Monday, June 14, 2010

* Making Art At Home: My Favorite Art Supplies for School-Age Children

Here we are at  part three of my 
series about my  favorite art supplies 
to keep on hand for your kids.

(I'm sorry they are SO LONG!)

If you missed part one:

Here's part two:

I still recommend the supplies from both lists  
for the Toddler years (ages 2-3)
the Preschool years (ages 3-5)
for School-Age children (ages 5-12)
but I like to add some more "sophisticated" materials to the mix. 

1. Love, love, love
Caran D'Ache 
Water Soluble Artist Crayons

Draw with them like colored pencils or regular crayons,
then add some water 
with a nice paint brush on good, student grade (or nicer)
watercolor paper
to achieve a lovely,  watercolor-effect. 
(I used to add these to my Monoprints  in college all the time!)

2. Sharpies
Yes, I know, these are not "green" or planet friendly
and they are certainly NOT non-toxic!

USE IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA like the backyard.
but... you can get such cool effects 

If you know of a green alternative  for my beloved Sharpie markers
I would love to hear from you.  (My guilty conscience needs a break!)

3. Acrylic Paint

with my girls because it goes on sale at Michaels ALL the time! I also use

for projects like this....
Poured Paint Backyard Gazing Balls and

Painting Fairy Houses

4. NICE Paint Brushes
You don't have to break the bank but, kids this age should have some 
"nice" paint brushes  in a variety of sizes. (save those Michaels half-off coupons!)

At least one Fine brush for detail work,
a Medium brush for most painting and 
a Large Brush for covering large ares. 

Teach them to wash out their brush as soon as they're done painting (don't let it dry out)
Sculpt the bristles back into a point while they're still wet
(like styling it's hair  or combing out tangles!)
Always store your brushes upright in a jar or glass to dry (not on their heads!)
Keep in a jar or a brush roll (like those fabric crayon rolls  everyone is making now!) 

5. Kite Paper

This beautiful, colorful, translucent paper is WONDERFUL
for window projects like...

We get our Kite Paper from Palumba here
Fun for pretty paper airplane making too!

6. Oil Pastels
I call them
"Magic Crayons"

I love the way you can blend  colors with these creamy crayons.
They CAN stain clothing. If you buy the adult kind, they are not
non-toxic but children's pastels are available.  I use:

Watercolor resists beautifully over Oil Pastel. 

7. Assortment of Beads
Elastic Thread

To make necklaces, friendship bracelets, doll accessories, eye glasses chains, etc.

Don't forget things like:
recycled cut-up drinking straws
alphabet beads
home-made clay beads
silk flower petals

8. Yarn
Great for finger weaving, hair for dolls, belts and ropes for imaginative play
knitting,or weaving on a loom!

9. Small Loom

perfect for quiet afternoons...
You can use a store-bought Lap Loom like ours.... or make your own with a piece of cardboard.
We're planning to make an OUTDOOR Loom for our backyard this summer!  (Eek -Exciting!)

10. Blank Books
Kids this age love to write and illustrate their own books and journals.
Encourage this  by providing them with an assortment of store-bought and home made blank books.

Sketch Books

Moleskine Journals

11. Their OWN Stash of White Paper

I like to give school-aged children an entire package of white office copy paper.

12. Good Student-gradeWatercolor Paper
and... if they really like to watercolor Good Watercolor Paper

13. A beginning Sewing Kit

Learning basic hand sewing and stitching is a foundation skill that will last a lifetime.

Embroidery Floss
Needles of various sizes
Embroidery Hoop
Muslin/Cotton fabric
Small sharp scissors
A threading tool (to help 
them thread their needles)

You can make your own Needle Book.

Christmas Tree Button Sewing Lesson

14. A place of their own to keep their art work

An Underbed Storage Box
Accordian File Folder  (from an office supply store)
A Drawer...
Both of my girls have their own "Paper BOX"  under their beds to keep art work,
school projects, home made books, etc.

We go through and purge/recycle  the boxes once or twice a year
to weed out what we really want to keep.
After a year,  I find that they are a lot  less attached to some of the work,
then you keep just a few of the really special pieces 
that are representative of that age or school year
for  scrapbooks, framing/displaying, memory boxes,  etc. 

15. Modeling Clay

Model Magic
Sculpey Brand "Pluffy" Clay
Kids this age may feel that they are "too big" to play with play-doh
but they will love working with clay (especially clay that can be  baked in the oven to harden/cure)

16. Mod-Podge
This water-soluble product is perfect for collage, sealing.
Sparkle, Matte Finish, and Outdoor Formula are our favorites!

17. Legos

Legos are wonderful for school-age children.
They construct  3-Dimensional sculptures and buildings (Architecture!)
They learn math and counting. It builds fine-motor skills.

You can make an idea book like we did here.

18. Flower/ Leaf Press

Make your own to save those beautiful blooms and leaves
 collected in the backyard and on nature walks.
Great for collage and pictures!

19. Scraps 

Fabric, Felt,  Ribbon, Yarn, Cardboard, 
Paper, Tissue Paper, Aluminum Foil, Bubble Wrap
A wonderful resource for kids to  use as they need.


A wonderful resource for imaginative construction and 3-D work.
This is our catch-all for odd bits and pieces that can't be recycled but we don't want to 
toss in the landfill!

