Absolutely must have supplies for Art and open ended play
I always have these around. Most of these supplies last a long time. For example, the liquid watercolors I bought four yeas ago are just running out and we’ve used them for everything and with groups of kids.
Liquid watercolors – Why liquid watercolor and not food coloring? While it is true that food coloring is cheap and it comes in quite a few colors, food coloring can be toxic and some kids have a reaction to red, for example. In addition food coloring is not an art supply so the uses are more limited. Liquid water colors are pretty pricey but they last for years with a lot of uses. They are concentrated so all you need is one drop to get a very intense effect or dilute with water. They are actually paints and come in many different colors. Mix into homemade play-dough, slime, add it to wet paper or mix it with vinegar to make a colorful volcano. There a number of crafts here that require liquid watercolors.
Acrylic Paint – While I use high quality paints like Golden and Liquitex for my own Art work, I get Craft Smart paints for the kids, it’s good and inexpensive. It comes in manageable containers and tons of colors. We also buy the squirt paints at IKEA because it is fun to squirt and make designs without having to bother using a brush and water to clean your brush.
B2 Drawaing Pencil – It doesn’t matter what the brand is, as long as it is a 2B (not a #2) pencil. I know, you can get a whole set of color pencils for the price of these…if your child is really into drawing he will appreciate having this set. Kids start to really get into drawing when they are 6. A good pencil can make a big different. Once they learn to draw with a 2B they can experiment using the softer and harder pencils in the set.
Kneaded Rubber Eraser – This is my personal favorite. I don’t know how many erasers I have had through my life, but this one is my absolute highest recommended. It is weird, it’s a little like putty, and looks very dirty. It is actually the cleanest erasure. You can mold it to erase tiny edges or bigger surfaces. One of these goes a long way, you can break off pieces, I have had one of these for the last 10 years that I still use.
Leather Scraps – Once you have this there are a lot of different applications you will find for them. We got them because we wanted to make a fancy gift for Father’s Day, see Impressive Gifts For Dad Kids Can Make. But since we have them we use the soft thin leather to cut into ribbons to decorate gifts, we use it to decorate anything and make it look more original, we can make kay-chains, etc. You don’t know what you will get since they are scraps but it comes in all kinds of textures and colors. Alternatively, if you have fabrics by the pound store in your area, they may carry leather or leather scraps and you can just pick what you want.
Jumbo Craft Sticks – They are good to have around. We’ve made catapults with these as well as some fun crafts.
Hot glue gun and spare hot glue sticks – I never used my hot glue gun as much as when I became a mom. Kids love this method of gluing because it is so immediate. They can think of possibilities and make it happen on the fly with the glue gun. Examples: take a fidget spinner, make a mold out of play-dough and fill it with hot glue, you have a pretend fidget spinner. Make erasures, glue pieces of felt for crafts, build with foam board, etc.
Tape – Masking tape, scotch tape, washy tape, packing tape…Little kids like to fasten things together with tape, stick it on everything…I’ve seen little baskets and bowls made out of painters tape.
Foam board – It’s just challenging enough to learn to work with but once kids make one project with it they can keep going back to this material over and over for any building need. You can find this at the dollar store, office supply store or even some big supermarkets have it. We buy white.
Fabric swatches – You can go crazy at the fabric store, specially if you have a store that sells by the pound and you can buy scraps. Or, you can recycle old clothes that don’t fit anymore and are too damaged to donate. We have all kinds of uses for fabric swatches: from making clothes and bedding for dolls, to making potpourri satchels.
Yarn – Interestingly, we don’t use yarn for knitting. I like to show kids how to knit using very thick knitting cotton string. However we do use yarn for learning to sew.
Kids can use yarn in place of string. It is cheap, versatile, and colorful.
We also use it for creating string mazes.
For leading to treasure in some treasure hunts.
Hemp string – Hemp string comes in handy for certain crafts.
Wool Roving – It comes in all kinds of beautiful colors and it can be used for crafts. When wet, it can be molded into shapes. Kids make all kinds pretend play objects.
Felt sheets – Felt also comes in all kinds of bright and beautiful colors. You can make coasters for gifts, it can be cut in smaller pieces and shapes, and hot glued, it can be painted… Get the cheaper quality felt.
Fabric cutting kids scissors – If your child knows how to work with scissors get her the ones that can cut through fabric. These are small scissors but a little bit pointier and cut much better than the regular paper scissors.
Cleaning vinegar – It’s just fun to make experiments and even ice-chalk. We also clean our windows with it and since it’s not toxic we taught our daughter to clean them too.
Arm and Hammer Baking Soda – This is a must have for so many things such as: making bath bombs, volcanoes, and experiments. I buy the large bags because we use so much of it.
Boulder Laundry Detergent – This one is not so toxic, if your child is into making slime with “activator” this one is more gentle and it has a natural citrus smell.
Gallon bottle of Elmer’s Glue – Yes, slime. And many other fun things like pouring and pealing it when it’s dry, painting it on things to make them tacky, as a coating, and actually using it for gluing things together.
Citric acid – This is for bath bombs.
Epson Salt – This is to make experiments, spa things like scented bath salts, bath bombs, etc.
All purpose Flour – We make salt dough, play-dough, all kinds of play cooking and real cooking.