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The Best Art Supplies for Toddlers in 2023

by The Artful Parent Editorial Team
September 20, 2023

The best art supplies for toddlers with our top recommendations that encourage art making and creativity from the start.

This post contains affiliate links.

Updated October 2023

Are you looking for the best art supplies for toddlers? As a parent it can feel overwhelming knowing where to begin and what art supplies you really need for this stage.

These are The Artful Parent’s top recommendations for toddler art supplies, the ones that we’ve used with our own kids and at art classes over and over again. It goes without saying, that the art materials must be durable and vibrant (the latter provides a satisfying art experience for young children).

toddler art supplies
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

Art Supplies for Toddlers

Here are our top 10 toddler art supplies. We use these materials over and over with our toddlers.

Tempera paint sticks are solid tempera paint encased in plastic, and are vibrant, fun to use, and washable! They glide on smoothly with little pressure and work great on paper and cardboard.

We love homemade playdough! This no cook playdough recipe is fast and easy to make AND totally customizable for color and smell. Or try our cooked playdough recipe which lasts practically forever.

But if you’d rather not make your own, try this set of playdough. We also highly recommend this playdough tool set!

If you’re only going to buy one kind of paint, get tempera paint. Use it for everyday paint on paper, cardboard and poster board.

Liquid watercolors are easier for toddlers to use than the traditional pan watercolors. These are long lasting, gorgeous and vibrant, and useful for a variety of craft and science activities.

Yes, toddlers will squeeze and squeeze until there is a puddle of glue on their cardboard or paper. BUT they will have so much fun doing it, and the glue is cheap enough, that it’s 100% worth it.

And remember, this is also a good hand-strengthening exercise that helps build fine motor skills.

The Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 is a colored pencil /crayon combination that is versatile and long lasting. It can be used on paper or glass. Or add water for use as watercolors!

Kids can use tempera paint with their fingers, but finger paint has the perfect smooth texture for smearing around on paper and it stays moist for much longer. For more options, check out our post on the BEST fingerpaints for young kids.

More like oil pastels than crayons, these Kitpas art crayons are easier for toddlers to create vibrant marks and make a nice crayon substitute. They can even be used on windows!

We love Crayola sidewalk chalk––the colors are bright and really show up on the pavement!

Washable markers are great for toddlers. We like any of the Crayola line, especially the Crayola Pip-Squeaks for little hands.

Crayons aren’t at the top of our list for toddlers due to the hand strength and pressure needed to achieve vibrant marks.

But there are a few brands that we highly recommend for kids. We love the Faber-Castell Beeswax crayons in a carry case. And Brilliant Bee crayons are great, too.

toddler supplies
Photo by Rachel Withers

Toddler Art Tools for Success

Here are a few tools that will make toddler art-making a little easier…and help keep the mess contained!

This paint brush set features textured and regular brushes especially designed for little hands. This set makes a great toddler gift! We also really like these thick brushes for toddlers.

Spill-proof paint cups keep the paint off the table, floor and even your lap! Put the lid on after a painting session and the paint won’t dry out, allowing for future use.

You can find these plastic trays at Target, IKEA or on Amazon. Any plastic tray will do!

These are very helpful to contain the mess and make for a much easier cleanup. Take art projects outside easily or create a clearly defined art space for kids. We highly recommend!

Use an art smock or old T-shirt to protect clothing. Or you may wish to have a dedicated art outfit that if paint stains, it’s no big deal. When purchasing an art apron or smock there are a few things to consider:

  • Sizing––is it for toddlers, preschoolers or big kids?
  • Fabric––A waterproof fabric is helpful and easily wipes down or rinses off in the sink.
  • Style––Most art smocks come in three choices: long sleeve, apron or sleeveless. Try to choose a style that works for your child and won’t hinder his/her movements.

Art easels provide toddlers with a great way to work standing up. It also creates a simple dedicated art space.

Jean’s family has used the Melissa and Doug Easel for years (it grows with your child!) and think it’s the best value out there for a children’s easel. IKEA also has a good budget easel that folds for small spaces.

Photo by Andrea Martelle

Favorite Toddler Craft Supplies

These staples are good to have on hand for crafts and art activities.

Don’t forget the paper! And not just any paper can hold all that paint either! We also recommend rolls of brown butcher’s paper or white paper can be used with an easel or laid out on the floor for big drawing activities. For more paper recommendations see Choosing Paper for Children’s Art.

Dot stickers are fun for creating collage art and are particularly easy for toddlers to peel and stick onto paper.

Pom poms are great in sensory play bins or for collage projects (when your toddler is squeezing all that glue).

Melissa & Doug’s large stamps and stamp pad are a fun and easy art activity to set up for toddlers.

Use Con-Tact Paper for easy nature collage art or suncatcher art for kids. There are so many ways to use this!

Don’t miss our Amazon shop filled with our top recommendations for toddler art supplies! And be sure to visit our homepage tab filled with art activities for toddlers!

More Art Ideas for Toddlers

Want even more toddler ideas?

Check out our Toddler Creativity Pack!

This is exactly what you need to embrace art time with your little ones! This eBook has all the tips and tricks you need to feel confident introducing art to your young child.

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