50 Art Materials for Toddlers

About three weeks ago I asked my Facebook friends to consider a list of essential toddler art materials, and I received some wonderful responses and additions to the list. Thank you to Linda, Di, Miranda, Sally, and Tina for sharing your thoughts with me. Fifty is a big number, so don’t fret if you can’t gather all of these supplies or if you don’t have room for them (I know that I barely do!). Instead, think of this as an art pantry, similar to your kitchen pantry. Sure, it’s nice to have extra jars of pasta sauce or beans “just in case,” but you could also gather these ingredients as needed.

So, what do you think is missing? And which of these materials do you think are essential?


  1. playdough
  2. washable markers
  3. tempera paint
  4. white paper
  5. white glue
  6. collage materials
  7. sand
  8. colored construction paper
  9. chalk
  10. water
  11. safety scissors
  12. easel
  13. roll of paper
  14. chalkboard
  15. cornmeal
  16. pom poms
  17. big paper
  18. stickers
  19. yarn
  20. beads
  21. tissue paper
  22. pipe cleaners
  23. paper towel tubes
  24. things from nature
  25. paper plates
  26. ribbons
  27. pasta
  28. beans
  29. balloons
  30. paper bags
  31. plastic bags
  32. felt
  33. buttons
  34. eye droppers
  35. colored tape
  36. flour
  37. stencils
  38. pencils
  39. feathers
  40. glitter
  41. chunky paintbrushes
  42. liquid watercolors
  43. chubby crayons
  44. dot dot makers
  45. play dough tools
  46. coffee filters
  47. oobleck
  48. popsicle sticks
  49. glue stick
  50. clear contact paper

This post was shared with Craft Schooling Sunday


  1. I would add a membership to a childrens museum. The days when you can’t pull out a project but you can see your kids running in circles looking for a creative experience. Jump in the car and take them to the local museum. Kidspace and LACMA are our favorites here in LA.

    • hi danielle! yes, you’re so right about that! and you’re lucky to have kidspace and lacma in your backyard. i’d probably spend every day at those museums if i lived near you 🙂

    • Hi Shailaja! I suppose cowrie shells would fall under “things from nature,” but I’d love to hear about how you use them. Do you live somewhere tropical?

      • Yes Rachelle. They come under “things from nature”. Just wanted to add them 🙂
        When I was reading this post my little one was playing with cowrie shells, tied to a cloth. Here in Bangalore we play Chouka baara (similar to Ludo), with shells. Few shells had a hole in them. I made them hang at the edge of a cloth with designs, for my daughter to play 🙂

        • And I’m so glad you added them, Shailaja. (sorry if I was off-putting with my comment back to you). Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how this list differs from country to country??

          • List goes like this – Bangles, bindi (falls under stickers), idli plates, tamarind seeds on supervision, onions, garlic, small size bells, rangoli powder {similar to rava (semolina), salt}, agarbatti stand.

      • Thanks for the wonderful and inspiring list. There’s also magnetic sheets which we can cut into shapes for little hands to decorate. Our little ones can also help make shaped fridge magets (felt covered  and stuffed with cotton and small magnets)

  2. What about straws, bubble wands and bubbles? Did I miss those on the list? Maybe shaving cream also?? LOVE the list! Shared it on my VERY new blog (that I don’t think anyone will ever visit but its fun to have started it anyway!) Hope that’s ok!!! I definitely need to work on my personal collection of art stuffs 🙂 What a great place to start!

    • oh, good additions, emma! I just thought of shaving cream this morning. i’m not big on using it, but i know it’s so popular for marbling paper and driving car tracks through. and now i’m off to check out your very new blog 🙂 congrats!

  3. great list! I’d add a shaker of salt, potato masher, plunger, wheels- cars, lawn mower tires, old socks or nylons filled with sand, rice, popcorn, marbles or golf balls oh and pudding!

    • I love all of these. It’s looking like I may need to revise this list into “100 art materials for toddlers!”

  4. Cornstarch, salt, baking soda, white vinegar. One of my son’s favorite painting experiences is liquid watercolor + salt + white glue.

    • Gosh, how could I forget the ingredients to one of our favorite science experiments?! We haven’t made the salt/watercolor/glue pictures yet, and it’s been on my list for a while. At what age did your son start making these?

      • We probably did it first when he was about 2 3/4, he’s now 3 1/2. I’ve been surprised how often he’s asked to do it.

  5. The list looks great! Thanks so much for stopping by my site and commenting on my daughter’s post for Dip Its! She had so much fun creating the post and will be super excited to see that someone commented on it!

    • Seriously, Tonia, your daughter may very well see our version of her post up here one day soon 🙂 Thanks for stopping by over here, too!

    • Nice, Jo! We use cotton buds for painting all the time, and I hadn’t thought of it!

  6. great list and thanks for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday! I’d add string, and straws, great for making beads, blowing paint and sculptures with modeling clay, is that on the list, that’s a good one too, for making little scultures and things.

  7. I am trying to figure a list for my next Science year. This can help because almost every class we end doing “Experiments/Art.”
    I think there are a few NOT essential and a few might be missing, but it is a good start.
    Dont really need an easel, we work a lot on big tables outside because the weaher allows us to.
    I have never used felt, but I want to try those rubbing and rubbing wool kind of bals with soap.
    The last thing I have never used is the colored tape, but I will love to see some activities with it.
    Then, because my time is playing science, I will have to add borax, vinegar, soda,balance,magnifying glass,insect jar,butterfly net,plastic cover for tables or floor,lots of food coloring,reuse material to make habitats,plastic animals,and a little more that I must figure this Vacation by reading past activities, Thank you for starting my job!! Laura Oreamuno.
    Saint Anthony School.
    Moravia, San Jose.
    Cosa Rica, Central America.

  8. I love your site! Where do you get the glitter bottles that your children use to add to their glue?

    • Hi Lynn,
      Thanks for your comment. Very young children should be properly supervised when using art materials.

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