Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels

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Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels

Kate from An Everyday Story is here to share the next post in her series about introducing authentic art materials to toddlers. Today she is exploring chalk pastels…

Hi all. I’m back with the final part in our Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers series. I’ve really enjoyed showing some of our favorite art materials. We’ve explored clay, charcoal and paint. We’ve talked about the beauty of authentic art materials and their aesthetic appeal to young children. When you have beautiful materials, you don’t need to think about complicated art activities for your little ones. The materials will speak for themselves. The children will be drawn in, intrigued by the material’s beauty and possibilities.

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels

A simple kitchen tile and a block of clay, a piece of thick paper and some sticks of charcoal, two carefully chosen colors of paint and some paper, that’s all that’s needed to provide a rich and authentic art experience for your child. One that will deepen their language of art as they become more and more familiar with how each material works; using the materials to express not only their creativity but as another language for showing what they know and understand about the world and all the wonders within it. Through drawings and sculptures, paintings and models, they are able to make their thoughts visible.

Today I’m sharing one of our other favorite art materials; chalk pastels. Chalk pastels offer a similar experience to charcoal; they are the same shape and blend in a similar way. They give of a chalk dust like regular blackboard chalk but provide much richer colors.

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels

Setting up your creative space

The beautiful colors of the chalk pastels will invite the children in so try to make them the focal point of your creative space.

  • Arrange the chalk pastels into a rainbow of colors to emphasize the colors available. The pastels come in a tray but my daughter (27mths) finds it difficult to get each pastel out so I put them on a larger wooden tray for her
  • Decide whether or not you want to include black. Black is a very dominant color and I find my daughter favors it over all others. Sometimes I include black, other times I leave it in the packet.
  • Have another tray (or container) nearby for chalk dust. The pastels create a lot of chalk dust, especially with an enthusiastic toddler. Show your toddler how to gently pick up their paper and tip the chalk dust into the tray
  • Chalk pastels respond really well to thicker paper. The color will settle into the grain of the paper. I think it is worth buying a few different thicknesses of paper to have on offer when using chalk pastels (or oil pastels, charcoal and watercolor paint)
  • I like to have a rainbow of color swatches for my daughter to explore. She likes to flick through the colors, name each of them and match them to the pastel
  • A first experience with chalk pastels will likely result in wonderfully colored hands. Have a wet cloth on hand to catch any potential hand prints on the walls

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels

Inviting your child over

Mostly likely your little one will reach straight for the pastels and start exploring. Once they have had an initial exploration you could:

  • draw their attention to the thickness of the paper
  • compare it to regular drawing paper
  • notice how the chalk settles in the grain of the paper
  • show your little one how to blend the pastel with their finger
  • see what happens when you add another color over the top of the blended pastel
  • encourage them to use different sides of the pastel and see what kinds of marks they can make
  • draw their attention to the chalk dust. How are they making the dust?

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels

If you are a little put off by the chalk dust, or the messiness of paint and clay, I urge you to find a place (could be a table set-up outside) where you are comfortable with your child exploring fully. The more you offer art experiences, and the more your child becomes familiar with the process of working with the materials and cleaning up afterwards, the more comfortable you will become and the richer the art experience will be for your child. Make art part of your weekly rhythm. Just like sharing a book together, share some time creating together. Once you have the materials, it’s easy to pull them out and set them on the table.

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part Four: Chalk Pastels

Happy creating and I’ll see you all again next month.



Kate Gribble lives with her husband and two little ones, Jack and Sarah, in Canberra, Australia. She is a former high school teacher but now spends her days happily homeschooling. Kate likes to dabble in a bit of photography, is a hopeless but aspiring kitchen gardener, and loves a bit of crafty goodness. You can find more inspiration over at her blog, An Everyday Story.



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  1. I haven’t seen chalk pastels in years!! How I loved them as a little girl. I am going to seek them out and get some for my boys. Thank you for rekindling a wonderful memory!

  2. Another great post, thanks Kate. You didn’t mention whether you use anything to set/fix the pastels to the paper?

    1. Thanks Katrina.
      Ah yes, mostly with my toddler I just let her explore – she likes blending the colours and playing in the dust – and so I don’t set the pastels. With my 4yr old though, if he has created a piece which he would like to keep or for us to frame, then we will set the pastels with a light spray of hairspray.

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