Art supplies for miniature artists
April 21, 2017 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Our beloved neighbors were just hit with the double whammy of welcoming a new baby into the world and getting diagnosed with cancer. In addition to the new kiddo, they have two other kids, ages 3 and 6. I would like to get them some fun art supplies so they get a little attention and can have some fun (and maybe even stay occupied and out of mom and dad's hair for a minute). Problem is I'm a little clueless about what would be fun or appropriate for kids of that age.

Both parents are artists and encourage creativity, so they have the basics as far as crayons and things like that. I can confirm because the eldest kiddo drew the most heartwrenchingly adorable get well card for us when my dog was diagnosed with cancer. What would be some fun, different, no-mess art supplies for kids age 3 and 6? Or would colored pencils or crayons and coloring books suffice?
posted by marshmallow peep to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wiki Stix are pretty great, and reusable/ relatively low-mess.
posted by Bardolph at 6:56 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]

Lots of stickers + a large pad of paper for each of them to stick 'em in is very low mess.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:04 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]

Can you hang with the kids and do crafts with them? Because I'd vote for getting large quantities of cornstarch, glue, food coloring, borax, detergent, etc. and having some DIY fun making goop, floam, glow-in-the-dark slime, and other stuff like that. Plus they can take it home afterwards. YouTube is rife with kids' videos showing you how. Also, large rolls of kraft paper on which you trace them a few times and then use poster paint for making crazy/funny/gory/kooky versions of themselves or each other. Finally, never underestimate the fun of putting half a bar of ivory soap in the microwave and sending them home with the results for their bathtime later.

What I'm saying is time with them, and time for their parents, may be the best thing.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:07 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]

These Melissa and Doug Water Wow pads are really great because they don't make a mess and they are completely doable for a young child to complete without any adult help. Might be a little boring for the older kid, but the 3-year-old will love them. We also like the M&D Sticker Pads for lots of stickering fun.

I like the idea of offering to do art with them! But if that's not quite what you want to do, I think an "art box" is a great gift. I would focus on non-messy things.

Wiki Stix is a good suggestion
Pipe cleaners (I feel so old...they call these "chenille stems" now!)
Pack of construction paper
Pair of child-safe scissors
Googly eyes
Glue stick
New box of crayons (so nice!)
Colored pencils
posted by LKWorking at 7:44 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]

Water Wow books are amazing. They come with a little reservoir brush but the kid can use a finger, q-tip, or paintbrush dipped into a tiny dish of water. Keep a little towel handy for spills and you're golden. Definitely good for age 2,3,4 and maybe a little older.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:07 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]

Stickers for sure, you can get packs at the dollar store, or sidewalk chalk. Crayons. Kid scissors. A big pack of colored construction paper. A couple of rolls of blue tape (my kid is forever going through blue tape, I let him use it to stick his art projects to the walls or door of his room).

With a new baby, there was no way I wanted to contemplate the mess of painting or gluing, and a 3yo may be unreliable when it comes to not making a mess with markers. If you want to go with markers, get the washable ones. Include one of those mr. clean magic erasers with your packet, and maybe an extra pack of wet wipes.

Do they have a backyard? Now is a great time of year to gift them with some big branches and big boxes and maybe an old sheet or blanket to make forts outside. It's a blessing for a mom to be able to say "go outside and play for a bit" so she can have a few moments to herself.
posted by vignettist at 8:10 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Not exactly what you're asking, but colored bath tablets are awesome for getting kids to want to take a bath, and for getting them to linger in the bath for a while.
posted by vignettist at 8:12 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

I recently got my kids some of these for "painting" with water on the patio outside. These in the link are expensive, the ones I got were from the dollar store.
posted by vignettist at 8:14 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

If youre down to do some crafts with the kids, suncatchers are always hella chill to make. Also, washi tape and stamps (!get ink that actually washes off) are a fun addition to any kids art set.
posted by speakeasy at 8:24 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

I have children about the ages of the two you're talking about and here are my suggestions:

How about watercolor colored pencils?

Washable glitter glue pens will take you a long way in the early childhood art world.

These simple suncatcher kits that are sticker-based were a BIG hit at my house.

A set of larger (like for painting walls) paintbrushes is also great for outside painting with water, like vignettist mentioned. I even got my kids the little paint cup with the handle from the hardware store to hold their water.

If you go to a big box store and find the kids craft aisle, there are tons of "everything in the box" craft kits with age ranges on them. We always get a bunch of these at birthdays and they're usually fun projects.
posted by freezer cake at 11:10 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Do you have a table where the kids could do crafts/ art? Cause it's messy, and getting them out from underfoot at home for an hour or so every few days would be a gift. We used to make masks. I cut out ovals from discarded manilla folders, add eyeholes, and then go nuts. Washable markers, safe-ish scissors, glue & glitter, feathers, colored paper, macaroni shapes, etc. Elastic to make a band. Masks are especially good because you make them, then wear them as you run about playing. Disclaimer: If you let kids use glitter, you will be vacuuming it up for a month or 2. Make macaroni necklaces.

Also, cooking. Make brownies - pretty easy. And while you're in the kitchen waiting for them to bake, do kitchen science. In our house that meant baking soda and vinegar and food coloring. Mentos and Coke would be fun.
posted by theora55 at 6:36 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for the wonderful ideas, everyone. I'm putting together a package of wiki stix, water wow pads, stickers, sparkly crayons, pipe cleaners, washi tape, construction paper, and an IOU for an afternoon of baking and crafting at our house.
posted by marshmallow peep at 5:49 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]

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