What Art Supplies For Your Child?

One of my readers asked for an art supply list for the new school year and here are my recommendations:

But, before I even begin my stock list, please let me state this Golden Rule:

Quality Counts!

I have learnt that quality products…

  • last longer
  • are much more economical in the long run
  • work better
  • make true and brilliant colours
  • give a really dramatic results
  • crayons don’t break as easily
  • use less for an excellent result
  • brushes hold shape and move better
  • paints are not diluted
  • keep sharp, clean, pure
  • is wonderful to work with …

Now, allow me to reassure you that your art supplies do not need to break the bank!  Just start with a few basics and add something new when you next can afford it.  I buy my art supplies throughout the year and even plan my art activities with that in mind.

Of course, you can buy any art supplies and do art rather than wait for the next budget.  Young children MUST enjoy messing with paints, use large paper and be creative!  They are not worried about the tone or shade of red, or if the brush has real hair bristles!

So, before you shop, pop in to a specialized stationery store and browse around.  Take note of the quality name brands and prices and then check if your local supply stores stocks those brands.  If you have already bought cheap back-to-school supplies, don’t despair!  Use them!  Do ART!  Just plan to replace them with better quality products as they are used up.

Your Basic Art Supplies

  • HB and B pencils. (Softer B2 also for shading darker)
  • A good soft art rubber/ eraser (Don’t buy ordinary plastic rubbers as they tend to just smudge)
  • Sharpener (A good quality metal one with extra blades and maybe both large and small holes.  This should last forever!)
  • Best/good quality pencil crayons with at least 24 colours. (This helps with contour shading)
  • Best/good quality water-colour set. (Only need a basic set with about 12 colours)
  • Some good paint brushes ~ thin, medium and thicker pointed watercolour brushes.  Perhaps some poster brushes.  (Toss those plastic bristle brushes that come with your paint set in a holder for glue projects!)
  • You don’t need to buy a palette (mixing tray), although I found they are cheap. We often just reuse our plastic trays from store-bought vegetables.  If  you buy a mixing tray, try find those with rounded contours for easier cleaning.  The square cornered mixing trays are difficult to clean.
  • Build up a supply of paper ~ Start with a sketch book for each child and buy new books during the year, use plain white paper and add these as you go – sugar paper and coloured paper, newsprint, coloured gum paper and textured paper.  Try obtain some large paper.  A3 is double the size of the normal printer paper.

Extra Supplies ~ (Add these as you go along)

  • Oil pastels ~ a good, quality basic set is fine.  Buy chubby (thick) crayons for young children as they do tend to break.
  • Crayons.  If your children like these, buy a set with lots of colours, but here QUALITY counts.  Cheap brands do not leave a dark, thick, strong colour and often colours seem muted or not true.
  • Poster paints ~ just buy 1 bottle of each primary colour (red, blue and yellow) and a small bottle of black and a LARGE bottle of white paint.  (We always need more white it seems!)  I like any ready-mix paint.  You could buy powder paints and mix it, but I find most moms don’t use their paints and they can start to smell.  I have found that the craft paints that come in a pouring bottles with a small opening although initially seem expensive, are very economical and the paints last forever because you can control just a tiny drop of paint and very little is wasted and the paints in the bottle don’t dry out.
  • glitter/gel/glow pens
  • felt-tipped pens – we get the biggest set and share the set.
  • shaped blade scissors
  • chalk, pastels
  • ink pens and fine liner pens
  • permanent markers/ sharpies

We do a lot of art!  We use paper, paper, paper.  It is on my monthly shopping list, (unless I receive an end roll of newsprint!)

My children mostly use felt-tipped pens, pencil crayons and water paints.

Organizing stationary in boxes

Most our stationary and craft supplies all fit in a large plastic box, with smaller boxes packed in this box. I posted some photos and our plan here.  It is on our bookshelf within reach.

I store our paints, sponges and brushes and palettes in a plastic storage box on the shelf.

If your budget is tight, just stick to the basics and add something each month in your shopping.

I hope this helps. 🙂

6 thoughts on “What Art Supplies For Your Child?

  1. Hi Nadene. Thank you for a very helpful and concise post. Could you be a bit more specific with which brand of felt/fibre tip markers you use, as well as water colour and craft paints (red, yellow, blue).
    Thank you


    • @yummypantry, because we live in South Africa, our brand names may differ from yours in the USA, so I recommend you look at your arts and crafts or stationary suppliers and compare prices for value. The better the quality, the longer they last and work with great results. Your cheaper art supplies found at a local grocery store often disapponts with pencil leads that break easily, penicls that splinter when sharpened, or colors that are not clear, true or bold.


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  4. I completely agree it is about quality. My daughter is now in Grade 4 and I banned all felt pens for art-class. I explained to my daughter felt pens are often cheap and for kids in the stage when you are not mixing colors. I stress how important that mixing process is and how lovely it is to be fussy with colors and that pencils allow you to mix and be fussy and use layer on layer to ‘get it right’.
    It took some convincing, but it works. Felt pens are now left behind for quick notes but not for art-works.
    You daughters and you make lovely drawings (restaurant-theme), you use pencils or pastel crayons?


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