If you want to see right away what my top overall recommendation, my choice goes for Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel. It’s a proven, reliable solution especially for those artistic kid projects.
“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso
Children have an endless source of creativity. How can we as parents find outlets for our littles ones’ creativity in a reasonable way, without ending up with colorful furniture or walls in our homes? Beyond protecting our homes from getting permanently or semi-permanently repainted, how can we further develop kids’ creativity? We know there are tons of articles published that creative economy is on the rise in the 21st century. More and more jobs will be created for the upcoming generation where creativity will be in high demand.
There’s no one answer to the above questions. In this article, though I cover one tool that can help you in these efforts which is the good old easel.
My Top Picks
- Best Overall – Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel
- Best for Multifunctional Use – Step2 Easel for Two | Kids Double-Sided Art Easel with Magnetic Letters & Numbers
- Most Sustainable – Award Winning Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel with Paper Roll and Accessories
- Most Sturdy Construction – Little Partners Deluxe Art Easel (Natural) – Two Sided A-Frame Paint Easel, Chalk Board & Magnetic Dry Erase
- Best For Classroom – Kids Art Easel U-Stand Whiteboard & Chalkboard Double Sided Stand
Why to buy an easel
There are many ways for kids to enjoy themselves by using their creativity. The closest one to the benefits easels offer is drawing on boards while sitting. These can be boards holding a piece of paper or a whiteboard or chalk board to name a few options. But easels are more versatile and offer several benefits these individual boards cannot provide and a standing position rather than a sitting position for kids. An easel can hold several types of boards all at once. And what the standing position means is that there’s a better way for their creative juice to flow. Even adults can think and act more out of the box when we stand. Studies have shown that this is the case, e.g. this recent work by Prof. Knight and Prof. Baer from the business school at Washington University in St. Louis. I know it myself, too that when I stand while working, I have better ideas and more energy. There are many alternatives for kids to occupy themselves, instead of using easels: e.g. drawing on a tablet or worse when they watch simply YouTube videos in a passive mode, without much interaction. Easels offer kids more freedom for engaging with drawing and also with other kids who can work with the same easel.
There are a few options to get an easel. You can borrow one from friends, at least for some time. Or if you’re the DIY type, you can build one. Or you can just simply buy one of the products based on my post. It’s your choice.
Some highlights of the benefits easels offer:
- Helps build fine motor skills. Dry erase boards, chalkboards, boards with a paper are an excellent way for building fine motor skills and the right pencil grip. The board surfaces can serve as practise surfaces for kids to write their first letters and words
- Standing helps them to be more creative. It’s been shown in studies, e.g. this one that standing desks can make students more engaged. In a similar way, when children stand, they have more freedom to move and experiment freely
- Fostering emotional expressions. Kids can express themselves in many ways. They can use words, gestures but also drawings to show how they view the world. By letting them express themselves on paper or on a chalkboard using colorful drawings of objects they see around them, we can positively support their emotional development.
- Social development. Many easels have two sides and this allows two kids to use it simultaneously. Of course when this happens, there’s social interaction between children.
How to find the right easel
Various material types are used for an easel. The frame is usually made of plastic or wood. I prefer wooden look as it’s more natural both for the children and it usually fits better with the interior of our homes.
Closely connected to the material as a feature, the whole construction should be long-lasting. This means that not only the material but also the assembled easel should be durable. This way when the child grows, it wouldn’t fall apart into pieces.
As the child grows, probably you don’t want to replace your current easel with a new one that is just simply higher. Height adjustability entails that we should consider the child’s height starting with the age of 3 (typical minimal age for using easels) all the way until the child goes to school.
This is another essential feature. Versatility of easels is one of their distinguishing characteristics. Essentially multi-use surfaces make them an all-in-one construction. They usually come with a chalk board, a magnetic dry erase board, both on one stand, back to back. A clip is included many times which can hold a paper on the boards which adds another type of surface for kids to draw on.
The surfaces should be easy to clean so that there’s a clean surface to draw on next time. Probably you don’t want to keep trying for hours to wipe off what’s remained from the last drawing. That would be a waste of time, unless the construction is proven to be easy to clean.
Unless you have a lot of space available in your home, probably you want to be able to store it safely whenever it’s not in use. This translates to a foldable design.
Holder for accessories
There are some accessories needed for using an easel. Even if they could use their fingers, you would still need paint to add some color to the drawings. Or you might want to use paper as an additional surface. For holding accessories, many easels come with a tray, paper-roll holder.
Best Overall – Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel
This is our best overall recommendation for many reasons. It is also the most popular one on Amazon. It’s mostly made of wood for a natural look. The intended use is mostly for drawing or painting as it doesn’t have a magnetic surface. Do you see your child drawing often or painting on paper? If yes, it might be time to invest into an easel made especially for such activities. Even though there’s no magnetic surfaces in this construction, it doesn’t stop thousands of parents to buy it for their kids. The high number of positive feedback on this product speak for themselves. Why is it so? Because many parents think that it’s not a must have feature; instead they like the specialization of Melissa and Doug on the artistic aspects.
Who it’s for: kids who want to explore their artistic sides
Why you should buy this: it’s the most popular across all easels on Amazon with very high rating. It has an excellent design with a natural wooden look. It’s been developed by Melissa and Doug, a reliable brand which has been in the toy business for 30 years.
- Size: 47″ H x 27″ W x 26″ L
- Weight: 14.96 pounds
- Recommended age: 3 – 7 years
- Material: wood
- Height adjustability: yes (from 42″ to 48″)
- Multi-use surfaces: chalkboard on one side, whiteboard on the other side ( dry erase board)
- Natural look with wooden frame
- Comes with Happiness Guarantee which is special in comparison with other easels: if your child is not inspired, you can call Melissa & Doug and they will fix it for you
- Easy to assemble
- Folds flat and easy to store
- Comes with a dowel for holding the paper roll at an easily accessible height
- 2 large trays included for storing the art supply
- 4 easy-clip grips included in the delivery
- Not everything is made out of wood, such as the trays
- No magnetic surface included
- Paper roll, paint, cups, paint brushes, chalk and other accessories need to be purchased separately
Best for Multifunctional Use – Step2 Easel for Two | Kids Double-Sided Art Easel with Magnetic Letters & Numbers
If you’re looking for an easel for a large number of activities, Step2 should be on your list to consider. Do your kids want to draw with a chalk freely? Or how about painting on a piece of paper or using markers to draw some colorful animals? There are even more options available with this easel as due to the magnetic dry erase surface, children can mix and match by incorporating the magnetic letters, signs, numbers into their work of art. This way they can express even better what’s on their mind, to tell stories. They can educate each other, especially considering that the creators of Step2 wanted to accommodate two kids with this construction.
Last update on 2021-08-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API