Crafts for Special Needs Children: Homemade Storage Containers

Two homemade canisters for storing toys are shown.

Finished Storage Containers


All children seem to have tons of small toys that just get all over the house.  Here’s a craft that will help keep you organized and re-use a container that would otherwise be thrown out.  It’s good for you and the environment.  You can store cars, animals, legos, LPS figures, dolls and more.  We hope you enjoy Crafts for Special Needs Children:  Homemade Storage Containers.




  •  1 large, smooth-sided, empty, clean canister with lid (like a drink mix container)
  • 1 strip of light-colored, solid-colored fabric cut to fit around the canister
  • Glue gun with glue sticks if you have a metal canister OR ordinary liquid school glue and paint brush if you have a cardboard canister.
  • Opaque paint pens (easiest) or fabric  paint with paint brush (just a little harder)
  • Piece of cardboard at least as large as the fabric
  • Tape
  • Rulers
  • Permanent Marker

Adult:  Prepare the canister by emptying it and washing any sticky residue out.  Dry completely.  Remove the label in one piece if possible.  If you remove the label carefully with a box cutter, it will serve as a pattern to cut your fabric out in the correct size.  Check to make sure there are no sharp edges inside the rim and file them if necessary.

Picture shows a person holding a pattern down on a piece of fabric and penciling around it.

Mark the fabric with a pencil before cutting out.

Cut the fabric into the correct size strip.  If you got the label off in one piece, you can use it as a pattern.  Be sure to add a half inch to one side for overlap if you are using the label.  The overlap will make it easier to glue down.  If you don’t have a label suitable for using as a pattern, either take careful measurements to cut by or make your own pattern using construction paper.  Hint:  Leave a small gap at the top rim of the canister that is free of the fabric.  If you glue fabric all the way to the top, then when you close the lid, the fabric will get pushed down or the lid won’t fit.  If the color of the canister around the rim bothers you,  you can spray paint it before you begin.

The picture shows fabric taped to a piece of cardboard ready for painting.

Tape the fabric to the cardboard.

Tape the cut fabric to a piece of cardboard to make it easier for your child to work with.

Outline the letters you want your child to paint.

Outline the letters on the fabric.

For young children, write an outline of the letters or shapes you want them to color in.  You can use stencils or do it free-hand.  I did it free-hand, but used two rulers taped to the fabric to keep all the letters level and the same size.  I wrote the letters in pencil and then went over that with a black permanent marker to make it easy to see.  For older children, you can let them do all the writing and drawing themselves.  As a general rule, for younger children keep the letters larger in size, but shorter in number.

Arrange the supplies on a tray as shown.  I have picture galleries below for using either paint pens or fabric paint.  Pick the one you are using and show that gallery to your child as he works.  Remember that paint pens and fabric paint are permanent, so wear old clothes.  If using fabric paint, only give your child as much paint as needed on a small paper plate and have them brush it on.  Don’t give them the whole bottle of paint and expect it to go well when they try to squeeze it out.  Hint:  Fabric paint is more opaque than paint pens and therefore works better for darker colored fabric.

Image shows some paper towels and a tray with 3 paint pens in it next to the fabric with the word ZOO outlined on it.

Set up a tray this way if you are using paint pens.

Image shows a tray with 4 bottles of fabric paint, a paper plate, 4 paint brushes, and some paper towels on it.

Set up a tray with the supplies for your child to use fabric paints.

Image shows the fabric taped to a board with a paper plate with a small amount of white paint on it and a paint brush.

Give your child a small amount of paint on the paper plate, a paint brush and a paper towel to wipe up messes.








Child:  Paint the fabric.  Tap on the pictures to go through each step.

Use this slideshow if you are using paint pens.

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Use this slideshow if you are using fabric paints.

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Adult:  Let the fabric paint dry completely on the cardboard.  When dry, take it off the cardboard and prepare to glue it on the canister.  If you have a metal canister, you’ll need to use a hot glue gun and attach it yourself.  I don’t recommend letting a child use hot glue guns until he is in his teens and able to do it safely.

Image shows an adult hot gluing blue fabric to a container using tape to hold the fabric in place.

An adult can use tape to hold the fabric in position while hot gluing the fabric to the container.


If you are using a cardboard canister, your child can glue the fabric on with white school glue that has been diluted by about half with water.  Set up a tray as shown.  Let your child paint glue all over the fabric as shown in the picture gallery.  Don’t let them have the bottle and squeeze.  Then put the fabric on and smoothe into the correct position.  Realize this will be messy and everyone will get their hands gluey.  It washes off.  Below is a picture gallery to help your child.

Image shows a tray with watered down glue and a paint pen next to a canister and a piece of yellow fabric with ZOO on it upside down.

These are the materials for gluing the fabric to the canister. Water down the glue and place the fabric face down for gluing. Keep paper towels handy.

Child:  Paint glue on the canister and glue the fabric on.  Tap on the pictures to go through the steps.

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When the canister is dry, you are ready to fill it with toys.  Have fun and be organized!  There are more crafts for special needs children yet to come.

© 2013 – 2014, Margaret. All rights reserved.