I've gotten a lot of questions about the supplies in the studio, so I've compiled a list of favorites by age! This page contain affiliate links.
18 months - 2.5 years old
Watercolor Paper: This is the best, most absorbent watercolor paper I've found. It is a little pricey, but great for soaking up beautiful color and water (when they want to spray, spray, spray...!)
Liquid Watercolors: Speaking of soaking... liquid watercolors are so vibrant and beautiful. This option is a much easier introduction into the medium since kids under 3 often muddy colors with the tradition watercolor cake palette. These are what we use in the studio. (Tip - keep in small jars like these and water the colors down so they last longer!)
Washable Tempura Paint: All purpose paint for all painting projects. I love Crayola's, but this option is a little more affordable and does the job just fine (and washes well!). Great on construction paper, card stock or painting paper.
Squeeze Paint: These paints from Ikea are every toddler's (and big kid's) favorite thing. You can buy them on Amazon but they are more then double the price from Ikea (insert eyeroll). If you don't live near the store, or want to take out a microloan to prime them, try purchasing squeeze bottles like these and thinning out tempura paint with a little bit of water. Add glitter for some extra delight. You may also want to cut the tips to make the hole bigger if your child is having a tough time squeezing the paint out.
Chunky Paint Brushes + Paint Cups: These brushes are great for little hands and the cups are actually spill-proof.
Paint Sticks: These glide on like paint and dry almost immediately. No mess. Enough said.
Adjustable Easel: If you're in the market, this is my favorite. Unlike others, it's sturdy and will adjust and grow with your child. (The chalkboard doesn't work well and it does not fold easily as advertised... just a heads up!... still the best I've tried.)
Glue: This is so simple, right? Here's the catch. I'm a big supporter of squeeze glue at this age. Are they going to use too much glue? Yes. Are they going to use the entire bottle? Yes. Let it happen. You can remind them that maybe the do not need that much glue and that it will take a looooong time for it to dry. One day, they will just get it and you will stop plowing through glue. Allow them to collage with ripped magazine pages or painted paper a previous day, pom poms, feathers... whatever else you have laying around. I also let my 2 year old use the scissors that come with this book to "cut" (Keep the workbook for when they are 3+).
Of course, crayons, washable markers and colored pencils are all age appropriate as well (Any are good, but these colored pencils are THE BEST for this age range).
I know, I know. There's a lot of paint on this list. If you do not have a kids table for making messes, be sure to use a table covering (any old tablecloth with a plastic bottom will do) and consider purchasing a tray to set the paper on. We use dollar store cookie trays in the studio which both contain the mess and keep the paper from moving around. Win, win.
If you have space, I also suggest saving cardboard boxes, egg cartons, etc, for a cheap, unconventional canvas. Rocks and sticks are fun, free option as well, and q-tip, cotton balls, trucks and other toys are fun paintbrushes.
3 - 6 Years Old
3-6 year olds love everything on the under 3 list, plus the list below.
Watercolor Palette: This is the one we use in the studio and the colors are perfection.
Washi Tape: I think we use this in every single class. The possibilities are endless.
Pipettes: A great option when using liquid watercolors or food coloring for both art making and science experiments.
Collage Materials: At this age, anything goes. I just discovered this new kit that looks pretty awesome and it comes in a case to keep things organized.
Sharpies: Of course, use your judgement on this. My 4 year old understands that these are adult markers and that it is a privilege to use them. Once your child is mature enough to use these, go for it. They are simply the best, especially if you are working on fabric, wood, etc or as the outline for a watercolor painting.
Air-Dry Clay: A step up from playdoh. Offer with toothpicks, straws, gems and other objects to increase interest. Add water to soften.