The 25 Best Kids Art Materials!

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The 25 Best Art Materials for Kids! Including The Artful Parent's top 10 can't-live-without, all-time favorites.

This is a list of our all-time favorite kids art materials. I started with the top 10 that we just can’t live without, then had to keep going. So we have an addendum with the 15 runner-up art materials after the big top ten list.

Here goes… And please add a comment with any of your faves that I missed!

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Artful Parent's Top 10 Ten Favorite Art Materials for Kids! -- Plus another 15 seriously awesome children's art supplies...

Our Top 10 Favorite Kids Art Materials

1. BioColor Paint (We love this paint and use it almost exclusively these days. It’s pretty much edged our fave tempera paint out of the picture for us. The tempera is still on our studio shelf, and I still think it’s the best tempera paint, but we always end up reaching for the shiny, vibrant BioColors.)

2. Liquid Watercolor Paint (If you haven’t tried liquid watercolors yet, you need to!)

3. Oil Pastels (We don’t have a clear favorite brand for these and like Colorations, Crayola, Faber-Castell, Twistables Slick Stix, etc.)

4. Playdough (Homemade is by far our favorite. The cooked playdough recipe is the best; the no-cook recipe is easier and quicker.)

5. Transparent Con-Tact Paper (Go with the name brand for sure; you can get it in any drug store or grocery store with the shelf-liner paper. Also called sticky-back plastic. We use it for all kinds of suncatcher and stained glass projects as well as some collaging fun.)

6. Markers (Sadly Alpino Super Color Markers, our all-time favorite markers ever are not available at this time. So, so sad. Our runner up choices at this moment are the ever-present Crayolas (skinny, thick, washeable, not-washable—they’re all good). And these Stabilo Power Markers.

7. Glitter (All the brands we’ve tried have been fine)

8. Glue

9. Colored Masking Tape (We’re tape happy!)

10. Paper, of course!  White Paper and  Colored Paper. Sketchbooks and fancy art journals. Watercolor paper and easel rolls. But all you really need is some plain white paper. Or colored. Or recycle bin paper. Or cardboard. Or ?

More Favorite Kids Art Materials!

15 More Kids Art Materials We Really, Really Like

11. Stickers (My kids have a sticker fetish. Maybe yours do, too? We use all kinds, including foil stars, reinforcement holes and other office supply stickers, basic shape stickers, DIY stickers, etc., but also a goodly supply of more commercial, image-based stickers.)

12. Googly Eyes (You gotta have googly eyes!)

13. Sharpie Markers and Metallic Sharpies (We use ours all the time!)

14. Pipe Cleaners (So good for manipulating, for building sculptures, for threading beads and pasta, etc)

15. Tempera Paint Sticks (More like extra-large oil pastels than paint, really, but great for mess-free art for kids! The colors are vibrant and the “paint” goes on smoothly.)

16. Crayons (We use and have used all kinds of crayons, including Crayolas, Prang soy crayons, Stockmar beeswax crayons, glitter crayons, metallic crayons, rainbow crayons, DIY crayons, triangular crayons, skinny crayons, chunky crayons, and super fun crayon shapes. The cheap Crayolas are just fine for drawing so if you’re on a tight budget, get those and spend any extra $ on some paints. But if you’re okay with spending a bit more, I recommend these Jolly Push Up Crayons and Crayon Rocks. Watercolor Crayons are pretty awesome, too.

17. Clay (Messy, but good. My kids LOVE sculpting with clay. We just let it air dry, but if you have access to a kiln, all the better.)

Even More Favorite Kids Art Materials!

18. Printed Craft Tape (As I mentioned earlier, we’re tape happy here. We love washi tape and the washi tape knock-offs. Everyone seems to be getting into the game these days, including even Scotch tape. You can pick up printed craft tape almost everywhere, including Target, the drugstore, etc, but CuteTape.com has a great supply of the real deal. I buy ours here and there, but like the economical sets by Discount School Supply. Just ordered this set!

19. Colored Tissue Paper (Great for suncatchers, collage, and papier mache.)

20. Model Magic (Not exactly a must-have, but so fun and squishy!)
21. Rainbow Feathers (To add a little fun color and tactile experience to suncatchers, collages, playdough sculptures, and more!)

