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How & Why to Encourage a Creative Exploration of Art Supplies for Kids (+Giveaway!)

by Jean Van't Hul
May 11, 2018

Here are 7 simple ways to encourage creative exploration of art supplies for kids, and a few reasons why open-ended experimentation is important for creativity and development. This post about children’s art supplies and creativity is sponsored by Faber-Castell.

Creative Exploration of Art Supplies for Kids

I have long been a fan of Faber-Castell’s kids’ art supplies and have recommended many of their products for years in my books, my courses, and here on the blog.

This post contains affiliate links. The quality is consistently good and the prices are reasonable.

We already use and love their gel crayons, oil pastels, beeswax crayons, tempera paints, watercolor crayons, markers, colored pencils, kids’ pottery wheel, and more. I’ve been hoping to partner with them for a long time!

So a big thank you to Faber-Castell for sponsoring this blog post (as always, all opinions expressed are my own). Faber-Castell sent me an awesome box of art supplies to explore with the kids. Many of the supplies included were already favorites of ours; a couple were new to us:

And since we were tasked with exploring this box of art supplies, I thought I would write about just that: exploring art supplies with kids.

But before I do so, I also want to tell you that there is a fabulous GIVEAWAY at the end of this post, so you will have a chance to win your very own fun-filled box of Faber-Castell art supplies for kids!

Exploring Faber-Castel Art Supplies for Kids

Taking an open-ended approach to exploring art supplies for kids.

It can be great to have a particular art activity to do sometimes.

And if you’re looking for a fun one, I have an entire directory of kids’ art activities.

But it can be equally wonderful to simply explore an art material with no outcome in mind.

This is especially appropriate for young children. In fact, the younger the child, the more likely that’s what your art making time will turn into even if you have something else in mind. And that’s okay.

More than okay, in fact.

That’s how little kids learn about their world and how it works.

7 Ways to Encourage Open-Ended Exploration of Kids' Art Supplies

7 Ways to Encourage Open-Ended Exploration of Art Supplies for Kids

  1. Put out one art material at a time (for a little kid) or one new addition at a time (for a big kid)
  2. Use simple art invitations
  3. Have a dedicated art space
  4. Keep art materials accessible (as appropriate)
  5. Use words that encourage open-ended exploration, such as “what if…?” and “I wonder what would happen…?”
  6. Describe and be supportive of open-ended exploration when you see it happen (here are some tips for talking with children about their art)
  7. Demonstrate open-ended exploration of art materials when making art side-by-side with your children

Exploring art and art supplies looks different at different ages.

Toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children will all approach art and art materials in different ways. I’ll share some of the differences below, so you know what to expect. Plus I’ll discuss how best to support your children’s creative development at different ages.

Exploring Art Supplies with Toddlers

Collage of Toddler Exploring Watercolor Set - Encouraging Open-Ended Exploration of Art Supplies for Kids

A toddler will explore a new art material mainly by using it AND by exploring it.

Not only will they try drawing with the gel crayon or painting with the new watercolors, they’ll also touch it, feel it, taste it, see if they can pull it apart and (maybe) put it back together, drop it, pick it up, carry it around, put the lid on and off, open it and close it, paint the paper, her hand, the table, etc.

The toddler is having a completely legitimate art session when she’s doing this! Which is why it is important to supervise closely, but also why it’s important to stay positive and supportive.

If any of this exploration is not what you want right then, remain positive as you divert attention away from the art materials and toward bath time, a walk, or the building blocks. Next time that your toddler encounters the same art material, she may explore the mechanics a little less and the actual drawing or painting a little more. 

Exploration with the senses is part of the creative process!

Exploring Art Supplies with Preschoolers

3 Year Old Using the Sand Painting Kit - Exploring Art Supplies for Kids

Preschoolers, who have already had multiple encounters with similar art materials (even if not the exact one you are offering), will still enjoy an open-ended exploration of the art material but will likely spend more time painting with the paint than with opening and closing the lid.

