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Art Supplies Checklist for Toddlers

Stock your creative pantry using this arts supplies checklist for toddlers. Help them hit developmental milestones, cure their own boredom and super charge their creativity. 

Making Artwork - a Toddler’s BEST Brain Food!

It might seem wild to have an art supplies checklist for the same small folks who are throwing peas at the dog and waddling around with diapers full of poo, but these tots are learning machines. They are developing so many important skills at this age that are directly enhanced by art making. Independence, verbal communication, vocabulary in essential areas like colors and shapes, gross motor skills and fine motor skills, are just a few of the important developmental milestones they will be locking in.

Photo of 3 year olds’ hands, after a day playing with items on my art supplies checklist.
Making art with toddlers makes my heart sing! I had a fun day in the studio with this creative crew.


Key Benefits of Art Supplies for Toddlers

There are so many benefits to having a well stocked creative pantry for your toddlers at home! Here are just a few of them:


If your creative pantry is relatively well stocked and accessible, your toddler will learn to go there to solve problems for themselves. Whether they are bored and looking for something to do or trying to make a sweet gift for mommy, they will begin going to their art supply stash independently to make those things happen. Over time, this will mean less coordinating of activities for parents as well. A win-win!

Verbal Communication

I’m often floored by how much communicating my kids and I do when we are making artwork together. Whether they are asking me to pass the “big brush,” help them unscrew a paint pot, or looking for a certain colored piece of paper, making art together forces them to ask for what they need while talking about fun stuff that we don’t get to talk about in other areas of life.


In one art session, my toddler might use the words triangle, blue, paint, jar, brush, paper, scissors, and yellow. Considering our art sessions are usually only about 30 minutes long, that is epic! There is an endless list of important vocabulary words that your toddler can learn all while making art and having fun.

Build an enriched environment at home

Enriched environments have been linked to a thickening of the cerebral cortex. Giving your toddlers plenty of opportunities for intellectual stimulation at home is food for their growing minds! 

 It’s also been shown that “Arts and aesthetics can quite literally rewire your brain” (Take a deep dive into this research by reading “Your Brain on Art” by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross).

To make all of this art-making accessible you need to have a creative pantry that is stocked with supplies appropriate for your toddler. Enter, this art supplies checklist that I have lovingly curated for you.

Photo of a toddler’s hand rearranging paint colors in a Crayola watercolor set.
This 2-year-old is using a Crayola watercolor set that I’ve cut up into single pieces.


Best Toddler Art Supplies Checklist

Some of these items are pretty good across brand names. For others, I have favorites. I've linked to my favorite brand in those cases.

1. Ooly Chunkies

These are hands down my FAVORITE toddler art supply. You get INCREDIBLE saturated color with the slightest amount of pressure. Perfect for toddler hands! Plus, it doesn’t smudge. They are amazing.

TIP: Keep away from upholstery and out of direct sunlight. If they get too hot their amazing smudge-less-ness goes “adios”.

2. Construction Paper

Super easy for little hands to tear, lovely and cushy to make marks on, and it can hold more media than computer paper. If you can only have one kind of paper in your toddler’s creative pantry, make it this one.

TIP: In addition to all the gorgeous colors, make sure to get plenty of white construction paper, as well as black.

3. Paint Brushes

Toddlers can paint with them, mix paint with the pointy end, and even use long brushes to dig into glue bottles and glitter glue bottles. Get a variety of shapes, sizes and fiber textures for maximum learning and charisma.

TIP: For toddlers, stick to brushes with thick handles, and always have a small jar handy to store them upright in. 

4. Watercolor Paint

I love having watercolor paint in my creative pantry for kids of all ages. My hands down favorite are liquid watercolors but these are extremely messy so a good watercolor pan set is a very solid addition to every creative pantry.

TIP: Coach your kids not to use a ton of water when painting. Too much water dilutes the color and wrinkles the paper. This might seem like an advanced idea for toddlers but once you explain it clearly a few times, it starts to click in!

5. Water

And speaking of which, water is high on my art supplies checklist for toddlers! Water is a perfect low-mess option when making artwork and helps toddlers practice motor control. Tape up a piece of dark colored construction paper (red, violet or blue are great), give your little one a jar of water and a paint brush, and watch them go to town water painting. While water has often lost its mystique to us adults, for kids water play is an important rite of passage that can entertain them creatively for hours. 

TIP: Set up an art station for your toddler with the art supplies on this list. Give them 2 or more extra empty containers of different sizes and see them go to town organizing their painting brushes, pouring water, and having a creative blast!


Additional Supplies to Consider

  • Playdough My fav intro to sculpting for beginners. Make sure to buy sculpting tools!

  • Tempera Paint Vibrant and easy to use.

  • Crayola Model Magic Clay A wonderful sculpting material that hardens over time.

  • Stabilo Watercolor Pencils Gorgeous colors and versatile use. Make sure to also buy a large pencil sharpener to go with them. 

  • Tri-corner Crayons Easy for small hands to grip. 

  • Crayola Big 40 Markers These big markers boast a gorgeous rainbow and the perfect container for toddlers.

  • Scotch or Washi tape Great for all kinds of creative activities!

  • Small Jars and Trays Perfect for mixing and organizing.

  • Sketchbooks Encourage regular drawing practice.

