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Water-based markers have bright colors and a smooth application. They are able both to fill in large spaces quickly and to draw fine lines. They also come with a unique problem: Unlike crayons or colored pencils, they can dry out overnight if a cap is left off. When choosing the right markers for your child, it often comes down to balancing quality with affordability. Ahead, we review some top-notch selections that would be excellent additions to any budding artist’s tool box.
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Crayola Ultra Clean Washable Markers
Made by what is arguably the most famous manufacturer of children’s art supplies, these washable markers are ideal for parents and teachers. They are safe for kids ages three and up, and the nontoxic inks wash from a range of surfaces that budding artists might fancy as their canvas, including skin, most washable clothing, and most painted walls. This pack includes 12 traditional colors.
Buy: Crayola Ultra Clean Washable Markers, Broad Line, 12 Count $6.99
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BIC Child’s First Magic Markers
When younger kids get the artistic bug, a parent can anticipate the mess and subsequent cleanup pretty quickly. BIC makes it a little easier with markers that are easily washable from skin and most fabrics and surfaces. Made with very young artists in mind (safe for children ages 3 and up), the markers feature an extra-durable 4.5-millimeter rounded felt tip that resists getting crushed from too much pressure or pulled out by prying fingers. The 36-pack includes 3 markers in each of 12 colors—handy for sharing during family time and playdates.
Buy: BIC Child’s First Magic Marker Set, 36 Assorted Colors $23.93
Crayola Broad Line Markers and Sets
Crayola markers are great for younger kids, since they are comfortable for even small hands to hold and the caps are easy to affix. The conical tip allows users to create thin lines and broad strokes, something older kids will appreciate. And parents will like the wide variety of assorted packs—including “classic,” “bold,” and a classroom set of 256 markers—as well as the ability to buy individual colors if one gets lost. Note that the water-based, nontoxic ink may not wash out of clothing
TOP OF THE LINE
Tombow Dual Brush Pens
As children grow older, the limited colors of kids’ markers can start to feel constricting. Tombow’s dual brush pens are nontoxic and safe for children, and they come in a full line of 108 distinct colors. One end features a fine-point tip, and the other end has a resilient, flexible fiber brush tip that is easy to use to color; it also can help kids learn brush-handling skills that ease the way into painting.
Mr. Sketch Scented Markers
Introduced in 1965, Mr. Sketch’s scented markers have had people asking, “Who came up with these fragrances?” for decades. This 22-marker set includes some wacky options like Smokey Cinnamon Rocket Fuel and Nacho Cheese, but overall the smells are fun, sweet, and inoffensive. Scents aside, the markers have a decent range of color and offer a rare chisel tip, which allows young artists to make lines in a variety of thicknesses. The water-based ink is nontoxic and bright but is not marketed as washable.
Buy: Mr. Sketch Chisel-Tip Marker Set, 22 Assorted Scented Markers $12.99