By The ARTnews Recommends Editors
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Art activities are an excellent way to keep children busy while encouraging their creative spirit. Art lets their imaginations soar—plus they end up with a displayable keepsake. There are lots of ways for the young artists in your life to express themselves, whether through painting, textile art, paper crafts, or other pursuits. Streamline the process by picking up a ready-made art making or crafting kit. Complete with all the materials needed to make a host of creations at home, these kits can be used alone or shared during playdates. Browse our selection of the best options below, guaranteed to inspire kids from toddlers to ’tweens.
DIY journal kit Suitable for young teens, a bookmaking kit provides creative control over the physical aspects of a book, from cover to spine. And it’s a great way for kids to log their memories in a highly visual and tactile way. One option is a kit from Talas, which includes archival-quality material—everything necessary to make a custom journal, including two binder boards, two dozen sheets of high-quality writing paper, and stunning decorative paper for a cover. Kids also get a needle and two yards of linen thread to stitch their first binding. This kit is especially economical if you want to encourage your child to build up a journal collection: The more you buy, the lower the cost. Purchase: Book Journal Kit from $17.50 on Talas
Cute felted-wool companions Needle felting is a beginner-friendly sculpting method with a range of creative possibilities. And the results are always super adorable. Woolbuddy, a California-based company, sells all-inclusive kits to make one creature; choose among dozens of options, including a sea turtle, black cat, chicken, elf, moose, octopus, and frog. You can also purchase a starter kit to make multiple Woolbuddies. The kits are beautifully packaged and well organized, and you get a generous amount of good-quality wool. Instructions are clearly illustrated with color photographs so young ones (ages 10 and up) can follow along with ease without adult supervision. Purchase: Woolbuddy Needle Felting Kits from $15 on Etsy
A kit for budding chemists Designed for children ages 10 and up, this chemistry kit guides users through a whopping 125 experiments. Topics at hand include air pressure, surface tension, and electrochemical reactions; the processes are visually engaging and open-ended to keep kids interested while encouraging creative thinking. Included are clear instructions and safety advice, so adults can worry less about hazards in the home. Note, however, that this kit requires some preplanning, including reading the instructions beforehand and assembling needed items that are not included in the kit (but which can be found in your own home or at a grocery store). Purchase: Thames & Kosmos Chemistry Set, $59.95 on Amazon
Make paper from scratch While papermaking may sound challenging, it can actually be an easy and fun activity suited for adolescents to try at home. It’s also a great way to recycle scrap paper into custom sheets—for more artmaking! Arnold Grummer’s kit is designed for pros, but those ages 14 and up can quickly learn the ropes. Among the included materials: a large wooden frame to form and press letter-size sheets, a template for making matching envelopes, and illustrated directions plus a guidebook with walkthroughs for six projects. Purchase: Arnold Grummer’s Papermill Pro Envelope & Stationery Kit, $79 on Blick
Psychedelic dyeing Marbling, the process of suspending and then transferring pigment to create a print, can look like magic. With this kit, recommended for ages 8 and up, young artists can create swirling designs to customize two blank pouches. In the included tray, you prepare a liquid base by mixing the included carrageenan powder to boiling water, drop your choice of the four included dyes on the surface of the liquid, swirl it, then dip a pouch in the tray to transfer a pattern. Users get enough dye to decorate an additional small object or two that they supply themselves. The only drawback with this kit is a 2-hour wait time for the carrageenan powder to fully dissolve. For a more streamlined option, consider the Aitoh Boku-Undo Suminagashi Marbling Kit, which forgoes additives in favor of dyes that can sit on top of plain water. Note that the dye used in this latter option is harder to control and that the transfer process requires a bit of practice. Purchase: Fashion Angels Marble Dye Pouch Kit, $16.99 on Blick; Aitoh Boku-Undo Suminagashi Marbling Kit, $11.02 from Blick
DIY candles No hot wax is involved in this candle-making activity, which uses all-natural beeswax. Kids ages 6 and up can safely roll the included wax, which showcases a fun texture and honeycomb pattern, to create seven sweet-smelling candles. Each measures 4 inches tall and burns bright. Purchase: Beeswax Candle Making Kit, $8.99 on Eco-Kids
Start a mini herbarium Flower pressing is a rewarding activity that encourages kids of all ages to arrange plants and flowers in creative ways. Made of fiberboard and basswood, this 12-by-18-inch press is an ideal size for larger projects. The adjustable metal screws and wing nuts in each corner are easy to twist and plastic feet protect tables from scratches. You also get instructions, blotting paper, and nine sheets of corrugated cardboard to stack multiple pressings. Purchase: BestNest Nature Press, $49.99 on Amazon
Learn to paint From New York City’s world-famous Museum of Modern Art comes a brushstroke and color-mixing kit designed for children ages 6 and up. This product was developed by MoMA educators and features exercises and activities employed in MoMA’s art programs. Kids are encouraged to explore the painting styles and techniques of Vincent van Gogh, who favored lots of color, texture, and movement. The fully stocked kit includes a paint palette, 2 brushes, 10 paint tubes, high-quality Bristol paper, a color wheel, two canvases, a paint knife, and an instruction manual. Purchase: Art Making with MoMA: Brushstroke and Color-Making Kit, $44.99 on Amazon
