Artist: Michele Mildenberg

How do you encourage your child's artistic ability without trashing your home in the process? Easy. You stay far, far away from the glitter. Instead, buy a long-sleeve art smock, a splat mat to save your floors and these awesome arts & crafts supplies, designed with toddlers' abilities in mind. They're no-mess or low-mess and will keep your budding artist entertained for hours.

Color Wonder Markers from Crayola

If your kid is the type who'll color on the walls, the cat and mommy's legs, you need Color Wonder markers. These magical markers only show up on Color Wonder paper; everywhere else, they're clear. You can buy plain paper or coloring pages with a specific theme, including Disney, Puppy Dog Pals or Baby Shark.
Cost: $10 on

Chalkboard & Dry Erase Easel from Crayola

An art easel takes up floor space, but it has lots of tricks up its sleeve for your little artist. One side is a chalkboard; the other, a dry erase board. A handy tray holds mom-approved art supplies. It also comes with a roll of paper you attach at the top and pull down for kids to draw or paint on, as well as three small pots for paint. The dry erase board is magnetic, so stock up on magnets when you want mess-free fun.
Cost: $57 on

Jumbo Beeswax Crayons from Honeysticks

There are cheaper crayons on the market, but Honeysticks are worth it for the durability and peace of mind. They're made with 100% pure beeswax and food-grade pigments. So if your child chomps on them, you don't have to worry about toxins. The short, stubby sticks are easy for kids to hold and hard for them to break. And they smell like sweet honey.
Cost: $23 on

Water Wow Water-Reveal Activity Pads from Melissa & Doug

The perfect activity for road trips and visits to Grandma's house, Water Wow is a must-have. Fill up the included pen with water and watch kid-friendly scenes come alive with color as kids paint on the pads. As the pages dry, the color fades away so you can use these again and again. Each book has four pages with different scenes sharing a specific theme (such as vehicles, animals or the alphabet).
Cost: $17 for 3 pads on

Lacing Beads from Melissa & Doug

Threading wooden beads on thick laces develops fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. This set from Melissa & Doug features 30 beads in six colors and five shapes, so it can also be used for sorting, learning patterns and identifying colors. The beads are large enough not to pose a choking hazard, but you'll want to stay close to keep kids from throwing them or whipping around the laces.
Cost: $14 on

Jumbo Sidewalk Chalk from Crayola

This chalk is large and rectangular so it's easy for kids to grip and comes in an array of vibrant colors. Secure off a driveway, walkway or sidewalk and let your little one go to town. Then all it takes is a bit of rain or the garden hose to wash away those temporary masterpieces. Chalk is a great activity for kids of all ages (and even grown-ups) to play with together. You can also create obstacle courses to help little ones get their wiggles out.
Cost: $11 on

Doodle Pro from Fisher-Price

When you can't handle another mess or loud activity, it's time to bust out the Doodle Pro. Kids draw with the included pen and then erase their drawings with the attached sliding eraser. It's small enough to fit in your carry-on bag, easy to bring with you in the car, and did we mention mess-free? Pro tip: If your child is sad about losing their works of art, take a photo of them on your phone and then erase away.
Cost: $28 on

Washable Finger Paints from Crayola

If you're ready to take on painting, you brave soul, try this well-designed kit for beginners. It comes with six 3-ounce tubes of washable finger paints in rainbow colors. The squeeze tubes let you squirt out only what you need, and the paints are washable if (okay, when) color goes where it isn't supposed to. Keep paper towels or baby wipes at the ready for paint-splattered body parts and furniture.
Cost: $23 on

Paint Sponges from EVNEED

These patterned sponges take your painting adventures to a whole new level with cool designs made with minimal effort. With this kit, you get paint brushes, sponge roller brushes, stamp brushes, shovel-shaped brushes and plastic palettes. You even get two waterproof aprons, because the manufacturer knows what's about to go down.
Cost: $15 on

Rock Painting Kit from Creativity for Kids

This kit comes with 10 rocks and waterproof paint. Put the rocks and paint on an old baking tray or wipe-clean placemat to contain paint splatters and give the finished rocks a spot to dry. The best part? You can display them in your yard or hide them on nature trails for others to find. In other words, they won't add to the pile of artwork you're already storing in your home. High-five!
Cost: $10 on

Sock Puppet Making Kit from Creativity for Kids

You'll have one amazing puppet show with sock puppets you design yourself. This kit includes three socks, googly eyes (every kids' fave), pom-poms and peel-and-stick felt shapes you'll use to make faces, hair and limbs. Thanks to self-adhesive embellishments, these come together quickly. There are more accessories than you're likely to need for the three included socks, so grab some strays from the laundry room to make more!
Cost: $20 on

Modeling Compound from Play-Doh

You knew you'd see Play-Doh on this list, right? Kids can squish, roll and shape this open-ended creative tool into anything they like while developing their fine motor skills in the process. These 2-ounce pots are sized right for smaller kids; go for larger pots if older kids will also be playing.
Cost: $8 on

Wax Sticks from WikkiStix

If you're not up for cleaning a Play-Doh mess, WikkiStix are a great alternative. These wax sticks can be molded into any shape, and they stick to smooth surfaces like paper. They're also non-toxic, as they're made of food-grade wax and yarn. This set of 48 sticks comes with craft and play ideas.
Cost: $7 on

Reusable Sticker Book from Giggles and Pebbles

Truly mess-free, these reusable stickers come with a pad of three scenes (farm, zoo and ocean) for kids to decorate over and over again. These stickers are thicker than others, so they're easier for little hands to pick up. And if your child goes wild and attaches these stickers to your table, high chair and dad's shoes, they'll come right off without leaving a residue.
Cost: $10 on

Arts & Crafts Activity Set from ALEX Toys

If you're looking for a one-and-done shopping experience, start here. This award-winning set includes six art activities designed specifically for toddlers. Make collages with tissue paper and doilies, decorate a tree and giraffe with stickers and draw on fancy paper with included crayons. The projects are individually packaged, and there's no glue required.
Cost: $20 on

—Eva Cerise

Eva Cerise is a mom and stepmon who loves roadtrips, nature walks and hiding in the walk-in pantry eating snacks. Read more from eva here.

How to Keep Kids Entertained on a Long Car Ride

Anyone who's road-tripped with a car full of toddlers knows that the fight-or-flight instinct is strong. And since you can't exactly abandon ship and run far, far away from your brood on the way to Grandma's house, we humbly offer this list of suggestions, which have seen us through more miles than we can count.


Awesome Sensory Toys to Buy or DIY

There's a time and a place for flashy, distracting toys, but they usually don't come with big benefits. Sensory play—which, you might have guessed, is play that stimulates the senses—can help toddlers learn about the world around them and even help them to regulate their emotions. But providing little ones with these experiences does not need to be complicated or expensive. There are plenty that you can create simply by using what you have around the house.


The Best Packaged Snacks for Toddlers, According to an RD

We may dream of being the Pinterest moms who only serve fresh fruit and veggies cut into fancy shapes, but our kids have other ideas about what they're willing to eat. Not to mention, sometimes we're busy or need to satisfy a hangry toddler fast, and that's when we break out the packaged snacks.


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