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, like this person below in the video shows how to do it. 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.
Who it’s for: toddlers who want to use multiple surfaces, including a magnetic dry erase board
Why you should buy this: large number of positive reviews are available for it. It’s relatively cheap but of high quality and it can be used for many purposes for years to come
- Size: 22.8″ x 26.5″ x 43.8″
- Weight: 14.77 pounds
- Recommended age: 3 – 8 years
- Material: plastic
- Height adjustability: no
- Truly multi-use surfaces: chalkboard on one side, whiteboard on the other side (magnetic dry erase board)
- Can be used for one or two children on each side
- Plastic clips for holding paper or other sheets on both sides
- Foam magnetic letters, numbers, signs are included
- Storage areas for holding supplies below the boards for access on both sides of the easel
- Folds easily for storage
- Made in the USA
- Due to high usage of plastic its look is not very much sophisticated
- Art supplies, such as markers, chalk and dry eraser have to be purchased separately
- Height not adjustable
Most Sustainable – Award Winning Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel with Paper Roll and Accessories
If you care about sustainability and at the same time you want to get nearly the same benefits as for Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel, you might want to consider this product. It comes as a wooden construction, and using non-toxic materials. A lot of accessories come included which is a big plus as you don’t have to go around looking for them after purchase. It’s scalability as the child grows is excellent, which means that the height can be adjusted to fit them for many years to come.
Who it’s for: for parents who care about sustainability
Why you should buy this: great design meets sustainability. This is an affordable easel similar to Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel.
- Size: 28.3″ x 24″ x 5.5″
- Weight: 12.13 pounds
- Recommended age: 3 – 8 years
- Material: plastic
- Height adjustability: yes (from 37.5″ to 43.5″)
- Truly multi-use surfaces: chalkboard (blackboard) on one side, whiteboard on the other side (magnetic dry erase board)
- Sustainable as wood used comes from FSC managed forests
- Includes some accessories: 3 paint pots and replaceable paper roll
- Comes with a large tray for holding art supplies
- Paper roll must be 15″ wide and many rolls are 18” wide
Most Sturdy Construction – Little Partners Deluxe Art Easel (Natural) – Two Sided A-Frame Paint Easel, Chalk Board & Magnetic Dry Erase
Have you or your kid already decided that drawing is to be taken seriously as an educational and fun activity? This easel from Little Partners stands out as a very robust one with a long-lasting durability. It has a real chalkboard which means it’s the real thing, so chalk can be used on it and a chalk eraser for easy cleaning. It has plenty of storage space for all the accessories, supplies.
Who it’s for: for parents who are serious with art projects for their kids. Parents who have enough space for keeping this easel standing and who care about a sturdy construction
Why you should buy this: it’s available in many different colors and comes with enough storage for accessories. It is made out of wood, relatively heavy and therefore sturdy
- Size:31″ x 24″ x 6″
- Weight: 24 pounds
- Recommended age: 3 – 6 years
- Material: wood (pine) with non-toxic paint
- Height adjustability: no, but because legs are removable, it can be set on an object of the right height
- Truly multi-use surfaces: real chalkboard (blackboard) on one side, whiteboard on the other side (magnetic dry erase board)
- Natural look becomes of the wood construction
- Extra storage: comes with 2 large fabric storage bins, 2 shelves, 4 paint containers
- Holding clip and space on the side for drying paint work included
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Comes in many colors (6)
- A bit heavier than other easels, which is kind of expected from a sturdy construction
Best For Classroom – Kids Art Easel U-Stand Whiteboard&Chalkboard Double Sided Stand
There are many cool easels on the market and it’s hard to choose one. This is one of my big favorites, at least as seen through the eyes of an adult. Because of its metallic frame, it looks like it’s been made for adults. Surprisingly both sides of the board are magnetic so you can stick magnetic letters and numbers to it anywhere you want. Do you have a child who cannot stand yet? No problem, as it’s so flexible in its height that a child can draw on it while sitting. Does your kid want to sit on a chair while using this easel? Again, no problem, since you can rotate the board 360°. This is great as it can be basically in your child’s lap.
To top it off, it has a very good price.
Who it’s for: ones who want to use it for many years – it has a metallic frame which makes it a timeless design even for older kids.
Why you should buy this: it has an unusual construction in many ways as compared to other easels: metallic frame, the board rotatable over 360°, lightweight
- Size: 27.7″ x 23.5″ x 3.1″
- Weight: 8.25 pounds
- Recommended age: 3 – 8 years
- Material: aluminum
- Height adjustability: yes (from 29.5″ to 44″)
- Truly multi-use surfaces: chalkboard (blackboard) on one side, whiteboard on the other side, both sides being magnetic
- Can be used even when the child is getting older as it has a metallic frame which makes it look not so childish
- The board can be rotated 360° so the angle for drawing on it can be adjusted
- Easy to assemble and store
- Includes 1 storage box, 80 pcs colorful magnetic letters and math set, 1 eraser, 1 box of chalk and 4 anti-slip buckles
- Even though it’s not intended to be used with paper, it can still be possible: adding a paper roll to the middle of the easel to a rod, then draping it over the top of the easel, then using a clip on the side to fix it
- Since it’s lightweight, it might not be very sturdy for some users
There are many different easels on the market and your choice should really depend on the criteria you have in finding one. If you want to go for a well-proven product that has been tested by thousands of customers, you might want to go for Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel. This is our overall recommendation. Its wooden construction and mainly artistic use is a great choice for those budding artists.