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Help with craft supplies?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hoping to get my 3.5 year old set up with a good craft station this Christmas.  Any tips?  What are your must-have art supplies for young kids?  Do you keep all the supplies available to your kids all the time?  How do you have your stuff organized? 


So far I'm thinking that I want:

*  some good painting supplies - a few types of paints, a bunch of regular brushes, and some of those foam shapes/brushes

*  stamping stuff

*  beading stuff (any recommendations on types of beads/string for a child this age?)

*  fiber arts stuff - this I really don't know how to approach, but my DD really seems attracted to fiber arts...any ideas? 

*  drawing supplies - crayons, markers, colored pencils, chalk, paper

*  various adhesives....tape, glue sticks, maybe paste?  or school glue?

*  "crafty" things like pipe cleaners, pom poms, popsicle sticks, googly eyes, foam shapes or stickers

*  regular clay in addition to playdough stuff

*  a perler beading set


What do you think?  Is it too much?  This child LOVES her crafts, but I am so not crafty, so I'm really out of my element here.  Feeling a little guilt, too, for not having her in preschool.  I know that she would head right to the craft/art area in a preschool classroom, and I really want to recreate that for her to the extent possible. 

post #2 of 4

Your list looks great! We are very into crafts at home (family of artists) and my girl, who just turned 4, has arts/craft supplies available to her all of the time. We have two drawers she can access at any time, and a child-size table and chairs  (it's ok if she gets stuff on the table). The things she uses the most, and that are always there for her and that i keep stocked, are plenty of crayons, washable markers (Crayola are the most washable), colored pencils, colored and white chalk, a cheap set of soft pastels, watercolor paints, several different kinds of paper (colored, white, manila, large newsprint, tracing, watercolor, origami), washable ink pads and lots of stamps, stencils, a sticker bin, cardstock and envelopes, coloring books, magazines and catalogs she can cut up, lots of glue sticks, white school glue, scotch tape, child's scissors (more than one pair - nothing worse for her than needing her scissors and not being able to find them!), ruler, pencils and erasers. Also straws, pipe cleaners, pompoms, a tub of beans and pasta (lots of different kinds - she loves making collages from different beans, seeds, rice, lentils), a tub of collected items for collages (mostly from the backyard - little sticks, acorns, pebbles, leaves, seed pods... also buttons and other little bits), a tub of yarn, feathers, fabric scraps and tissue paper for collages. And play-doh and lots of cookie cutters and rollers, of course.

For textiles, she has her own little yarn basket with several types of yarn, plastic craft needles that she can thread herself, pieces of old sweater that she can sew into, sewing cards, and a child's spool knitter.  We also have a stack of felt and fleece she can cut, glue, sew, etc, though those projects she usually has some help for.

For beading, she has a big tub of beads - mostly pony beads of all colors and styles and a lot of wooden beads. I just pick them up every now and then when I see a kind I think she'd like and dump them into the tub. She has a few things she can string them on - old shoelaces, yarn, pipe cleaners... but by far her favorite and the most usable is stretchy elastic cord. We got it at the craft store in a bunch of colors - she likes the shiny ones best - it's easy to string and easy to tie, and the elastic makes it so she can actually wear the necklaces or give them to adults.


She has other art supplies that she has to ask to use, because they take more supervision or set-up. Paints (I like crayola's washable paints because they are vibrant colors and really do wash out of most things), glitter, do-a-dot markers. For watercolor painting, she can do it herself but usually asks me for water. I have a bin up high in her closet with the certain paints and markers that she needs to have set up for her. Some other kinds of projects that I have to set up are block, leaf or potato printing, 3-dimensional painting with flour or cornstarch paste, paper mache, special clays, sand designs, etc.


Speaking of set-up, a few other items we find super useful are dropcloths for painting or messy projects (I just use the kind of tablecloth fabric that is plastic on one side and fuzzy on the other - we have three of them of varying sizes, one large enough to cover the whole table, one about 3x3 and one 2x2 - and just keep them folded on the shelf when not in use), a painting smock or apron (an old adult button up shirt put on backwards with the collar and sleeve cuffs cut off makes a good smock), and wide newsprint in rolls that you can roll out on the floor for large freeform painting, hand and footprints, etc.

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks Grethel.  You wouldn't happen to want to share a picture of how you have this all set up, would you?  If not, can you explain how you have it all organized?  That's one of my biggest issues - living in a really small space and trying to figure out where to put all this stuff so it's accessible but compact and vaguely tidy.  Can your daughter do the spool knitter yet?  I was considering getting one for my DD, but the age recommendation was 5.  Also (hope you don't mind me picking your brain about this stuff), do you set aside a specific time for art during the day?  Do you suggest projects, or is it all open ended? 

post #4 of 4

Pictures wouldn't show you much. We have a small house, too, and so her supplies are sort of spread out. She has a closet organizer in her closet with drawers and shelves, and two big drawers are set aside for the art supplies she can use at all times -- one drawer holds paper, markers, crayons, chalk, colored pencils, a box of glue/tape/etc, and a sticker bin, and the other drawer holds tubs of stamps/pads, collage materials, beading, yarn, etc. Then, also in her room, next to her little table and chairs, is a small bookshelf that holds her coloring books, more paper, the magazines and catalogs she can cut from, and bins with her playdoh stuff. There's also a jar on her little table that always has a few markers, a glue stick and a pair of scissors in it, for "on the fly" projects. On a high shelf in her closet is a bin with the paints, glitter and other stuff that she needs help to set up.

The bigger stuff, like the dropcloths, large paper rolls and other miscellaneous items, are on a bottom shelf in our kitchen. We have another bin in the family room, next to her easel. It's really all over the place!


We're in the middle of remodeling our garage into an art and sewing workroom, and when it's done she'll have her own space in there, and I imagine that the supplies that are currently in the family room and kitchen will move out there. We will also likely get a rolling cart with drawers for some supplies and papers -- we were at a friend's house recently who had a great one, and I was jealous (it looked a bit like this one: http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/4d-concepts-multi-color-15-drawer-rolling-cart.aspx?a=418459) But I'll always keep at least one drawer of the stuff in her room, because that's where she does most of her drawing and creating.


My dd still needs some help with the knitter - she just turned 4. I usually help her wrap correctly, and then she lifts the loops off, and I help her wrap again. That and finger knitting are something I think she'll be able to do on her own at 5 or 6.


As far as projects, sometimes we think of them together, and sometimes they're her own idea, but I do really enjoy introducing her to new things. I like sites like thecraftycrow.net for project ideas, and there are also a lot of books on kids' crafts and art ideas that are really inspiring. I don't set aside a specific time every day, but a usual time for us to do a project together is mid-afternoon, and she does a lot of drawing, painting and crafting on her own before and after dinner. Before bed, we often draw or color together as a quiet transition activity. She goes to preschool now, but last year, mid-morning was also a common project time.

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