My son is almost two years old and we use art supplies together every day.
Families often ask what we recommend for younger artists who are starting to explore mark-making. We've put a list together of some of our favourite supplies below! Amazon affiliate links are included; thanks in advance for your support.
When toddlers first start mark-making, the important thing is that they can explore freely, safely and in a way they enjoy. It is not important at this stage to correct the way they hold the brush or pencil; what is important is that they start to understand how to make marks, experience the sensation of different art supplies and have fun with it!
Hands down our favourite art supply right now! Have you tried these?? Paint sticks are easy for toddlers to hold and low-mess thanks to the plastic casing. The colours are super vibrant and it feels like you are drawing with lipstick! You don't need to use much pressure to make a good mark on the paper, so this is great for little ones starting to make marks. As with all of the following activities, this should be supervised as they have small plastic caps that could be a hazard.
Top tip! Some paint sticks are water-soluble, so once you have drawn on the paper you can paint over the colours with a brush and water (or wet hands) to mix the colours together and explore further.
Bingo dabbers are large non-spill, non-toxic paints that can be dotted onto paper or used to make big thick lines! These are easy for little hands to grip and are a really fun option to use for mark-making.
Jumbo/sidewalk chalk is amazing for little hands to use! It is big enough for toddlers to grip easily, strong enough that is doesn't snap as smaller chalk sticks can, and - our favourite way to use chalk is with a pot of water! Dip the chalk into water to activate the colour; it will create a thicker, more vibrant shade which almost like a paste. Use chalk on paper, chalkboards or directly onto the wall or pavement.
We love these BIG crayons for drawing on paper and on wood. They are perfect for toddler hands and some colour with a little pressure. Oil pastels are thinner sticks but produce a stronger colour with less pressure and glide more on the drawing surface.
Washable markers are a fun alternative to crayons as they produce a strong colour with little pressure. Right now, my son enjoys taking off the lids and replacing them more than using the markers on paper! A downside of markers is if the lids are left off, the colours tend to dry out quickly. We will write a blog post on a good use for those dried out markers soon! I like to offer a range of different markers, thick and thinner options that feel different to hold in the hand and produce different types of marks.
There are many options for finger paint and washable paint. Personally, I find many of the brands do not create the strong colour that I'm looking for in a toddler paint, and prefer to make my own paint using household items. I will post paint recipes to the blog soon. Until then, I'd recommend mixing food dye with water, similar to using liquid watercolour paint - for a fun sensory experience for toddlers. Set up a few jars with a little water and colour in and a paintbrush in each one.
We also love to add a few drops of food dye into containers for water-play and into the bath. I have never found food dye to stain the bath, containers or skin and only a few drops are needed for vibrant colour.
These paintbrushes are easy to grip and produce different types of marks and prints when used.
When using stickers, always remove the white surrounding part so that toddlers can choose and peel the stickers independently.
We love this pack because of the range of themes and characters, variety in size and shape, plus they also include a few sheets of letters too.
Stickers are a great way to extend a project, by adding an extra layer of detail once a painting is dry!
Our final essential art supply for toddlers is - of course - playdough! Playdough is perfect for developing fine motor skills, exploring colour and building sculptures. It can be squeezed, rolled, poked, and stacked. We love using play dough with play animals (exploring footprints), with natural objects (poking sticks, leaves etc into the dough) and with stampers to see the marks made by pressing the stamper into the dough.
I will post my favourite easy no-bake recipe to the blog soon!
Have we missed something that your toddler absolutely loves to explore at home?
Comment below to share your essential art supplies!