A Summer Supply List and Art Challenge to Empower Your Students

Make Art This Summer Download

Finally, summer is approaching! Our students will be doing everything from swimming and playing video games to attending summer camps and traveling to far off places. In my mind, doing art should also be on that list! The end of the school year is an excellent time for us to empower our students to create outside of school.

That’s why, in May, I give my students two things to help guide them: a Summer Art Supply List and a Summer Art Challenge.

Summer Art Supply List

My Summer Art Supply List is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a list of art supplies I feel it would be good for students to have at home. Having a list makes shopping easy for parents, especially if they don’t have an art background.

I like to list the basics but also add some specialized products like a bag of Model Magic. It is also important to include budget-friendly or free supplies, as not all families will have the means to purchase things. Things like recyclables and items found in nature are great to add to the list. Finally, make sure most or all of the supplies can be found at local stores.

Here are 11 things I include.

1. Crayons

Many students already have crayons at their houses. Sharing your favorite brands is a good way to get your students using quality materials. There are also a few new versions that could be a great addition to your student’s art supplies. Check them out below!

Ooly Crayons

2. Markers

Markers are another non-intimidating material to include on the list. I use a variety of Crayola markers including thin, thick, metallic, and pastel. A few of my students even have experience with Copic markers. Those are very pricey, but they are definitely worth sharing because you can find them on sale or buy a few at a time to build up your collection. Sharpies are also a staple in my classroom that students often use in their work. I include all three on my list.

3. Quality Drawing Pad

Paper is a huge part of the creation process, especially when it comes to drawing and making collages. This Strathmore Mixed Media drawing pad is sure to stand up to all types of media. This Pacon Drawing paper is only about 57 lbs but can work for basic drawing, and it comes in looseleaf form.

4. Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are another versatile medium. There is a wide range of colored pencil options that vary in type and price. I like to give them options. Here are a few I plan to share with my students’ families.

colored pencils

5. Watercolors

Some families may be intimidated by paint, so I like to keep things simple by suggesting watercolors. I typically suggest watercolors in a palette, but depending on your grade level, you may want to share watercolors that are sold in individual tubes. You may also want to suggest a variety of paintbrushes, as most sets just come with one. I share a variety of types of watercolor so parents can choose what works best for their budget.

6. Oil Pastels

Oil pastels are great both on their own and mixed with other mediums such as watercolors. Here are a few sets I add to my summer supply list for my students.

7. Model Magic

Students love to build in three dimensions. Model Magic is a fun alternative to earthenware clay. Model Magic comes in white and assorted colors. You can buy anywhere from a four-ounce bag to a sixteen-ounce tub. Show your students how you can rub markers on white model magic and squish it to change the color! If you teach older students, recommending an air dry clay might also be appropriate.

8. Tempera Paint Sticks

Painting with tempera or acrylic can get messy, so I suggest paint sticks instead. I purchased Kwik Stix Tempera Paint Sticks this year, and my kids loved them. They have a variety of size options and come in traditional, neon, and metallic colors!

paint sticks

9. Recyclables

Free art supplies everyone has in their home are recyclables. I always add these to my list because not everyone has the extra cash to buy a variety of art supplies and because I love recycled art. Check out the list for some of the recyclables students and their families can save in order to create over the summer.

  • Shoe boxes
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Egg cartons
  • Cereal boxes
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Kleenex boxes
  • Yogurt containers

10. Odds and Ends

There are several cost friendly items that can be found at your local dollar store to use in art projects. For instance, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, Popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, and yarn are all things I purchase at low prices. These items can help take creativity to the next level.

11. Adhesives

When building with odds and ends and well as recyclables it is important to have ways to connect pieces. Adding glue sticks, masking tape, scotch tape, and duct tape to the list is a must! Tacky glue is another excellent adhesive that can help with these summer projects. Hot glue is great, but depending on your students’ ages you may recommend using hot glue is only with parent supervision.

Summer Art Challenge

Once you hand out your Summer Art Supply List, pair it with a Summer Art Challenge to inspire your students to create. Check out the Summer Art Challenge download below. Use it as is, or let it inspire you to make your own.

Make Art This Summer Download

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(Check out the challenge from last year right here for even more ideas!)

How to Use the Summer Art Challenge

  1. Share it with your students and talk about a few of the prompts.
  2. Highlight the directions to keep track of the challenges they complete.
  3. Encourage students to complete a certain number of challenges. You may consider providing a small incentive or reward for those who make the goal. I like to display a piece of art from each student. This also helps to generatae art for display at the beginning of the year as well.
  4. Hand out the Summer Art Supply List and Summer Art Challenge and wait for the amazing art your students will create over the summer.

No matter if you share a supply list, give your students a summer challenge or both, it is important to get kids creating this summer!

What supplies would you add to this list?

What type of summer projects have you given your students to inspire them?

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.


Wynita Harmon

Wynita Harmon is AOEU’s Chair of Faculty Development and a former AOEU Writer and elementary school art educator.

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