Pretend Magic Potions with Repurposed Items & Crayola

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Let’s be honest, crafting with a tween is both much easier and much harder than crafting with a younger child.  It’s wonderful to craft with a tween because they can do so many more things themselves and you can tackle much more interesting and complicated projects. Buu-uut, it’s much more difficult because they’re, well, let’s say, more discerning.  It’s more complicated to come up with a project interesting and cool enough to entice a tween into coloring or crafting with mom.  Fortunately, we came up with the perfect project using versatile Crayola #ColorfulCreations products that allowed me to spend time with my 11-year old son and the opportunity to create these pretend magic potions with repurposed items.   Magic potions in a wood cabinet are pretty cool to an 11-year old interested in reading and watching fantasy about magicians, spells and sorcerers.

a decorated cardboard box made to look like a cupboard with labeled jars of magic potions next to crayola crayons, washable kids' paint and chalk with title text reading Pretend Magic Potions from Repurposed Household Items

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 I knew I wanted to use Crayola washable paint and crayons because I can always depend on the quality of their products being easy to work with (the washable paint really is washable)  and producing my desired results.  I popped over to Walmart since they’re near by and always have a large selection of Crayola products.    I found the Crayola products near the office supplies and craft supplies.  I grabbed the Crayola 96 ct. Crayons so that we’d be able to find the exact colors we wanted for our cabinet (and let’s be honest, I still find that sharpener in the back of the box too cool and so do my kids).  While I was there, I saw they had the Crayola 24 ct. sidewalk chalk so I grabbed that, too (the ideas were brewing. Yes, pun intended).

an arts and crafts aisle with crayola products in Walmart

When I got home, my son and I went to my collection of rescued items (you know the ones that I just can’t throw away or recycle because I’m positive I’ll find a craft for them someday) and pulled out a small cabinet-sized box and several different bottles and containers that looked potion-ish.  I have one glass bottle that I used in this project so you can see the potion effect well in the photos, but I recommend you use plastic for your potion bottles.  The purpose of these bottles is for pretend play and you want to keep that safe. Plus, you can find such a great variety of plastic bottles and containers that plastic is your best and safest option.

cardboard box and various containers on a white background

I was most worried about making the wood potion cabinet from a cardboard box so that was our first project.   We cut the shorter flaps off the box and used them to make a shelf in the middle of the box with masking tape.  Depending on the age and skills of your child, you may need to be the one to cut the flaps from the box because it’s a little difficult to cut through the cardboard.

 I am not an artist and was worried about how to make a plain cardboard box look like an old cabinet worthy of holding magic potions.  You can find lots of lessons on how to draw wood grain on the internet.  After having spent much too long researching how to draw wood grain, I recommend you look at one tutorial and then just go for it.  It’s really not as difficult as I thought it would be.  The first step is to draw the boards and then add the wood grain detail next.  My son used different colors of brown crayons to make it look more realistic (with the 96 ct. crayons, he had plenty of choices of brown to use).

a hand using a crayon to decorate a cardboard box next to a box of crayons with title text reading Making a faux wood cabinet

We were very happy with how our cabinet and wood grain turned out looking.  Yes, it’s a cardboard box, but with just a little imagination it looks like a wood cabinet.

a cardboard box decorated with crayons to look like a cabinet

Since we wanted the cabinet to look old, dusty and magical so we used the sidewalk chalk to add some character and detail.

a hand holding a piece of sidewalk chalk to decorate a cardboard box to look like a cabinet, next to a box of Crayola sidewalk chalk

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 Even my 2 teen daughters were impressed with how the potions cabinet turned out.  So riding on the success of the cabinet, we turned to creating our potion bottles.   I used 1 glass bottle in this project so that the potion effect shows up well in the photos, but I recommend that you use plastic bottles and containers.  When we took the washable paint bottles out of the box, my son noticed that you could even use the empty paint bottles for the potion bottles.

