Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Favourite School Supplies

The best thing about going back to school is stocking up on supplies.  Everything is on sale!

I get several requests for advice on supplies.  Now I am no expert and this post is not sponsored by any supplier.  It's just what I find works for me.

I work with thousands of kids every year and I'm always trying to balance quality, durability, and cost.  In my residencies I bring all the supplies with me so they have to perform.

This week we'll talk general week I'll show you my favourite art supplies.


Most of you know my favourite glue is Aleene's Tacky glue.  If you haven't used it you are missing out.  It's thick and sets up fast.  Cost wise it's slightly higher than regular white glue.
It can be hard to squeeze, I call it muscle glue, "Kids we gotta use our muscles"
It's easy to lose the cap so I always take off the caps ahead of time and store in a little cup.  During clean-up   one of my helpers will collect and re cap the glues.

I use regular white school glue when pasting paper to paper.  I loathe glue sticks as they just don't stick but I have had some success with Elmer's Xtreme glue stick.  I buy a class set of white glue containers (I like Elmer's) to start the year and then re-fill.  In my area the best glue to refill with is Scholar's Choice. I buy the big 4 litre and also use it to make my papier mache mix.

I also stock up on Elmer's Clear glue but not for pasting just for batik.

Adding Colour:

There are lots of ways to add colour.

These are some of my favourite Crayola products.

I love their oil pastels.  They are chunky and don't break like other pastels.  Schools can order mega packs which have extra black and white.

I also like the washable markers.  You can paint water over top of them and get some great effects.
The best crayons for me are the twistables.  You will lose some from kids twisting them all the way up but they are still worth it. It's a happy day when we get to use the twistables. (even grade 5/6 like them)

Pencil crayons or coloured pencils are usually on every one's list.

The best are Prismacolour.  There are different types but the Scholar does fine.  They are soft and creamy.  They blend wonderfully.

But.....they are expensive. (Walmart carries a great set, 48 of them on sale for about $19.99)
They are also not that durable because they are soft.

I use them personally and I buy them for my kids but I can't afford class sets of them at school.

I also tried out these woodless ones. (Koh I Noor Hardtmuth)
They are also  expensive. They are not as creamy as prismacolour. They last forever though as it's solid colour.  Easy to sharpen.  I thought they were quite durable until my son broke one of mine by colouring really hard.

However he did not break any from his set at school and everyone always wanted to borrow them.

Pencil Sharpener's

With those nice pencil crayons you need an awesome sharpener.

Forget the electric it eats all that wonderful colour.  I love Staedtler.  In fact I bought a bunch of them for this year for my pencil caddies.

See that little will last about 3 seconds at school.

But you don't need it so don't let that stop you.

I also love this Faber Castell Trio beauty.  But they are hard to find.

Why are these sharpeners so good?

They give you that very fine point for drawing without having to use a razor blade. (definitely not school friendly)

My favourite pencils are Staedtler as well. They have white erasers on the end and come pre-sharpened!!


My absolutely favourite erasers are the Ecure Maped.  They come in an oval or triangular shape. I buy lots and put my name on them as they tend to grow legs.

The Staedtler is my second favourite.
I do not like pink...and those funky shaped erasers are terrible.
I do not use kneadable erasers at school.


You probably know I love sharpies.

I buy them by the box constantly throughout the year.

I use the Sharpie pen for writing.

For art I use the fine and the ultra fine.
Here's a tip:  Sharpies often get dust on them and stop working.  At school I hand out small pieces of scrap paper when we use sharpies. Kids draw on the paper to get them working again. Don't throw them out too early.
In my own artwork I use Faber Castell PITT pens.  They are permanent, waterproof, and lightfast. I use the white one constantly. It works on almost any surface so I use it a lot to put my name on supplies that are dark. I just wish they made the white in different sizes though. :(

One final tip about supplies.  Last year I flagged all my sharpies to see if this would help.

Lots of kids have their own sharpies these days and I needed to distinguish mine. I used red duct tape and it worked like a charm. Make sure you put it on the middle though.  I first put it on the end and you could not put the cap there.

I hope that helps.  I'm going to try an include an art tip every week if I can.



  1. Wonderful tips, from "the voice of experience"'. As a quilter, I needed erasable colored pencils to use with my little Rhodia graph paper pads. Crayola makes a set that serves my purposes. Limited colors (24) but they really do erase easily. Looking for 60 degree graph paper with exact 1/4" spaces. Used to design so many quilts, but can no longer find it.

  2. I've been wondering which watercolors you use. You have those lovely big sets. Are they opaque? would you mind sharing? I'm trying to get away from crayola,they go so fast.

  3. Hi Claudia,
    Next week I'm doing a post on paint and paper supplies. I'll go into all the ins and outs of disk tempera paint.
    Stay tuned.

  4. If anyone is buying Prismacolor pencils, I recommend Michaels. When they are regular price, you can use a 40% coupon (I get one coupon almost every week in an email). Don't remember the price though, it's been awhile, but I wouldn't use any colored pencils for a nice art project unless they were nice like Pris. brand, the quality of them can't be beat.

  5. Thanks for sharing these great tips!