Artsy toys for kids are a lifesaver at my house.
Let’s just say I was not born with the “craft” gene. It’s not that I’m not a creative person, but music and writing are my fortes, not making magnificent creations out of coffee filters and clothespins.
Personally, aside from lacking raw talent in the crafting arena, I am simply not all that interested in finding a craft project, procuring all the necessary materials, doing the prep work, and demonstrating each step for my kids.
I know that this kind of thing fills many a mom’s cup. I’m not one of those moms. I send my kids to school and take them to special programs to make crafts.
Yet, I want my kids to be creative. They want to be creative. It’s good for their development. And sometimes, frankly, I just need them to be entertained independently for a while.
So, that is why I have an entire cabinet that’s bursting at the seams with artsy toys for kids. My kids can pull something out from this cabinet and more-or-less entertain themselves for a decent amount of time.
Here are some recommendations of artsy toys your kids might love!
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Do-a-Dot markers are essentially BINGO stampers, but the kids have so much fun with them. You can buy or print out special coloring pages made especially for dotting, or you can just let the kids be creative on plain paper.
Coloring Art Supplies
I don’t want to state the obvious, but heaps of crayons and options for coloring pages are must-have artsy toys for kids.
You can just have copy paper or construction paper on hand for kids to free draw, but if you want to give them actual coloring books or pages, here are three of my favorite types:
- Color-by-number: I just found these amazing-looking ones by Melissa & Doug that are probably going on my stocking stuffer list, but we have had fun with more traditional books like this set.
- Giant coloring pages: What I find fun about giant coloring pages is that we can throw ourselves down on the floor and engage in a group coloring fest.
- Free printable coloring pages I find online! My kids have gotten accustomed to saying, “Mom, can you print me a picture of…” (fill in the blank here). They think I can magically produce any image their hearts desire. The good news is, for the most part (unless they ask for something incredibly obscure), I’m generally able to find something that meets their requests. I also offer lots of free printable coloring and activity pages right here on my website!
For crayons, you don’t need to get fancy, but twistable crayons do not break and end up in tiny pieces all over the house. We also recently discovered the joy of triangular crayons, which lay flat on the table instead of rolling off.
Water Wow! Books
Mess-free, resuable “painting.” It doesn’t get much better than that! Melissa & Doug Water Wow! books allow the kids to “paint” pictures with water. The colors show up as the wet brush hits the pages. When the water dries, the colors fade, so you can use the books over and over.
Light-Up Tracing Pad
Using the light-up tracing pad, kids can trace images onto their own paper and then color them in. We have actually used ours to trace over already-used coloring sheets to get another use out of the pictures. It’s also a great tool for teaching kids to write, if you write them out words, letters, or even their own names to trace over.
Fashion Design Kit
My daughter saw an art toy for kids called My First Fashion Designer in a Lakeshore catalog last year and desperately wanted it for Christmas. Turns out, she has great taste. It contains a dress form and lots of little pieces of cloth and ribbons that the kids can use to design their own dresses. Best of all, it’s reusable. You just take the “dress” apart and can start from scratch each time you play. Here is a similar toy on Amazon.
Bracelet-Making Art Toys for Kids
We have had lots of fun with bead sets for making jewelry in the past, but lately, we’ve been using the rainbow-colored rubber bands. I honestly don’t mind sitting down and working on one of these myself. This art toy for kids is kind of stress-relieving! If you’re not sure how this works, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that demonstrate the method.
Did you have a Spirograph when you were a kid? I did, and I loved it. Guess what? They are still making them, and they’re still fun artsy toys for kids! We personally have this version by Lakeshore and really enjoy it, but if you feel more confident ordering the original Spirograph brand, it’s available on Amazon and highly rated. There is also a Spirograph Junior version more suitable for younger kids (3 and up).
I know I said I don’t craft, but you would be amazed at what kids can come up with on their own when they are just handed a mess of craft supplies and instructed to go to town. I recommend always having a big assortment on hand (googly eyes, pipe cleaners, sequins, craft sticks, feathers, and so on), along with the requisite glue, and probably some safety scissors. You can get a pre-assembled kit like this one, or you can go to the store and put together your own stash.
Listen, there may be days when you feel like you will never finish sweeping up sequins off the floor, but the fun the kids will have and their creative finished products will (hopefully) be worth the mess!
“How to Draw” books
If you have a budding artist, grab her a sketchbook, some colored pencils, and one of these “How to Draw” books. My daughter has the “How to Draw” animals and fairies books, and also The Big Drawing Book from Usborne, which is fabulous (ask your local rep to help you order one!). The pictures she creates while following the simple instructions are impressive!
