I keep a set of metal shelves and bins in a reachable area in our closet, that way kids get easy access to the materials to be creative and the supplies stayed housed and out of sight when not in use.
I keep laminated “workspaces” for my kids to use, but old laminated place mats, an old plastic table cloth or plastic placemats from a dollar store will all work well, too. My kids tend to prefer the floor to spread out on when creating rather that the kitchen table so with tile and hardwood allover the house I insist on “mats” ( no fun scrubbing dried paint out of grout or getting glue off of hardwood). Art supplies and creations stay on the mat(s) and clean up is easy.
I like to keep staples on the shelves and then fill in with “extra” as needed. I start with plain white paper and a pack of multi-colored construction paper, scissors, scotch tape, glue sticks and white glue. Oversized paper, crazy cut (fancy edged scissors), glitter glue sticks and colored glue are all “extra” add–ins over time.
I also keep crayons, markers, colored pencils, watercolors, an assortment of brushes, and primary colored powdered tempera paint too. I find the powdered paint is best because I can mix what I want for the project and it works so well with other projects (like making chalk, snow paint and driveway paint). I have added in paint cups with lids, but clean, empty yogurt or plastic containers, small paper plates or small bathroom paper cups work fine too. My next favorite would be white tempera paint because pastels and lighter shades are fun to use.
Add-ins could include anything you want… neon paint, foamies (pre-cut shapes in so many themes – some are sticky backed others are not and need glue), glitter, colored tissue paper, yarn, felt or small fabric pieces, pipe cleaners, beads and lacing for stringing, colored rice or pasta or any collage material you can think of – ends of wrapping paper, pictures cut from old greeting cards, stickers and rubberstamps and washable inkpads…. the list can go on and on.
Keep in mind up coming seasons and holidays and your child’s interests when thinking of stocking your art center.
I also keep play dough, play dough toys and cookie cutters in our art area. I have added in no- dry clay and model magic in this area – that way my kids have learned to use mats for when they use doughs and I can wipe down the mats for a quick cleanup when they are done. For quick projects, I have found the Wonder Under color markers and paper work well – I tend to keep a kit in the car for unexpected “waits”.
Jane Rotondi has a Master’s degree in Special Education, a Child Development Associate certification and holds additional teaching certificates in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. She is the Museum’s Outreach Manager and Director of Summer Camps. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.