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art utensils for kids

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Here is our list of favorite art utensils for kids!  I hope you find some inspiration and ideas from our art bin utensil suggestions!  Let us know which ones are your favorites!!

best art utensils for kids - GREAT list for respectful art with ALL AGES!!

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My daughter is increasingly interested in art.  She loves coloring on paper — particularly blank paper.  She is uninterested in “coloring” books, as she wants to make her own design!  I want to invest in some beautiful utensils that are for her, and her alone (well, her brother probably wouldn’t be interested anyways, my how wonderful to have such different personalities and interests in our household!!)

I wanted to invest in tools that are easy to get out on her own, not a lot of long term mess for me (i.e. hold the paint — we love painting, but for every day art, I am not just leaving paint out an accessible at this point).



We have a lot of the “Crayola” utensils.  And there’s nothing wrong with this class, tried and true brand of markers and crayons.  We’ve branched out into fun glittery markers and metallic markers, (so you can go sans the actual glitter which is my worst nightmare).  We have gotten both (from Crayola) and while they are fun for a while, they only last a short amount of time.  Fun, but not necessary, in my opinion.  Sharpies are also great for art projects, though I wouldn’t leave them out with little ones just yet ;)

Pip squeak markers (for little hands) are my favorite.  And I don’t mind if the caps are left off because they are so little anyways.  (Or I can make this with the dried out markers!!)

Our favorite: I also just discovered Faber-Castell markers — I like that you can re-hydrate these after they dry out.  I also like that they are incredibly vibrant, washable (of course), and very long lasting.  You are receiving much more (water-based) ink for your money.  And the prices are very comparable to Crayola.  The set we bought also has dual-sided marker tips, so you are getting 24 colors for the price of 12 :)  It’s a nice change of pace.  We like to pair these with simple white paper, or a smaller-sized sketchbook, fit perfect for little hands!!




So what is the difference between oil and chalk pastels anyways? Hard and soft?

First off, chalk, or soft pastels, are more commonly used because of their ease in blending and color variety.  They consist of a binder and pigment — and the softer the pastel, the brighter color you have!  Of course, with young children, you don’t need the precision of color, so choosing a less soft pastel is wise!  I must also include a huge safety warning to add to their use.  Chalk pastels emit dust during use, and I certainly don’t want my children breathing that in!  There are non-toxic chalk pastels available, and those are what we have right now.

Oil pastels are not crumbly or dusty — their color will not smudge easily.  They don’t blend as easily as soft (chalk) pastels, though their colors are usually more vibrant.  They are a bit like crayons, in the effect that they don’t blend well, but they can be added with other mediums (pencils, markers, paint) to add another dimension to your art work.

Pastels consist of pigment and binder, so hard pastels have more binder and less pigment.  There is less dust with hard pastels, so they are safer.  Typically they are used for precision or smaller details in drawings — but children would certainly love experimenting with their use!

For any pastels, as with all art materials, there are professional artists supplies and student supplies available.  We will always buy the “cheaper” quality.  A lot of our art is the process, not the product, so although I’d like to spend $50 on a set, I’d much prefer to spend $6-8, for practicality and affordability’s sake.

Our favorite: We have the oil pastel set from Michael’s — the “Artist’s Loft” brand.  And my children love them.  They glide onto paper very well, and they are really just having fun with the colors.  64 colors for super cheap — it’s fun to let them explore the different utensil options without breaking the bank!  These oil pastels look very similar in price and quality to what we have.


My children like to use their utensils on a blanket, with their simple composition notebooks.  These are nice because the child can learn to turn the pages from front to back, and their work is kept neat in one place!



My daughter doesn’t mouth items, so we are safe to use crayons right now.  But we want to move past the Crayola crayons at this point.

We have Crayola crayons (the basics) and they are eh, okay.  I find that a child has to really press hard on paper to get a nice line of color, and the color can also come off in chunks.  We do like their triangular crayons, which I love for both how they help a child with their pencil-grip, and that they don’t roll off of the surface your child is working on.

We have tried and loved thick Crayola twistable crayons.  My son absolutely loves these.  He almost exclusively uses them.  He likes to have his own set, even if he just likes to line them up and stare at them.  The break pretty easily, but it’s nice to find that special utensil that will get your child excited about writing/drawing.

And we had Crayola slick stix for a while — I slightly hate these because they stained our carpet when I purchased some for John — but! the colors are incredibly vibrant, so great for some beautiful work, but definitely use with caution.

However, I still want to present my children with earth-friendly and non-toxic items as much as possible.  I believe the distinction is if a crayon has paraffin, then it is not safe, among other “harmful if swallowed” ingredients versus beeswax or soy is considered safe.

You could also certainly buy Stockmar crayons, or and have an excellent quality crayon, that is light to the touch and glides onto paper smoother than Crayola or other generic crayon.  Stockmar has been used for years in Waldorf schools and they are very well-made.  The more I researched, however, the more I realized that even these seemingly natural crayons have a lot of junk in them.

Our favorite:  Finding a crayon that was both non-toxic and actually worked well was very hard to find.  I finally stopped at Filana Organic Beeswax Crayons.  These beeswax crayons are incredibly vibrant, glide onto paper very well, with little pressure from the user, and are completely toxin-free and petroleum (paraffin) free.  They do not break, even with slightly rough use.  We are incredibly satisfied with them!I am happy to buy a lovely set for my daughter.


Here she is with her glorious Filana crayons.  Her face brightened while using them, and the smile on her face could not be wiped away!  We have found a winner.



Colored pencils.

Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with a colored pencil by Crayola.  I was particularly impressed, back in my teaching days when we were learning to draw and color self-portraits and people and families, that they came out with a skin-color set, with all the colors of the beautiful human race rainbow.  However, these are difficult for children to draw with.  A lot of pressure is required, and inevitably, the break.  A lot.  We used them non-stop in my classes — and truly, my students were always at my pencil sharpener with their Crayola colored pencils.

When I give the very sharpened pencils to my daughter, or four year old son, they are too difficult to have a nice, thick line for drawing.  Instead, all they are left with is an incredibly faint line of color (almost invisible) OR a broken pencil.  We do like the thin Crayola twistable colored pencils, but they are a bit of a novelty.  Fun for the kiddos, and definitely usable though!

Our favorite: After reading many reviews, we decided to try the Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils.  The colors are more vibrant, and the pencils don’t break as easily.  It was really a toss-up between these and Prismacolor pencils. I believe that Koh-I-Noor is slightly softer, but we really decided to just buy whichever one had a better sale at the time. Sure, it is about $15-19 for a box of 24 pencils, but they work, and they are lovely, and my children are enjoying coloring more than ever before.  That’s the point — to use them in a creative nature, rather than in frustration and chaos (at least in my house with all the breakage before).


I hope you’ve enjoyed our list of best art utensils for kids!!

Please let me know what you use and love for art time!!

Lastly, I whole-heartedly recommend the  The Artful Parent book by Jean Van’t Hul to you.  This book is full of ideas and beautiful illustrations for how you can celebrate and commit to art in your home.  This book is worth it’s weight in gold.  Definitely the best parenting and homeschooling book I have read in the last couple of months!


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