Plate-rubbing kits give kids the ability to be creative by mixing and matching plates to make different combinations. With these artsy toys, the kids shade over the plates to create the picture and then can color in the images they’ve designed! Many of these sets are geared toward fashion, but I have come across some, such as this Adventure Design kit by Melissa & Doug, that are more about creating characters.
Color Wonder markers and paper provide mess-free coloring, drawing, and stamping for kids! These make a great art toy for toddlers because the special markers only make marks on the special paper. We have the Mess-Free Light-Up Stamper, and I think it’s really neat. The stamper lights up the color of ink that you press it onto and then stamps that color onto the paper!
Magnetic Drawing Board
Magnetic drawing boards are artsy toys for kids that provide entertainment at home or on the go. Kids can draw or write on these boards (and then erase and do it again). Plus, there are lots of ways you can keep kids entertained using magnetic drawing boards for games such as Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe, or Pictionary. This particular set was gifted to my two-year-old for her birthday.
Magnetic Tile Art
This set of Magnetic Mini Tile Art is a really fun and practical art toy for kids! Not only did we get a fun art project out of the set, we also have usable magnets for our fridge! Fair warning: it is hard to get the pictures to come out looking like they do on the box, especially for little kids! (My butterfly was darn close.)
Oh, also, these make fabulous teacher gifts!
Window Art Toys for Kids
I like this window art set so much, I’ve ordered it as a birthday gift a couple of times. The sun catchers are easy to paint and look great when they’re done. The set also comes with suction cups so that the kids can proudly display their artwork on windows around the house.
Kinetic Sand is a modeling sand that doesn’t dry out. You can buy different sets that have molds the kids can use, or they can simply do free play. I find Kinetic Sand soothing to play with! This set comes with a tray to contain the mess. (Note: cleaning up Kinetic Sand off the floor is not soothing).
Stamping Art Toys for Kids
Stamp and ink sets are open-ended art toys for kids. Your little artists can use the stampers to embellish coloring pages or make their own scenes on paper. Melissa & Doug have a huge variety of stamp sets to choose from.
Stickers in general are a classic favorite of my kids, but they get used up. Reusable sticker sets, however, are more sustainable art toys for kids. You can buy books of scenes with corresponding stickers, and the kids can use their imaginations to create different tableaus. Now let’s be honest — they don’t last forever. But they’re still not a one-shot deal and can provide hours of entertainment for kids.
Bath crayons make the tub a canvas for the kids. My kids love to draw pictures on the sides of the tub, and it’s only a moderate pain to clean them up. Bonus: My husband and I will sometimes leave each other love notes in our shower with the bath crayons.
Usborne carries some great wipe-clean books that give the kids prompts for doodling or provide images to trace. The kids use dry erase markers and then can clean off the books and use them again! If you’d rather order from Amazon, here is a “How to Draw” wipe-clean book.
Older kids might enjoy these sticker mosaics, which are like paint-by-number without the mess of paint. Kids match small stickers with a corresponding number and shape on a larger picture. The resulting images are beautiful! Alex makes a type of sticker mosaic that is great for younger kids, ages 3 and up. They just match shapes without having to worry about numbers.
Aquabeads are great for creativity and fine-motor skills. Fill molds with colorful beads that can be bound together by water. Your kids can create lots of fun shapes with this Beginners Studio, such as animals, a cupcake, or a rainbow.
Melissa & Doug Tabletop Easel
My 3-year-old received this tabletop easel for Christmas, and my older kids are just as excited about using it as she is. On one side, there is a magnetic dry erase board, and on the other a chalkboard. There is also a paper roll you can down so the kids can paint, and a tray to hold the paints, trays, and markers. Pair it with this easel accessory kit. The no-spill paint containers are a must. They really work!
This Fantastic Spinner is a current favorite at my house. No batteries necessary! The kids squirt paint onto the paper and then pump the spinner to turn it into a beautiful work of art. The finished products can be framed or used as little notecards. My daughter has fun experimenting to see if she can get two colors to combine to make a new color. Make sure to grab this refill kit, too.
For even more ideas, read 32 Crafter Gifts – a guide that’s broken down by kids’ age!
If you invest in some (or all) of these, you will have a well-stocked cabinet in no time, full of artsy toys for kids that will provide hours upon hours of creative entertainment without having to plan a single craft project!
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Originally published November 15, 2018