I am always looking for free or at least, very inexpensive crafts, for my kids. We spend a lot of time making things, in fact most of our afternoons are spent doing creative projects. They learn so much from making things. I also think that they gain so much confidence, which is fantastic, but supplying five children with a constant supply of arts and crafts materials can be expensive.

When we lived in Cornwall, we were members of our local scrap store. Scrap stores are run across the UK and they take in off cuts and unwanted materials from businesses, that could be used for crafts etc. For a very small annual membership fee, you can take whatever you need as often as you need.

Since moving to Orkney, I have had to get more creative because there isn’t a scrap store here. But there are lots of things just lying around, that we can use. The beaches on our small island have become a great resource for our craft materials. Sea glass, driftwood, bits of broken pottery, metal and all sorts of other interesting things get washed up on the beach. We have great fun looking for them and are quickly building up quite a collection.

I had been worrying about our lack of things for Wren to use for loose parts play. I see so many posts showing trays and baskets full of wonderful wooden shapes, by Grapat and Grimms and I know that they’re something that Wren would really enjoy, because of the way that she likes to play. The problem is that they are so expensive. Well they are to us anyway. 

The answer to my worries came a couple of weeks ago and Wren found it for herself. She had been taking more of an interest in our beachcombing activities, because she wanted to find treasures to leave for the mermaids.

Then she started to ask for the jars containing all of our finds, so that she could get them out and look at them all. We sat together talking about them and started to use them to make some pictures, which she made up little stories about while we were playing. I realised that I needn’t worry, we have plenty of resources right on our doorstep.

That got me to thinking about our older children. They are all like magpies and love collecting bits and bobs that they find, but then they usually end up stashed in a box somewhere. I thought that it would be really nice for them to use some of their favourite pieces to make things.

This week we had a go at making some macrame inspired keychains with sea glass and stones.

I hadn’t had a chance to try it out myself first or look for a similar tutorial online, but thankfully they turned out to be incredibly easy to make.

First, we took four lengths of yarn and tied them together in the middle.

Then we separated the eight lengths that we had now made, into pairs. We tied each pair together to make the first round of the little net that we were trying to create.

We took one strand of yarn from each pair and tied it to one from the next pair, to make the second round. This created a big enough net for the sea treasures that we were using, as they were only small.

Then we carefully tied all of the strands together at the top of the treasure, to trap them inside the little nets. We just plaited the remaining sections of yarn and the tied them to a split ring to make our keychains, but thinking about it now, we could have woven the lengths in the same way that we make friendship bracelets. I think that we’ll give that a try another time and maybe use four different colours.

I am sure that these will be the first of many craft projects using all of our found bits and bobs and that we will get more adventurous as we go on. Just this week, Orin came up with his own idea for a way to use some broken pieces of fishing buoys that he had been collecting, drilling holes into them and then making a glove to sew them to. He put it all together during his workshop time yesterday afternoon.

My favourite things that our kids make, are always the ones that they come up with themselves. It’s so lovely to see them having the confidence to take an idea and see it through to a finished project, picking up new skills along the way.

What do you like to make with found things?