22. Foam Paint is a lot like shaving cream, the all-time sensory art and play fave. But it is formulated especially for art, doesn’t smell, and is supposed to be environmentally friendly. It’s more expensive but worth trying 2-3 colors sometime.

23. Colored Pencils are the underappreciated workhorse in our house. They never seem to be as coveted by my kids as, say, foam paint or googly eyes, but get used for drawing regularly just the same.

24. Wood Craft Sticks (For building, sculpture, crafts, catapults, everything!)

25. Glue Gun (Makes gluing so quick, easy, and fun. If you’re worried about kids + glue gun, see Teacher Tom’s tips here. Or, if you have my book, see the advice he gives on page 181.)

So that’s my list! If I don’t stop now, I’ll end up with another addendum of 10-15 art materials…

Did I miss one of your favorite kids art materials? What would you add to this list?

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Comments

  1. says

    This is a pretty fabulous list. I would add yarn, stamps and cotton balls. My daughter loves putting cotton balls (or pompoms)in her art. My son, who is younger, is really into stamping… everything… these days.

  2. Mona says

    How do you use the oil pastels? I’ve looked (longingly) at them several times at Michaels, but I’ve never known what to do with them. Maybe it’s time to invest in a set.

  3. Cheryl Geiget says

    Great List! The new Sharpie brush markers (Michaels’) are a hit at our house, as are my all-time favorite Stadetler markers (thin tip, dual tip) available at Office Depot and sometimes at Staples. I would have to add a Rainbow Loom and elastics – one of the finest obsessions ever created, as well as origami paper, foam sheets and felt.

  4. says

    Just draw with them! They’re lovely to work with. Also, they work great for watercolor resist art.
    If you’re buying from Michaels, make sure to use your half off coupon to get the oil pastels! (You probably know that, but just in case you don’t…) You can either print out a coupon from their website (use the storefinder, then after you find your store, you’ll be given the option of printing a coupon for that store) or download their app.

  5. says

    I haven’t tried Sharpie brush markers yet but have had my eye on them! And thanks for the tip on the Stadetler markers! I’ll try them!
    Maia would concur about the rainbow loom and origami paper!
    What do you use the foam sheets for? Just curious…

  6. Liane says

    Not quite it’s own art material but we love the Nancy bottles from discount school supply for squeezing out white glue, paint, or colored glue.

    Also beads and buttons are huge favorites for sculptures and collages.

    • says

      Ayse – There are lots of different Colorations products — everything from paints to markers to construction paper and contact paper. I LOVE some of them (paints, etc) and am not crazy about some of them (construction paper, contact paper). If there’s a particular Colorations product you’re wondering about, let me know!

  7. Heather gu says

    How bout macaroni,food coloring,and yarn? Or paper mache? I like to get the different colored paint swatches from home depot and cut out different shapes so we can use glue and make pictures with them

  8. Lonna says

    Great list. In our house we use all kinds of chalk & stickers plus everything that has been mentioned in your list.

  9. Neasa says

    Little wood discs and colored pasta. Also good markers by bic if you can find them and Caran d’Ache – you can buy individual ones of these. All time favorites in our house though are coloring pencils and any size of cardboard box!

  10. Holly says

    I have two boys, one is almost 3 and the other is almost 6. Of the items you listed, what paints would you recommend for doing pieces using handprints and footprints on canvas? Thank you!

  11. says

    I just asked several of my friends the other day about a good clay body to sun dry (like Mexican red clay). I was wondering your thoughts since you said you air dry your clay. I recall watching some traditional Mexican artists sun drying their clay then painting it…one was a piggy bank, so I imagine it would have to hold up fairly well. What has been your experience? I do not like the “air dry” clays they try to push off as clay. They are crumbly and not worth purchasing. Thank you in advance for letting me know!

  12. Paige Greenw says

    Felt!!! So many colors & so much fun! Also- sequins, pom poms, labels (multi-colored) & wrapping paper.

