Best Art Supplies For Kids 2023
Whether they’re a doodler, molder or all about paint, many kids have some kind of artistic leaning. With that, it’s important to have art supplies handy. The best art supplies for kids allow them to pursue their creative interests while also being safe, fun and easy to use. They also make excellent gifts for kids and back-to-school supplies.
“Art supplies as gifts are very freeing,” says Paula Holloway, education programs director at Rehoboth Art League in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. “There is no wrong outcome from art. It encourages creativity and divergent thinking.”
Shop the best art supplies for kids to let them express their creative leanings with paint, clay and ... [+] all manner of crafts.
There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing art supplies for kids, and navigating the field can feel overwhelming. Washable supplies are always a perk, says Gina Posner, M.D., a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. “Messes are going to happen,” she says. “It’s nice not to have permanent stains.” If you’re shopping for preschool-aged children, she also suggests looking for items that are nontoxic. “Things end up in mouths,” Posner points out.
Making sure supplies are age-appropriate is also crucial, says Ashanti Woods, M.D., a pediatrician at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center. “Everything from sharpness of scissors, to smell from markers, to ease of cleaning and size of objects being used must be considered to prevent an avoidable accident,” he says. Having something that can be tossed in a backpack for school is a nice perk, too.
Whether you’re buying a gift for a loved one or stocking up for your own child, these art supplies for kids are fan favorites. We included a range of products to help you find selections for everyone from toddlers to high schoolers, with plenty of options in between. (While shopping, consider our lists of the best outdoor toys for kids and best toy storage organizers, too.)
Clay is fun and delightfully squishy, but many types require a kiln to finish them off. This kit from Ooly can be simply left out to dry, making it simple to go from building to painting. The kit, which is recommended for ages 6 and up, features 24 colors, along with tools to help shape and mold creations. Parents: Air clay isn’t as sticky as the dreaded slime either.
Posca’s popular paint markers allow users to get the look of paint with the precision of a writing tool. The markers can be used on a slew of surfaces, including canvas, fabric, metal and rocks, and have reversible bullet tips that make them last longer. The markers are nontoxic and alcohol-free, but they’re not washable, so these are for big kids only and should probably be limited to use at the art table or outside. But kids love ’em, and they come in a cool box you can gift as-is.
Crafting is serious business for kids, and it often requires a wide range of supplies. Kid Made Modern can get you started with this impressive kit. It features 1,000 items, including multiple shades of pipe cleaners, pom poms, beads, goggly eyes, popsicle sticks and more. It’s all housed in a box with a handle, so you can stash it away when the fun is done.
Pottery Barn Kids
Easels are a handy way for kids to create art without having to sit for long periods of time. This Pottery Barn Kids option is packed with storage solutions, including three cup holders and two rows of shelving. One side of the board is magnetic, while the other is a chalkboard, giving plenty of choices. A paper roll with white art paper is included. Wheels on one side make it easy to transport this easel from spot to spot.
Kids can create precise lines in a range of colors with this Paper Mate Flair felt pen collection. The ink is smear-resistant—a nice perk during busy art sessions—and it won’t bleed through paper and onto your table. Bonus: They can be handy for organizing thoughts into easy-to-see categories.
Young and older kids can get into this gel crayon set, which delivers a buttery texture that gives the look of paint without the mess. A rubbery grip makes the crayons comfortable to use for longer sessions. These writing tools also work on a range of surfaces, including glass, mirrors and dark paper. The plastic carrying case is helpful for storage.
Origami art takes time and practice—this kit gives kids plenty of tools for success. It features 300 sheets of paper in 20 colors, along with a guidebook with 50 different patterns to try. The whole kit tucks neatly into the included box.
Kids can create their own books of drawings with these mini sketch pads. At six by nine inches, they’re small enough not to feel overwhelming but large enough to give children space to work with. They also fit well in small laps for drawing on the go. Our parenting editor, Rose Gordon Sala, says she tucks one of these into the back of the seats for each kid during long car trips. “No matter their age, a bit of paper to doodle or write on, goes a long ways during travel,” says Sala. The paper itself feels sturdy, while the perforated edges allow for easy removal to display creations on the fridge.
Kids can choose from six paints and three dyes to create and decorate 10 different sheets of craft paper. The kit features paper pulp, a silk-screen mold, brush and more for hands-on fun. The process involves mixing, spreading, drying and decorating, with results that can be mailed to loved ones.
Tracing paper makes it easy to pick up new art skills. Kids can simply tape the paper over a drawing and get to work. Strathmore’s paper has impressive transparency while being strong enough to prevent pencil breakthroughs. This standard 9 x 12 inches pad includes 50 sheets at under $10.
My art-loving 6-year-old nearly fell out of his chair when he got this for Christmas. The Crayola set is packed with 140 supplies, including 64 crayons, 20 colored pencils, 40 washable markers and 15 large pieces of paper. The whole thing is housed in a suitcase-style package that’s easy to transport and stow away.
The reality of toddler crayons is that they’re probably going to end up in your child’s mouth at some point. Honeysticks’ crayons are made from beeswax and food-grade pigments, so you don’t have to stress if your little one accidentally does a taste test. The wide shape is easy to grip, while the lack of wrappers means you have one less mess to clean up.
Older kids interested in calligraphy will get a kick out of this all-in-one kit. It features artist pens, watercolor pain, a graphite pencil, templates for envelopes and curves and an illustrated guide for learning the basics of pen stroke technique and lettering. It comes in a cool case with a handle that’s easy to tote.
Designed for ages 4 and up, this stamp kit has a little of everything to keep little hands busy. Kids will have fun choosing from 30 stamps to create scenes. The two included stamp pads are great for younger children, while older siblings can make more intricately-colored animals with the included markers. The kit comes in a wooden box for easy storage and gifting.
This clay kit from Arteza uses sandy clay, which has a fun texture to it. The set features a range of tools to DIY sandcastle, including five craft tools, a spatula, seashell decorations and four large packs of clay. The whole thing air dries when it’s done, so no baking needed.
I’m a mom of four kids who are obsessed with art—an entire section of my kitchen pantry is devoted to arts and crafts supplies. To choose the best art supplies for kids, I relied on personal knowledge of surefire hits, with input from Paula Holloway, education programs director at Rehoboth Art League, and two pediatricians to ensure safety considerations. From there, I looked at the most popular art supplies out there and whittled the field down based on elements like ease of use, fun factor and age appropriateness. Reviews from real parents were analyzed as well to make sure to get the best view of how these supplies perform for a range of children.