Crayola washable kids' paint with title text reading Making Potion Bottles

We chose to use pink, blue and green paint to make our potions.  We poured a small amount of paint into each bottle and swirled it around.  Although the paint is washable, depending on the age and skills of your child, you’ll want to supervise and assist in the paint swirling.  The goal is to coat the sides and bottom of the bottle so it looks as though it is filled with a potion.  The magical part (pun intended) is that there will be nothing messy to spill out of these potion bottles once the paint is dry.  

hands holding a jar with pink paint in it

With the different colors of paint, each bottle looked like it was filled with a different magic potion. 

2 containers with red and green paint in them

While the paint was drying, we moved onto our potion labels. We used cream-colored card stock to make the labels look aged. You’ll want to use card stock rather than paper so that it will show the ripped edges better and not wrinkle when you glue it to the bottle.  We spent hours quite some time brainstorming potion names.   It was a wonderful, creative time with my son spent giggling and imagining.  Once he decided on the names for each potion, I used a permanent marker to write them on the card stock. You’ll want to use permanent ink so that it won’t run or smudge in the next steps.

labels with text reading Eye of Newt, Love Potion, Mud of Bog

Just like the cabinet, we wanted the labels to look old, dusty and magical so we used the sidewalk chalk to distress and age the labels by rubbing the sides of the chalk across the labels.

a box of Crayola washable sidewalk chalk next to an Eye of Newt label with title text reading Making Potion Labels

 We then glued the labels onto the bottles.  We used decoupage glue but you could use any type of glue or even double-stick tape. 

a cardboard box decorated to look like a cabinet with jars of magic potion inside with title text reading Pretend Potions from Repurposed Items

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We are so pleased with how the magic potions and cabinet turned out that my son asked if we could make more pretend magic potions with repurposed items this weekend.  I’m basking in the success of finding a craft project interesting and cool enough for my tween and in the joy of spending more time crafting with him.

Do you have any tween craft ideas for me to try?  

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  1. Hi Susan – What a fun craft for the older and more discerning tween/teen! I remember at Halloween you posted about the boy being really into making movie makeup blood and gore. This sounds like a perfect project for him! Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Holly

  2. This is a truly wonderful activity to do with an older child! There are currently so many books about vampires and magic in the teen reading that this would please so many kids. Thank you so much for creating something that I can do with my 11 year old son that he wont think is boring or silly!!! I Love this and I know that he will too. #client

    1. Jen, this really is a great project for a tween with all the books and movies with magic these days. Have fun!

  3. That is so creative.. they really come out looking like wood! Looks like it was so much fun to do.

  4. I totally remember doing something similar like that to Christmas ornaments. I can’t believe how real the “cabinet” looks. I wish I knew some tweens I could do this with. My 2 and 3 year old nieces love playing with crayola’s side walk chalk and paint. I’m sure I could make magic potions with the 3 year old. I remember all of the awesome crafts my mom and I used to do. I would add glitter so it’s sparkly potions-everyone knows sparkles makes it more powerful!

    1. Glitter is a great idea! I didn’t even think of it since I was crafting with my son. Next batch gets glitter!

  5. very cute idea. i love the hand drawn faux wood. that would certainly take some patience

  6. This is such a cute idea! How nice that you and your son had some creative/bonding time together! Makes me want to buy a 96 count box of crayons!

  7. OH! That is SOOO cute! What a great way to use crayola with an older child. I love how it all turned out!!

  8. Such a great activity that you and your tweens could do. This looks like something that my Step-daughter would love to do.

    1. It’s been a hit with my tween son and even my teen daughters thought the potions turned out pretty cool. Have fun creating!

  9. My oldest two boys are really into Harry Potter right now and not all that into crafts anymore. This would be the perfect craft to go along with the books they are reading. Really great idea!

  10. This is a really cute idea! We just finished watching Harry Potter with our kids and I think they would love to make something like this. It is also fun for a Halloween party or decor! thanks for sharing.

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  13. hi Susan-i think its really cool what u did i might try it with my parents or child or the whole family!!!! I’m so glad i found this sight cause i was getting kinda bored. But nice potion making Susan.

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