20. A Color Box
I always had one of these  for each table of students  in my art classroom.

A color box is a great way to 
recycle smaller scraps of colored paper
leftover from big sheets of paper.

Small scraps of colored paper
I like to provide my girls (and myself!) with a small box
(a kid's shoe box works well for this)
containing a spectrum of colored paper
(scrapbook paper/construction paper)
cut into small rectangles (approx. 4"x6") for various projects. 
This is nice for kids to use when doing collage and various projects
but doesn't have as much waste as giving kids big pieces of paper
(that they cut one tiny shape out of the center)

What are your favorite art supplies for school-age children?

pink and green mama,


Cricket said...

Wow. Just...wow. I thought I had a good assortment of decent art supplies for my kids, but you have me beat hands down. I love all your ideas, and I appreciate having all this information in one place with links and ideas. My first purchase will definitely be kite paper. They will go nuts over it. I didn't even know such a thing existed. Also, my absolute favorite idea is the rainbow box. Why, oh why, have I never thought of that? All our small scraps are just tossed into a bin, hoping that someone will bother to sort through to find what they are looking for, but they almost never do. Maybe they would use them if they were all sorted neatly by color.

Andréann said...

My 2 yr old are got a hold on my sharpies already, they are her favorite... Even found a stain washer that wash them off completely! can you beleive it?

I don't have an alternative for you, I wish someone will. I love love love my sharpies!

Lisa Anne said...

I can't live without having my acrylic paint on hand. It's super cheap and The Boy and I use it on everything!!

Amy said...

No need to apologize for long posts. I have loved this series of your fav art supplies.

I love colored popsicle sticks. I find them in the regular size and large size (like a tongue depressor) at the dollar store and they come in all sorts of color packs. We use them for all sorts of fun projects around here.

twolittleseeds said...

Just love that colour box at the end! Genius! xx

mother★lode said...

I LOVE your lists, organized by age. I'd like to include a link back to them from my blog - i have an entire page dedicate to art with children, and your resources are fantastic, and so inspiring!

Teacher Tom said...

I love all 3 of these long posts and all the links to past projects. It's like an index to check out when I get stuck for new things to do!

kate said...

Thank you sooo much! i am going back to the States this week and we have to stock up on at supplies for the year for our boys! this is a fabulous list! God Bless!

jen at paintcutpaste.com said...

such wonderful lists you've made, marylea! what a great resource! thank you for sharing these.

i'd also add into the paintbrush care portion that it's great to teach your kids that after you wash out a paintbrush and restyle the hair, keep the brush laying on its side until dry, then return it to its upright position in your brush jar. otherwise the water can run down the bristles into the metal and wood parts of the brush and rot/rust/ruin it.

as an art therapist and someone who finds art sooo healing, i always feel like art materials are food for the soul! i try to choose quality ones in the same way i'd grocery shop for quality foods and treat the materials with the same care i would when preparing a meal for myself or my family. :)

you rock, mary lea! xo

pink and green mama MaryLea said...


That's a great tip about the paint brushes --I'm guilty of some rotten wood and rusty metal but I think it's more likely because the girls will move on to another project and I find the brushes soaking in a cup of water a day (or two!) later.

It never occurred to me when I was teaching but I think that's because I was washing over 100 paint brushes every afternoon! : )


Katie's Nesting Spot said...

Don't apologize for the length!!! These are fabulous posts just overflowing with great information and tips! I really appreciate them and this one is giving me tons of ideas for ER as she gets older.

Woould you be interesting in having us feature your series in a post on my other blog ABC & 123? I'd probably feature two-three things from each post and then direct readers back to you and each post over here.

Love and Lollipops said...

Thank you for these super lists...I have checked out all three. I have a 22 month old and an 8 year old, so doing art with both needs quite some planning!

Cheryl said...

I love this list of materials. It is giving more ideas. I think my son would particularly like the snail shell on a lego truck. He brought a snail shell in today to paint it. I had to point out that it was still someone's home.

Ginger said...

I have just found your blog - Wow! Love it.

One art supply we keep on hand is Perler beads. My girls love 'em.

Deb Chitwood said...

What a great series - a fantastic resource for parents and grandparents! I love all your photos, descriptions, and links! I just featured your series at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow

delightfulchildrensbooks.com said...

As a big fan of open-ended art projects, favorite art supplies posts are my favorites. Thank you for all of the fantastic ideas to make art time more exciting for my 7-year-old!

delightfulchildrensbooks.com said...

As a big fan of open-ended art projects, favorite art supplies posts are my favorites. Thank you for all of the fantastic ideas to make art time more exciting for my 7-year-old!

Lynet Sandoval Witty said...

I love this list! I have never ever heard of watercolor crayons! i have most of these things for my kiddos, but that invention box? yes please!

Amanda said...

I never knew about the water color crayons either. So fun!

I am interested in purchasing a nice set of colored pencils for my 2nd grader. The Crayola seems to break when sharpening. They don't need to be super fancy but a higher quality as she loves to draw and decorate. Do you have any suggestions for a midpriced brand? Thanks in advance. I love your blog and have found much inspiration from it over the past few years. I hope you are enjoying your time away from blogging. Amanda

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