DIY Art Journal & Best Art Gifts for Kids

A couple of weeks ago my girls attended a birthday party for one of their friends who loved art. I had a big bag of art supplies wrapped up and ready to go as a gift when I realized that I did not have a watercolor pad in there or anything she could use her new supplies on! So my daughter Lila and I made this art journal for her:


It was very simple to do. First I cut several sheets of 9″x12″ watercolor paper in half (9″x6″) then I found some chipboard that came on the back of a paper stack and cut it to 2-9″x6″ pieces. Lila chose paper to adhere to the covers. I punched the paper and covers with my bookbinding machine and inserted comb binding. You can do this with a bookbinding machine (tutorial here) or a heavy duty paper punch like a Crop-a-Dial (tutorial here). You can also use binder rings,2 would be plenty for a 6″ span. I used only watercolor paper because it went with the gift I was giving but you could use drawing paper, charcoal paper, bristol board, cardstock or even typing paper, mix it up!

So you might be wondering what I put in the gift bag for art supplies…OK here is my top 10 list of art products for kids (most aren’t even that messy!) And no, I did not fit all of these in a bag, it was an assortment of Blendy pens/paints and paintastics for an 8 year old.

  1. Blendy Pens, man these are cool! They are like Copics for kids. You can touch the tips of the pens together then color with one of the markers and you get a cool gradient of color. It’s awesome! And they come with papers with resist designs on them so you color and a pattern appears under the color. I have bought my own children many sets of blendy pens and they are a hit every time. It even comes with a bulb atomizer (airbrush) so you can spray apply the marker. I recommend getting them at ACmoore with a coupon.
  2. I love the Color Loco Brand so much I have to add Blendy Paints and Blendy pencils, Dotsa and Spraza to the list. Just plain fun and lots of juicy colors. You might want a set for your grown up art box too!
  3. Elmers Paintasticks. These are a paintbrush filled with liquid watercolor. They come in a variety of kits but if you can get a big pack of the colors I highly recommend it. I like this product for stampers too because after the paint is gone you can refill it with paint or ink OR with water for a waterbrush. They are low mess but still real watercolor paint. Again, this is a product I have purchased my my kids (and refilled!)
  4. Again from Elmers I like the Squeeze and Brush paints for preschoolers. My kids loved these from ages 2-5. And you can clean out the brush and refill it with tempera paint when it is used up. There is no waste. It can be messy but hey, with a toddler everything is messy.
  5. A rugged Easel. I bought my son a wooden easel with canvas bins at the bottom when he was 4. It had a roll of paper you could pull out and draw on. He loved it! It had a chalk board on one side and dry erase on the other. My kids still use the dry erase board every day, they write on it, draw, play games, it is so funny! A great investment. I paid about $30 for it at ACmoore because I used a coupon. I see these quite often at resale and thrift shops too.
  6. Play-doh. My kids are 7 & 9 and they still love it. They even like to make it.
  7. Sculpey 3 polymer clay. I like sculpey 3 because it is soft and easy for kids to mold. You can use any of those old play doh molds and cookie cutters on it too. I say ages 5 and up with supervision and the adult does the baking.
  8. Any of the Made by Me craft kits available at Wal-Mart. Typically I avoid Wal-Mart at all costs but for those times when you need groceries, baseball cleats and a birthday gift and you only have 45 minutes to shop it is a godsend. The made by me kids have all you need to complete the craft and they are well done. I really like the bead loom (ages 9 and up…I say 9 and up cuz I like to play with it too!) or the pony bead key chains (6 and up) as my favorite.
  9. A stash of basic supplies. Want to see joy on a kids face? Fill a bag with glitter, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, google eyes, fun foam stickers, colored paper, buttons, yarn, rhinestone, and glitter (did I say glitter twice…good!) Oh and the brighter the better!
  10. This might be a little beyond the basic birthday gift but I bought my daughter Lila this easel last year for her birthday: 417717It is oak, very well made and had drawers inside it to hold all of her paints and bushes and it comes with a full set of watercolors, oils, acrylics and oil pastels. I retails for $150 but Artist Supply warehouse usually has it on sale for around $50 and that is what I paid for it. It folds up easily because it sits on a table and hose no legs to deal with like the typical French easels. It is a great pic for a serious child art prodigy… 🙂 (No, I am not THAT mom) It is really a  great kit, just make sure the kids knows not to eat paint, this is really not a childs kit but I think any “artsy” kid would love it.

Well, there you have it, my pics for the best crafty gifts for kids. I’m sure any budding artist on your list would love any of them. Have a great Sunday and til next time happy crafting!


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