The Top 10 Art Supplies I Can’t Live Without in My Elementary Art Room

 

10 supplies
 
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!

 

The Top 10 Art Supplies I Can’t Live Without

 
favorite supplies
 

1. Ticonderoga Pencils

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.
 

2. Black Pentel Sign Pens

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.
 

3. Flexible Rulers

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.
 

4. Tempera Cakes

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.
 

5. Stable Water Cups

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.
 
favorite supplies
 

6. Royal Langnickel Brushes

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.
 

7. 90-lb Watercolor Paper

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.
 

8. Fun, Colored Construction Paper

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.
 

9. Construction Paper Crayons

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.
 

10. Star Stilts

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!

 
 
 

Jennifer is an middle school art teacher in Kansas who is passionate about creating an organized, well-managed environment where students feel comfortable to learn and explore.

Related

  • Phyllis Bloxson

    Good scissors need to be added to your list. When I first came we had scissors that were rusty and would hardly cut so one of my first purchases was new scissors. 16 years teaching and have bought new ones since, but will be next year. I also found that Crayola colored pencils, and paint beat the other by leaps and bounds as well as their markers. One other purchase was tap lids for my glue bottles has saved a bunch of messes from happening.

    • Yes! I have good scissors too. I started buying some for my older students because they were tired of the little kids scissors. Totally agree. And my favorite paint is Crayola Artista II Temperas! I am curious what a tap lid is!

      • Phyllis Bloxson

        Tap lids are red lids that you don’t twist to open you push the tip down and you touch the tip to the paper. They can be twisted on any regular sized glue bottle.

    • sbrs

      what brand of scissors do you buy for small kids?

  • Ms. P

    The number one thing I ALWAYS make sure to order a metric ton of is good masking tape. We use it for absolutely everything and it seems like we go through hundreds of rolls.

    • Haha. So true. I am always buying the 2″ wide masking tape because sometimes I have to use it to hang art in the hallways!

  • Emily Valenza

    i use the same brushes, and they usually last me at least two to three years with proper care! i totally agree with you on construction paper crayons- much higher quality saturation of color :)

    great list!

    my additions to your list: sharpie pens so students can go over delicate line work and still paint over their sketches, locking paint containers keep paints moist between classes (http://www.enasco.com/product/9705038) and these water basins (http://www.enasco.com/product/9719884) never tip over, hold brushes for the table, clean brushes effectively and make painting units a breeze!

    • Fabulous additions! My brushes have really lasted a long time too. I bought some Mona Lisa Pink Soap this year to help keep them clean and conditioned. I like you locking paint lids. I use egg cartons and foil to keep my paints going strong! Thanks!

  • Connie

    I love the big chunky Kindergarten pencils. Instead of being round they are triangular in shape so they don’t roll – fewer pencils on the floor. The lead is big too so they need to be sharpened less. I use these for all of my students k-6 and have loved them. They are different enough that I loose fewer pencils to students abscent-mindedly leaving the room with them in their hands.

    I’ll have to check out the brushes. I’m in need of new ones.

    Construction paper crayons rock!

    Great list!

    • Love that you have all your students use those pencils!

  • Nanette Bratton

    I love the coverage of Dick Blick acrylic paints but, I would love to try another brand. Are there any suggestions for a good quality acrylic paint in the same price range?

    • Phyllis Bloxson

      This is one of the few things that I buy that is not Crayola. I buy handy art acrylic paints they seem just fine for elementary kids. It is not quite as thick so it is easier for the younger children. I would not use it for canvas painting as it is not concentrated enough to get texture.

  • Brandi

    I agree with all, except for the Royal Langnickel brushes (the same set as mentioned and shown in photo). For a large portion of the brushes, the bristles easily push back into the ferrule when painting. It was really disappointing, especially for the name…and price.

    • Susan

      I have noticed this too! I have been making a big deal about not using fingers to make the bristles pointy, but these brushes should be able to stand up to that very reasonable action! Had to throw out a few brushes less than a year old. Can’t afford to throw out anymore- will have to have the kids keep pulling the bristles out of the ferrule. :(

      • Phyllis Bloxson

        I replace my brushes about every 4 years otherwise the hairs start coming out. I used to buy containers for the paint but since have found that flip mild ketchup bottles are great and I get them free from restaurants. I teach at a school of about 700 elementary students K-5 and we go through a lot of supplies each year.

    • Oh gosh, I have three sets and have never had that happen! Bummer. I do use brush conditioner a lot and wash all of my own brushes. Wonder if that makes a difference?? Hmmm.

    • Karen

      I have been using these brushes for many years and loved them until this year’s set -first time the bristles are pushing into the ferrule.

