My 3-year-old son might be the next minimalist art sensation; legit, the kid may be the next Frank Stella. The little guy draws three squiggly lines in two different colors on a blank paper plate, and boom — we got art. Today my fridge, tomorrow the Smithsonian.
Okay, fine maybe he’s not the next minimalist ingénue, but who says he couldn’t be? He loves his crayons, loves drawing with them, loves snapping them in half and even loves eating them. I am pretty sure that Picasso had a similar start.
If you have a blossoming young artist in your home, the space to create and imagine is key, says certified K-12 art teacher and professional artist Jessica Green. “If you can find a dedicated space in your house for art activities, that's ideal,” Green tells Shop TODAY. “I know that's not feasible for everyone. So maybe even a big, plastic art tote that you're okay with being a mess, and is something you can just stow away when it's not in use, that would work nicely as well."
You want your child to feel the joy of limitless creativity, but you don’t want to overwhelm your blossoming artist with too many choices either, according to Green. “Having lots of supplies and options can be stressful and a total mess,” she says. “So I’d only set out certain supplies for a particular art-making session. Creativity thrives within limitations, so buying a zillion supplies isn't the answer and can also gridlock creativity.”
There are endless reasons to introduce art into the home if you haven’t already. “Art projects lead children to lengthen their attention space and build a habit of focus. It effortlessly bolsters the understanding and enjoyment of other subjects and disciplines, and it’s communal and inclusive," summarizes Green.
If your child is ready to take a plunge into the art game and you’re ready to cover your fridge with their latest masterpieces, here are interesting crafts and creative tools to help them put their mark on the art world.
Best art gifts for kids
As the winter weather creeps up on us, cozy gifts for cute kiddos are having their moment. “We are seeing a surge in fleece tie blanket making due to a trend that was happening on TikTok right around the back-to-school time,” editorial director at JOANN Valerie Ott says. She recommends using the anti-pill fleece because it has “a nice weight and heft to it, it’s super super warm and plush … but also doesn’t pill."
To make the blanket, your kiddo just needs two swaths of fleece and their little fingers to tie the pieces together.
Choosing quality over quantity can be important when buying your kiddo art supplies, especially when keeping Green’s advice in mind — “Having lots of supplies and options can be stressful and a total mess.” So, opting for a smaller set of higher quality colored pencils is key.
“My daughter is a really good artist,” Ott says. “She has requested in the past the Prisma color of sets. They draw in color and have that saturation and that feel when you’re drawing with them that’s unlike other colored pencils that are a little less quality.”
This simple supply is an easy and affordable buy that is great for creating textured rubbings. This set includes six black plates which can be used with paper, fabric, clay, metal, paint and more.
Ready, set, create with this classic art supply from Crayola. This set includes 100 pre-sharpened colorful pencils and is an ideal gift for kids ages five and up.
While colored pencils are fun, colored pencils that smell good are even better. This pack of colored pencils comes with scents, including orange soda and jelly donut.
When it comes to a beginner’s art supply kit, start simple, says Green. A sketchbook, some colored pencils and some simple paints are always a great way to go…especially if they are washable. This sparkly, personalized and customizable sketchpad can be purchased as a hard or soft cover, and includes 120 pages for your child to sketch their latest and greatest idea.
If you have a child that doesn’t seem to really dig sketching or coloring, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a budding artist just waiting to bust loose, according to Green. “It's a myth that drawing and art are synonymous. There are many options when it comes to art; digital art, sculpture, painting, fiber arts, sewing, weaving, knitting, car design.”
Quilling is a great creative outlet for the child who is in search of their artistic niche. It involves taking strips of paper and glue and turning those pieces into works of art. This cute first quilling set helps your little artist create sweet and custom cards featuring adorable bugs. This activity helps kids ages five and up express creativity and further develop fine motor skills.
New craft, who dis? It’s your kiddo at their very own sculpting station. Let your child get behind the wheel — the pottery wheel, that is — and create a bevy of fun characters or their own pinch pot. This sculpting station includes 12 paint pots, four air dry clay pouches, two paint brushes, two texture plates, a clay sculpting tool, a built-in pottery wheel, a reusable storage case and every parent's favorite thing: easy-to-follow instructions.
