Pre-K children need so much more than just crayons and glue. Here is a list of my favorite art supplies for Pre-K. Art materials are so essential in Pre-K. You can also check out all the materials I have in the Art Center here.
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These are some of the top art materials I recommend and use in my classroom…
What’s so great about oil pastels? The color! They look awesome on construction paper. You can draw on black or navy paper and the colors are so bright and stand out, unlike crayons on dark paper. These are also better for wax resist art, and can be used to decorate clay flower pots. The Crayola set of 28 Oil Pastels is great for Pre-K. These are thicker than most oil pastels, so they are perfect for preschoolers because they won’t break as easily as the thin ones. Colorations from Discount School Supply also makes a similar set.
These are the best watercolor paints and have so many uses. You can paint with them using paintbrushes or Q-tips, or you can drop them on absorbent paper with eye droppers. Use them for colored water mixing. Use them for science experiments. Color the water in your sensory table. They can be used to replace food coloring in any non-edible activity. These have endless uses! My recommended brands: Colorations and Sax Washable Liquid Watercolor Paints.
Watercolor Paints (Dry)
The dry watercolor paint is always fun, too, but these do take practice for children to understand how to use them correctly. Children have to be taught to wet the paint and swirl it around to get more color onto their brush (so the colors won’t be watery), and they have to wash their brush between colors. My recommended brand: Prang Washable Watercolor Set.
You might even want to try tube watercolors.
This is a classroom staple for the art easel. Tempera is a paint that works well for children’s color mixing activities. You can also mix the tempera yourself to give children more color variety. In spring, mix white with colors to make pastels. Mix white with black to make gray. Mix a tiny amount of black in a cup of yellow and you’ll get an awesome slime green color for Halloween! My recommended brand is Crayola Washable Tempera Paint. I’m sure there are other great brands, but I know from experience that some cheaper brands of tempera paint might not wash out of the kids’ clothes. You can fix this by adding liquid soap to the paint.
Tissue Paper can be used in many projects. I like to have both large sheets of tissue as well as tissue squares. I ask parents and family to save used colored tissue paper from gifts and these can be folded and placed in the art center for children to use in open-ended art projects.
Glitter Glue usually works better for young children than the kind of glitter you sprinkle from a shaker. Glitter glue bottles have a tendency to clog, so I pour glitter glue into small paint trays and have children dip Q-tips into it to spread onto their project. It’s also helpful to have some loose glitter on hand for things like discovery bottles.
Pens are great for making detailed drawings. Sometimes you might want to give children nothing but black pens so they can focus on what they are drawing without worrying about color. These blackline drawings can be colored in later with colored pencils. The best drawing pens for Pre-K are Papermate Flair Pens. Many pens have either a metal tip, which are difficult for young children because they need to be held at a certain angle; or pens have a long felt tip which will be mashed by preschoolers. Flair pens have a felt tip, but the tip is short and can’t be mashed. These are great for your Writing Center, too.
Colored Masking Tape
I was introduced to Colored Masking Tape by my friend Sheryl at Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds. This is one of the most fun art materials ever, and can be used in so many ways. I do not recommend buying a wooden dispenser for the tape (which you will see in many catalogs). Those dispensers are very difficult to use. I put the tape in a basket and children either tear it or cut it with scissors.
Crepe Paper Streamer
Crepe Paper Streamer is an inexpensive item you can buy just about anywhere that’s great for art projects or open-ended use in your art center. Children cut off pieces and glue onto paper. Kids get really creative with it.
Every classroom has crayons, but most have only the 8 basic colors. While I do order the Crayola Large Classpack Crayons in 8 basic colors, I also like to offer children thin crayons in lots of colors. Their art is so much prettier when they have more color options. I either get a set of 96 colors or the Telescoping Crayon Tower with 150 colors. At the beginning of the year, I only have the 8 basic colors, and later bring out the others. I normally buy Crayola, but Prang is an awesome brand of crayons as well. You can also get packs of pink and gray large crayons.
Again, don’t limit preschoolers to the 8 basic colors. I get the big class pack of 8 basic colors, and then buy several small boxes of Bold, Bright, and Tropical to get a wider variety of colors. Just as with crayons, children’s artwork is prettier when they have more color options than just the 8 basic colors. Another great option for a wide variety of colors is the Telescoping Pip-Squeaks Marker Tower of 50 colors and the Crayola Pip Squeaks Skinnies set of 64 colors. Offer children both thick and thin markers. Did you know you can buy just red markers? It seems that red is the color most used in my classroom, and we run out of red before the other colors. My recommended brand: Crayola Washable.
Crayola Colored Pencils are great for every day use, especially for leaving out in your art center all the time. For special projects, I recommend Prismacolor Colored Pencils. These are pricey, but the quality is SO much better than cheaper colored pencils. I found a slightly used set for much less money on ebay once, and these have lasted for years. These need to be hand sharpened with a small hand held pencil sharpener, which is why I save these for special projects rather than everyday use. Also consider using 40% off coupons at stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby.
What are some of your favorite art materials for Pre-K? Share yours in the comments below.