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The Best Art Supplies for 2023

by The Artful Parent Editorial Team
March 26, 2024

Here’s our favorite arts and crafts supplies based on years of experience. The best art supplies for painting, drawing, sculpting and more!

This post contains affiliate links.

Updated October 2023

We get asked for recommendations for kids art supplies all the time. Questions such as, “What paint should I buy?” “What are the best watercolors for kids?” “What markers do you recommend?” and “Where do you get your paper?

We have done so many different art activities and used so many different art supplies over the years with family, friends, and all of the different kids art groups and classes we’ve attended and taught.

So, we’ll share what we consider the best kids art supplies in this post.

That said, we haven’t tried everything out there. And they are always coming out with fun new art supplies for kids, so if you have a favorite to add, please do so in the comments!

Please note: You don’t need everything on this list. But if you’re looking to stock your art supply cupboard, this should help you get started. And if you are already well stocked with kids’ art supplies, then maybe this list will give you some new ideas to try.

best art supplies pin

Best Art Supplies for Kids

Note: This list has been updated to reflect evolving favorites as well as new art materials that are available and others that are no longer being manufactured.

You can also visit The Artful Parent shop for even more of our favorite art materials!

And bonus! If you’d like a list to print out and save, you can get our free printables on the top art materials by age (toddlers, preschoolers, big kids).

Art Supplies for Painting

Paints are a must! Here are some of our picks. For more of our favorite paint recommendations see The Best Paints for Kids.

Tempera paint is a staple for kids’ art activities. It’s super versatile, inexpensive, washable, nontoxic, and readily available.

We also love and use BioColor Paint from Discount School Supply. It’s so shiny and vibrant! Plus, it adheres to more surfaces.

If you haven’t tried liquid watercolor paint yet, you need to! We use it for painting, all kinds of craft projects and science experiments!

For a watercolor paint palette, we have used quite a variety. Crayola’s Education Watercolor Set is a fantastic basic set with vibrant colors, and we love OOLY’s fabulous neon palette!

There are many brands out there, but Kwik Stix are always a top favorite. We also love these neon and metallic sets. Paint sticks are a low mess, easy clean up way to invite your child to paint. And best of all, the paint dries in 90 seconds!

markers in cups
Photo by Anna Harpe

Art Supplies for Drawing

Here are our favorite drawing supplies. For further reading, check out: The BEST Art Supplies for Drawing

We like Crayola Oil Pastels for a sturdier oil pastel for little hands and Pentel for a finer version for older kids.

We also really like Faber-Castell gel crayons which are somewhere in between crayon & oil pastel with easy coverage.

We love the classic Crayola markers (skinny, thick, washable, non-washable — they’re all good). We’ve also had good experiences with Magic Stix and Stabilo markers, both of which don’t dry out if you forget that marker lid!

Sharpie permanent markers are great for work on different surfaces, but only use when confident your kids won’t draw on other surfaces!

Metallic Sharpies are one of our favorites for doodling on leaves and rocks and for working on top of black.

Crayola crayons work great for drawing so if you’re on a tight budget, get those and spend any extra money on some paints.

But if you’re okay with spending a bit more, we recommend Faber Castell beeswax crayons.

Kitpas are another favorite all-purpose crayon that can write on glass, become a watercolor paint, or regular crayon.

Colored pencils are the underappreciated workhorse in our house. We’ve used a variety of brands, but we especially like Prang and Faber-Castell World Colors.

For younger artists, Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencils can be used for window art, watercolor paints (just add water) or as a crayon/colored pencil. The chubbier pencil means your toddler can grow with these for many years!

White art paper and colored construction paper are musts. Watercolor paper and poster board are good sturdy surfaces for painting.

We like easel paper rolls because they allow kids to work big or in groups.

But all you really need is some plain white paper. Or recycle bin paper!

art supplies
Photo by Rachel Withers

Art Supplies for Sculpting

It’s great to have a variety of sculpture materials on hand. Here are our favorites.

Homemade playdough is by far our favorite and here is a great no cook recipe.

But if you’d rather not make your own, try this set of playdough. It also comes in bigger buckets, purchased by color, if you find yourself going through it.

We love this set of playdough tools. And how about these adorable Forest Friends Stampers?!

We use Crayola air dry clay all the time. It’s not as messy as real potter’s clay, plus, you know, air dry.

