An art easel is a great addition to any toddler’s playroom to help unleash their creativity. Most easels have multiple surfaces to keep one or multiple kids busy, and trays to hold all the important accessories. But which is the best easel for toddlers?
There are many easels out there, but based on price, features and real parent reviews, I chose the Step2 Easel For Two with Bonus Magnetic Letters/Numbers as the best easel for toddlers on the market.
Why the Step2?
Step2 Easel For Two with Bonus Magnetic Letters/Numbers
Whether you already have multiple Step2 items in your child’s playroom or not, this would be a great addition to the playroom. Its sturdy design is typical of Step2 items, which means durability for those wild and crazy toddler years.
It also has enough activities to engage small children and let them be very creative – dry erase, chalkboard, and magnetic surface. And it’s the perfect size for toddlers and beyond.
Features and benefits:
- Sturdy, durable plastic design that is sure to last
- Dry erase on one side, chalkboard on the other side to keep multiple children busy
- Easy to fold and store
- Surface is also magnetic
- Includes magnetic letters and numbers,
- Large clip on both sides for clipping blank paper, works of art, etc.
- Large trays for holding accessories, such as dry erase pens, chalk, eraser, etc.
- Easy to clean up surface – the plastic base makes for easy cleanup of messes for a longer life
- I think this is a true toddler solution and as a result, it would not be a great “grow as you go” easel, although users report children as old as 8 still enjoying it.
The Other Contenders
BATTOP Double Sided Adjustable Kids Easel
As much as I like the durability of plastic, I also enjoy the natural wood look. This easel is more my style and is made of genuine New Zealand wood (fancy!). It also has a magnetic surface which I feel is a must!
Features and Benefits:
- This easel is highly rated, based on 23 reviews which give it 4.6 out of 5 stars so far.
- Uses genuine New Zealand wood
- Grows with your child, for ages 2-8
- Adjustable height from 27.5″ to 49″
- Whiteboard to be used with dry erase markers, or to clip paper on to
- Any size paper can be clipped to the easel to draw on – very flexible – use what you have on hand
- Green board for chalk
- Both sides are also magnetic for using numbers, letters or other magnets
- Magnetic letters and numbers are included
- Comes with attachable tray for eraser, accessories
- Easy to set up, easy to adjust and sturdy
- Nonslip feet
- Users report magnets that are included may be too small for the very young children
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Art Easel
I wanted to include this Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Art Easel as a contender for many reasons. It’s a solid kid-friendly brand that is generally made with the child in mind. It’s also one of the highest rated on Amazon, and I’m sure that’s no accident.
However, this easel does not have a magnetic surface, which is really surprising. As such, it is only an easel with limited functionality. Most parents don’t seem to mind this though, as it has over a thousand happy users. So take note, and decide for yourselves whether a magnetic surface is something you need to have in an easel.
Features and benefits:
- Three set height adjustments
- 4.1 out of 5 stars based on 1,200 + reviews
- Dry erase board on one side, chalkboard on the other side
- Multiple clips to hold paper (or other items) are included
- Although it will work for a toddler, per Melissa & Doug, it’s “ideal for ages 4 to 10”
- Durable paint tray with cup holders
- Paper roll holder
- Easy to assemble
- Neither side is magnetic
- Paper rolls and paint are not included
- Paper roll holder is in awkward location
- Easy to disassemble too (as in, your child can potentially do it)
- Chalkboard may be difficult to draw on
Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel
This easel is very similar to the Melissa & Doug easel, as it still uses very natural materials. However, one thing that stuck out to me is the location of the paper roll holder. It seems much more intuitive and a better location for easier changing. It has a magnetic surface on the dry erase side. This easel was also the Winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award for 2014.
Features and benefits:
- Fully height adjustable (The highest height is 43.50 inches and the lowest height is 37.60 inches)
- Sturdy, classic design
- Dual work surface – dry erase and chalkboard
- Dry erase surface is also magnetic
- Water resistant surfaces for easy clean up
- Highly rated – 4.2 out of 5 stars based on 160+ reviews
- Cannot be folded, needs disassembled to stow away
Gimilife Folding Wooden Art Easel
This is the priciest option in the comparison, but it’s also the most ripe with features. It has dual surfaces (dry erase and chalkboard), is magnetic, has multiple trays and an extra canvas storage bin.
It also has the highest age range (up to 12 years old) and accordingly, height range (up to 61.4″). This easel is truly the deluxe Cadillac of toddler compatible easels.
Features and benefits:
- Environmentally friendly, premium wood
- Easy to assemble
- Adjustable height from 35.4″ to 61.4″
- Dual surface – chalkboard on one side and dry erase on the other side
- Dry erase side is also magnetic
- Materials are food grade, making them very safe for children
- Single clip for paper on dry erase side
- Paint holder AND accessory holder
- Canvas storage bin for anything else you would like to store
- Chalk, magnetic number and alphabet are included
- Can fold flat for easy storage
- Most expensive on the list
- No paper roll holder
- Reviews also report that both sides of the easel are covered with a protective film which is not immediately apparent until parents have tried to write on it and failed. So if you purchase this, be sure to remove the protective film prior to writing.
Must have features of a Toddler Easel:
Most easels on the market have dry erase on one side and chalkboard on the other side. This is such a great feature, because it gives the child multiple surfaces to work on and each surface has difference activities. The Dry erase surface can be used with dry erase markers and erasers. Usually, the dry erase side (but sometimes both sides) will also have a clip for holding paper. This means parents can clip blank paper or coloring pages up there for the child to work on.
My boys always loved to print out coloring pages on the computer that related to shows they would watch – Ninja turtles, Avatar, superheroes, Minecraft, etc. as these sometimes could not be found in coloring books in stores.
Easy to clean up
An easel, by nature, is going to get drawn on and painted on. It is important for an easel to be somewhat easy to clean. A plastic surface is probably the easiest to clean as you could scrub away or maybe even use a Magic Eraser on (try in an inconspicuous spot first!). Some wood frames are easier to clean than others depending on the coating of the surface.
An easel should be durable enough to withstand the creative pursuits of children of most ages. Most easels on the market today are fairly durable. A heavy plastic frame, such as that of the Step2 easel may be more durable than the wooden frames. But this also depends on how well the wooden frame is put together as well as which connectors it uses.
It’s important for an easel to be height adjustable to accommodate children from 2-3 years on and grow with them. Most easels reviews have height adjustments to last children until they are about 8 years old and some even longer than that.
I feel it’s a must to have a magnetic surface on an easel. It opens up many activities such as using magnetic letters and numbers for creative play or learning or to stick materials or coloring pages onto the easel.
Easy to fold and stow away
To me, the easel should be somewhat easy to take down and put away. Some people might not have permanent easel space. I like to be able to fold an easel flat, tuck it away behind something next to the wall and have it out of sight. An even better bonus is if it’s easily taken down and put up. Some easels in this review can be put up at a moment’s notice while others are more cumbersome.
Paper roll holder
Since most easel can be used with blank paper (either via clip or roll), it’s a bonus to me for an easel to have a built-in paper roll holder. The paper roll holder should be in such a location that it’s easy to dispense and easy to reload. You can purchase paper rolls from most local craft stores, IKEA, or online.