1. Washable Markers -- We use Crayola washable markers and like both the regular sizes and the smaller Pip-Squeaks versions. Washability is definitely key. Besides the paper, Maia has drawn all over the table, her body, and her clothes, but the marker hasn't failed to come out yet.
2. Chunky Crayons -- I'm actually not such a huge fan of regular crayons because the intensity of color is poor, they break easily, and are covered with paper making them hard for toddlers to use, but they're such a childhood staple and we do use them regularly in our house. Melissa & Dou g sells nice crayons that aren't covered with paper. They're also triangular instead of round so don't roll off the table. And I've been meaning to try the high quality, but expensive, Stockmar crayons and have also heard good things about Chubbi Stumps.
3. Colored Construction Paper -- Another staple, whether for drawing on or for cutting up for collages. Quality and price vary a lot. Generally the more you spend, the more vibrant the color and the sturdier the paper.
4. White Drawing or Watercolor Paper -- We buy pads of white paper in all sizes and thicknesses. Watercolor paper is more expensive than drawing or sketching paper but is necessary for using watercolors if you don't want the paper to buckle too much. We also use it for painting with tempera paints and for drawing and collages. I generally buy a cheapie brand of watercolor paper then use it for lots of different things. I like Canson's Biggie and Biggie Jr. lines of papers.
5. Crayola Twistables Slick Stix -- These are awsome! And a million times better than regular crayons in many ways, although more expensive ($3.99 for a 5 pack). They slide on smoothly, are easy to use (Maia's been using them for about a year now), and the color is very vibrant. I know I sound like an ad for these, but they really are that good.
6. Tempera Paint -- Nontoxic, washable tempera paint is a staple for us. We use it all the time, in all different colors. I haven't found a brand I'm completely happy with yet, but maybe one day I'll do one of those America's Test Kitchen types of tests on every brand I can find and let you all know what I think. And, if anyone has any recommendations, please tell! I debated about include fingerpaints on this list. The kids often fingerpaint with the tempera paint, although we do use commercial fingerpaints as well.
7. Watercolor Paint -- Watercolor paint is another staple for us. We use the liquid watercolors that come in tubes and mix each color in a separate bowl with plenty of water. Every time I try to use the traditional childhood watercolors of cakes in a pan, Maia just takes her brush, dips it in the water then in every single color which of course means her painting ends up a muddy brown. I'm sure she'll pass out of that phase one of these days and we'll give the cakes another try, but in the meantime the tubes of liquid watercolors are great.
8. Paint Brushes -- We use a variety of paint brushes but especially like plastic-handled chubby paint brushes. I believe we got ours from Melissa & Doug. With a plastic handle, the brush doesn't warp or lose it's paint as some of the painted wooden-handled brushes do if you leave it soaking in water rather than cleaning it immediately.
9. Chalk and Chalkboard -- You can't beat chalk for washability (always important for parents of tots) and for transience. Maia draws on her easel's chalkboard and has as much fun erasing it as she does drawing. (She also draws around the house and on me.) In the summer she draws with chalk outside on the driveway. We let the rain wash it away or spray it with the hose.
10. Collage Materials -- Making a collage is lots of fun for toddlers, and you can use just about any materials you want. We use pieces of colored construction paper cut into geometric shapes, cotton balls, tiny pasta, rice, glitter, stickers, and leaves and other items from nature. Then, of course, there's squeezable glue, probably one of the toddler's favorite art materials of all time. The squeezable glue bottle is probably about 3/4 of the reason toddlers like collages so much. We use a white Elmers school glue but there are lots of different kinds out there.