Does your child like art? Do you even know for sure? Every kid needs an art space set up in their home. One that is permanently there and not just set up when the mood strikes for an art project. An art space doesn’t have to mean it’s only for art. It can be for any messy project or play, for creating, tinkering, inventing, constructing and even cooking!
Having a dedicated space for creative projects is really important. My kids spend more time in our “Creation Station” than anywhere else in the house. They have learned that is the place to go when they want to create something to add to their play or get messy and it’s a constant visual reminder of the possibilities.
If you don’t have a dedicated craft room, don’t worry! It’s actually better to have this space near the kitchen or the room in your home you spend the most time in. If you want your kids to play independently there for awhile, most young kids want to be able to see and hear you nearby.
Scout out an area in your house that has decent light, near a north-facing window has the best light, but any natural light will do. If you don’t have great natural light, make sure there is room for a lamp or a mounted light.
Check the flooring and try to find an area free from carpet or really valuable furniture. Art and creativity often times mean messes. I’ll be coaching you through how best to avoid mess, but it will inevitably happen at some point. If you can’t avoid carpet, do you have an old rug you could place on top?
Here are the most important elements you’ll need to set up a basic creative area in your home:
That is seriously all you need to get started. Your kids may not show any interest in art or drawing or creativity in the past, but trust me - having this area available to them will be a game changer. It must always be available to them. I keep blank paper and some kind of markers, pencils or crayons out and all three of the kids visit it multiple times a day. Get it set up! If not, tell me - what is holding you back? I want to help you!
WHAT TO STOCK IN YOUR ART AREA - Toddlers and Preschoolers
Note: Even if you have older kids, if one of your children is still a toddler or preschooler, this is the best way to stock your area. When your younger ones are gone, you can break out the Sharpies and non-washable items, but until those little ones are out of the house, don’t try it unless you are going to be sitting there right along with them!
I have scoured books, websites, craft stores and toy stores for the best of the best of art supplies for my three little ones. It's important to have a few options to keep things interesting for them. It's one of the easiest ways to get them to visit the art area daily to see what is out there and keep them busy!
First, let's talk paper. Of course regular old copy paper will be just fine. It's important it is blank and not lined, but other than that - you are golden. But... in my opinion, it's best not to just have regular paper, but to have a thicker paper out so markers and paints don't make holes or bleed through. I've also found little hands can manage a thicker paper better. My favorites are at least 80 lb weight. When you head to an office supply store, the weight will be listed on the front and it's somewhere between regular copy paper weight and heavy cardstock. In a pinch, cardstock is fine, too, but that can get more expensive fast. Especially the way you'll be going through paper now!
If you want to get fancy, get some other sizes or colors of paper. Post-it notes are so much fun! Index cards, list making paper, blank books, construction paper, scrapbook paper or notepads. Just remember, unlined is better for younger kids.
Next, you must have washable markers. I know this can be a pain because little ones usually don't remember to put the caps back on and you are going to have to do a spot check at least before bedtime if not a few times a day so all your markers don't dry out. BUT - they are just such a favorite for little ones. These are hands down the best for under age four. They are just the right size and come in a larger assortment of colors. The regular marker sizes, even the wide ones, are too tough for little hands to control.
This may come as a surprise, but next most important are colored pencils. You can't just go and get regular colored pencils because kids under the age of five will break the lead every time. They push too hard and the pencils will break constantly. They'll also roll off the table and start to weaken inside quickly. You're looking for shorter, thicker colored pencils. Every time I visit IKEA I stock up on theirs because the price is so good and they are just perfect. If you can't get to IKEA, find pencils that have thick cores.
For another option, you'll want crayons, of course. Surprisingly, these were always used last by my kids, but they did use them. Get the wide crayons for toddlers so they don't break. Triangular ones are super handy for traveling because they don't roll. For preschoolers, I still say - this is your home - get washable ones only. When all the kids are age five and up and you trust them, that is the time to branch off from washable ones. Your furniture and walls will thank you! There are so many good crayons out there that aren't washable, but for now stick with these.
Last, find something fun. For this age group, dot markers or washable paint pens are the best! The give the kids a totally different sensory experience than the other materials. Dot markers can stain, so be careful with them, but if you get it fast, it will come off. The paint pens I've never had trouble with.
Let's talk containers. It seems like we've tried everything under the sun and we always go back to the same thing. Find those cute little tin cans at Target or the Dollar Store and use those. That way you can mix and match what you put out for your kids and when they get older, they can choose what they like and move it around easily. They are pretty, inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. If you don’t use those, use something clear so the kids can see what’s inside. Mason jars are great or many craft supply stores carry plastic clear containers, too, if you’re worried about glass breaking with the littles.
For paper, put some in a decorative basket or bin and have it out on the table always. Some parents use a hanging file and put various paper in the slots, but I always worry about little kids tugging at it and it crashing down on them. We also tried a desktop file organizer, but too many choices confuses little ones. Save that for when they are older. In your storage area, get one of those tiered plastic bins and separate paper by thickness, size and color.
You have a small kids table dedicated to your art stuff, right? If not, you'll need an oilcloth or tarp to lie down on your dinner table or plastic trays like these or these to protect your home from their work. Have a recycle bin and a small broom and dustpan near your area for quick cleanup.
If you're just so excited to get this all set up and don't want to run around town gathering up supplies, I made it super easy for you! You can download this list with links to order it all now - I found options for everything on Amazon so you can use Prime and have it in a day or two!
Now that you have everything ready to go, don't get too excited and use it all at once! Stock it away in a closet and pull out just one type of paper and one type of writing instrument out each day. Have fun!
Please note: (Because this post has a list of materials, I have some affiliate links set up so I may get a small thank you for putting it all together for you - it won't cost you any more if you use my links - but you don’t have to!)
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