I’ve been crafting with my kids for years and these are the super basic kids craft supplies we rely on week after week. You don’t need all of them (and the recycling bin is a great source of materials too!) but having a few on hand is super handy.
Craft Supplies for Kids
Stocking up on craft supplies for rainy day kids activities is a great idea—and one that can turn into so much fun time together! And the great news is that you really don’t need anything fancy in order to be able to create with the kids. You probably have many of these things already in your house.
And if not, you should be able to pick most of them up at any big box store. With just a few, you’ll be ready for arts and crafts with the kids…even if you don’t consider yourself creative!
You certainly don’t need all of these items, but I wanted to include our favorites so you have options to choose from to use in your house.
(We always love making a batch of Salt Dough, too!)
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Craft Items for Kids
You can start a collection of art supplies and add to it once you know which sorts of activities they prefer. Or you can start with the ones that interest you more. Either way, these are my favorite supplies to use with my kids. We do crafts together a lot and these are great things to have on hand starting when the kids are at least one year old. Most items are priced at under $20, unless noted.
These are a great way to “paint” with littler kids (even older babies and ones year olds!) as the markers are easy to hold yet the effect looks like watercolors.
2. Water Color Paint
Easy to use and pretty, water color paint is (at least in my experience) often less messy than washable tempura paint. Just keep the amount of water you offer with the paints to a minimum!
3. Washable Finger Paint
My kids tend to turn any paint into finger paint, but starting with the basics can be a fun activity. Smocks required for this one!
4. Paint Paper
This type of paint paper keeps moisture from seeping through, and it stands up much better than construction paper to the heaps of paint little kids tend to use on their projects.
5. Brown Kraft Paper Roll
I use this to cover our tables before we do projects and also as a project itself—cover the paper and do a big collaborative coloring design together!
It doesn’t matter what kind of playdough you use (though we just go with the classic since we replace ours regularly as the kids mix the colors…), but having this sort of clay to shape and pretend with is so great for open-ended playtime.
Hand some over in a bowl to a one year old and play however seems right or use them to decorate papers, cardboard letters or any other surface. You can also use them to practice sorting shapes and sizes.
8. Pipe Cleaners
Tuck in the ends when using pipe cleaners with toddlers under 3 so the sharper ends are safe, then see what you can create. Make letters and jewelry. Let the kids string O cereal onto one. Bend around your finger to make a curl. The options are endless!
9. Craft Sticks
There are all sorts of things you can make with craft sticks, though this is one item I like to give to my kids and see what they come up with. Often they make up games with them, lay out rainbows on the floor, or do some other thing I wouldn’t have thought of myself!
10. Colored Masking Tape
This is functional for taping projects together, but also pretty. We also like to make designs with tape on paper—like simple trees, presents, and spelling out our names. Washi tape works too.
11. Glue Sticks
Glue sticks are often easier for toddlers to use than school glue and a lot less messy. (Plus, it’s less extreme if a kiddo gets a hold of one of these than school glue if you aren’t in the room…I say from experience of finding an unexpected puddle of glue on a window seat a few months ago…)
12. Kids Scissors
For younger toddlers, start with safety scissors, but then advance to kid scissors to use with paper. It can be fun to simply practice cutting too!
13. Construction Paper
Pick up a package of rainbow paper to have on hand whenever the kids want to make things.
14. Recycled Cardboard, Containers, Magazines
If you have empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls, oatmeal containers, egg cartons, cereal or cracker boxes and/or old magazines, they can make wonderful free craft supplies for kids. We keep our stash in the closet in the kitchen with the recycling bin so it’s easy to save what we can use again.
Whether you prefer the classic crayons or the chunky toddler crayons, these are a more mess-free option than markers or paint but are still plenty fun to color with. (My 14 month old currently loves to have me help him draw with crayons!)
Best Tips for Success
- You don’t need to buy all the things or have fancy kits on hand. Almost always, basic supplies and recycled paper and cardboard is a great place to start.
- Start with just a few things and see what the kids like, then build your supply list from there.
- Use brown kraft paper to cover your table if you’re worried about the kids getting anything on it.
- Try to let the kids take the lead on what they want to make—their creativity may surprise you!
- It will be messy, but try to relax and enjoy the moment and clean up when you’re done.
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I’d love to hear your favorite craft supplies for kids in the comments if I missed yours on my list!
This post was first published March 2020.