List of essential art and craft supplies for kids (plus Chinese translation)

We’re living in China, this is a list of art and craft stuff I like to keep stocked for my son. Hope it’s useful.

Pencils 铅笔 qiān bǐ
Coloured pencils 彩色铅笔 cǎi sè qiān bǐ
Pencil sharpener 转笔刀 zhuàn bǐ dāo
Eraser 橡皮 xiàng pí
Crayons 蜡笔 là bǐ
Felt tips 水彩笔 shuǐ cǎi bǐ
Oil pastels 油画棒 yóu huà bàng
Poster paints 水粉颜料 shuǐ fěn yán liào
Scissors 剪刀 jiǎn dāo
Fur balls 毛球 máo qiú
Pipe cleaners 毛铁丝 máo tiě sī
Craft foam 泡沫纸 pào mò zhǐ
Crêpe paper 皱纹纸 zhòu wén zhǐ (the thicker, textured tissue paper, tissue paper coated with sizing)
Tissue paper 彩色薄页纸 cǎi sè báo yè zhǐ (the regular smooth, thin stuff)
Corrugated paper 瓦楞纸 wǎ léng zhǐ
Coloured card 彩色硬卡纸 cǎi sè yìng kǎ zhǐ
Coloured A4 paper A4彩色纸 cǎi sè zhǐ (also known as 手工纸)
Pipe cleaners 毛根扭扭棒 máo gēn niǔ niǔ bàng
Sticky back plastic (= transparent contact paper) 自粘书皮 (”self-sticking book cover”)
Cellophane (= translucent coloured plastic paper) (手工透明彩色)玻璃纸

Double-sided tape 双面胶带 shuāng miàn jiāo dài
Masking tape 美纹纸胶带 měi wén zhǐ jiāo dài (also known as 装饰胶带,建筑胶带 or 胶带纸)

Glue sticks (Pritt stick) 胶棒 jiāo bàng
PVA (Polyvinyl acetate) glue (white glue used in woodwork and construction) (聚乙烯醇)PVA 胶水
White glue (watered down PVA glue) 白乳胶 bái rǔ jiāo

toilet roll tubes 卫生纸卷筒 wèi shēng zhǐ juàn tǒng
empty plastic mineral water bottle 矿泉水的空塑料瓶 kuàng quán shuǐ de kōng sù liào píng

linoleum (for linocut) 麻胶板 má jiāo bǎn (this is the real deal, but there are very few sellers in China, it’s imported from Europe and expensive, below are some alternatives)
linoleum (for linocut)  版画胶板 bǎn huà jiāo bǎn (also called 橡皮章 or 橡皮砖. I have not been able to get the brown lino with string backing they use in the UK, in China they have ‘rubber boards’ for kids, basically massive erasers)
linoleum (for linocut)  吹塑纸 chuī sù zhǐ (another alternative, suitable for even younger children, are these thick sheets of soft polystyrene)
tools (for linocuts, woodblock prints)


All ages = Felt Tips
水彩笔 shuǐ cǎi bǐ
These are great because they allow the kids to have easy control of line, and can also fill in colours. Now there are these really lovely alcohol-based pens (look up 双头油性酒精马克笔 on Taobao, or even the English brand name Touch Mark) that have amazingly vibrant colours, and can even be blended if you get the right paper.

Kindergarten/Nursery School = Crayons 蜡笔 là bǐ
Unless you’re doing the wax resist/watercolour thing, better to avoid giving crayons to older kids – not because they won’t want to use them, but because it is so difficult to draw details with crayons they will fall into a sloppy, half-hearted drawing.

9 years old/4th grade/Year 5 = Watercolours, Pencils
Watercolours can be a very frustrating medium for children eight or younger: You cannot correct mistakes, their opacity and flow varies greatly when you add water, they find it very hard to paint details. Regular pencils are good for any age, but if you follow the Mona Brookes textbooks where you don’t want kids to be able to erase what they’ve already done, they have to be of an age where they have the self control not to do that.

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