Purchasing and managing art supplies is a huge aspect of an art teacher’s job.
There’s nothing more exciting than unboxing a fresh package of art materials and imagining all of the ways that your students can use them to create, but it can be tricky to know what’s essential to buy, what to purchase later on and where to buy materials to fit your budget.
Here is a list of basic supplies that will set you up for teaching a wide variety of lessons:
Classpacks versus single packs
Most essential drawing and painting supplies can be purchased in large class sets. For example, Amazon carries a large box of Crayola markers with 256 markers, 16 markers each in 16 different colors. This box can be separated into table caddies of warm and cool colors for students to use during class.
Let’s talk about the MOST essential art room material: Paper!
There are so many types to choose from, but you don’t need them all. When just starting out, don’t feel like you need several types of paper for your lessons. Sulphite paper is a multi-use 76-80 lb heavyweight construction paper (very different from craft construction paper, that can be used for drawing and painting supplies). Sulphite paper comes in reams if assorted colorful paper and reams of solid colors. It’s great to have packs of assorted and also packs of white paper.
Watercolor paper is great to have for pan and liquid watercolor if possible.
Click to download a full checklist or recommended art supply brands for essential and extra materials.
Need more help in understanding what an art material can do?
Experimenting with art supplies is our favorite thing to do, so to dive a bit deeper on how to use materials in your art room, check out our art teacher courses Creative Juices and Wild for Watercolor to learn how to teach art techniques to children using magical and engaging techniques and simple materials.
Where to Order Materials
Speak with your administration about your school’s process for ordering materials because each school has a different procedure and sometimes districts have preferred vendors.
Online retailers that are popular with art teachers are Amazon, Discount School Supply, Sax/School Specialty, Nasco and Blick. Many teachers like to purchase from multiple vendors. If you live outside of the United States, you still have plenty of options to choose from. Here is a list of art supplies in other countries.
For small budgets, there are so many ways to provide high quality art experiences for students without breaking the bank.
– Use computer paper for practice scrap paper and basic drawings in class if your access to sulphite paper is limited.
– Create a list of classroom sulphite donation requests and share it with friends, family, and other teachers in your school. Don’t be afraid to be specific. Many items that are commonly tossed into the recycling bin are essential for the art room. Things like take out containers and yogurt cups are great for storing materials and old books and magazines make excellent collage materials. Having a list will also help you avoid having boxes of unwanted, unusable materials dropped off at your classroom door.
– Create a Donor’s Choose project to fundraise for classroom materials. Even if you have the essential materials, a Donors Choose project is a great way to acquire large pieces of equipment such as a pottery wheel or kiln, or to stock your supply of adaptive art supplies to support your learners with disabilities.
– Ask your local newspaper if they have end paper newsprint rolls to purchase. Often large rolls of newsprint are available for just a few dollars and can be used in a variety of ways including for drawing projects, paper mache, and covering classroom tables.
Now that you have your new and new-to-you supplies, be protective of them!
The art classroom is often a hub of the school and it’s not uncommon for other teachers to ask to borrow materials. Sharing materials is always kind but with often limited budgets, it’s not a bad idea to keep track of what is loaned out if you choose to do so.
If you’d like to loan materials, make a shared cabinet with a sign our sheet and be sure to only loan out materials that you can afford to lose. Feel empowered to decline loaning out supplies all together if that makes you more comfortable.
While it’s common in secondary classrooms for students to provide their own art supplies, at the elementary level it’s best to avoid students mixing their own supplies with community supplies. This can cause classroom supplies to be mixed into personal art kits and go missing.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what to purchase, how do you organize it and set up your classroom procedures so that materials are used with care? We’ve got just the resource for you. The Ultimate Guide for New Art Teachers covers it all!
The guide is designed to help you manage your classroom and everything in it with ease. Whether you have a brand new art classroom to stock or are returning to an art room that needs some organizational love, this guidebook gives you a plan for everything.
Here are some things that you’ll find in our Ultimate Guidebook for New Art Teachers:
We are thrilled to have you with us and can’t wait to support you in making this year your best one yet.
The Sparklers’ Club is filled with curriculum materials, lesson plans, and resources to keep you not only organized but full of inspiration and ideas. Sign up to join the waitlist for The Sparklers’ Club to be notified about our next enrollment.
What are your tried and true art materials that are a staple of your classroom? Let us know below!
– Patty and the DSS Creative Team