Needle-and-thread crafts Treat young ones to their first sewing kit, which can not only enable utilitarian fixes but also inspire satisfying art projects. This gorgeous curated set from Moulin Roty features a vintage-inspired carrying case that opens to reveal scissors, measuring tape, thread, and a thimble, held snugly to the lid’s underside by elastic bands, as well as five balls of colorful wool, knitting needles, a crochet needle, and instructions to inspire different crafts. Purchase: Moulin Roty Thread Craft Kit for Beginners, $59.99 on Walmart
Fun with punch needles Suitable for older kids, punch needling is an excellent vehicle for creative expression, as artists can freely “draw” their own designs with yarn. There’s no better person to learn this late-19th-century craft from than Amy Oxford, who not only invented her own needle but also runs a punch needle company and school. This kit for beginners has a pre-drawn pattern that depicts a pear, but inspired kids can come up with their own pattern and execute it using the included wool rug yarn. They’ll learn about stitch size, punching techniques, and how to finish and hem their piece. Purchase: Pear Kit, $99 from Amy Oxford
A kit that keeps on giving With an art or science subscription box, the young creatives in your life can look forward to regular gifts that introduce them to different materials, mediums, techniques, and concepts. This particular option comes from a company founded by an environmental scientist who is also a mother; all boxes are produced using environmentally friendly practices. You can choose Discovery boxes (for ages 5 to 10+), which encourage creative experimentation in science, or Junior boxes (for ages 3 to 5), which have a heavier craft focus. Every month brings four to six open-ended projects. Purchase: Green Kids Monthly Subscription Box, from $29.95/box on Green Kid Crafts
For the budding architect If your kids love Legos, they’ll certainly enjoy the challenge of building a smart house from scratch. This kit, designed for young engineers ages 8 and up, presents a modular system to keep the building process simple while encouraging creativity. Once the walls and floors are in, kids can add lights, sound, and even motion to their architectural marvels. They can play interior decorator, too, by adding their own furnishings and decor (not included). Purchase: SmartLab Archi-TECH Electronic Smart House, $49.99 on Amazon
Make one-of-a-kind potholders The classic potholder loom is a simple but efficient square tool that teaches basic weaving techniques: Simply stretch fabric loops over the pegs to create eye-catching designs. This kit, for children 6 and older, features a high-quality metal loom with smartly designed angled pegs that prevent loops from slipping off. In addition to a selection of 100% cotton loops in vibrant colors—enough to make six potholders—you also get a long metal hook for weaving and a plastic hook for finishing. Browse the illustrated instructions for inspiration. The loom is available in a 7- or 10-inch size. Purchase: 7-Inch Potholder Loom Deluxe, $29.95 on Harrisville Designs
Fold-and-fly planes Making paper airplanes, whether simple or highly complex, isn’t just a fun activity; it encourages creativity, challenging kids of all ages to unlock the potential of a single sheet of paper. This kit comes with enough properly weighted paper, complete with dotted guides for folding, to make 100 kinds of aircraft, from spaceships to stunt planes. All fly far and fast, with some even spinning or boomeranging. Kids also get heaps of stickers to customize their creations as well as strong rubber bands to send them soaring. Purchase: Paper Airplane Kit, $16.18 on Amazon
Animate drawings Introduce your child to the technical side of animations with a flip book kit, which encourages them to explore their drawing, narrative, and construction skills. This kit, recommended for kids ages 6 and up, comes with materials needed to draw and assemble flip books using a little help from technology. Included are 480 sheets of translucent yet durable paper with pre-punched holes, and four dozen posts to stick through them for assembly. You also get six pencils in different grades and two sharpeners. But the highlight is the light pad, which kids can use to trace designs while gradually changing details as they move from page to page. The light pad comes with three brightness settings. Purchase: IttyBitty Flip Book Kit, $28.97 on Amazon
Have fun with fingerpainting This kit provides young ones ages 3 and up with a highly tactile painting experience, encouraging experimentation with many techniques. The set comes with one easy-grip brush, a foam roller, two stencils with three cut-outs each, and two raised stamps to yield clearly defined images. You also get six paint pots in mixable, highly pigmented colors that are easy to spread with tools or hands (and wash out of skin easily with soap and water). To assuage the adults in the room, this workshop-in-a-box also comes with a spill-resistant palette, a table protector, and an apron. Just add your own painting surface. Purchase: Pebeo Tactilcolor Super Activity Set, $47 on Blick
Weave a keepsake basket Your child can build dexterity and create something useful in the process with this basket-making kit, suitable for ages 5 and up. The relatively simple process involves wrapping brightly colored raffia around a template; like a true basket, no glue is required, making this a mess-free project. The kit includes materials for four baskets, perfect for a playdate or a child who enjoys solo crafting. Purchase: Baker Ross Basket Weaving Kit, $10.95 on Amazon
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