Choosing paper for children doesn’t have to be complicated! Here is the Artful Parent’s guide to picking the best paper for your kids’ art activities.
Updated July 2021
When choosing art supplies for kids, don’t forget the paper! Paper for children can be anything from a sketchbook or a stack of colored construction paper to a roll of easel paper. Quality varies widely, as does price.
So how do you decide what paper to buy?
We’ve tried many different kinds of papers over the years. And here is our list of tried-and-true paper for kids art! And for even more ideas, visit the Artful Parent Amazon shop!
Choosing Paper for Children
When choosing paper for children and their art activities, you’ll want to consider what art materials the kids will be using with the paper as well as value (which I define as a good intersection of quality and price).
Paper for drawing, painting, and collage
1. White paper
We use this Ultimate Art Paper the most for our drawing, painting, and collage projects. It’s our general all-purpose kids art paper. We keep a stack of this wherever our kids like to work and draw.
If you’re only going to get one kind of paper, this is the kind we would suggest (or something similar).
We also like this heavyweight (80 lb) white sulphite paper for all-around use, as well as this mixed media paper.
2. Poster board
We also often purchase large sheets of poster board, both white and in different colors. You can cut them down to smaller sizes or shapes, or keep them whole. If you have a child who likes to work big, this is a great way to let them do so!
3. Mat remnants
For a free option, you can ask a mat and frame shop to save their mat remnants for you. They are thick and great for painting or collage. We use these quite a bit!
4. Cardboard and paper bags
You can also re-use cardboard and paper grocery bags (just cut them open) for art.
Paper for watercolor painting
For watercolor painting, we use this watercolor paper from Discount School Supply, the Strathmore 300 Series watercolor paper, or the Canson Watercolor Pad (this comes in a variety of sizes!). All are decent quality for a decent price.
You can also use any paint (like tempera) on watercolor paper, and we do, but it’s more expensive than other paper so you might not want to. We also paint with watercolors on poster board and mat board.
Note: If your kids are really into watercolor painting and you have the budget, try out some of the better quality watercolor papers. You get what you pay for with watercolor paper.
Paper for the kids art easel
We like the roll of easel paper offered by Discount School Supply the best so far of the ones we’ve tried. You can also find it on Amazon. The paper roll from IKEA is a good value and works just fine.
Paper for children who want to work BIG
We love this roll of brown kraft paper. It’s super economical! We use it for big projects such as body tracing or when we want to cover the table with paper and have a family draw fest.
You can also buy large rolls of white butcher paper. We finally bought some and really love it – our roll is lasting for a long time, which is a bonus.
And you can always roll out some of your easel paper on the floor as well. Keep in mind it might not be as wide as the ones listed above but still fun for kids to draw and paint in a different way.
Paper for children who like to work tiny
Whether your kids like to work small, draw small, paint small, or you just want to mix things up, trying offering a variety of paper sizes for art. Small is especially fun!
Cut regular-sized paper down into smaller pieces or buy a pack of blank index cards as we often do. Post-It notes, mini sketchbooks, or white labels for sticker making are all great options for drawing small.
Paper for the writing table, the kids’ room, and the travel bag
Besides the basket of white paper mentioned above, which travels all over our house, we also keep inexpensive spiral bound sketchbooks at the kids art table, in their bedroom, and in the car. If you pay about $4 per sketchbook, you don’t have to worry when your kids use it for all sorts of drawing, writing, cutting, and taping projects.
And for more special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas, there are so many fun sketchbook options!
Colored construction paper
Colored construction paper is a childhood staple. We love Tru Ray Heavyweight Construction paper is the best! And AstroBrights cardstock is fun for its vibrant color.
Other fun papers for children’s art
We use contact paper and colored tissue paper quite a bit, often for various stained glass projects. And while it technically isn’t paper, a real stretched canvas is a great, albeit more expensive, surface for kids art. Plus it looks great on the wall or shelf as is – no frame required.
How about you? What papers do you use the most in your house for children’s art?
More of Our Favorite Kids Art Supplies
- Visit the Artful Parent Amazon shop!
- The 25 Best Kids Art Supplies!
- The Best Art Materials for Toddlers
- Kids Art Supplies on a Budget
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