Top Toys for Artistic Kids
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Top Toys for Artistic Kids

A look at some of the best-loved art projects for children of all ages.

Children are naturally expressive.  This is evident in how they respond to everything around them from the time they are born.  Once a child becomes interested in art - no matter the age - there are a wide range of choices available to explore.  One of the best things I liked about working in an educational toy store was the fact that I could lead people right to specific areas throughout the store devoted to the kinds of toys and accessories for which they were looking.  Shopping for art supplies was by far the most fun, because there were tons of suggestions at my fingertips!  Parents, grand-parents, teachers, and friends could all find something in their budget that made sense.  So if you are looking for some ideas for a child to unleash his or her inner Picasso, read on.

Ages 1-2

  • Finger paints (non-toxic, of course) or chunky crayons.  Don't forget the roll of paper, drop cloth, and an apron!  Children this age can also have fun in the tub with bath crayons and bath paints and not worry about staining themselves or their clothes. *TIP* A magic eraser works wonders to clean up any residue left behind in the tub.
  • Beginner paper crafts are also possible for a child by the time he or she is 2 and able to follow simple directions on paper.  Kumon's First Steps Workbooks focus on first mastering coloring skills, then folding coordination, gluing, and eventually cutting.  Once all of those books are completed, your child can easily move on to various types of crafts.

Ages 3-4

  •  An art easel is just the right height for a growing toddler, since it can be anywhere from a tabletop size to up to around 4 feet when standing or mounted on the wall.  Look for an easel that is multipurpose - with a chalkboard and whiteboard, and possibly with a magnetic surface so that a child can use chalk, dry erase markers, or clip paper in place and paint or use crayons and markers.
  • Play dough doesn't have to be too fancy, but it helps if you have the basics: a few cut-out shapes, a cutting tool, and a rolling pin.  A child can spend hours molding animals, people, and shapes.
  • Make art fun by having a child personalize useful objects like a car, piggy bank or hand-held mirror, follow directions to construct a foam or paper craft, and paint or color by number.

Ages 5-6

  • A school-aged child enjoys more in-depth projects like coloring his or her own stickers, creating sand-art, making hand-made greeting cards, and designing jewelry, t-shirts, tote bags, pressed flower crafts, birdhouses, shell crafts, pinwheels, and puppets.  Art projects for younger ages might also still appeal to this group, but with a twist.  For example - some glitter, sequins, various bric-a-brac and a dab of glue can transform a simple foam picture frame into an elaborate masterpiece.

Ages 7+

  • By the time a child is 7 and older, his or her abilities will vary.  An elaborate paint-by-number meant for a 12 year old is not impossible for a 10 year old, but it's possible that an 8 year old girl may not be able to grasp the concepts of sewing/knitting/crocheting until she's older.  Various kits are convenient for a child to practice and have finished products to enjoy.  You can find activity packs and kits for Spool-knitting, pottery, origami, shrinky-dinks, stamp sets, paper airplanes, and magnets for hours of entertainment.

Serious art students might benefit from further art instruction, and lieu of that you can opt for premium paints and charcoals/colored pencils sets, step-by-step drawing books, or a pottery wheel.  Field trips to the art museum, a ceramics studio, and participation in school- and community-sponsored art contests can be encouraging for making a child want to further develop his or her gifts.  Local colleges and museums or libraries in your area might even offer free or low-cost classes for children and families.

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