Favorite School and Art Supplies for Bilingual Kids
Many have you have asked for a must-have list of school and art supplies, and I’ve finally put the list together! Although we probably have more craft materials than the typical family, this list includes what my kids and I use most frequently.
Related: Bilingual English / Chinese Labels for School Supplies + DIY Storage Cans
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Must-Have School and Art Supplies for Bilingual Kids
This list of favorite school and art supplies is written with bilingual and multilingual families in mind. I’ll highlight the star materials that we can’t live without for language and general learning.
Note: You can conveniently find these materials in my Amazon Store under “Arts and Crafts”.
See how we store them in this post: Kids Art Cart, Storage System, and Organization Tips
In addition to scrap paper and recycled cardboard, here’s the general checklist of school and art supplies.
- Graphite pencils and erasers
- Colored pencils and chalk
- Pens and markers
- Scissors and cutters
- Dot stickers and Post-It Notes
- Rulers and stencils
- Water calligraphy, paint, and paint brushes
Please scroll down for product photos and shopping links!
1. Graphite pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener
My 6-year-old daughter uses pencils everyday for copywork and making handmade cards, while my 3-year-old scribbles and draws lines/circles.
For little hands, you want short, triangular pencils which promote a tripod grasp and are easier to hold.
Older kids and adults may benefit from pencil grips for more ergonomic, comfortable handwriting.
- Graphite pencils
- Toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners: Lyra Ferby short tri-grip pencils
- Older kids/adults: Ticonderoga #2 pencils
- Pencil grip: The Original Pencil Grip
- Best eraser (according to my engineer father!): Staedtler Mars Plastic
- Pencil sharpener
2. Colored pencils and chalk
Compared to markers, pencils have the benefits of being more tactile and detailed with results dependent on the pressure (eg, dark versus light) and approach (stippling versus smooth strokes).
Since my kids are 3 and 6, we have pencils that are ergonomic for little hands.
Chalk also has the benefit of proprioceptive feedback. The kids can also be active playing outside while exploring drawing and writing.
We have fun with sidewalk chalk activities like hopscotch to review Chinese characters!
- Toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners: Lyra triangular coloring pencils
- Older kids/adults: Prang groove triangular coloring pencils
- Outdoor use: Crayola sidewalk chalk
When my kids are older, I’d love to get a set of Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, the standard colored pencils for artists! My teenage nephews regularly use Prismacolor colored pencils for their sketches!
3. Pens and markers
Although my kids rarely use pens and Sharpie markers, I use them everyday to write notes to my kids.
In order for words to stand out and create a legible, print-rich environment, I recommend black pens and black Sharpie makers against a white or light-colored sheet of paper.
- Pens: Pentel EnerGel
- Highlighters: Sharpie
- Permanent marker: Sharpie (black, assorted colors)
- Dry erase markers: Expo, AmazonBasics
For kids in the pre-writing stage, highlighters are fun and fantastic for tracing over adult handwriting.
Other dry erase markers on our beloved easel, I don’t have a favorite set of markers to recommend as they all tend to dry out in our experience.
For the reasons mentioned above, I generally try to encourage my kids to use pencils rather than markers. Older kids also tend to outgrow markers; my 3 teenage nephews stopped using them during elementary school in favor of pencil and other mediums for drawing!
4. Scissors and cutters
The opening and closing motion of cutting with scissors helps strengthen fine motor skills for cutting. Both of my children began learning to cut with scrap paper and playdough before cutting precisely on lines. Parents magazine has more tips on improving scissor skills.
Below, I’ve listed my favorite scissors for all ages. We also received a set of edger scissors which are not necessary but my daughter loves them!
- For toddlers/preschoolers: Wescott or Stanley Guppy
- For older kids: Fiskars
- For teenagers/adults: AmazonBasics
- Edger scissors for fun: School Smart or ECR4Kids
- Cutters for adult use only – this is what I use for our recycled cardboard crafts
- Paper trimmer: Fiskars
- Craft knife: X-acto #2 knife
- Box cutter: FC folding pocket utility knife
Most of you probably already have transparent tape at home. We also often use painter’s tape as a safe and easy way to hang up projects (like this Christmas snowman countdown) and do tape-resist word art!
- Transparent tape: single-sided and double-sided
- Painter’s tape: Scotch
Glue is also something you probably have at home. It’s also convenient to create tactile words like this chalk eggs glue resist activity or teaching moon phases with glue resist.
We also prefer tacky glue over hot glue gun for cardboard projects. Tacky glue is thin and seems to have similar stickiness without the extra mess or danger of a hot glue gun around a toddler.
Because kids can easily waste paper, I recommend using scrap paper and cardboard as often as possible. Cereal and snack boxes are the easiest to cut, and we also regularly upcycle shoe boxes (like for this diorama) and larger packages.
For printable bilingual activities from my website and general use, I recommend the following brands:
- White printer paper: AmazonBasics
- Colored paper: Astrobrights
- Cardstock: Astrobrights
- Construction paper: Pacon
- Paint pad: Fold-over or wire-bound (scroll down to number 10 for recommended paint)
8. Dot stickers and Post-It Notes
If you’re going to get anything on this list for language learning, dot stickers and Post-It Notes should be in your cart.
With a black Sharpie marker and dot stickers, I can quickly set up fun sticker activities to help with memorizing Chinese characters. While we have used stickers for Korean learning activities, we actually have not done them for our dominant language, English.
With Post-It Notes, I can quickly label objects around the house, highlight new words in Chinese books, or write reminders to myself.
- Dot stickers: Avery 0.75″, Garage Sale Pups 1″
- Post-It Notes: Super-Sticky Canary Yellow
9. Rulers and stencils
- For younger kids: Learning Resources
- For older kids/adults: Westcott, Helix
Because many parents are worried about paint being too messy for home use, I’ve listed painting options last.
