If you have a child who loves all the art and craft, or if you are just starting out, it can be tricky to know where to start when buying supplies for using at home, there is such a thing as too much choice right?!
So today we will be talking about what are the main items I like to have at home for the kids that allow us to do the most basic activities. This list, of course, is not everything that you could potentially have ready to go, but it covers the things that can be used most often with the least amount of mess because not even I like to spend more time cleaning up the aftermath than the kids have actually spent making their art!
The most important thing I like to tell people when looking at art and craft items for their kids is to get the best quality that they can. You will pay a little more for higher quality materials, but as a general rule, you get what you pay for. They will have better colour, less fading, last longer, less breakage, won’t have any weird toxic smell and because of this overall will be less frustrating in the long run for the kids to use.
Acrylics – Not everyone likes to have acrylics in the house because they do tend to be on the messier side, but if you do decide to dive into the world of acrylics with your kids you want to make sure that you get a high-quality paint that is formulated especially for kids. This means they will be non-toxic and more washable. Always be mindful however that even when a paint says it is washable it is likely that it will leave a stain, so make sure your kids are not wearing their Sunday best.
The benefits of acrylics are their versatility, they can be used for many different activities and are also fantastic for learning about colour mixing, and for this reason I recommend only buying the primary colours, red, yellow, and blue because you can use these to mix any colour. Two other colours you might like to investigate are black and white if you want to make the colours lighter or darker, but black especially will need to be used with caution as it can quickly take over.
We have a wide range of options in our store that are suitable for both younger children (age 12+ months), and the older kids.
Watercolour paints although not quite as versatile as acrylics, do have the benefit of not being quite as messy. They also do not produce colour that is as solid or bright as acrylics. However, they are fantastic for using as something that is quick to get out and easy to clean up and are also great paired up with oil pastels to explore the science of oil repelling water. I also recommend slightly thicker paper when using watercolours, at least 110gsm, as the water usage can sometimes be very enthusiastic even with older kids and can lead to rips and holes in artworks and no one wants that! Also, be aware with younger children when using the watercolours for the first few times you will have to be very intentional about teaching them how to get the colours our of the palette. It can be confusing and frustrating if they are used to using acrylics when they are not getting the colour out when only dipping the brush briefly, it needs to be wet and swished around quite a bit before they will see strong colour. But once they have mastered this, the watercolours can be hours of great drippy fun.
The options we have available in watercolours are:
When shopping for paintbrushes for your child you want to make sure you are getting one that is easy for them to grip. For the younger children, you want something that has a thicker handle, then as they get older it will become more important to them to be able to make finer marks with their paintbrushes, and they will also become less heavy-handed when using the brushes so you can look at paintbrushes with thinner handles and finer bristles.
The options for paintbrushes we have are:
Gallery Series Brush set – This is for use once you are confident that your child is not rubbing the brushes into the paper. These brushes have soft bristles so if rubbed into paper will become tangled and distorted.
A fantastic and versatile starting point for any child. They are easy to manipulate and are fantastic for simple mark making and being super portable are great for taking anywhere. The one thing you need to be mindful of when purchasing markers for kids is the quality. Often when you buy markers that are made specifically for children, they can dry out quickly, run out of ink and just be a very unsatisfying item for your child, causing more frustration than joy. So, get the best ones you can find. For the younger child again, you want to try and find something that is a little thicker allowing for a good grip. When young children draw with markers, they will often press quite hard, so if you can find a marker that is specifically for them then they should stand up a little better to this. Older children again will want to make more detailed marks so a marker that is finer but still has bright colours with a wide variety will be perfect for them. Be aware though that markers for children are water-soluble, so if using with watercolours the colours will run, this can be a fun activity in itself!
Our markers collections are:
Master Mega Markers – These are for children ages 3+ however I have used them for children as young as 12+ months and they have stood up quite well.
Mammoth Markers – These are for children who are no longer pressing the markers into the paper when they draw. They have a pointed tip, but when used on an angle can also give a thicker line, so provide the best of both worlds. There are also 20 scented markers in the pack, and who doesn’t love a scented marker!?
PVA, mix-a-paste, glue sticks and masking tape. I use PVA when children are wanting to stick more unusual items together. PVA is an extremely versatile adhesive and it has the widest range of items that it will adhere to; wood, paper, cloth, porous pottery, and non-structural wood-to-wood bonds, it is water-soluble so can be watered down and used for papier mache as well.
