Skip to content

Eco-Friendly Art Supplies to Make with Your Kids

By TULA Contributor, Lizzie Locker

It’s time to gird your loins for battle, Moms - Summer is here, and with it will come the bane of every mother’s existence, that shrill, inevitable whine: “I’m boooooooored!

I’m sure your kids have plenty to do already, especially when it comes to arts and crafts - but it wouldn’t hurt to add an extra step to all their projects to keep them busy just a little longer, would it? 

Teaching your kids how to make their own art supplies is a great lesson in creativity, self-reliance, and eco-consciousness, as well as a fantastic way to get them interested in new and different art forms. You’ve already got everything you need in your kitchen cabinets, or out in your backyard. Now, throw down a few drop cloths and get ready to make a beautiful mess - one that Mother Nature won’t have to clean up!

Chalk ‘n Yolk Tempera Paints

With a texture somewhere between oil, acrylic, and lacquer, this paint is best used on canvas or wood.

You’ll need:

Various colors of chalk - the sidewalk variety is fine, but if you have a messy old set of chalk pastels that you’re happy to part with, the pigments will be much more intense and exciting!

Egg yolks (at least 1-2 yolks per color of paint you plan to make)

Small cups


Separate the chalk by color and break it down into small pieces. Use a mallet or heavy spoon to crush it (the goal is to create a fine powder, but chunks are okay, and can add a really cool texture to your atwork!). When you’ve pulverized it into the finest powder you can manage, put a tablespoon of each color of chalk powder into a cup. Add an egg yolk to each and stir vigorously until smooth and liquidy (add yolks as necessary to achieve desired consistency). When your paint looks ready, grab a brush and get to painting!

Recycled Watercolors

Easy, earth-friendly, and WASHABLE!

You’ll need:

Old, dried-out, water-based markers

Small cups or jars (one for each color you plan to make)



Add ¼-⅓  cup water to each cup. Remove tops from markers (if they aren’t missing already!) and set them tip-down in the water - depending on how dried-out they are, put 1-4 markers in each cup. Allow to sit overnight, or up to 48 hours. In the morning, remove markers from cups, and let the kids release their inner O’Keefe!


Handmade Paper

A craft within a craft - what will you do with the paper you make?

You’ll need:

Old newspapers, torn into small pieces about 1” square


A blender (if you don’t want to sacrifice your Magic Bullet, most thrift stores will have used blenders in great condition, usually under $20)

Two pieces of metal screen

Old towels

Various decorative elements, such as glitter, confetti, paint, leaves and flowers, etc.

Loosely fill the blender with the torn newspaper and add 1-2 cups of water. Allow the newspaper to soak for about 30 seconds, then give it a stir with a wooden spoon to loosen any tight chunks. Blend until smooth. 

Now, head outside and place one piece of metal screen on a hard surface, like a sidewalk or concrete bench. Pour the newspaper pulp onto the screen, then use the other piece of screen to press flat (don’t worry too much about the shape, you can trim it up later). Continue to press until it seems like you’ve gotten all the water out that you can. Put the screen-and-paper-pulp sandwich between two old towels and continue to press out moisture.

When you’ve soaked your towels through and the paper is as flat and dry as it’s going to get, carefully remove the top piece of screen. Allow to air dry in the sun until the paper feels “crispy,” then carefully remove from the screen.

For more exciting handmade paper, experiment with adding decorative elements like paint, grass clippings, or glitter when blending the pulp; or try pressing leaves and flowers into it during the drying stage.


Recycled Crayons

These make wonderful gifts or party favors, too!

You’ll need:

Lots of broken and rejected crayons, labels removed

A silicone baking mold with fun shapes

An oven or toaster oven

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Break or cut the crayons into small pieces, and put them into the cups of the baking mold. Mix and match the colors as you like! Pop the mold into the oven, and monitor carefully as it melts (about 15-20 minutes). If you see or smell smoke, immediately remove the mold from the oven and try again later at a lower temperature. 

Once the crayons are entirely melted, remove from the oven and allow to cool. When they’ve hardened and cooled to room temperature, pop your new crayons out of the mold and get to coloring!

For more eco-friendly art supply instructions like compost tie-dye and scrap pillows, check out my “secret” blog extension, Lizzie’s Tea House! Click the link and use the password TEA4TULA (case sensitive!) to get exclusive access to extra content made especially for TULA users.