It is really easy to go over the top with art supplies, especially for younger kids. Even if you’re not buying a lot, the urge to save every paper roll and egg crate for “crafts” can really overwhelm. I finally had to be stern with myself and come up with a system for dealing with paper craft items, be they bought, found, or saved– lest I end up on one of those hoarding shows.
That being said, there is tremendous value in having a variety of art supplies available not only for homeschool lessons, but for kids to work with free-form, at their own pace. Here are some items that we have got lots of mileage out of over the years. In order to keep the list manageable, I’ll do books in another post.
In addition to its traditional uses of origami and kirigami, these handy little paper sheets are nice for wrapping small gifts and for making a variety of paper things– holiday ornaments, paper doll clothes, paper airplanes. We buy both plain and patterned paper for our homeschool art paper needs.
I would have said that these were total frill that we didn’t need. My kids vehemently disagree. Their ability to use them for various projects has grown over time. Unlike some other items, like stencils and stamps that were very useful and loved when the kids were younger and now have been discarded, the fancy-edged scissors are still in use.
A great early education tool and art confidence builder, these allow children to do work similar to that of coloring books, only less restrictively. Stamps like Ek Success Image Tree Wood Handle Rubber Stamp Set, Antique Typewriter Alphabet/Lower are great too.
Cake paint is a valuable and very misunderstood kind of paint. Don’t be afraid to get the cakes really wet and stir vigorously. You’ll get better results and the cakes will dry out just fine for next time.
Buy this for older children, and don’t forget to buy some extender, a clear fluid to mix with the paint to thin it and make it easier to work with. It’s too thick on it’s own to do much with besides palate knife work, but it can be thinned to a variety of weights for different effects. Those bottles of pre-diluted acrylic look very tempting, but are better saved for craft projects. Tube paint is more flexible and with a set of mini-tubes, you get a wider variety of colors for less money than buying many hard to store bottles of pre-diluted acrylic.
Paint Palate, Pre-stretched Canvas, and Decent Brushes
If you click through on the picture, there will be an “items bought together” recommendation of a paint palate, a pack of canvases and a set of art brushes. I can post a picture of what’s happened to my custard cups from not forking over a few bucks for a palate, so learn from my mistake. Buy a set of brushes that are only used for art and treat them with respect. If you don’t let paint dry in them, don’t soak them propped in bowls or resting straight on their bristles, and don’t mash them into the paint, you’ll get lots of mileage from them and superior painting results. Nothing makes painting more frustrating than bad brushes! Pre-stretched canvases are a nice change from painting on watercolor paper. You can buy gesso, a kind of white under-paint, and re-prime right over previous art to re-use these, so a pack can last a really long time and art that didn’t turn out can be “erased”.
My daughter has a battery-operated one of these which she enjoys very much. We’re conflicted as to whether that’s the way to go. Even with the slow speeds produced by the battery, it’s hard for a beginner to control an auto-powered wheel. I’m thinking about getting her this one as a replacement. Wheels make pots possible and sculpture work easier.
Like good brushes, proper clay tools are invaluable for getting good results with your clay.
Nothing’s better than plain old copy or computer paper for practice-sketching, but my sketch-crazy son loves having a special sketchbook for what he calls “serious” work. As far as pencils go, we’ve had quite a few fancy pencil sets, and unless you’re interested in charcoal-type sketching, really a nice pack of good old #2’s and a knead-able eraser are really the way to go.