Best art kits for kids
This year, we’re seeing a resurgence of friendship bracelets and nostalgic gifts. This bracelet-making kit is best for children 8 years old and older. While the Rainbow Loom bracelets were all the rage in the 2010s, they’ve maintained popularity throughout the years. With the included loom, metal hook and rubber bands, the child you’re shopping for can create rings, necklaces and bracelets.
While Mike Kennedy, VP and GMM of Craft & Seasonal at JOANN, says “it’s dealers choice” when deciding what beads to create friendship bracelets with, this 2,300-piece box of pony beads is a classic route to go when searching for a friendship bracelet-themed gift.
“You can go everything from kids’ pony beads and traditional letter beads to we’ve got some really nice glass check beads and then a whole jewelry section of kind of nicer more gem-type, strung beads that you can pull apart and use,” Kennedy says. “So it’s a little bit of just the look that you’re going for.”
Tickle their curiosity with this glow-in-the-dark-themed art kit. Elmer’s created this Squishies-making kit, so your crafty kiddo can create collectible creatures out of mystery solutions. Once they combine two secret solutions with Elmer’s glue, they just need to wait 60 minutes for their creature to form. This art gift is ideal for 6-year-olds and older.
This tech-adjacent gift is ideal for the young visionaries in your life, but also a great gift for artists of any age. Using the Cupixel studio app, your little one can project their creations onto any surface that they want to create on.
“There’s a whole app and learning experience back behind it where you can go in and do all kinds of how-tos and learn-tos,” Kennedy says. “What’s pretty cool is you can upload your own photos, and then it will project it down and then you can trace it.”
We know that crafting often comes with messes, but this foil-froward crafting kit is easy and mess-free. To create, your kiddo just needs to pick from a variety of picture canvases that they can use to craft images of unicorns and princesses out of foam stickers, foil and more.
If your kiddo isn’t obsessed with making friendship bracelets, they probably love making slime. This slime factory has all the tools and instructions for children 6 years old and up to make 10 different slimes. The slime powder packs that make the magic happen come in two varieties — confetti and glitter.
With crafts ranging from beginner to master, this mini pottery studio includes a variety of projects for your little one to tackle along with all the tools they need to take their pottery skills to the next elevel. Plus, Laurie Schacht, chief toy officer at The Toy Insider, thinks this is one of the hottest holiday toys this season.
If you’re shopping for a kid who can’t decide between the court and the studio, gift them this customizable basketball so they won’t have to choose. While perfecting their three-pointers, they can show off their artistic side with an art-themed basketball.
Ott keeps her eye on what’s hot in the crafting world and says that the Woobles crochet kits are “really trending right now.” The brand has everything you need to make cute little crochet creatures, including yarn, a crochet hook and stuffing. “My crafty daughter wants to learn how to crochet, and it seemed like a nice way to get into amigurumi making,” she says.
This art and craft supply center has everything a parent and child could ask for. With 20 see-through drawers and hundreds of handy craft supplies, there is no limit to what you and your child can create.
Have you ever wished your home had a custom painting of the whole family? How about if that custom painting was done by your own little artist-in-residence? This kit takes your most treasured iPhone photo and turns it into a work of art with a helpful blueprint. (Well, your child makes the art and they just give you the blueprint.) It also includes a white linen canvas printed with your custom numbered image, three paint brushes and over 30 paints specifically curated to make your painting its most magnifique.
Best art stations for kids
My son loves sitting at his “little table.” This adorable activity table from Laylo is great for arts and crafts, or for having a snack or tea party with friends. It includes a play table and two sturdy play chairs. Pro tip, easily turn your child’s table into an art canvas by ordering the made to fit Giant Coloring Sheets.
Meet the Experts
- Jessica Green is a certified K-12 art teacher and professional artist.
- Mike Kennedy is VP and GMM of Craft & Seasonal merchandise at JOANN. He takes inspiration from his wife and 7-year-old son who are always creating, especially during the holidays.
- Valerie Ott is the editorial director at JOANN. Aside from guiding the editorial calendar and many creative teams at JOANN, she crafts, knits and sews in her free time.