  • Aprons Protect clothing and surfaces.

  • Snubnose toddler scissors Great for skill building and crafting. Use with supervision!

Photo of items on art supplies checklist, including Stabilo Woodies Pencils
We love Stabilo watercolor pencils! They are water soluble and come in beautiful colors.

Photo of items on art supplies checklist, including Hasbro Playdoh pots.
Hasbro Playdoh is great for convenience and color mixing. Plus, those yellow pots? Charisma!

Photo of items on art supplies checklist, including homemade play dough.
Homemade play dough is also wonderful. If you have the time and patience to tinker with the recipe, go for it!


What makes a good toddler art supply?

What makes a good toddler art supply anyway? For me, it comes down to 4 factors: charisma, ease of use, impact and messiness. These factors take the toddlers’ AND parents’ needs into account.


It might seem silly to call any of the items on this art supplies checklist “charismatic” but I think it’s the perfect word to use. Like panda bears, cuddly puppies and ice cream sundaes, we want art supplies that our kids are excited about. 

Picture a classic playdough container, thick crayons in every color or a vivid pan of watercolor paints. 

Don’t you want to just reach out and touch it? That’s charisma.

Make a note to yourself of which supplies your kids reach for and which languish on the shelf. That’s the best test of charisma!


Nothing frustrates a 2-year-old more than a marker cap that won’t pop off, or a pair of scissors that are too tight to open. We want to make sure our art supplies checklist is brimming with items that small hands can master.


And talk about frustrating- what about a crayon that’s so hard and waxy that you can’t get any color out of it?!?! Arg! The dashed expectations! The broken promises!

As a professional artist I’ve noticed that the easier it is to actually use an art supply (now hear me out) AS AN ART SUPPLY, the more joyful it is to use.That’s why a lot of classic kids’ art supplies do not make it onto my list. Kids’ colored pencils? Don’t even bother. You might as well give them a stick. Ooly’s Chunkies however? So much color with so little effort! YUMMMM!

Picture of art supplies checklist, ooly Chunkies.
For impact, you can't beat Ooly Chunkies. They are so easy to apply color with!

IF IT’S MESSY (or tricky), IS IT WORTH IT? 

I’m a big believer in “healthy parent, healthy child”. Is this a supply that will be really hard to clean up? Is it nerve wracking for the parent? If it’s a little risky, hard to clean up or hard to use it better be worth it. Making artwork at this age should contribute to family joy, not destroy it.

I think that learning to use scissors is a great example of “tricky but worth it”. I am always present when my toddler uses their snubnose scissors. But I know that using scissors is a really important part of kindergarten curriculum and that once they learn how to use them, a whole world of crafts and activities opens up to them. This is why scissors make it onto my toddler art supplies checklist. An Xacto knife, on the other hand, would absolutely not be worth the risk for me. They are too dangerous and most kids won’t be doing X-Acto knife-worthy projects until they are quite a bit older.

Picture of art supplies checklist, including Crayon Model Magic and Crayon Big Tip Markers.
I love Crayola Model Magic because, for a sculpting medium, it's very clean.

Making Art Supplies Accessible

Speaking of scissors, they are one of the few supplies in my art stash that my kiddos have to ask permission to use. Consider which supplies you want to be within easy reach for your toddler and which ones should be stored safely out of reach. Some days, you might be up for the mess of acrylic paints, while other days, simple crayons might be more manageable. In general, I keep dangerous and messy supplies out of reach.

Limit Colors to Help Your Toddler Make Beautiful Art

Making artwork is actually a pretty complicated process. It takes years for artists to master color and color mixing. You can easily help your toddler sidestep this learning curve by simply limiting the colors you give them access to in any given project. Pick two primary colors on the color wheel and then only give your toddler those colors and whatever colors fall in between them. 

Of course we want our learners to grapple with hard skills like color mixing. Also, making “ugly” art is an important part of the creative process that has lots of lessons to teach us. “Pretty” art however, is happily hung on walls and elicits more positive responses from adults. These are major confidence builders for kids. It’s also helpful for kiddos to understand how to limit their colors and how to understand the color wheel. So go ahead and try a limited palette from time to time.

Photo of children’s artwork made using a limited palette.
By giving our kids limit colors to work with, we help them avoid “muddy” colors.

Art Supply Packaging Matters!

Attractively designed or beautifully packaged art supplies make it more enjoyable to keep them around. Packaging also affects usability and charisma, so choose supplies that come in sturdy, easy-to-use containers.

Picture of art supplies checklist, including  Micador Softies.
Micador Softies come in a sturdy box that toddlers can easily open and doesn't fall apart.

Organizing Art Supplies

For materials that don’t have solid packaging, consider placing them in new organizers like clear clip boxes or ball jars. This not only keeps supplies tidy but also makes them more accessible for your toddler.


Start building your Art Supplies Stash today!

Creating an art supplies checklist tailored for toddlers not only simplifies your life but also nurtures your child's creativity and developmental milestones. With the right tools, you can help them develop their independence and build a vibrant, enriching environment at home. Remember, the best art supplies are those that combine fun, usability, and fit your family’s needs. Now let’s start making artwork together!

Ready to stock your creative pantry? Start with our top 5 recommended art supplies and get your toddler creating!


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