If you’re like me, you might be trying to balance the wants of your child’s holiday wish list with things they actually need and can use. I love gifting art supplies for holidays and birthdays to all the young artists in my life. It feels like a gift that can be special and consumable without being candy. All wins in my book. I have been an art educator for over ten years, and I have tried A LOT of art supplies. These are my favorites in terms of quality, developmental appropriateness, and the ever important fun factor.
I have used this paint for years and even though I’ve tried other brands that are more expensive, I always come back to this. It truly is washable and has come out of my own child’s clothing every time. It also has a beautiful consistency that feels good on the paper with colors that are true classics, perfect for mixing. This particular set has all the colors you need for getting a young artist started on their painting journey.
When introducing young artists to watercolors, I always start with liquid watercolors. Many of us will remember using the rectangular sets of watercolor cakes which certainly have their time and place, but those take a certain level of patience and methodology to use correctly. Starting out with liquid watercolors allows for much more experimentation and manipulation of the medium. I’ve used this set for everything from straight painting on paper, to salt and resist painting, to spray painting with spray bottles. It comes concentrated so you can add as much or as little water to it as you like. It is washable (!) and lasts a long time depending on how much you dilute the paint.
Any time I teach a class and use these cups, all of the grown ups ask, “Where did you get these?!” I LOVE these cups. I’ve purchased them three times for three separate organizations and they are still being used at all of them, all the time. They last, they don’t spill, and they can be used for so many painting needs: paint, liquid watercolors, water, liquid glue, you name it. I’ve seen other models with separate lids that cover the paintbrush opening but I prefer the flip top lid. Who needs to keep track of another lid? Not me. The opening also provides the perfect surface to wring out excess water on your brush so you don’t need to use a sponge.
When working with young artists, I always reach for brushes with thick handles. They are easier to use and the brushes usually hold up better than the thin paint brushes that often accompany paint in art sets marketed towards children. They wash well and can be used for a variety of paint from acrylics to watercolors.
These are my favorite crayons ever. While they are labeled as construction paper crayons, they can be used on any kind of paper, which is what makes them special! Their color is more opaque and saturated than other crayons and they can write and draw on dark paper. I always recommend these and they are a material that I’m asked about frequently!
Every child that I have seen use Chunkies loves them. They are a thick paint stick that glides seamlessly across the page. They feel great on paper and the color can’t be beat. Best of all? They dry FAST. Meaning no mess for you while your child still gets a paint-like experience.
This material lives up to its name. It is a magical modeling compound that is perfect for small hands. While a lot of modeling clay requires some hand strength to use, model magic feels soft and pliable. I like to use the white version as markers can be added to it and blended to create marbled colored dough. It air dries within 24 hours or so, or can be kept in an airtight container and used over and over again.
When creating art with young artists, one can expect a heavy hand with the glue or paint. When that happens, having a sturdy base for your art is crucial. I love this economical card stock that comes in a wide variety of colors. This 65 lb. weight paper is thick enough to hold a lot of material, while still thin enough for older children to cut through. It also makes for wonderful card making!
This is the ultimate fun material to use when collaging. These transparent colorful sheets are truly the sprinkles in a collaging sundae. I love to use them to explore color mixing!
Every artist needs a sketchbook. This carry-along version comes with fun animal covers and a handle that’s perfect for on-the-go sketching. Most importantly, the paper inside is sturdy and blank, just what a young artist needs to make their next masterpiece.