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My favorite time of the school year is the end of the year! No, it isn’t because summer break is in sight, although that is exciting. It’s because in May, everything comes full circle: the students have another year of art curriculum under their belts, there are lots of exciting end-of-the-year celebrations, and I feel like the holidays have come again with all my new supplies arriving for the following school year.
When I started to review my orders from previous years, I realized there were some essential supplies that I either reordered every year or made sure were always on hand in any art room I taught in. If you find yourself writing a supply list then make sure the following items make the cut!
I’m going to admit it — I am a pencil snob. I’ve searched high and low to find a pencil that will stand up to the task of what my elementary students will put it through, and Ticonderoga pencils always excel. These pencils sharpen well and keep their lead. I have even found that the erasers seem to last longer.
So if I admitted that I am a pencil snob, it’s probably clear I am a pen snob as well. I can’t be the only person in the world that enjoys taking notes as long as I have a good pen to use. These non-waterproof pens have a felt tip that is perfect for any drawing project.
During my first year of teaching, I had wooden rulers that warped by the end of the year due to the humidity. I bought plastic flexible rulers the next year and absolutely loved them. I love that they are clear because my students can see what they are working on better. Plus, they are reasonably priced. Just make sure you lay down the law that they are not to be slapped on table tops or swung around.
I love tempera cakes because of the bright colors that result from their use. They don’t run out quickly and they are cheap to refill when they do. The only possible downside is the chalky residue they can leave on your hands when they have dried on projects. But as long as you don’t smear your hands all over your artwork, they are a great alternative to watercolors.
I get it. An old yogurt container is free and can be used as a water cup. But those just don’t cut it in my classroom. I needed water cups that had good stability and could be used year after year. I ended up buying stable water cups for $20, and I am so happy with my decision. Spilling has decreased by 95% which makes all of us happy.
When I first started teaching, all I had for brushes were the generic brushes that come with the watercolor sets. I didn’t want to spend a fortune on brushes, but I also knew that good brushes can make or break an artwork. So I ended up buying a Royal Big Kid’s Choice Brush Classroom Set. These brushes are good quality for our youngest art students. They have stood the test of time and I’ve enjoyed adding new sets with different brushes each year.
One of the best things you can buy for your students is decent watercolor paper. Construction paper and poster board just don’t cut it. I’ve found that ordering a bulk supply of watercolor paper that is at least 90-lbs works perfectly for my students. Yes, it will cost you, but it is worth the investment to have good paper for that special project.
My school generally orders the construction paper for the school year. The color options are decent, but sometimes I’d really like to pull out a brilliant lime, pumpkin, or shocking pink color for my students to use. So I’ve started to invest in buying my own construction paper colors for the year. It helps to think ahead to some of your future art projects and decide what colors you want to be able to offer your students.
Where were these when we were kids? I can’t say enough good things about the classroom pack of construction paper crayons I bought a few years ago. You may not have as many color choices, but the colors are extremely vivid and look fabulous on construction paper.
For those of us with kilns, it is important that we occasionally build up our furniture and accessories. I have loved the 12-point star stilts I bought to rest my students’ projects on after they have been glazed. In addition, buying alternate sizes of shelf supports has allowed me to increase the size of the clay projects my students can make.
Those are my ten items that I just can’t do without every single school year. But we all have items that we think are essential. So it’s your turn to sound off to the art ed world.
What are your top ten essential art room supplies?
Have you used any of the items on my essential list? Tell us what you think about them!
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors from across the nation and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University or any of its academic offerings.