How we store and rotate our children’s art supplies

I thought I would share how we store and rotate our children’s art supplies at this point. Like all children’s spaces they change and evolve over time.

Downstairs (in our main living area);


children art shelf

childrens art shelf drawing
Eraser, pencil sharpener, paste, twine, soy crayons, little coloured pencils (we were given a box of these a few days ago) and some paper shape cutters. If you are not comfortable with the idea of storing art supplies in glass you could use wooden trays, baskets, small metal buckets or enamel, stainless steel or ceramic pottery drinking cups for example.
paints and modelling tools art shelf
Paints, playdough and modelling tools. We rotate between playdough and clay.

Recycled items/non recyclable art; Even though we have been trying to reduce our waste in the home, we still have cardboard or paper packaging items that my children have access to any time they like for art or play. You may have noticed the lack of ‘typical craft supplies’ on our art shelves such as sequins, glitter etc. We have used them in the past and on occasion receive these type of craft supplies as gifts, however I made the conscious decision to not personally buy these and prefer to use more natural items such as leaves, flowers, sticks etc instead. It’s rather difficult to keep waste (non recyclable plastic items) to a minimum when it comes to children’s art supplies but we just do our best.

Art table.jpg
This is a second-hand coffee table that has become one of those ‘use for everything tables’…from eating, to art, to boards games, card games and puzzles. There are some floor cushions underneath for extra comfort. There was a rug underneath this table but it is now being used in my children’s play space. A rug could be used though, instead of floor cushions.
storage of art supplies
Excuse the grainy photo. This storage space is right next to the art trolley which holds the extra bits and pieces that are in rotation but can still be used any time.


desk at 5.5 years
On my daughter’s desk she has a simple art caddy for holding her coloured pencils (Lyra), some lead pencils for writing, pens, scissors, glue stick, eraser and pencil sharpener as well as a mindfulness colouring book.

Outside; Outside we have a free standing art easel which always has large paper, some paint pots (cups) with primary colours and some paintbrushes (one in each cup) and there is an enamel bucket with some large sidewalk chalk.

Displaying/storing art; My children choose to display their art either on the fridge in the kitchen, in some of our wooden photo frames that are currently on their play shelves or they paste them into their art/scrap books kept downstairs or if they are working upstairs, then into one of their keepsakes baskets (they each have one) in the study under my daughter’s desk.

‘I also keep a basket of ‘rainy day art/sewing‘ items in our upstairs linen cupboard which is really bits and pieces, some items we have been gifted and some DIY ideas.

underdesk keepsake storage
Under my daughter’s desk upstairs, we keep these storage baskets for my children (one each) to put their keepsakes in.  My son has been keeping his sewing work in his basket at the moment and my daughter has her home-made books and drawings in hers.

Some Tips;

  • accessible art supplies. When my children were very little they just started with coloured pencils, crayons and paper and over time I added paints and other art supplies.
  • have out favourites and store the rest for rotation
  • For younger children or introducing something new, I would display in a basket or a tray which helps to isolate the skill being learnt and keeps everything a child may need in the one place. In a Montessori toddler and preschool environment, art is stored mostly on trays on open shelves and is displayed simply and attractively. If you look back at my Montessori NIDO classroom series you can see how some art trays are displayed.
  • Children often want to be where you are. Our art space is located in the main living area where we all spend the most of our time.
  • Freedom to work inside or outside where possible…or if you don’t have any outdoor art space, take art with you when out and about. I always take a pencil case, clipboards and paper with us when travelling.

Our Top 5 most used art supplies, in order of most used at the moment;

  1. Coloured pencils
  2. Paints
  3. Playdough with modelling tools.
  4. scissors and glue (cutting and pasting anything and everything)
  5. Coloured markers

Ideas for first art trays for younger children (18 months-3 years)

  1. Drawing- a few coloured pencils or crayons with a small piece of paper
  2. Pasting– liquid glue paste, small paintbrush and some pre-cut out basic shapes (circle, square, triangle)
  3. Scissor cutting– small pair of scissors and some basic cutting strips…cutting in a straight line. Here is one of the scissor cutting posts I wrote.
  4. Painting– liquid watercolours exploring one colour at a time.
  5. Playdough– just explore with the playdough by itself first, then maybe add a cookie cutter or a small rolling pin.
  6. Hole punch– A hold punch and small piece of paper. You can see our shape hole punches (butterfly and heart) in the above pictures. Both of my children learnt to use these under 3 years of age.
  7. Leaf rubbing– large leaf, crayon and paper.

Edited April 9th 2018

Latest on our updated art space– (for a 4 and 6 year old)


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