  • BossySnowAngel

    Secondary Level: Mirado Black Warrior pencils, white sulfite paper, Glue, craft knives, watercolor sets, Sharpies, rulers, Prismacolor pencils, masking tape, black illustration board (I use it for far more than you would imagine)

  • Susan

    I love black Staonal crayons. Great for outlining under watercolors, around chalk pastels, etc. and they do not smudge. Crayola Color Sticks-expensive but worth it, Sharpies of course!

    • Oh I will have to look up the staonal crayons. Fabulous!

  • Elizabeth Moore

    I am an elementary art teacher of 25 years. For many years, I have ordered Crayola “Educational” Watercolor Sets. The colors are brighter and have more pigment, so they look more opaque on the paper. The paint pans pop out, so I can order replacements for individual colors. The other teachers always ask me how I get the colors so bright and true. Good instruction, proper techniques, and good materials combine to equal success for my students. Good paper is important too. I like to order 80 lb white drawing paper, smooth hot press watercolor paper, art tissue paper, tracing paper, and 6 ply Blick coated white poster board. Fiskars scissors are the best and last for 10 or more years. Doing all cutting prior to gluing will keep them clean of glue and free from rust. I also order Pentel or comparable 24 count oil pastels, 4oz. and gallon jugs of Elmer’s Glue-All (not School Glue)- because it is less watery and has more resin for better adhesion, Sharpie Markers, assorted color pony beads, color wheel colors plus neutrals and fluorescents of Red Heart yarn, craft sticks, and assorted chenille stems. I also order only 24 count Crayola crayons. The 24 count boxes have white, gray, and pink and we use them regularly. I also order the large “chubby” crayons for my Pre-K and Kindergarten students. When ordering tempera paints, I always order 10 extra bottles of white, so I can mix color tints.

  • Elizabeth Moore

    I am an elementary art teacher of 25 years. For many years, I have ordered Crayola “Educational” Watercolor Sets. The colors are brighter and have more pigment, so they look more opaque on the paper. The paint pans pop out, so I can order replacements for individual colors. The other teachers always ask me how I get the colors so bright and true. Good instruction, proper techniques, and quality materials combine to equal success for my students. Good paper is important too. I like to order 80 lb white drawing paper, smooth hot press watercolor paper, art tissue paper, tracing paper, and 6 ply Blick coated white poster board. Fiskars scissors are the best and last for 10 or more years. Doing all cutting prior to gluing will keep them clean of glue and free from rust. I also order Pentel or comparable 24 count oil pastels, 4oz. and gallon jugs of Elmer’s Glue-All (not School Glue)- because it is less watery and has more resin for better adhesion, Sharpie Markers, assorted color pony beads, color wheel colors plus neutrals and fluorescents of Red Heart yarn, craft sticks, and assorted chenille stems. I also order only 24 count Crayola crayons. The 24 count boxes have white, gray, and pink and we use them regularly. I also order the large “chubby” crayons for my Pre-K and Kindergarten students. When ordering tempera paints, I always order 10 extra bottles of white, so I can mix color tints.

  • Christina Papanikolaou Erb

    Yes to all! Definitely add black sharpie in all sizes to that list.

  • sheil

    I attended an adult art class recently that supplied the bottom half of a liter sized soda bottle for water containers. Besides being green and stable, the curvy bottom did a great job cleaning the brush. I am now collecting them instead of yogurt containers.

  • BossySnowAngel

    1. Mirado Black Warrior pencils-they give a good range of value for beginning artists, keep a point, can be bought at Walmart
    2, G2 pens-better than gel pens, good to draw with
    3. Sharpies-especially the ultra thin ones
    4. Prang water colors-good for beginners, but also by more advanced students.
    5. Crayola oil pastels-Seriously-the colors blend better and they cost less than the more elevated art brands
    6. Good brushes-thought I like Prang watercolors, the brushes included in the sets are horrible. Good brushes make a difference. The ones mentioned are good. I also like the ones with the fingergrip for painting with acrylics.
    7. Good watercolor paper-not just for watercolor, it can be used for other painting media for collage or other applications.
    8. White Liquitex Acrylic paint-I don’t know why but I seem to be constantly buying white. It has so many applications when painting for making colors more opaque.
    9. Decent paper towels-because the ones supplied by the school are useless.
    10. Exacto knives-so useful for so many things.

  • Rose Wells

    Interesting Blog!! I am very much addicted to art supplies. The art supplies you mentioned are my personal favorite as well. Various colors and decorative pens are my favorite. Keep sharing more with us..:) http://bit.ly/2POE5v9