Art with Mrs. Tucker

Best Creative Supplies for Toddlers

I was bit by the organizing bug yesterday!  I collected a bunch of art supplies that my little Owen (17 months old) can use from all over the house, and put them in one easily accessible place… we call it our “art closet,” but it’s just a portion of a closet near our kitchen table. We talked about how this is his special place to be creative. (Hopefully this will save the rest of the house from creative explosions!)

I’ve found that since they have such short attention spans at this age, I need to be able to grab some supplies quickly to have a successful time with art.

There are plenty of toys out there that are a replication of a character from a movie or TV show. Cute as they may be, when playing with these type of toys kids only reenact what they have seen, rather than using their own creativity to come up with something new and different. In my opinion, a great toy is open-ended, usually doesn’t require batteries, and can be used in many different ways.

Most of my inspiration for what to include in the art closet came from these two books: Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June Oberlander (This book is fabulous for those of you with children under 5 because it has a creative activity you can do with your little one each week from birth through age 5.  It gives step-by-step instructions then explains what developmental lesson they will learn by doing this activity.)  The other book is Making the Most of the Preschool Years by Valerie Bendt.

Are any of you preschool teachers or friends with preschool teachers?  I’ll bet you have a ton of creative ideas for what to include in an art closet (share the love in the comments!)

Play dough is a personal favorite. Who knows what a ball of play dough could be… a basketball? a rocket? an entire jungle of creatures? The possibilities are endless, and that’s when a child’s imagination can really be stretched!  Do yourself a favor and don’t bring junk toys into the house (toys that won’t outlive the box they came in).  Rather, invest in some classic art supplies to help stretch your child’s creativity, and I promise the mess will be worth it!  Side note: teach your kids how to clean up after themselves and you’ll make art time that much more manageable. They can do more than you think at this age!

This is what I pulled together for our “art closet”:

“Aww, thanks Mom!”
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15 thoughts on “Best Creative Supplies for Toddlers”

  1. I also have pom-poms, foam shapes, safety scissors (C doesn't know how to use them yet, but she's very interested!), washable crayons and markers, and a box of scraps for collages.

    I have our arts & craft supplies in a corner of a closet, so space is at a premium. I put a pushpin on the side of the wall, hung a file folder clip (the ones that look like little purses) on the push pin, and clipped a few big brown envelopes to them. Each one has themed supplies in them. There's one for Christmas, one for Halloween, one for Sports, etc. The folders contain stickers, printed activities, fabric scraps, etc. Anything that relates to the theme and is relatively flat!

  2. Great suggestions! I keep my three drawer plastic bin in the closet next to the kitchen so that those little hands will stay busy while I’m busy with dinner. We’ve just started doing “projects” which mainly consist of tracing our hands right now, but I want to cut out some shapes and hole punch around the edges so he can learn how to lace some yarn through the holes. I think he’ll enjoy it since he already loves electrical cords so much (sigh!)

  3. Hi, first time commenter- found your blog through a couple mutual friends and I love it!
    I taught school and was a developmental therapist for up to three year olds before I started staying home with my baby.
    Some other things I would add are:
    coffee filters, ziploc baggies, and film canisters
    You can use coffee filters to make flowers, butterflies and all kinds of other things. Ziploc baggies are super fun to squeeze finger paint into for a no mess painting time (and it can be reused again and again). I can’t even begin to name the fun stuff with film canisters… but a lady named Donna Whyte has a whole book on it.

  4. I love the idea of having 1 big bin of supplies. I have ours scattered throughout the house. This is a great idea. I totally agree that supplies need to be handy, by the time I get everything together, my little one has lost interest in doing the project. 🙁 I’ll have to put an art bin together for her!

  5. First time commenter, but you have so many great ideas. I love connecting with other mommies of young kids! My baby is now 13 months and I haven’t been doing many art projects with her besides coloring. I think it’s time to invest in some simple art supplies. Thanks for the tips.

    And Kristin- that link is great! I used to teach at a montessori school. I don’t agree with everything taught there but those trays teach great skills and the kids loved them!

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