Preschooler Drawing and Writing with Markers - Exploring Art Supplies for Kids

For this age, an open-ended exploration looks more like trying different colors and combinations, experimenting with different ways of painting or drawing or collaging, making the shapes and pictures they like to make, writing the letters they know how to write, telling stories with their art, and yes, exploring the properties of the art materials.

Exploring Art Supplies with School Age Children

Painting and experimenting with the 3D Sand Painting Kit

With school age children, open ended exploration of art materials and art is just as important. They may know exactly how a set of watercolors works but that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from free exploration of art materials, techniques, and ideas.

They continue to master many parts of their world—the tools, their bodies, techniques, ideas, concepts, etc.—and now they use them with more and more intentionality.

School age kids are familiar with the tools around themselves and how to use them, and they use them with purpose. Markers are used to draw and write pictures and stories and posters and signs. Paints are used to explore concepts and colors and designs. A variety of art materials are used to express their ideas, feelings, and stories.

By sprinkling new-to-them art materials in combination with those they already love, they will enjoy trying new tools and discovering a different way of making lines, shapes, pictures and colors.

Experimenting with 3D Sand Paint - Exploring Art Materials for Kids

Open-Ended Exploration Fosters Creativity

Again, even if you do specific art activities with your kids, remember to offer plenty of opportunities for open-ended exploration of art materials and techniques. That’s how we learn and develop as artists, creative beings, visual learners, and problem solvers.

This kind of no-pressure exploration gives us the space to be creative and to become more confident in our art abilities.

Faber-Castell Watercolor Set in a Tight Circle

10 Art Supplies for Kids That Are Great for Open-Ended Exploration

  1. Watercolors
  2. Tempera paints
  3. Oil pastels or gel crayons
  4. Watercolor crayons and watercolor pencils
  5. An open-ended art kit*
  6. Glue
  7. Scissors
  8. Tape of all kinds
  9. Playdough or modeling clay
  10. Toothpicks, pipe cleaners, and other construction materials

*Sometimes a kit is actually a good way to explore a new idea or technique. We have found that the Faber-Castell Do Art kits encourage open-ended exploration while also giving appropriate guidance. It’s a fine balance! We’ve used the Fizzy Paint kit in the past and this time we were given the 3D Sand Painting kit. Both lent themselves well to creative experimentation by everyone from toddlers and preschoolers to my kids (2nd grade and middle school), and to me, the so-called adult. It was a nice reminder to me that even kits can be explored in open-ended ways; we had so much fun with the sand painting kit!

A Simple Art Invitation with Watercolor Paints for Kids

Would you like to win your very own box of art supplies to use for some open-ended art exploration? Read on for Faber-Castell’s art supply giveaway…

GIVEAWAY! Win a Box of Faber-Castell Art Supplies for Kids

Now you have a chance to win the same box of Faber-Castell art supplies for kids that they sent us to explore! This box includes the following:

  • 12 Count Connector Paints
  • Do Art 3D Sand Painting Kit
  • 24 Count Duo Tip Markers
  • Metallic Colored Pencils
  • 4 Pack Soft Grip Brushes
  • Ladybug Sharpener

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For a chance to win this box of Faber-Castell art supplies for your family or school, leave a comment to this post telling us about your family’s favorite children’s art material by Faber-Castell. (Or, if you don’t have one yet, what would you most like to try?) This giveaway is valued at $58.94. After you leave your comment, make sure to click the Rafflecopter box saying that you want to be entered into the giveaway! The giveaway is open through Friday, May 18th 11:59 pm EST to readers in the United States. Good luck!

Thanks again to Faber-Castell for sponsoring this blog post and giveaway and for sending us some of their children’s art supplies to explore. All opinions expressed are my own.

You can learn more about Faber-Castell and their premium children’s art supplies on the Faber-Castell website. And you can follow them on Facebook , Instagram or Twitter.

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7 simple ways to encourage a creative exploration of art supplies for kids. Plus the reasons why open-ended experimentation is important for creativity and development. #kidsart #art_supplies #preschoolers #kidspainting #toddlers #parenting #creativehome #artsandcrafts

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