laminator) and post it.

I always make more than one copy. ¬†One copy is near my “office”, one is on the refrigerator, and one is with my homeschool materials. ¬†(In the new house, my “office” is separate of my homeschool materials. ¬†You’ll notice in this post, my office and homeschool area are the same.) ¬†The reason for this is so that you truly can see the schedule AT A GLANCE! ¬†It’s everywhere you are when you might need a little EXTRA focus.

5. ¬†Tweak as needed. ¬†I know, I know – I ALWAYS say this, but it’s true. ¬†I was an English major – every paper was a rough draft! ¬†Every SCHEDULE¬†is a rough draft! ¬†This gives you permission to change something. ¬†HOWEVER, just because your AAG¬†didn’t work the first or second, or even third time you tried it, does NOT mean it isn’t the “right” schedule for you. ¬†It simply means it is NEW. ¬†If after a week or two of really trying, it still doesn’t work, THEN tweak.

You will find that your day RARELY goes the way you plan, but having an At-A-Glance Schedule will help keep you on a track that moves forward and makes sense.  It is never meant to tie you down or stress you out!

Would you like to take a peek at my new AAG?  You will notice a couple of things:

1.  We are late risers.

2.  I sometimes (not always) rely on audio and video to keep the younger crowd occupied during a section of school that requires me to stay focused on the older crowd (I just put it on the schedule as an option).

I’m also including some links at the bottom of this post that I’ve written¬†about specific items mentioned in the At A Glance Schedule.¬† ¬†These will help you understand more about how our day runs and what I mean by certain sections on the schedule.


Helpful Links:
Morning Chores
Quiet Time with Small Children
Another Take on Quiet Time
Christian Mom’s Guide to Blogging
Table Chores
Schooling the Little First
Easy Homeschool Lunches
Laundry Ideas
Special School
Art & Artist Time
Special Night

Get Your Home in Order with Mystie’s Help! (Coupon & Freebies!)

If you feel you need to get your¬†home in order this year, Mystie Winckler’s products are some of my favorites! ¬†In addition to her ebooks Paperless Home Organization, Declutter Your Head, and Simplified Dinners (which also comes in a gluten- and dairy-free edition), she now has a self-paced course that will help you organize not only your home, but also your head and your heart: Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done

Simplified Organization eCourse Discount

You can read my full review of the Simplified Organization ecourse

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done contains videos, audios, worksheets, and action items, as well as access to a private community where you can get support and accountability from Mystie and others working through the material. The course is now also available in a module-by-module format, where you can pay $17 per module, one at a time.

Now, for the deal you don’t want to miss…

During the month of January, you can use the discount code:

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But if you buy the full Simplified Organization course in January, you’ll also receive a free copy of Paperless 125Paperless Home Organization


SimplifiedDinners125Simplified Dinners!

Read my review of Paperless Home Organization HERE,
and my review of Simplified Dinners HERE.

Simplified Coupon & Free books!


Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas – Week 12

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 12 - Christmas Celebration Week! |

Follow along with the series!

How did you do with the Week 11 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 12!

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Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!


This week you will be enjoying Christmas with your family and friends!

Week 12: Enjoy Your Christmas Celebration Week

[ ] Enjoy the Holidays with family and friends! Take time to drive the neighborhoods to enjoy holiday lighting displays. Enjoy family traditions and special meals.


Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!