Mix-a-paste is a powder form adhesive that requires water to be added to activate its adhesive ability. This is ideal for paper, card, collage art, papier mache and finger-paint (add your own die). When it is mixed into its paste form it also makes an excellent sensory activity, and a little bit of powder goes a LONG way, so will last. Pre-mixed Mix-a-paste can also be used as an additive to PVA to make that last a little longer, and to thicken it up for younger children to use.
Glue sticks, I call these the portable adhesive. They are limited in what they can be used for and if you are looking for a more robust adhesive then definitely go for PVA. But if you are only looking to stick paper and card the glue sticks are very portable, and the qty being used is also more easily controlled.
Lastly, and certainly to least, masking tape. Kids love masking tape. It is great used to make box construction type items as there is no drying time required, so kids can make and play straight away. The main point that you will need to remember when using masking tape with kids is that you will need to spend some time intentionally showing them that the tape needs to be touching both items in order for them stick together. Masking tape is also good because it can be torn off, rather than needing scissors on hand.
Adhesives we have in store:
Although loose paper is great, I personally prefer to use sketchbooks with kids. The main reason for this is it prevents loose papers all over the house, but still gives the option to tear the paper out if the artwork is extra special and needs to be hung on the fridge. It’s also worth spending a little more and getting thicker paper for kids, we don’t use anything less than 110gsm in the studio. The thicker paper goes a long way to preventing tears and holes, especially for the artist who likes to revisit the same spot on the paper over and over and over and over. I like having both A3 and A4 available, but if storage is an issue then just A4 is fine.
Paper to purchase on our website:
Coloured pencils, like markers they are really versatile and portable art material. I personally have found that a lot of children can be a little bored of pencils because they are the most often offered items for children, and so the excitement quickly wears off. They are a great material to use in conjunction with other materials like markers, using them to colour in larger areas or give a softer colour than markers will. But like all materials get the best quality you can, because they will then be softer and offer brighter colours when being used. We don’t offer coloured pencils on our website, but I can recommend Faber Castell and Crayola as great brands to try when looking for coloured pencils for kids.
Hands down one of my FAVOURITE art products, so incredibly versatile. Good quality oil pastels are the softest, juiciest, most gloriously coloured art materials ever! I use these in the studio nearly every day and I can’t fault them. They are great for colour mixing, drawing, colouring, using alongside watercolours due to their water repelling nature, and are just an all-round excellent art material. They are 100 times better than crayons for young children because they don’t need the same amount of pressure to get good colour from them, and they can be blended, rubbed and moved around the paper by little fingers.
Our oil pastel selection:
Many people are nervous about introducing scissors to their children, but as long as they are scissors that are suitable for children, and are used under supervision, they are actually quite safe for children to use. For the first time scissor users its best to get scissors that assist with the opening movement, as this is the most difficult part of using scissors. Allowing a child to have scrap paper that they can snip and cut into smaller shapes then use to glue onto their artworks will provide them with hours of fun!
Our scissor selection:
Specialty Scissors – for the first-time scissor users-these assist with opening and closing the scissors and then convert as they become more proficient in their manipulation of the scissors and no longer need the assistance
Left/right-hand scissors – for the older scissor user who doesn’t need and help. These are ok for children up to 8 years old, then they will need to go the next size up.
The reality is that although all of these items are super fun and versatile for kids to use, they only need the simplest of materials to be able to make artwork, pencil and paper, start with those and build from there. Other crafty bits and bobs like pipe cleaners, sequins, Pom poms, goggle eyes, pop sticks, Hole punch, Trays (for containing the mess, see more about that here) etc are also great things to have on hand but are not necessary for starting a good set of supplies, these are all items that can be added on later down the track. Kids don’t need allot, and you will be surprised by the array of art that they will make with the most basic of items on hand.
For more ideas on ways you can use the materials that we have gone through today check out our Creative Makes YouTube channel, we are always updating it with new videos.
TIP: Start keeping things like boxes, egg cartons, plastic bottles, newspaper, packing beans and bubble wrap, String and yarns, magazine cut-outs etc these a great for box construction and collage art.