Crayons are the ubiquitous art material for young children, right? If there's one art material every family has on hand, it's probably crayons. But as widespread as they are, I don't feel they are the best art material for toddlers. You have to press hard to get bright color, the paper wrapper is a pain, and the skinny crayons just break so quickly.
So what art materials do I think are the best for toddlers? Here's a list of 11 we use regularly:
- Washable markers, perhaps the little Crayola Pip-Squeaks. We keep our markers in a plaster marker holder as a toddler-friendly way to keep track of lids and markers. Note: I'm fine with the regular-sized chunky markers, but don’t like Crayola’s new black markers because toddlers don’t have the color cue to help them match lids with markers.
- Crayola Twistables Slick Stix These are awesome for toddlers – much better than crayons – because they glide on smoothly with little pressure and the color is vibrant. They are basically oil pastels in a hard plastic case, making them easy to grip. You just twist up the pastel as you need more. I was going to say this makes them less likely to break than traditional oil pastels (which we also love), but I just had two break on me this morning and a friend had some break recently, too. So maybe my love affair with these is waning, or maybe we just got bad batches or something.
- Playdough. We love homemade – here’s a recipe – but if you’re going to buy some, this all-natural playdough by Clementine Art is pretty awesome.
- An Easel is a great way to let toddlers work standing up, as they do best, and to create a simple dedicated art space at the same time (a kid-sized table works well, too.) We’ve had our Melissa and Doug Deluxe Floor-Standing Wooden Easel for five years and still love it. Be sure to get A roll of Easel Paper for it.
- Spill-Proof Paint Cups Keeps the paint off the table (floor, lap...) and also keeps it from drying out.
- Chubby paint brushes, such as Jumbo Paint Brushes , are great for little hands.
- Chalk (I like Melissa and Doug Jumbo Triangular Chalk Sticks—they are not as small and breakable as the skinny little pieces sold for chalkboards, but not as huge as sidewalk chalk). If you don’t have a chalkboard, you can use chalkboard paint on a wall or buy a chalkboard wall decal.
- Colorations Simply Washable Tempera Paints If you’re only going to buy one kind of paint, this is what to get. If you want all-natural, then try the paints by Clementine Art.
- Colorations Washable Finger Paint You can use tempera paint with your fingers, but finger paint has the perfect smooth texture for smearing around on paper and it stays moist for much longer.
- Colorations Liquid Watercolors Because they are just gorgeous and vibrant. The traditional watercolor cakes are best for preschoolers on up.
- A bottle of squeeze glue. Yes, they will squeeze and squeeze until there is a puddle of glue on their paper, but they will have so much fun doing it, and the glue is so cheap, that I think you ought to let them. Besides, it’s a good hand-strengthening exercise and helps with motor control. And you can bring out the collage materials to stick in the glue.
P.S. I wrote about our favorite toddler art materials a few years ago here. Some are still the same but some are different, and I thought it was time to update the list.
What's on your list of absolute favorite toddler art materials? Anything I'm missing?
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