I often get emails from educators and parents who want to start art with their Little Learners…but they aren’t sure where to start or what materials to buy. There are SO many resources out there so today I want to share 10 of my favourite art and craft supplies for the early years!
1. Serving Platters and Trays
I have such a big collection of platters and trays which I love to use during our art and craft sessions. They are great for displaying loose parts for craft activities so that your Little Learners have access to all of the materials. I also like to use things like ice cube trays for colour mixing activities. By adding various amounts of white or black paint to colours, your Little Learners can make different tones of the same colour.
2. Loose Parts
Every craft cupboard needs a collection of loose parts! Head to your local dollar store and stock up on things like pom poms, pipe cleaners, buttons, beads, sequins, cotton wool balls, match sticks – anything that catches your eye! These are great for collage activities and if you add some clay or play dough, your Little Learners can really let their imagination run wild and create some pretty unique pieces.
3. Art Easel
A sturdy paint easel is a fantastic addition to your art and craft supplies! I got a wonderful small easel from Toys R Us which is the perfect height for my toddler. However, you can cut the legs down on any easel so that it is an appropriate height for your Little Learners. Toddlers may find painting at an easel a little bit easier too as they can access paint quickly without having to reach over and possibly knock water or paint over on the table.
4. Homemade Play Dough
I’m a biiiiig fan of play dough! It’s such a versatile material for exploring with Little Learners and it’s very easy to make play dough yourself. You can place your play dough on a serving platter with some loose parts and your Little Learners can begin creating! Place the play dough out with some googly eyes, twigs and stones and see what they come up with!
5. Play Dough Rollers
Play dough rollers are a wonderful addition to your art and craft supplies. I have a beautiful wooden play dough roller set from The Creative Toy Shop. We use them almost every single time we play with our play dough! They provide a great opportunity to discuss texture.
6. Crayola Paints or Non-Toxic Acrylics
It’s important to make sure that the materials you use with Little Learners are completely safe for little hands. I really like the Crayola Washable Kids’ Paints which you can buy from places like Kmart. I’ve used this paint with babies as well but the packet does say 3+ years so use your best judgement. Non-Toxic Acrylic paint can be purchased at most dollar stores as well.
7. Watercolour Palette
Watercolours are my absolute favourite painting medium. I love how bright and vibrant the colours are! My toddler uses our set all the time and it makes art time really quick to set up. Mine were from Edsco many years ago, but you can buy some wonderful watercolour palettes from Modern Teaching Aides.
8. Paint Pipettes
Another cheap alternative is to make watercolours using food dye and water. I often make this for my toddler and give her some pipettes for squeezing and transferring the paint. The pipettes are fantastic for developing fine motor skills while being creative. You can grab a packet of 12 pipettes from The Creative Toy Shop.
9. Modelling Clay
Recently, we made some little bugs out of clay, cotton buds and matchsticks. They turned out beautifully and the clay was such a beautiful medium to work with. I want to use clay more often and found this wonderful article about the benefits of clay play which is definitely worth reading. My local dollar store stocks a wide variety of art supplies, so that’s where we found our air drying clay.
10. Drop Sheet
I think a lot of people are turned off by art and craft because it can be soooo messy. It doesn’t have to be though! I use an old king sized bed sheet for most of our art activities! You can get them relatively cheap from places like Kmart or even some second-hand stores if you don’t have any at home that you could use. They make clean up time a breeze!
Disclosure: Some affiliate links have been used in this blog post. This means that I will receive compensation from purchases made through those links. This doesn’t cost anything extra to you. All products mentioned have been personally tested by myself and I would never suggest an item I hadn’t used (or loved to bits).
So there you have it, my favourite must-have items for art and craft in the early years!