Paint won’t be used as regularly as the above school and art supplies. However, they can make reading, writing, and speaking the minority language more interesting and memorable!
In addition to the aformentioned stickers and Post-It notes, our water calligraphy mat, brush pens, and puffy paint are our special writing materials.
Of course, these can be used with any language, but we try to reserve for Chinese or Korean. The goal is for minority languages to be associated with unique experiences whenever possible.
- Water calligraphy: Water writing cloth set (see full Chinese calligraphy review and videos here)
- Watercolor brush pens: Arteza
- Puffy paint: Tulip (see examples and tips for creating tactile Chinese and Korean words here as an inexpensive alternative to Montessori sandpaper cards)
For mess-free painting:
- Tempera paint sticks: Ooly or The Pencil Grip Kwik Stix
And for parents who are more comfortable with exploring art at home, here are our favorite paint media.
- Watercolor paint: Crafts 4 All
- Acrylic paint: Apple Barrel or Craft Smart
- Oil pastels: Pentel
- Paint brush set: Monte Marte Art
- Sponge brush: Royal
Organized craft supplies in kids art cart
For tips on encouraging art at home, read about our kids art cart and organization tips!
What are your favorite school and art supplies?
In your home, what school and art supplies do you and your children use most frequently?
Do you have craft materials openly accessible or do you store them in a cabinet?
I’d also love to hear which CHALK Academy activities or resources have been most helpful for your family.
Please share in the comments below!
More bilingual and multilingual home learning tips
- Fun & Educational Chinese Activities – A How-To Guide
- Homework Routine: 6 Tips for Survival and Success
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- Homeschool Tour: Mid-Century Modern Meets Montessori
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1. I love any kind of colored pen or marker!
2. right now my almost 2 year old loves dot stickers or any other kind of stickers! also crayons
My Favorite supply are dot stickers and Dot marker which can be used to create so many teacher materials for my kids!
One of the favourite CHALK resources which has been really useful for my boy is the Teach Days and Months with Calendar Wheels!
Thank you for the giveaway!
I would be grateful if I can win this! My 4yo is really into paint and puffy paints will be a great asset for us. I love your documentation of how you play and learn with your kids. Many ideas have been adapted and used to engage my firstborn. I’ve also printed many resources from your site to teach him at home. Thank you for such great sharing, Betty!
My kids are active and creative type these gifts they love so much💖💖
My kiddos love markers! They like to practice writing with all of the colors. Fav Chinese learning is tic tac toe in Chinese characters.
My daughter loves all kinds of art. Her favorite are colored markers; when she was young, she used to draw everywhere! My wife covered the walls with book plastic cover. Now, we’ve provided lots of writing books and papers for her to draw on. She would love love these art supplies! We hope we win! We’ve done the puffy paint on zhuyin but used glue. The idea of using colored paint would be great for my tactile kids. They’d love to help “write” the words down. We’ll do this as soon as we get a set of these puffy paints. Thank you so much for the great ideas! We’re still super amazed how you juggle work and all these!
Oooh! I remember our weekly maopi (Chinese calligraphy). The teachers even give us multiple sheets to do on long breaks.
I love collecting sticky notes for some reason, and I hated to waste them. But now with kids, I use them a lot. We love the idea of labeling the house with sticky notes! They’ll even help me stick them to the right places.
1. It’s gotta be stickers as they’re versatile, easy to bring along with us everywhere and mess-free.
2. My child really enjoys colouring the Christmas printables. I’m learning new words in Chinese along with her like snowflakes and snowman. Somehow I have never heard them despite years of Chinese classes. We plan to download more printables soon.
1) My two kids love water colour the most. I think the ability to create a “gradient” by thinning the colour is one of the most exciting part of using water colour. On the go, they are usually very happy with markers and colour pencils.
2) Surprisingly, our most favourite learning activity that I learned from your blog is labelling almost everything at home with post it (chinese characters). It has helped my elder child learn chinese in a fun way and she pick up copying by observing me writing the characters. Thanks for sharing this tips! 🙂
We use crayons the most but my daughter loves colored pencils and sidewalk chalk!
We love using the sticker dots for Chinese character recognition. Two things my daughter loves- dots and stickers = very fun Chinese character lesson
1) they love the paint sticks and watercolors. Pencil grip is still not there and therefore not into pencil and crayons more into painting.
2) they love sticker activities so they love activities like your pumpkin pie etc. still in the process of word recognition.
I love using play dough to shape characters. It is learning that doesn’t feel like work.
I also love the audiobook links CHALK academy provided for Chinese audiobooks.
We really like the water calligraphy set. I have it set out for the kids to use whenever they wish. I also let them choose what characters to practice.
Our favourite CHALK activity is still tic-tac-toe with Chinese characters we’re learning. Both my 5 and 7-year olds play with one another too.
We love dot colors paint. I used it to stamp on recycled materials, write words on top and then write the same words on circle for stickers for my #1 to match.
Crayons and washable markers! They are stored separately in plastic box for easy access. We also love ink pad for finger print art but it gets messy without adult supervision.
Our house is currently all about the crayon.
I first saw your blog because of the printable calendar (although we haven’t tried it yet!)
Oooh! This is great!
Recent favorite is solid tempera stick paint! They’re like glue sticks but paint and they’re so vibrant and easy to use.
Our favorite CHALK activity is covering dot math grids with dot stickers and writing the correct numbers in!
have to be Maped Helix and oxford. They make good quality stuffs.
1. Big chalk that we can use to write on the road. Makes learning more fun
2. Water calligraphy set for children practising writing