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 most families, I’ve only included what my kids and I use most frequently.
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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”. In a future post, I’ll explain how we organize and store our school and art supplies.
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
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
- 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).
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
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!
- Cutters for adult use only – this is what I use for our recycled cardboard crafts
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!
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.
9. Rulers and stencils
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:
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
- Oil pastels: Pentel
- Paint brush set: Monte Marte Art
- Sponge brush: Royal
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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