Pre-K Art Center

An Art Center offers a way for children to be creative and express themselves. An art center should provide a variety of materials that children can use to freely express their creativity with open-ended art. This center should encourage exploration, imagination, and self-expression.

An art center should be a place where children are able to experiment with different art materials and techniques. The art center also helps children build fine motor skills by using art tools such as scissors, brushes, markers, play dough, stringing beads.

The picture below shows our Art Center drying rack, sink, supply shelf, and table. Having an Art Center close to a sink is perfect, if possible.

These are our Art Center painting easels. We have 32 colors of tempera paint and children choose the ones they want to use. Construction paper is stored in the hanging file crate. The shelf beside it holds paper, paintbrushes, and drawing materials.

Children need to use vertical surfaces like easels because it helps build upper body strength, and strength in the hands, arms, and shoulders.

The shelf above has clear cups of colored pencils, thin markers, and crayons, along with all kinds of paper. Our thick markers are on the other shelf.

The picture above shows storage of numerous supplies.

art center shower curtain protects the wall from paint
Tip: Hang a shower curtain on the wall to protect the wall from paint. It is attached to the wall with adhesive hooks.
Find more Painting Tips here.
Paint Smocks for Pre-K

Keep smocks where they are easy to reach, and choose smocks that children can put on by themselves.

What’s in the Art Center

These materials are included in the Art Center all year, although we don’t start the year with everything. We begin with basics, and more is added, but once added, they stay the entire year. We do open-ended art in the Art Center every day, and it is amazing what the children create when they have a variety of materials.

Basic Materials:

  • Glue Bottles and Glue Sticks
  • Regular Scissors
  • Fiskars Kidzors Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Shaped Hole Punchers


  • Thick Markers (Crayola Pip Squeaks in 16 colors)
  • Thin Markers (50 colors)
  • Prismacolor Colored Pencils (120 colors)
  • Fine Point Black Ink Pens
  • Crayons (96 colors)
  • Oil Pastels (Crayola 28 colors)


  • 9×12 White and Manilla Paper
  • 11×18 White and Manilla Paper
  • 9×12 Colored Construction Paper
  • Various Paper Scraps
  • Cardboard and Cardstock Scraps
  • Coffee Filters (used for watercolor paints, colored water, or markers with water)
  • Paper Doilies (bought at Dollar Tree)
  • White Paper Bags (mini bags bought in bulk at Sam’s Club)
  • Paper Plates


  • Tempera (36 colors)
  • Watercolors (dry)
  • Watercolors (in the tube)

Collage Materials:

  • Tissue Paper (I cut it in small squares; can be bought inexpensively or recycled from gifts)
  • Crepe Paper Party Streamer (Children cut off pieces for gluing on paper; very inexpensive)
  • Mosaic Craft Foam Squares (I buy sheets of craft foam and cut it into squares. It lasts a long time.)
  • Cotton Balls (white or colored)
  • Yarn (wrapped around craft sticks)
  • Colored Masking Tape (bought from Discount School Supply)
  • Seeds and Pasta Cups (I buy different colors and shapes of pasta and seeds)
  • Wood Craft Sticks (box of 1,000 is very inexpensive)
  • Sequins (variety pack)
  • Scrap Paper Box


  • Wire, Beads, and Wire Tools (for making wire sculpture)
  • Play Dough w/ Scissors and Rolling Pins
  • Uppercase and Lowercase Letter and Number Play Dough Stamps
  • Cookie Cutters for Play Dough
  • Play Dough Bakery Supplies (This includes Play-Doh George Foreman grill, mini baking pans, toaster oven rack, bowls, spoons, plastic knives, rolling pins, etc.)
  • Clay and Clay Tools
  • Brooms (for cleaning play dough crumbs)

Stringing and Sewing:

  • Plastic Straw Pieces (cut about 1 inch)
  • Plastic Needles
  • Yarn
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Pony Beads
  • Burlap Pieces (for sewing yarn)
  • Styrofoam Plates (for sewing yarn)

Books for the Art Center

Books add literacy to the Art Center. I chose to use mini board books because they are durable and would be used around paint and play dough. These have real works of art and are a set of colors and a set of animals. I think these came from The Met Museum Store, and while I didn’t see the exact same ones, there are many good options for art books for kids there. This is also a good set of art board books on Amazon.

art books for kids

Seasonal Materials to Add to the Art Center

Check out these links (just click the images below) to find ideas for things to add to your Art Center during the seasons!

Fall Art Center Ideas
Winter Art Center Ideas for Preschool, Pre-K
Spring Art Center Ideas for Preschool, Pre-K

What’s a good location for the Art Center? Choose a well-lit area of the classroom with a table, chairs, shelves for materials, vertical easels, and a drying rack. Label shelves with photos of the materials with the word, so that children know where to put the materials when it’s time to clean up (the word with the picture provides environmental print). If possible, place the art center near a sink, to make clean up easier.

Want to see more Pre-K Centers? See All Pre-K Centers Here

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