Over the next several weeks, we’ll share 10 Ways to Inspire Creativity During the School Year. With easy project ideas and Kiwi printables on their way, your kiddos are in for a treat!
Back-to-School Creativity Tip #5: Be Prepared for Inspiration at All Times with a Travel Art Kit! With three kids, an activity-packed calendar, grandparents who live a half-day’s plane ride away, and lots of weekend excursions, our family is always on the go. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been up late packing a travel bag filled with stuff to keep the kids busy. I used to pack everything but the kitchen sink in there, and lug it through the airport (or throw it in the car)—only to find that the kids were only interested in a few things!
Now that two of my kids are old enough to tell me what materials they enjoy, I’ve pared down our travel kit to a manageable assortment—and in doing so, I’ve found that they really don’t need a ton of materials to pique their creativity. (Finding the magical ingredients that will entertain a two-year-old on a five-hour plane/car ride though? That’s another story…)
In preparation for our upcoming end-of-summer road trip, I finally carved out some time to make a travel bag that’s always ready. We just grab it and go, whether we’re going on a four-hour car ride, watching a sibling’s soccer/ballet/gymnastics practice, or going out to eat. (This kind of organization is rather unlike me, and I’m so excited!)
Before I show you how I made our Travel Art Kits, here are some tips on creating a bag that you can use to carry the kits in.
Bag for the Travel Art Kit—What You Need:
- Tote bag – I used an inexpensive white canvas tote bag I picked up at the hobby store. You can also use a re-usable grocery bag, an old trade show tote, etc.
- Sticky-backed felt or foam (optional) – You can decorate your bag and make it feel special. (If you’re using a bag that has print on it, you could glue a big piece of fabric on it first to cover up the writing.)
I just traced my son’s initial on the sticky-backed felt, cut it out, and pressed it down on the bag. Easy peasy. You can also let your kid decorate the bag himself and suggest or provide shapes, letters, etc.
Now, on to the stuff that goes in the bag!
Here are two versions of Travel Art Kits: one if you’re feeling really crafty, and one if you’re not. Your kids will have a blast with either—so go with whatever makes you happy/not crazy. (Sometimes crafting makes me happy, sometimes it makes me crazy. Perhaps you feel the same.)
Travel Art Kit #1 (the not-so-crafty version)—What You Need:
Note: These are just some ideas; feel free to toss in whatever materials you think will interest your child. For travel kits, I tend to err on the less-messy side (e.g., no stamp pads, no Play Dough).
- clipboard and paper or sketchpad
- colored pencils or cool crayons (I’m sick of finding orphaned, dried-out markers all over the car floor and crawling around under the airplane seats looking for a marker cap… so I’m a big fan of colored pencils or really neat crayons)
- open-ended coloring/doodle book (I love these. They’re much more creative than your standard coloring books; they give you a prompts like, “What does the scuba diver see in the ocean?”)
- special bonus – this amazing paper + fabric Doll Set from Kiwi Crate (my daughter has taken it on three trips this summer, and it has kept her engrossed for hours!)
Travel Art Kit #2 (the craftier version)—What You Need:
Note: This may seem like a long and intimidating list, but it really just came together with stuff I had around the house. Feel free to substitute for things you have on hand or can come by easily.
- sturdy box, ideally with a hinge in the middle (I found an inexpensive one made of balsa wood at the hobby store, so that’s what I used)
- felt – one sheet
- sticky-backed Velcro – 2 small pieces
- glue – fabric glue or glue dots or even school glue (a hot glue gun would also be great, if you have one)
- metal clip – to hold the paper
- pencil sharpener
- 2 disc magnets – to hold the clip and pencil sharpener
- paper (you may need to trim it to size to fit your box)
Step 1: Fold the felt up to create a little pocket, then trim the felt to size to fit into the “top” of the box. Cover the wood with glue, then press the felt down.
Step 2: Place a thin line of glue along the right and left edges of the felt where the pocket is folded up, in order to glue the edges of the top layer of felt to the bottom layer of felt. (Sorry – didn’t get a picture of this!)
Step 3: Place the pencils / crayons / markers in the folded pocket. Stretch your ribbon over the pencils, and cut the ribbon to size so that it fits from one edge of the top to the other.
Step 4: Place a sticky-backed Velcro dot on one end of the ribbon, and the matching Velcro dot on the edge of the felt. Do the same for the other end of the ribbon, stretch it across the pencils, and secure it with the other sticky-backed Velcro dot on the other side. This will help keep the pencils from falling out when you pick up the box!
Step 5: Glue the disc magnets to the top edge of the other side of the box. I placed the magnet for the pencil sharpener in the corner, and the one for the paperclip in the middle.
Voilà! Your finished Travel Art Kit—ready for creativity wherever it may strike!
If you create your own Travel Art Kit—or already have one set up—please let us know and share your kids’ favorite materials for on-the-go creativity!
About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.