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In my 13 years as a mom (and 10 years as an art teacher) I’ve bought and explored more artsy-crafty things than I can list here. Even though I’m not going to bore you with each and every item that I’ve tried, my son has tried and the kids who I’ve taught over the years have tried, I am going to give you my favorite tried and true art materials. While I love these for everyday use, they also make excellent holiday gifts! So, if you’re looking for an artsy alternative to electronics … check these out:
1. Crayola Model Magic: This is probably my all-time favorite art material ever. My son, my students and even the parents of the kids who I taught have all love, love, looooved this seriously magical product! It’s somewhere between play dough and modeling clay. It’s soft enough to sculpt with, and it air dries. It comes in a rainbow of colors, but honestly I’m a fan of the plain white. The kids can paint it or color it with markers, so white is the perfect blank canvas.
2. Crayola Washable Paints: There are tons of kids’ paint products out there, but this one is at the top of my list. It’s easy for kids to spread and provides great coverage. And (bonus!) it really is washable. When my son went through his finger painting phase, little pools of this stuff worked like a charm.
3. Modeling Clay: Even though I adore Model Magic, sometimes I also like to use regular modeling clay. I used to teach a preschool gallery class. Yes, I took 10 or so 3- to 5-year-olds into the museum's art galleries -- with art materials too! The kids always wanted to paint. But, obviously that was a no-go in the galleries. So, I started bringing soft modeling clay and cardboard. If you tear it off into dime-sized pieces, the modeling clay acts like a chunky finger paint. The kids can press it onto the board and 'paint' with it. Look for the non-hardening kind if you want to use it for a finger painting project.
4. Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastels: They draw like a crayon, but mix like paint! Do I really need to say more?
5. Animal Print Origami Paper: Even if your child never actually folds it, this origami paper is still a super-fun art supply. Collage is one of my favorite activities to do at home and at work. Cut the animal print sheets and create a creature collage or simply let your little artist explore patterns from nature!
6. Alex Toys Artist Studio Super Table with Paper Roll: This was a favorite in our house for quite some time. It has a chalkboard top, comes with a hanging paper roll and has drop in cup/bin spots to store all kinds of artsy tools. With a sizable surface and two benches you can fit up to four children around it.
7. Speedball Rubber Brayer: You don’t have to use ink or be a printing perfectionist to use this art tool. Brayers (or rollers) work well with a variety of different mediums. I have a favorite Styrofoam printing project that I always enjoy using this brayer with. The kids used it to spread temperas across their handmade printing plates. It’s a fun alternative to using a brush!
8. Glitter: Yes, it’s messy. Yes, it will get into every crevice of your couch and you’ll probably find random sparkles in your child’s hair for weeks after the crafting is over. But, what kid doesn’t go gaga over glitter?
9. Craft Foam Shapes: Toss a handful of these into any collage project and you have a recipe for instant texture! I’ve used these to create abstract art or to piece together into a foamy picture. I took on the role of ‘craft mom’ for many holiday parties at my son’s school. Given that I had about five minutes (and quite a tight budget), I always used foamies. They are inexpensive and the kids can glue them onto a larger piece of foam to make a book mark or door knob hanger.
10. Googley Eyes: They wiggle and make kids giggle! They’re googley eyes, and they come in quite the array of sizes. I’m always up for adding these to a portrait, sculpture or pom pom creature. You can go for a big bag or divide them up into stocking stuffer sized mini gifts.
So, now that you’ve picked out some awesome artsy items for your child, you’ll need some projects! Follow my Creative Kids Crafts Pinterest board for ideas from around the web.