I read once about using "real" art supplies rather than supplying children with cheap paints (like the ones at right) and other media. Have you ever noticed how frustrated kids can get when their paintings don't come out as they had hoped, through no fault of their own? Or how flimsy the cheap crayons are?
When I first read about giving kids the proper materials, I was reluctant at the thought. Won't they treat them badly? Won't they destroy anything nice? Well, perhaps, but their satisfaction in being able to create with responsive media may be worth it.
So, I went out in search of affordable watercolor paints. Why did I start there? I no longer remember. I was in a Charlotte Mason phase and reading nature journalling books, so that was likely the reason. Whatever it was, I came home with some small boxed watercolor kits, intended to take along on hikes, and eventually added some tube watercolor paints and some palette trays, along with some nicer (but still low-cost) brushes.
Several years have passed since that first exploration into "real" art materials and I haven't been sorry. We are nearly to the end of our second set of tube paints. I paid about $10 on sale at Meijer for the set of Reeves paints. Better brands are available at art stores, should you feel the desire to splurge, but for us, spending $10 on an adequate set of paints that will last a couple years is far better than spending $1 or so on those useless paint sets we all remember from our childhood. (The name brand ones (Prang, Crayola) DO work better than some of the off-brand ones, but in my experience, the REAL paints are far more effective.)
I encourage you to give it a try. For a small $20 investment, you can allow your children the freedom to enjoy working with materials that are far more versatile and potent than anything they may have used so far. Maybe I'll see you in the store! We need a new set of tube paints and some new brushes soon! (Mine are looking a bit squeezed out, don't you think?)
My favorite arts and crafts supplier is Miller Pads and Paper. They don't appear to carry Reeves, but they do have a nice selection. Here is a sampling of what they have available:
Jackson's Professional Tube Watercolors 12 colors $9.95 18 Colors $13.95.
Marie's Tube Watercolor Sets 12 colors $6.25 18 Colors $9.75.
Niji Tube Watercolors 12 colors $5.00 18 Colors $8.00
And LOTS MORE watercolor stuff - check them out!