The main difference I think with Waldorf supplies is that I encourage my kids to put effort into the work they do and not to consider them throwaways. That said, just look over your budget, decide whichj supplies you can afford,and don't feel badly substituting on the rest.
The Waldorf crayons LAST so you don't have to worry and they really don't break if you use the blocks the first year and switch to the sticks for 2nd. With my eldest, we followed the whole progression - Lyra blocks - Stockmar sticks - Lyra Little Ferbys (relatively inexpensive and for just a year), then the
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolors (which I got on sale) and we LOVE.
If they lose or overuse one color, then Paper Scissors, Stone will sell you just that color. The quality is superb; and when my kids are someplace that has cheap supplies, they notice the difference to the point that I've had to teach them to not ask about why the crayon keeps breaking or the pencil barely works.
We use the watercolors only in homeschool, but have cheap little watercolor palettes for their free time; the wet-on-wet technique cannot be done with cheap paper or paints, and the results are SO easy and incredibly rewarding.
Ask your store to send along the Stockmar booklets that give ideas on how to use them free - or download them at Mercurius.
Also, Mercurius does allow sales to homeschoolers with a minimum $150 order, so you can get a group together and buy at school prices (not quite wholesale but MUCH better than retail).http://www.mercurius-usa.com/ams_sho...478dd6920f490e
Each year I buy paints just once, except when my DH threw away "all those yucky baby food jars in the back of the fridge" - he almost died when I told him he tossed a good $35 in paint. We also use a lot of watercolor paper which Hobby Lobby stores put on sale at the same time each year - call your store to ask for the dates.
And we draw in lesson books or on just plain typing paper, which I know is considered a no-no, but the cost savings is a lot and they DO have great qualiy paper for the special drawings in the lesson books.
We also use crayolas, beeswax (I like the Stone sheets), cheap finger paint, window crayons, and inexpensive colored chalk. I am NOT a blackboard artist and I'm afriad that buying the good chalk wouldn't make any difference. And do buy some kite paper in the small size for making all sorts of translucent art and craft projects.
But I wanted to add that when you buy supplies, try buying a bag of felt squares from the sale page. They are one of the most useful art supplies I have found - or go to Joann's stores and get the Rayon/Wool felt by the 1/4 yard fairly inexpensively.
You also only have to buy a couple of new things a year, so I found Choirs of Colors by Alan WHitehead to be a great guide to matching Waldorf at supplies to the child. It is pretty Anthro, so I'll just send you to this page with lots of art book choices:http://www.waldorfbooks.com/edu/thr/...g_painting.htm
So my answer is YES, they are so incredibly worth it.