Hello and happy Friday!
I’ve had some questions about what kind of art supplies you should have on hand if you are going to make art with your kids. There are just two main rules to follow when trying to incorporate more art into your family life: make supplies easy to reach and have a space to make art. Our family lives in a small house so our work space is the table where we eat our meals, and the supplies are all on one shelf in a cupboard. Well, the supplies that aren’t under parental control. More on that later.
I’m going to walk you through the supplies that we have, how we store them, and why you should think about adding them to your own space. Don’t feel like you’ve got to run out and buy everything all at once–I’ve been building up this stash for 8 years. If you live near a Dollar Tree store, they stock a good variety of art supplies.
First: Drawing supplies
We have pencils, colored pencils, washable markers, glitter glue, and crayons. These are store in pencil cases that every store carries when it’s school-supply time. I recommend stocking up on these when they go on sale in September. Every few months, go through your markers and throw out the ones that no longer work. A variety of writing tools helps your child when they are learning to write their letters–each one has a different feel as it moves across the paper. I recommend washable markers for two reasons: they wash up easy, and you can draw with them and then take a wet brush to your drawing for a watercolor effect. (This is always a big hit with the 6-and-under crowd)
Our crayons are in a telescopic tower. Not necessary, but a huge space-saver. It’s also easy for multiple kids to access the crayons without a lot of bickering. The alphabet stamps were a gift–not necessary, but fun. At Michael’s craft stores they sell small alphabet stamp sets for $1 in their dollar bins.
Next up, what’s in the cardboard box?
A stapler for making books. A hole punch which has been used to make books, garland, jewelry, and confetti. Glue sticks. Scissors: safety scissors, shaped-edge scissors. Paint brushes from small to large (these go inside the cups and get stored upright to extend the life of the brush). Extra pencils. In Ziploc bags: rubber stamps and stamp pads; googly eyes, pony beads. Stamps and stamp pads are the ultimate in motor control plus storytelling, especially in the pre-school age group. For older children, they use the stamps to decorate invitations (and thank you cards, and birthday cards) or in their journals. Googly eyes can turn a grumpy day into a fun day–put them in unexpected places and wait for the giggles. I like to put them on fruit, light switches, and above door knobs. Pony beads are just the right size for 3-6 year olds to string up bracelets and necklaces for themselves, their friends, and you.
It all fits in one box!
And then we have two upright files: one is an actual magazine holder that I got from Ikea. The other is a cereal box that I cut up.
In the cereal box file
Watercolor sets: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let your children paint. Watercolor cleans up easily. They will learn about color, develop fine motor skills, and hone their story-telling skills. I recommend Crayola or Prang sets.
There’s also more washable markers (these are in their original case because they travel with us), Sculpey bake shop clay, and a variety of stencils. The bake shop clay is less expensive than the other Sculpey clays–it’s designed with kids in mind so it’s a little more flexible after baking than the Sculpey III or Premo. It makes excellent beads and tiny figures.
Here’s the cereal box that it all fits in:
And in the magazine file
A variety of papers: lined writing paper, cardstock, origami. A variety of paper allows for a world of creativity.In our house, lined paper is for making lists, journal entries, and doodles. Construction paper gets cut apart and reassembled. Origami paper is folded into some pretty amazing creatures (and there are a TON of origami tutorials on YouTube). Cardstock is turned into buildings, cars, animals, and boats as well as invitations to impromptu parties. A ruler, because sometimes you need to measure and sometimes you need a straight edge. Some stickers–embellish paintings, use them as a jumping off point for a journal entry. Another watercolor set(for when friends are over). Watercolor pencils (not necessary, but fun). An African animal stamp set.
Those are all the things that the kids can access any time they want. I do have supplies that are under parental control–which happened after my son, at the age of four, decided that he wanted to paint with acrylic paints at 6am. There’s nothing quite like scrubbing paint out of the carpet before sunrise…
Other supplies you should have on hand (and out of reach):
- White school glue. It holds better than glue sticks, and is useful in so many ways.
- Glitter. (draw with white glue, then sprinkle glitter over it to make a wonderfully sparkly design)
- Acrylic paint. It cleans up, but not as easily as watercolors.
- Peg People! These are the best boredom-buster at our house. Order from Bayer Wood Products. They are 15 cents apiece.
- Pipe Cleaners (aka Chenille stems). SO MANY USES.
- Seed beads. That’s those tiny glass beads–they come in a rainbow of colors.
I can not stress enough the benefit of allowing your children space to explore and make mistakes with art. Up until they are around 13 years of age, the most important part of making art is the PROCESS. It’s getting to know the materials, figuring out what colors work together, deciding on how to compose a picture. So I beg you, get out the supplies and get out of their way. They will amaze you if you let them.