The great thing about kids, regarding art, is that they don’t know a lot about quality yet. That may sound lousy, but when it comes to art supplies, they don’t know the difference between artist quality paints and regular tempera paint...and this is awesome because it means that (for the most part) art supplies for children are really affordable. In this post, I’ll provide you with a list of basic art supplies that are great to have around the house. Of course you don’t need to go out and purchase everything on this list, but I thought it would be helpful to offer some basics to pick and choose from. It’s always good to have SOME sort of crafty supplies when there are kids around. I mean, they instinctively know what to do with them for the most part! Sometimes there doesn’t need to be any sort lesson beforehand or planned project...just put some art supplies down and let them go to town and entertain themselves!
Local craft stores (like Michaels or Joann Fabrics) are FANTASTIC places to buy affordable arts & craft supplies, but if you want to shop on-line, (Dick Blick, Art Supplies Direct, Lakeshore, and Growing Tree Toys ) are some good resources. Also, start thinking about what everyday things you use at home that might normally be thrown away (like paper towel & toilet paper rolls, bottle tops to milk or juice jugs, those styrofoam packaging trays that some foods from the grocery come in, plastic food tubs w/ lids, shipping boxes & styrofoam peanuts...etc...) There are crafty projects and uses for all of these things, so it’s a good idea to start saving things like this (if you have a little space in your home to stock them away).
BASIC ART SUPPLIES
- Regular drawing paper (notebook size)
- Large drawing pad (I recommend getting a heavier weight paper so you can use it for painting, collages, and drawing). Remember that you can always cut this paper to size if you want a smaller piece.
- For covering the work table you can re-use old newspapers or get a large pad of plain newsprint.
- Easel paper...you can either buy a roll of easel paper or just tear out sheets from your large middle weight paper tablet.
- Finger painting paper....there IS a difference. Pros: it has a smooth & shiny surface to help fingers glide easily and is a little more resistant to wetness and tears. Cons: it takes a lot longer to dry than normal paper and it’s not really good for other paints (as they are thinner than finger paints and will drip and run like a sick child’s nose).
- Colored construction paper
- Thick/stiff paper like bristol board (can be found at art/craft stores), recycled cardboard pieces like cut up shipping boxes or shoe boxes...these are great foundations for glue projects.
- Start collecting random papers (like magazine/catalog clippings & old calendars) for collages.
- Crayons - large size for tiny hands (2-3 year olds) and regular size for older kids whose fine motor skills are more developed.
- Washable markers
- Colored pencils - for pre-K children and older
- Mr. Sketch Smelly markers by Sanford.....are so fun...kids love them. You can find them on-line & sometimes in art/craft stores and office supply stores.
- Tempera paint (can be found at most art/craft supply stores). I always mixed my paint colors with very diluted soapy water...use an old dish soap bottle with about a tablespoon (or less) of soap & fill with water...keep this with your paint supplies. I did this for several reasons... (1) Sometimes I wanted the paint to be a little thinner. (2) It really helps the paint clean off the children easier. (3) It makes it easier to clean up the brushes and paint containers because the soap is already in there!
- Paint containers - if you don’t want to buy the no-spill paint containers, there are many household options! Recycle your styrofoam trays from the grocery, or use pie tins or shallow plastic dishes (that won’t be easily knocked over)
- Tempera Cakes placed in individual dishes are an alternative to liquid tempera paint. Cons: you have less control of creating certain colors. Pros: the kids just need a cup of water and a brush & easier clean-up.
- Watercolor sets (use heavier paper with some texture...not totally smooth)
- Finger paint. Yes it is soooo messy, but the kids love it and it’s good for their perception of touch.
- Brushes in a variety of sizes.
- Drying rack - NOT a necessity, but it sure is nice to have one. Alternative - Lay flat on the ground (especially if REALLY wet) or string a clothes line outside, on your porch or balcony, or in a room and hang paintings with clothespins to dry. (If in a room, place a drop cloth below in case of drippage.
- Easel - these come in a variety of pricepoints...I really suggest getting one and most likely (with some research) you’ll be able to find one that fits within your budget.
- One word...ELMER’S! Elmer’s white school glue rocks. Have you ever thought of mixing your left over paint into a small container with some Elmer’s glue? Colorful glue! Love it. Start saving containers with lids from grocery foods (like used up butter tubs or shallow sour cream tubs). You’ll be able to have a variety of colored glue on hand!
- Elmer’s glue sticks
- Glue brushes - I like to use short metal craft brushes that you can find at your local craft store...they are really cheap, durable and clean easily.
RANDOM: (almost all of these can be found at your local craft store)
- Child-safe scissors. Don’t be afraid....cutting is an extremely helpful tool in developing your child’s fine motor skills, BUT they will probably cut a chunk of hair off of their head without supervision, so keep that in mind. ;-)
- Stamp pads & stamps (I love this ink-pad large enough for a child’s hand...so easy!)
- Sponges for sponge painting. Miracle Sponges are awesome! They are packages dry & flat so you can draw your own design on them (or use a stencil), cut it out and then when it's wet, you have a customized sponge shape!
- Popsicle sticks (large & small)
- Start collecting buttons or pieces of scrap fabric...any small knick-knacky things you like that would be fun to glue onto a project.
- Glitter and/or colored sand
- Foam pieces and foam sheets
- Wiggle-eyes = instant creature.
I hope someone out in cyber space will find this helpful!
Have fun & get messy!