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, we chose the Step2 Easel For Two as the best easel for toddlers on the market.
|Best Easel for Toddlers||Why It's Best||Mom Rating|
|The Step2 Easel For Two||This sturdy plastic easel has dry erase and chalkboard, plus it folds and stores easily.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Hape All-in-One Wooden Art Easel||Adjust this to nearly any height for any toddler, plus, it's all easy to clean.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Art Easel||Larger overall size with a paint tray and paper roller, all with a sturdy wood frame.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Gimilife Deluxe Easel for Kids||The most adjustable frame, with nice extras like trays and a canvas storage bin and chalk and magnets.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|NextX Kids Easel||Brightly colored and adjustable, this is one of the smaller options available.||♥♥♥♥♥|
The Step2 Easel
Whether you already have multiple Step2 items in your child’s playroom or not, the Step2 Easel For Two with Bonus Magnetic Letters/Numbers 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.
Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel
The Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel with Paper Roll and Accessories 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 art 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 with fun colors
- Dual work surface – dry erase and chalkboard
- Dry erase surface is also magnetic
- Water resistant surfaces for easy clean up
- Storage space for art supplies
- Highly rated – 4.2 out of 5 stars based on 160+ reviews
- Cannot be folded, needs disassembled to stow away
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 plastic tray with cup holders for art supplies
- 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
Gimilife Folding Wooden Art Easel
The Gimilife Folding Wooden Art Easel with Chalkboard, Whiteboard, and Storage 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 plastic 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.
BATTOP Double Sided Adjustable Kids Easel
As much as I like the durability of plastic, I also enjoy the natural wood look. This BATTOP Double Sided Adjustable 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
- Uses genuine New Zealand wood
- Grows with your child, for ages 2-8
- Adjustable height from 35″ 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
Crayola Art-to-Go Table Easel
A regular art easel for toddlers takes up a lot of floor space. The Crayola Art-to-Go Table Easel lets your little Van Gogh do their thing in a home of any size. The best part is that they can take their paper and chosen medium on the road for when inspiration strikes at the park or on a road trip or even in a different room in the house!
With dry erase, chalkboard, and clips for paper, your child can play with whatever they like. The built-in storage and folding are both convenient. Plus, the smaller tabletop size is perfect for smaller art from smaller hands. It’s on the go fun for ages 3 and up.
- Dry erase board with included eraser
- Lots of colors appeals to toddlers
- Great size for table or desk use
- Chalkboard can help learn blending techniques
- Two plastic paper clips on chalkboard size for holding paper
- Center of easel has 2 storage trays and even marker holders
- Folds down flat and locks shut for travel
- Carrying handle
- Measures 12.3 inches tall and 14 inches wide
- Have to buy all art supplies separately
- Chalkboard indents easily
- White board can peel off with persistent erasing
- Not as sturdy as some wooden options
NextX Kids Easel
Many of the choices on this list are adjustable, but the NextX Kids Easel is the shortest easel on this list, at just over 32 inches tall at the shortest setting. This is great news for parents of shorter or smaller kiddos! But the even better news is that this easel is fully adjustable and can go up to 42.5 inches tall, so that it has growing ability as your child sprouts up.
Paper rolls are nice, but they’re one more thing that can break and needs constant replacing with a new roll. This kids art easel offers a chalkboard on one side and a whiteboard on the other. Both surfaces are magnetic, and you can use magnets or the paper clips to hold up a sheet of art paper if you choose. With the included storage and bonus art supplies that come with, you just can’t go wrong with this fun easel.
- Magnetic chalkboard and magnetic whiteboard
- Board rotates a full 360 degrees
- Height adjusts from 32.3″ to 42.5″ tall
- Storage tray under drawing surface
- Sturdy and colorful plastic with no sharp corners
- Includes magnetic eraser, magnets, markers, chalk, chalk holder, storage cup, and magnets
- Folds flat for storage or use on the ground
- Not as high-quality as other options
- Can tip over if drawing too hard
- Assembly is a guessing game, as instructions are often left out
Toddler Easel as a Gift
These easels make great gifts for 4 year olds for both play and educational use.
Must-have Features of a Toddler Easel
Most easels on the market have whiteboard 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 different activities.
The whiteboard 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, Pokemon, 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 it (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 reviewed 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 art easels can be used with blank paper (either via clip or paper 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.
FAQ’s for the Best Toddler Easels
When can my child use a pen or crayon?
Probably not before the age of one year, and possibly not before two-and-a-half. It depends upon the exposures, development, and interests of the child. The development of fine motor skills varies greatly from child to child.
At what age can my child begin to draw lines and shapes?
Usually, a child can begin to draw shapes and lines between the ages of two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half years. Again, it depends upon the child’s exposures, development, and interests.
Some children are eager to “draw” at very early ages, and others would rather engage in other kinds of play. It is in this same age range that children may first be able to use a paintbrush.
How should I introduce my very young child to artistic activities?
The standard, of course, is scribbling with chunky crayons. Fingerpainting is an excellent introduction. Washable markers, sidewalk chalk, or bath crayons can also be good art supplies for little ones. And, of course, play dough.
Remember that the point, for the toddler, is not to create a beautiful work of art or realistic image, but rather, to become acquainted with the materials and to have fun.
Why would my child need an easel? Wouldn’t a table do just as well?
A table is adequate, of course; but an easel does have some advantages, especially for children. The greatest advantage of the easel for any artist is that it puts the art surface at an angle more similar to the angle at which we naturally view the world. In other words, when I view a tree, I generally stand upright, and the tree is upright.
Creating the image on an easel (near vertical) is more natural than creating it on a table (at horizontal). For children, activity and muscle development are just as important. An easel provides more freedom of movement and allows art to be a more active experience.
Why doesn’t my preschooler want to draw or color?
Often, a child just isn’t interested. It’s not so important that a child draw or color aside from his or her preparation for writing when the time comes.
If you notice that your child has trouble with other fine motor activities: buttoning, zipping, using age-appropriate interlocking toys, etc., you might want to investigate whether there is some delay in the development of fine motor skills.
Some children are late in developing motor skills, especially fine motor, and may need some extra encouragement and practice to be ready to write when they start school.
What kinds of features should I look for in an art easel or table for my toddler?
Features vary greatly, but some of the most important considerations are:
- Ease of cleaning
- Age range
- Storage for art supplies