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Importance of art and creating for children

With the shift towards academics in the early years and the rise of Pinterest worthy crafts, moms often feel they have to be setting up elaborate projects or doing worksheets. Neither of which are really all that helpful in early childhood. Children need freedom to create. So providing them with a variety of materials and letting them lead the way is the best way to foster creativity (and take the pressure off of yourself!). You can present them with inspiration and even lay out specific materials for them to use, but try not to have an end goal in mind.

10 Must have art supplies

Tempera paint: We love both the regular tempera paint for finger painting or using traditional paint brushes, and my kids are obsessed with these paint sticks by Kwik Stix that make painting a little less messy for days when you just aren’t up for a full painting extravaganza.

Scissors: Another great tool for building hand strength, coordination, and fine motor skills. I also love that it offers the chance for a little risk taking. My kids like using these scrapbooking ones.

Beeswax crayons: So I know most people buy Crayola crayons because you can get the one million pack for $5 but that’s the exact opposite approach I like to take with toys and art supplies. I think it’s important to provide kids with higher quality materials and I also love finding more natural products to replace the standard go to. While higher quality stuff tends to be more expensive, it also lasts longer. We have tried a few beeswax crayons and LOVE them–they are so vibrant. Our favorites are the Stockmar block crayons and the Stockmar stick crayons. We also love the Honeysticks brand (they also make a good bath crayon!).

Image credit: REBECCA @ STRENGTH AND SUNSHINE

Play dough: Did you know play dough is an amazing tool for developing hand strength and fine motor skills that are both pre-writing skills? Little hands benefit so much from this type of manipulating, moulding, squishing, and rolling. I really like the eco-dough by eco-kids–we have some regular play doh and I know it’s non-toxic and considered safe but I just can’t get past the smell. The eco-dough smells divine. If you’re feeling adventurous you can make your own play dough. Check out this recipe for natural play dough (that’s even gluten free!)

Easel and paper: I just recently read and shared this great article about how beneficial it is for kids to work on vertical spaces–according to the article, written by a pediatric physical therapist, working on vertical spaces helps with coordination, crossing the midline, pencil grip, posture, core strength among other things. We have the Hape easel and typically just buy the Melissa and Doug easel paper and then have their regular drawing paper for table work.

Watercolors: My kids really enjoy water colors. I don’t know if it’s because it involves dipping something in water or what, but they are very different from “regular” paint and therefore we do like to have both options for them. They will routinely ask to do watercolors. I’m blaming this on my artist husband.

Oil pastels: My kids love these because they can use their hands to smudge, make finger prints, mix colors and generally get messy creating. They are sort of a mix between painting and drawing. We have the Faber ones, but Crayola also makes a nice set.

Colored pencils: My four year old is really starting to get into learning how to write, and he is working on his “pencil grip” so having colored pencils around is now my go to for when he wants to practice “writing” (I despise markers).

Glue: I reluctantly bought some glue after my kids kept talking about using it in preschool. They have actually been quite successful at not getting glue all over the house. I got the Elmer’s disappearing glue and I like it because it turns clear when it’s dry.

Loose parts: We have a bunch of different loose parts that the kids use for arts and child led crafts. We have a stack of wood slices that my kids love to paint and glue things to and I have mason jars of the following:

One day, when I’m feeling brave, I will go live in our art room while my kids are busy creating.

I typically have to just walk by it and look the other way because it’s full of half completed projects and markers without tops (told you I despise markers and can’t wait to throw them all away).

Any art room must haves that you find your kids absolutely LOVE?

For more playroom tips check out my e-book:

Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood which you can buy here for only $4.99!

If you like this post and want to read more like it then check out these posts:

3 Steps to Declutter Your Play Space

Toy for Toddlers: Encouraging Active Play

7 Essential Playroom Spaces (and why you need them)

The Power of Play

Types of Play Important for Development

The Importance of Early Childhood Education