21 Surprising Supplies You Didn’t Know You Needed

When it comes to ordering supplies, most of us pull out our trusty art ed catalogs and settle in for a long night of browsing. We pour over numerous brands of tempera paint and question whether we really need Silver Sharpies (Yes. Always yes.). We cross-check three different catalogs to see if we can save a few cents on pencils here or paintbrushes there. I love art ed catalogs, but today I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There’s one other catalog you need to check before ordering, and it’s not the one you might think.

Which one is it? The Early Childhood catalog.

Yes, you read that correctly. No matter what age level you teach, you might be surprised to find useful items for your classroom in a catalog that caters to toddlers. Here are 21 surprising finds.



Use the size of the furniture in the Early Childhood catalogs to your advantage. The smaller sizes make these items perfect for nestling under tables or in otherwise unusable areas of your classroom. Here are a few smart choices.

Book Display – great for current read-alouds in elementary rooms or displaying reference materials for older students

LEGO Table – a necessary makerspace component

Mobile Drying Rack – a flexible option you can pull out when needed

Storage Unit – perfect for your specialty supplies or a free choice area


Adaptive Materials

Early Childhood Catalogs are great places to find materials for your students that might need adaptations. Here are a few worth considering.
My First Scissors – made for small hands but still a good tool for those with limited dexterity

Finger Paint Sensations Kit – an innovative supply for students with vision impairments

Jumbo Brushes – the bigger handles make these easier to grasp

No-Spill Paint Cups – use these cups to limit frustration


If you’re a fan of having a carpeted gathering space in your classroom, then RUN to your nearest Early Childhood catalog immediately. There are so many great choices!


 Bilingual Paint by Numero Oval Carpet

 Kalokids™ Rainbow™ Placement Carpets – 24 Placement Spots

 Semi-Circle Rainbow Rows Carpet

 Simple Shapes Seating Rug



Teaching Tools



Early Childhood catalogs are full of activities that would be perfect to use at classroom centers or as teaching tools.
Geoboards – perfect for experimenting with different shapes

Straws and Connectors – a wonderful collaborative material

Foam Blocks – a quiet, lightweight alternative to traditional blocks

Pattern Blocks – fantastic for patterning or freeform building

KEVA Blocks – the perfect companion to an architecture lesson

Tangrams – a classic for a reason

Animal Figurines – a fun reference material for drawing or sculpting

Magna-Tiles – an innovative building material

Foam Geometric Solids – a nice tool for helping students visualize 2D vs 3D


If you’re looking for even more unconventional places to find supplies, check out these articles from our archives!

The Best Art Supply Store Doesn’t Sell Art Supplies!

Shhh…Shop Here for Amazing Art Finds

Back to School Deals and Steals for Art Teachers

Tell us, have you ever ordered from an Early Childhood catalog? 

What are some other surprising supplies you think all art teachers should know about?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Amanda Heyn

Amanda Heyn is AOEU’s Director of K–12 PD & Media and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She enjoys creating relevant and engaging professional development just for art teachers.

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