We have a very deep closet under our stairs. It would make a great concealed desk area. But for now it houses all kids crafts supplies, a pile of tablecloths (that I never use), games, puzzles, extra school supplies, stationary, play doh and play doh accessories. It's on the verge of being a catch-all. It may not look that bad, but one angry stomp up the stairs above would send things crashing to the floor. (Anyone else have angry stompers?)
My kids love to create, color, cut, glue, tape, etc. I very much prefer these activities to watching tv, so I try to keep their supplies handy and give them different ideas to keep crafts new and exciting. They go in and out of this closet on their own, helping themselves to what they need. They are always in a hurry to get to the next thing, so "cleaning up" is more like if it's in the closet and they can shut the door, it's good. We encourage them to put things back in an organized manner, but they're kids age 7, 6, and 3, and their standards of organization are much lower than mine.
I got tired of trying to straighten the construction paper so it didn't get bent. Crayons were in the marker bin. Game boxes were missing their tops. My once neatly stacked pile of tablecloths had been stood upon to reach things on the shelf, and was now falling over, with some tablecloth edges ripped and chewed compliments of our dog. I found way too many marker tops on the floor along with scraps of paper, tracing tools, play doh crumbs, goldfish crumbs, and yes, there were a lot of dog hair clumps in there. Eww. Just being real.
It was time for a change.
I decided to make the closet storage for kid stuff only. So I emptied it. Completely. And started over.
I tested every marker. If it didn't work, I pitched it. I pitched hard play doh, fully-colored coloring books, sticker pages with 3 or less stickers on them, glue sticks with no glue left, 30 page stapled paper "books" with one scribble per page, and anything else that was broken or not up to par anymore.
I love purging. Especially kid stuff. Don't ask me to do my own closet - I'm not ready.
I have one of those plastic drawers on wheels things that was sort of organized with kid stuff. I emptied that too, carefully chose which items to put in each drawer and labeled them with my handy dandy label maker.
The play doh bin was purged of all dry play doh, broken tools, and empty containers. Now it closes! Amazing! Coloring books fit nicely in 2 separate bins - one has activity books more appropriate for the older kids, the other has mostly regular coloring books. The construction paper was straightened in its bin, and kids notebooks and sketch pads landed in a large red fabric bin on the floor. My stationary and tablecloths got the boot and are now stashed in a different closet (which could also use some purging...another day.)
I moved all the "grown up" games to a different closet and moved the kids games and puzzles where they can reach them better (well, the big kids can reach.) The top shelf is reserved for things that I need to ration or supervise, like extra play doh and Bud's chemistry set.
I found that black over-the-door organizer at Walmart at the end of the summer when they had all their "going to college" stuff out. It holds baggies of pom poms, foam letters, wooden shapes, sponge shapes, yarn, and other craft embellishments.
Ahh. Organization. Happiness. I'd like to add some shelves down the one side of the closet for easier reachability. (Yes, it's a word.) There's a lot of wasted space. But I need to live with it for awhile to see exactly what I want. There may be an update coming eventually.
What's your trick to organizing kids craft supplies? And do they actually keep it organized?