I’ve got kids that easily go through a roll of craft paper for the easel every week. Pastels, paints, crayons, markers – you name it, they’ve crafted with it. Finding simple things that work for us, and create as little mess as possible has helped to take the stress out of craft time.
Bad idea: buying the acrylic paint from the Dollar store, though you might be enticed by the rainbow of colors. It doesn’t come off of clothes, and it’s got to be scrubbed off of skin.
Good idea: buying paint pucks and a tray from Deserre’s and sticking it on a $20 aisle from Ikea, with just enough room to hold two paint trays filled with pucks. The water based paint comes off of skin easily, isn’t staining and allows the kids to mix (and mix, and mix, and mix) the colors inside of the tray. Clean up is simple and you would be surprised just how mess-free it is.
We just replaced a six puck tray that we’ve had for over a year – and we ran out of paint. For the fifteen bucks or so that the tray + six paints costs, it provided a lot of entertainment.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive easel that’s going to stand up to wear, provide adequate storage space and not be a complete eye sore in your home, we like the Ikea Mala easel. It’s $20, it’s durable and has a dry erase, and chalk side. You can also get inexpensive rolls of paper (around five bucks) from Ikea.