Model magic is another air-dry modeling material that is super fun, stretchy, and squishy. We’ve found that older kids really love this kind of clay. (Think tween party making keychains, earrings, or magnets!) We love this set for lots of fun colors!

Plastilina is a wonderful modeling clay that NEVER dries out and keeps basically forever. A mus-have if your child loves to build and sculpt! We especially like the Jovi brand for its soft, moldable quality.

More Arts and Crafts Supplies

These are the basics that are great to have on hand for any and every kind of art project. For more reading, check out: The Best Tools & Art Supplies for Kids.

Glue makes SO many kids art activities possible and little kids especially just love squeezing the glue bottles as an activity in and of itself. Glue sticks are also handy for paper collage.

And a glue gun makes gluing sculptures or structures (wood, cardboard, etc.) a lot quicker and easier. (If you’re worried about kids + glue gun, see Teacher Tom’s tips here.)

Glue is also a staple if your kids are into making slime! Try glitter glue or glow in the dark glue!

Around age 2-3, kids can begin practicing making small snips with scissors on paper (with supervision, of course). These blunt tipped scissors are perfect for the task. Once your child enters elementary school, these pointed tip scissors are a better fit.

We’re tape happy! Besides colored masking tape, we use lots and lots of regular Scotch tape, and we have a bit of a love affair with washi tape and other printed craft tapes.

Our kids LOVE stickers. Maybe yours do, too? We use all kinds, including colorful dot stickers, foil stars, and other office supply stickers. Eye stickers and a good supply of more commercial, image-based stickers.

If your kids love stickers, you might consider a sticker club such as Pipsticks or Mrs. Grossman’s for fun gifts.

This rainbow ink pad is our favorite as it’s large, washable, and it has all the colors we want in one place. We use this with our fingers for fingerprint art, with stamps, and for stamping household objects.

Everyone uses sidewalk chalk! But we also recommend chalk for indoor art, both on paper and on a chalkboard in the house (which we highly recommend).

Liquid chalk markers and these Wonderstix (chalk/crayon combo that writes on anything!) are pretty awesome, too.

Eye droppers or pipettes (we use and like both) are a favorite for lots of fun sensory activities and science experiments that involve liquid watercolors or even water.

pom poms
Photo by Andrea Martelle

Collage Art Supplies

Here are some great items to have on hand if your kids are into make collages or mixed media projects.

Colored tissue paper is great for suncatchers, collage, and papier mache. You can apply it to contact paper for colorful suncatchers, glue it onto anything, or apply pieces directly to wet poster paint.

Bleeding Tissue Paper is a tissue paper that will bleed through to another surface when wet. A fun alternative for many process art adventures!

Go with the name brand Con-Tact paper for sure. You can find it at most drug stores or grocery stores with the shelf-liner paper. (It’s also called sticky-back plastic). We use it for all kinds of suncatcher and stained-glass projects as well as some collaging fun.

Some of our favorite items for collage include googly eyes, stickers (mentioned above), colored tissue paper (also above), rainbow feathers, buttons, colored pasta shapes, tape, pom poms, yarn, fabric scraps.

Pipe cleaners are good for manipulating, for building sculptures, for threading beads and pasta, etc.

Wood craft sticks are great for building, sculpture, crafts, catapults, everything. And wood scraps are fun for making wood sculptures.

We use white basket-style coffee filters for all kinds of arts and crafts projects, like snowflakes, buntings, spiderwebs, and collage. And check out this larger size, perfect for extra-large snowflakes! Coffee filters are easy to cut yet are sturdy enough for crafts.

If you’re okay with glitter (some parents we know love it; some hate it), it makes a fun addition to many arts and crafts projects. Pretty much all the brands we’ve tried have worked great. Try biodegradable glitter like this one for a more environmentally friendly option.

Don’t throw away those cardboard boxes! Or paper towel rolls or egg cartons either, for that matter.

Recycle bin cardboard can be used for so much! Art activities, kids’ crafts, homemade toys, pretend play, construction, and more. Cardboard is the best!

So that’s our list! If we don’t stop now, we might end up with another 10-15 art materials…

By the way, we think art materials make great kid gifts for all occasions. Sometimes bundling 2-3 related art materials together makes the best gift.

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

More of the Best Art Supplies for Kids

Want even more creative ideas?

Check out our Artful Parent Starter Pack!

Engage your kids through art and creativity with this printable booklet where you’ll find all of our best tips, tricks, and ideas for getting started on your artful parenting journey!

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