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I love watercolors. They’re simple to use and they allow students to focus on painting without have to spend time mixing colors. (Have you ever had a student spend 15 minutes mixing one color only to have to clean up as soon as she is ready to use it?). I also use tempera and acrylic paints with younger students, but I often wait until a little later in the year when routines are established and they can manage getting, using, sharing, cleaning and returning more supplies.

Because students usually use watercolors without mixing colors (although you can also mix them!), I like to give them a variety of colors. A few years ago, I bought some new sets of Crayola Watercolors, 16 Color Set. The one thing I don’t like about this set is that the pans are not refillable. (The Crayola Watercolors, 16 Brilliant Colors Set is, but it’s almost twice as much and doesn’t have a clear cover, so you can’t see the colors until you open it.) Luckily I had a bunch of extra single-strip plastic watercolor strips. After a using the sets for a year, a lot of colors were empty, so I replaced the non-refillable strips with refillable ones. I also ordered Crayola Watercolor Refills and Prang Watercolor Refills to replace colors as they get used up. (Because certain colors are more popular than others and run out more quickly.)

In order to keep all of my refills organized, I sort them into an old marker box. (I love marker boxes and use them for so many different things.) This way I can see when a color is running low and when I need to order more refills.

Because watercolors are so popular, I try to clean the containers every few months to keep the trays clean and the colors fresh. Here’s what I do:

  1. Take out the plastic strips.
  2. Wash the watercolor containers.
  3. Set the containers in the drying rack to dry.
  4. Replace the plastic strips.
  5. If the strips are really dirty and I’m feeling ambitions, I’ll pop out all of the tiny refill pans, wash the plastic strips and then refill the colors (and replace the ones that have run out).

What are your favorite supplies? What creative solutions do you have for managing supplies and minimizing costs?

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It’s that time of year again: new art supplies have arrived! This year I am trying a few new things and ordered some new materials including new construction paper colors, metallic markers and colored pencils, metal rulers, and mask forms.

I am lucky to have a student teacher this year and grateful that she offered to come in a few days early to help me set up. She took inventory and put all of these new goodies away.

Stay tuned to see how students use these new supplies in the art room!

New art supplies have arrived! I usually start the year with a bunch of collage projects, so I’m really excited about all of this colored construction paper. When I did my School Specialty order this year, I discovered that you can order a free swatch book that gives you the name of each color of Tru-Ray paper and a little sample of what the paper looks like. It also tells you what sizes each color comes in and which colors come in different “assorted” packages. I love having many different colors of construction paper, so this will be super helpful for future orders.

Now onto the process of cutting these into smaller sizes…

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