Arts and crafts time is always a favorite in our household. When we make time for our kids to get creative without being told what to do, it will surely bring some fond memories. And maybe even encourage a newfound passion!
But as your little one is getting old enough to start getting crafty, you might begin to feel a little overwhelmed. You may be thinking, ‘I don’t want to deal with another mess,’ or ‘I don’t even know what art supplies for toddlers are even appropriate.’
In this post, you will find what art supplies are best for toddlers, plus the answers to many other questions, even ones regarding messes. 😉
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With the broad age range for a toddler being 1-year-old to 3-years-old, make sure to think about your specific toddler when picking out art supplies. I felt my son was ready for most of these art supplies around the 18-month mark, but it will depend on every child.
Let’s get to it!
Crayons are often the first tools given to toddlers when they are old enough to start doodling. This is because they are harder to make a mess with, and they are easy for your little one to hold.
You have probably seen the egg-shaped crayons that are ‘designed for little hands,’ but you can skip those. Jumbo crayons are more natural for your toddler to hold, and they are harder to snap in half, unlike normal-sized crayons.
Once your kiddo gets used to holding and drawing with jumbo crayons, you can go ahead and introduce some washable markers! (Washable being the keyword here.)
Markers are so much fun for toddlers because their vibrant colors are much more different than drawing with a crayon.
We have always used the jumbo markers or the pip-squeaks from Crayola, and they don’t lie about being washable. If some marker accidentally gets on something it’s not supposed to, you can wipe it off with a bit of water!
You might have seen dot markers if you have ever played bingo, but let me tell you, toddlers love these things!
Dot markers are basically like paint pens that you stamp with. Your child can take the markers and make whatever kind of picture they want, or you can find a lot of dot marker worksheets for them to play on.
Another simple thing you can do is to write letters and numbers on paper and have them trace each one with a dot marker! Not only does this help with learning, but it’s fun too!
Finger Painting can be a daunting craft for many parents. As long as you prepare for the mess using the suggestions below, finger painting isn’t all that bad! Plus, it provides a unique sensory experience!
If you are looking to try finger painting but want to skip the messy fingers part, check out this post on mess-free finger painting!
Why we love these drawing/painting art supplies:
- Improves fine motor skill development
- Helps children learn about colors
- Teaches cause-and-effect and hand-eye coordination
- Easily washable
Jumbo Paint Brushes
If finger painting isn’t enjoyable for your little one, you can use paintbrushes instead.
Even if you don’t have paint, you can use water to “paint” on colored pieces of construction paper or even cardboard. When the water touches the paper, it will darken, allowing your kiddo to see their designs.
Why we love these paintbrushes:
- Easy for toddlers to grasp
- Can be used with/without paint
- Helps improve fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and cause-and-effect
Washi tape is such an excellent item for toddlers because it’s so versatile! You can tape a design to canvas, paint over the tape and then peel the tape off to reveal the design. You can use the tape to create pictures or use it as regular tape to stick items together.
Why we love washi tape:
- Peeling tape promotes fine motor skill development
- Comes in many colors/patterns
- Useful for many crafts
When it comes to glue for toddlers, you will either want plain old Elmer’s School Glue or even glue sticks. Both types of glue are great for most crafts that toddlers will make, and they are both easy for little hands to use.
When you start craft time with toddlers, you will likely need a surplus of paper. As for plain white paper, I suggest getting some that can accommodate crafts from crayons to paint. This way, if your little one chooses to paint, it won’t leak through the paper, making it soggy.
Also, it’s always great to have colored construction paper. As I mentioned above, your kiddo can ‘paint’ on construction paper with water!
Lastly, if you have the room for it, these rolls of paper are fantastic to have on the craft table. Not only can you pull the paper out to catch any mess on the table, but it’s great to be able to pull out the paper and give your child a generous space to doodle.
Safety scissors can be a great tool for children to learn with, but even though they are meant for 3-year-olds and up, you still need to supervise them closely. It’s also a good idea to put them out of reach when not in use.
If you think your child is ready to try out safety scissors, this three-pack is incredible! Each scissor has a different pattern to cut with, like straight or wavy.
Why we love safety scissors:
- Encourage hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills
- Expands craft time possibilities
A chalkboard easel is such a great tool to have. What’s especially great about this easel is that it is double-sided, with a chalkboard on one side and a whiteboard on the other. Having two sides is great if you have multiple children; they can both use it simultaneously.
Also, because this easel has a tray attached to it, it can hold everything your little one needs, helping to contain any potential mess.
Why we love chalkboard easels:
- Multiple kids can use it at once
- Lasts beyond the toddler stage
- Promotes motor skill development
Pompoms and Pipe Cleaners
Pompoms are another craft supply that has multiple uses. You can play with them in sensory bins, on a water table, and you can use them in so many different crafts.
Pipe Cleaners are also great because you can bend and move them into whatever shape you want!
A fun idea your kiddo can do with both pipe cleaners and pompoms is to paint with them. Use the pompom as a stamp in some finger paint, or bend the pipe cleaner into a shape and use it as a stamp that way!
Popsicle sticks are another open-ended craft supply that is great for toddlers! A quick search on Pinterest will give you a ton of ideas, but you can also let your toddler’s imagination run wild and come up with a unique craft.
