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10 Art Supply Essentials for Kids

You don’t have to spend a lot to be creative! Readers share the inexpensive, everyday items they keep in their kids' art supply boxes.
 

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Creativity
Motor Skills
1. Craft foam
“It’s inexpensive, and the child can layer it, cut it, build with it.” —Joan F., Morro Bay, CA
 
2. Vinyl tablecloth
“It’s important to make a space so the kids can be free to create without worry.” —Patti F., San Diego
 
3. Sidewalk chalk
“Go outside and draw with your children. Create a sidewalk mural!” —David M., Cranford, NJ
 
4. Magazines
“I keep a collection of recycled magazines for projects, collages, and picture-themed journals.” —Teffanie W., Midland, TX
 
5. Thread
“Use it for adorning or for outlining images. Also great in lieu of paint to fashion hair on heads of figures.” —Marlene C., Pittsford, NY
 
6. Toothpicks
“Grab some marshmallows or raisins and create 3-D structures, like a pretend crane to move cargo from one place to another! We happen to love using them to mark off a Formula 1 racetrack in the dirt.” —Chelsea D., Highland Park, IL
 
7. Extra buttons
“They’re the perfect material to explore, count, and repurpose in a child’s artwork.” —Beth Anne B., Englewood, NJ
 
8. Old clothing
“Clothing can be used for drawing and painting canvases, crafts projects, and rags for cleanup.” —Joseph B., Atlanta
 
9. Patterned paper
“I like to save old pieces of scrapbook paper for my kids to play around with.” —Barbara W., Greencastle, PA
 
10. Duct tape
"Kids love tape because of the endless possibilities — from making train tracks to jewelry to stickers.” —Sonal G., Minneapolis

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