Media & Techniques

Genius Tricks to Transform 7 Common Art Room Leftovers

At the end of the year, I always find my classroom supply closets full of busted and worn-out supplies. I used to get frustrated with the spent materials and just toss them, not taking the time to repurpose them into useable media for the next school year. With a little extra time (or with some student help), you can revamp your old supplies into new materials to use next fall.

Today, I am going to share 7 ordinary, art room supplies that you can repurpose into fresh, extraordinary art materials.

Dried-Up Markers

Soak old markers in small containers of water overnight. Use the resulting colored water as you would use liquid watercolor. The colored water also makes great “spray paint” when put into small spray bottles.
repurpose old markers

Nearly Empty Glue Bottles

Add a squirt or two of tempera paint to a half-empty glue bottle. Shake thoroughly and use for colored glue outlining. Black India Ink added to glue is striking on white paper!
repurpose old glue

Crayon Chunks

Crayon mosaic: Use small, broken pieces of crayon as mosaic tile. White school glue holds the pieces in place.
repurpose old crayons
Melted crayon sheets: Use an iron to melt small amounts of crayon between wax paper. Let cool and use the sandwiched, melted crayon in stained glass-like projects.

Tip: Soak crayons in water overnight. In the morning, the wrappers will peel right off!

Broken Chalk

Crush small chalk remnants into power (use a plastic bag and a hammer). Mix powdered chalk with water to desired consistency. Use the mixture on paper or sidewalk surface as a matte paint.
repurpose old chalk

Magazine Scraps

Roll tattered magazine pages into colorful tubes and use as sculpture material.
repurpose old magazines

Pencil Shavings

Have students sharpen pencil stubs and use the shavings as tiny drawing starters.
repurpose pencil shavings

Acrylic Paint Leftovers

Spread paint on parchment paper and let dry thoroughly. Cut into small shapes to create “tiles” to glue to paper, glass, etc. See Blick’s lesson plan here.
repurpose acrylic paint
Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!
Maybe you just want to get those old supplies out of your classroom without repurposing. Recycling options are available for some common materials. Check out these opportunities:

Although the end of the school year is hectic, carve out a few minutes to repurpose your old supplies into something new. You’ll stretch your budget and create new materials for your students to utilize.

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What is your favorite material to repurpose in your classroom?

Do you have any tips on how to recycle old, worn-out supplies?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Tracy Hare

Tracy Hare, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She strives to deepen students’ 21st-century skills by encouraging them to practice critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

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