April 9, 2024

Navigating the World of Art Supplies for Homeschooling Parents

Take a walk down any craft store aisle and the number of choices can be a lot. There’s so much to choose from! How do you know what is really helpful to your child?

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Art should be an essential part of any homeschooling experience, offering a creative outlet for self-expression, fostering fine motor skills, and encouraging exploration and problem-solving. However, navigating the vast array of art supplies can be overwhelming, especially when shopping for different age groups.

Learn how to build an age-appropriate art supply collection for your homeschoolers, maximizing their potential while staying mindful of your budget.

Before You Buy Homeschool Art Supplies

Ready to head to the store? Not so fast! Let’s consider a few important planning steps first.

•. Take stock of your current art supply cabinet. Toss, recycle, or donate anything that is ruined, dried out, or broken beyond use. Tidy up materials that are still useful and make them readily available so your child can get creative with them.
•. Ask your child what mediums they like. So they love painting? Do they hate smelly markers? Do they want to try something new, like making a mosaic?
•  Gather found and recycled materials. Art isn’t made only with new materials that come from a store. What else do you have lying around that can be recycled into a creative piece? Paper towel rolls, loose buttons, the blank side of printed paper, magazines, newspaper, sponges, and Q-Tips are all items you probably already have and that can be added to your child’s art space.
•. Designate an art space. Making art is sometimes messy! Give your child the creative space to express themselves fully and without judgment by making an art studio just for them. It doesn’t have to be huge — just a corner of their room or a space in their play area will do. Make sure that this area has a flat surface for creating and a place to keep their art supplies, like a drawer, cabinet, or storage tub.

Picking the Right Tools for Every Stage

The key to fostering a love of art in your homeschoolers lies in providing them with tools that are both stimulating and manageable for their age and skill level.

Early Learners (Ages 3-6)

•. Jumbo Crayons: These chunky crayons, often triangular in shape, are perfect for little hands to grasp and control, promoting proper grip development.
•. Washable Paints: Opt for non-toxic, water-based paints in a limited color palette (4-6 colors) to avoid overwhelming young children. Look for sets with easy-to-squeeze containers or palettes with built-in wells. For now, stick with finger paints or paint brushes with large handles, which are the right fit for your little one’s hands and dexterity.
•  Play dough: This versatile and tactile medium encourages exploration, sensory play, and creativity. Opt for non-toxic and brightly colored play dough for added fun. By the play dough, you’ll also find tool kits with rollers, pizza cutters, stamps, cookie cutters, rolling pins, and more.
•. Large, blunt-tipped markers: Choose markers with thick, washable tips that are presses, easy for young children to hold and control. Most are marked non-toxic – double check – and be aware of added scents, if your child is sensitive.
•. Safety scissors: Look for kid-safe scissors with rounded blades and ergonomically designed handles to ensure safe and comfortable use. Is your child a lefty or a righty? Some scissors are designed for both.

Middle Childhood (Ages 7-11)

•. Pencils: Provide high-quality pencils with different lead grades (HB, 2B) for sketching and drawing. Include an electric sharpener for convenience.
•. Colored Pencils: Introduce a wider range of colored pencils (24-36 colors) to allow for more detailed and expressive artwork.
•  Watercolor Paint Palettes: This age group can graduate to sets with more colors (8-12) and brushes of various sizes for finer control, giving your child the opportunity to layer colors and experiment with different techniques like wet in dry, wet on wet, blotting, and graded wash. Look for sets with good quality brushes that hold their shape well (skip the plastic bristles).
•. Tempera Paints: These opaque, water-based paints are great for exploring different painting techniques like layering and blending. They are also easier to clean up than acrylics, making them ideal for the messier artist.
•. Construction Paper: A staple in any art supply cupboard, construction paper comes in various colors, sizes, and textures, perfect for creating collages, cards, paper chains, and other projects.
•. Soft Pastels or Chalk Pastels: If your child loves creating beautiful rainbows and color swatches, soft pastels are a good choice for them. They’ll create different sized lines with the different sized edges of the pastels, use their fingers to blend and make gradients, and admire the bright colors pastels offer.

Adolescence (Ages 12+)

•. Drawing Pencils: Invest in a set of drawing pencils with different hardness grades (H, B) for creating detailed sketches and shading effects. For older children who love to draw, consider a set with more colors, as artists can layer pencils, but not blend as easily.
•. Charcoal or Conte Crayons: These drawing materials offer a wider range of tonal possibilities compared to pencils and can be used for expressive sketching and drawing. Blending sticks are a nice accompaniment to charcoal, assisting with the accuracy of the artist’s ability to create depth and shading.
•  Acrylic Paints: Introduce acrylic paints for teenagers who are ready to explore a more versatile and fast-drying medium. Look for student-grade acrylics that are affordable and offer good quality.
•. Canvas Panels: Instead of expensive canvases, canvas panels offer a more budget-friendly option for teenagers to practice painting on a sturdy surface. You can find pre-sized canvas panels at any craft store.
•. Modeling Clay: This versatile medium allows for creating three-dimensional sculptures and exploring different sculpting techniques. Choose air-drying clay for convenience, as it doesn't require an oven. Your child may also be interested in painting their clay creation as well.
•. Oil pastels: Your kid will love the versatility of oil pastels, which are like crayons’ older cousin. They won’t crumble or create dust, like chalk pastels. They will create bright colors, are easy to work with, and blend beautifully.

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Saving Money by Choosing Multi-Functional Supplies

While providing age-appropriate tools is important, it's also essential to manage your homeschooling budget effectively. Here are some tips for choosing versatile supplies that work across different age groups:
•. Invest in Quality Basic Tools: Opt for good quality pencils, brushes, and scissors that will last for years, even as your children's skills develop.
•. Choose Open-Ended Materials: Buy supplies like construction paper, play dough, and modeling clay, which can be used for various projects across different age groups.
•  Buy in Bulk: When possible, purchase basic supplies like crayons, pencils, water colors, and paper in bulk to save money over the long run. Avoid buying large quantities of supplies that can dry out, like paints and markers.
•. Get Creative with Storage: Repurpose containers like shoe boxes or plastic bins to organize art supplies and keep them accessible for all ages and heights.
•. Embrace Nature: Explore the natural world for free art supplies! Leaves, sticks, pebbles, and pinecones can be used for creating collages, sculptures, and nature-inspired artwork.

More Than Supplies

Remember, having art supplies at home is just one way to encourage your child’s interest in art. To truly nurture your child's artistic spirit, provide them with opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves freely. Encourage them to visit museums, attend art classes, and check out the works of different artists. Talk with them about their art and display it proudly.


For more support finding lesson plans and quality art materials for your homeschooler from kindergarten to fifth grade, join the art club!

About the Insider’s Club

The Outside the Box Insider’s Club is a monthly digital membership that includes videos, downloadable curriculum/project plans, and tips to make it easy for parents to do art regularly with their kids! If you know someone who would enjoy this, please share the Outside the Box Insider's Club. If you have been a box subscriber for a year or more and have accumulated a large stash of art supplies, you may want to switch to the Insider's Club digital membership.

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