Mums' top tips for cheap 'n' cheerful art projects

Cheap and cheerfulEver look at the full-on, huge, all-singing, all-dancing art and craft projects some mums embark on and just think, where did they get the time/money/energy to even start that?!

Well, as these mums prove, there is another way to keep kids entertained, without switching on the TV or emptying your purse.

So, get your kids cracking on their works of art, ready for the Barclays Mini Masterpiece Competition 2012, for your chance to win a family holiday and lots of other prizes.

Top tips

Creative? Yes. Fun? Definitely. Expensive? Absolutely not. Here are top tips from mums on how to get your kids creating:

Make collages using sticky-back plastic. Blu-tack the non-sticky side to the table and place things on the sticky side. When finished, put a piece of paper on top, turn over and voila - collage without the hassle of glue!
Gillian, mum to William, 6, George, 4 and Margaret, 8 months

To fill most of a day, go for a walk and gather up flowers, leaves and twigs, then dry them out and stick them to card and paper. It's great because it gets them out of the house and thinking about the great outdoors, too. For a great big art project that won't cost anything, make collages on the grass outside. Remember to take a picture though - as they won't last forever!
Cathrine, mum to Philip, 2

Get a pack of coloured pipe cleaners and make bendy animals, flowers and all sorts out of them - if it goes wrong, just straighten them out and start again.
Emma, mum to Lee, 7

Take old wooden coat hangers and wooden spoons and let kids decorate them with paint, glitter glue and feathers - great for puppets, wall hangings or name signs for bedroom doors.
Beth, mum to Kim, 6, and Alex, 4

Give children a little sketchpad each - that way they can draw in bed if they don't want to read before going to sleep.
Kate, mum to Annabel, 5, James, 7, and Olivia, 8

Salt dough is incredibly cheap and easy to make, and you probably have everything you need in the kichen already. Just bake finished creations until hard and decorate when cool.
Anna, mum to Rebecca, 6

Don't buy expensive cards - get your kids to make greetings cards using the leftover bits of coloured paper and materials that inevitably clutter up the house - it feels more personal and saves a few pennies, too.
Jill, mum to Sarah, 5

Build a miniature garden using a bowl or baking tray and plant it with grass, moss, tiny plants, pebbles. You can add little swings, a pond and animals if you've got spare material scraps or other bits lying around.
Tilly, mum of Ellie, 13, Tom, 11, Will, 7, and Liberty, 4

Get some inexpensive sand from a DIY shop and colour it with food dye to make a variety of colours - it's great for making pictures and much cheaper than pots of glitter!
Caroline, mum to Simon, 9

Cheerful artYounger children tend to have shorter attention spans, so set quick and simple crafts for young kids and longer, more 'brain power' activities for the over tens.
Sarah, mum to Lexie, 13, and Imogen, 8

Puppets are really easy to make; all you need is some old socks, buttons and scraps of fabric to make hair and tongues - and they can then spend the rest of the day making up plays.
Stacey, mum to Lucien, 3

Use all the rubbish that's left lying around the house - bits of wood, empty bottles, yoghurt pots - to do your own 'junk modelling'. Try setting challenges like 'Build-a-robot' or 'Build-a-house'.
Sam, mum to Andy, 8

Before buying expensive craft kits and stamps, get kids looking for objects with interesting shapes or textures to print with, like cotton reels, toothbrushes and old wire. Make sure they know that they have lots of things at their fingertips, if they just know how to look for them!
Frances, mum to Bethany, 7

Get cracking with these top tips and enter your kids' artwork for the chance to win a holiday for the whole family with the Barclays Mini Masterpiece competition. And don't forget, if you're a Barclays customer, you can now personalise your debit card - head to the Barclays website to put your favourite piece of artwork by your kids on your debit card.

Still looking for more tips for arty projects to do with your kids? Check out our mums' guide for keeping kids entertained for an afternoon

Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:

  • Expert information on starting your own business
  • Family budgeting and saving tips
  • Money-saving videos and inspiring start-up videos


Barclays Bank plc takes no responsibility for the content of third party websites or the views and recommendations expressed by named third parties in this webpage. The material on this webpage is for information only. Barclays Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England. Registered No. 1026167. Registered office: 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP. Barclays Insurance Services Company Limited is authorised and regulated by the FSA. Registered No 973765. Registered Office for both: 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5HP. Barclays Business is a trading name of Barclays Bank PLC. Barclays Bank PLC subscribes to the Lending Code which is monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board and is licensed and regulated by the Office of Fair Trading for the provision of credit products to consumers and related services. Further details can be found at


Last updated: over 3 years ago