Why we love pompoms, popsicle sticks, and pipe cleaners:
- Encourages imagination
- Versatile supplies with multiple uses
If your child loves to create and mold things with their hands, Play-Doh will be a great addition to their craft supplies.
Play-doh isn’t only great for molding shapes, but adding in tools like these make for hours of fun. Stamping different shapes, rolling the dough out, and using cutting tools are all great for helping your little one improve their hand strength.
Why we love Play-Doh:
- Encourages fine motor skill development
- Imaginary play
- Reusable, making better value for your money
Water Doodle Mat
These magic Water Doodle Mats are perfect if you don’t want to use markers or crayons. You fill the pens with water, and when your child doodles on the mat, the drawing will magically appear. After a little while, the picture will disappear, and your kiddo can do it again!
Why we love this doodle mat:
- Reusable after drawings fade
- Great for multiple kids playing together
- Can hang on the wall or lay on the floor
- Perfect for hand-eye coordination
Reusable sticker pads are an excellent option if you’re on the go or just want a calming, mess-free activity.
These sticker pads come with fun backgrounds and cling-style stickers. Your child can create different scenes and also learn about different animals or vehicles.
Why we love sticker pads:
- Reusable and mess-free
- Encourages imaginary play and fine motor skill development
Tips For Toddler Art Success
Have A Dedicated Space
Especially if you are a little worried about the extra mess, having a dedicated space for your toddlers’ art supplies is essential.
Not only is this a space just for them, but it also helps to contain their art supplies in one area in your home.
One way to give your child their own dedicated space is to get them a little table. Having a table that is the perfect size for them will be put to good use for many years, even after they start schooling.
Stock Up On Supplies
I have found it to be so helpful to always have our art supplies stocked up. If I notice markers are starting to dry up, I make sure to get another pack next time I go to the store. The same goes for the other supplies!
In addition to having your toddlers’ art supplies always stocked, I also try to make them freely available. With scissors being the exception, I like to have everything ready so that when it’s time to make some art, my son has access to whatever he wants to create.
Let Them Go For It
Another thing I think is so crucial for arts and crafts time is to let your child have at it. Of course, you still need to supervise, but just take a step back.
Give them the independence to see what art supplies they enjoy using while still ensuring they are safe. Now, I’m not saying you can’t guide them and do crafts together. Just make sure to also give them ample time to use their minds to create something extraordinary.
How To Control The Mess
When you have art supplies for toddlers, some amount of mess is bound to happen. When you prepare ahead of time and expect the mess to occur, it won’t be overwhelming when it happens.
Here are some of my favorite ways to control the arts and crafts mess:
Use A Smock
Even though most art supplies for toddlers are highly washable, using an art smock is always a good idea.
Another plus side to using a smock is that they are waterproof. A waterproof smock is extra handy when doing crafts like painting!
Use A Floor Mat
Not only are they fantastic for saving your floors when your baby throws food on them, but they also contain the mess that can happen while crafting.
Plastic trays are lovely to have on hand. If your kiddo is doing a finger painting craft, it will help protect the table. If your child uses pompoms or other small items that can roll away, the tray will help contain them.
Also, if painting with water on construction paper, as I suggested above, trays will help save the table from any possible water damage.
Wheeled Cart For Storage
Understandably, most of your child’s art supplies won’t fit on their table, so a 3-tier cart is a perfect solution!
I originally got this cart to use as a breastfeeding essentials station, but once that phase was over, the cart became a perfect place to store our art supplies! Not only does it have three shelves, but it has wheels that make it so much easier to relocate!
Benefits Of Art Time For Toddlers
You probably noticed that each of the art supplies listed above had reasons why we love that specific item. Without a doubt, art time has many benefits for toddlers, so I wanted to go more in-depth on the subject.
Here are the top benefits for toddlers that come from art time:
Fine Motor Skill Development
Many arts and craft supplies for toddlers help to establish excellent fine motor skills. That is because your kiddo has to work at holding the different objects in their hands. Also, they often have to concentrate on getting their hands to do what they want, like with scissors.
Creativity and Imagination
Another considerable benefit of art time for toddlers is it allows them to use their imagination and create something of their own.
Kids of all ages have amazing imaginations, and it’s always wonderful to see them put it to good use.
Another great thing that comes from creating things during arts and crafts time is your child gets the chance for self-expression.
When your kiddo has ample time to express themselves, it not only shows you a little more of their personality, but it also helps them to release their emotions.
I know that whenever I’m feeling big emotions, whether that’s sad or even happy, working on a creative hobby that I enjoy makes me feel good!
And there you have it! I hope you have found some great supplies that will encourage your toddler to have a ton of fun.
Also, keep in mind that if your toddler doesn’t really care about doing any kind of art, that can always change. Keep trying some form of art once a week, but don’t force it. One day, your kiddo might change their mind and start to love crafting!
Before you go, check out these related articles:
- The Best Toys For 18-Month-Olds
- Chores Your Toddler Will Think Are Fun To Do!
- Must-Have Outdoor Toys For Toddlers
- What To Start Teaching Your 1-Year-Old
- How To Discipline Your Toddler (Effectively)
Does your toddler love to craft? If so, what are your favorite art supplies for toddlers? I would love to know in the comments below!