  13. says

    I have run an Art Center for the past 17 yrs and have bought/used a ton of supplies through the years! Your list is great and agree with all the ones i have personally used with our students and cant wait to try the others listed!!
    I would add q-tips for painting dots on all sorts of things- just the right size for little hands! Also my favorite glue sticks are by Crayola- they have a cap that you take off and use to stand the glue stick in, makes it easier to NOT lose the lid! The glue is blue when gluing but dries clear. I would rather spend a little more for products that last longer, make art a little easier, less mess and are of good quality.

  14. says

    I teach art to kids and was thrilled to discover Faber-Castell Eco Pencils. They are much better quality than regular children’s colored pencils, with richer color coverage and sturdier leads– and they are reasonably priced, much less expensive than artists grade pencils. You can find them on Amazon. I also shop alot from dickblick.com.

  15. Kelly Bornt says

    Lovely list! Thank you for sharing :-) I am setting up an art closet/storage/work area for my kids and as a mother to 2 little ones and a full time preschool teacher lists are quite helpful. ;)
    With love from Laos!

  16. Carrie Peel says

    Awesome list, and the only thing I was surprised that I didn’t see were soft pastels, which my daughter loves! She’s always liked to draw on the sidewalk (or the deck, or the garage floor, or whatever she can find!) with the cheapo sidewalk chalk they sell everywhere, but most of the time she’d use those once or twice and find plain ol’ white chalk underneath the top layer of pigment…so her “neon green” chalk would only be used until that first layer of color wore off. She started getting very interested in my soft pastels (which are too pricey for a five or six year olds to use!), so I was really happy to find the 48 color set of Crayola sidewalk chalk–the colors are really bright and they stay that way until the chalk is gone! I used some of them for a sidewalk art competition last year to fill in larger spaces, actually, and I was surprised at how well they worked! Now that my daughter’s seven, she likes her artwork to be permanent sometimes, so we use the soft and hard student grade pastels on paper quite a bit too- any of the student grade sets would probably work well, but personally our favorites have been Loew-Cornell and Faber-Castell soft pastel sets, and General’s or Sargent Art for the chalk pastels. Oil pastels are also a favorite in my house as well- the ones we’ve really liked have been Prang, Reeves, and the Portfolio series watersoluble set (I used that set to draw on dark wooden frames and they worked beautifully, which I didn’t really expect!). The soft/ hard pastels on paper do need some kind of fixative spray- I like to use a workable fixative after she’s done a little and a permanent fixative when she’s finished–aerosol hairspray works to seal them too!

  17. says

    Love what you share here, i just started creating video tutorial on how to make simple origami arts for kids, the list you share here gave me ideas on what will be my next video about. Thanks again for the share!

  18. ann says

    Great list – thank you for the specific brand recommendations. I have 3 girls and they love love love FACE PAINT! They take the watercolor crayons, a little cup of water, a sponge to dab off excess water, and a hand mirror into the back yard and transform themselves. So fun!

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  21. Chris says

    Great list! I think I have all of them. Would love for you to post your top 25 or so favorite art projects :). I enjoy your posts keep them coming please and thank you.

  22. Eleasha Thorpe says

    I would add Gallery Wrapped Canvases. I buy small ones at the dollar store and large ones when the go on 80% off at Micheals. So many of our art adventures turn out so well, we do a second round on canvas and hang them arround the house. Like when we put crayons through the hot glue gun and squirted the canvas with meted crayon….amazing!!

  23. Barbara Mail says

    I really like using Crayola brand watercolor pencil sets of 24 colors. They last a long time and give the students experience with watercolor without the usual mess. They are particularly nice for classes of kindergarten and first grade students. I usually add ultra fine sharpies to the mix. They just need to be dampened gently with a brush once the color is applied to paper. They also work well as plain colored pencils. The cores are a bit softer and creamier than regular colored pencils, and blend beautifully. They are cheap too.

  24. Jennifer says

    I love your list!

    Not to be a downer but you may consider adding a few notes regarding age appropriateness as some of your favs like Biopaint and Liquid Watercolor (both of which I love) can stain clothing and skin in the case of the water color, if you’ve got a little one who’s super messy with their painting.

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