Watercolor Sets for Kids

Color swatches from the modified palette.
Color swatches from the modified palette.

Looking for low-cost, non-toxic watercolor sets for kids or for your classroom? Try the Prang Oval-Pan Watercolor 16 well set. With a few modifications you can crate serviceable palettes for less than $9.00 apiece. Prang colors are AP certified non-toxic by the Art & Creative Materials Institute (so should a student decide to eat their watercolors, no problem). You can also buy replacement colors individually should your students use up the favored colors on the palette.

Prang also makes a set of watercolors that is washable and will not stain clothes. A great feature for even younger kids.


Modified Prang palette. Click to enlarge.
Modified Prang palette. Click to enlarge.

I have no idea why a watercolor set comes with white paint but when this cake is removed and discarded, you have room to replace it with a magenta refill. The refills come in a box of 12 so if you are buying one for yourself, you may want to go in on it with friends or other parents. This is a great item to share in home school circles.

Rearrange the paint wells so that they align with designated mixing areas. This will help you remember which colors are which, keep your paint cakes clean and prevent your palette from becoming a mess. Pop the paint wells out of the plastic frame and write the name of each color on the back of the well (the set comes with a chart with the color names and Prang’s refill numbers in the original order). Now replace the wells in this order, going left to right, top to bottom: yellow 5, yellow-orange 37, orange 6,  red-orange 36, red 1, magenta 27, red-violet 41, violet 14, blue-violet 40, blue 7, turquoise blue 35, blue-green 39, yellow-green 39, green 9, brown 12, black 34.

The last step is to buy a tube of yellow watercolor paint and place a dab in the green mixing area so that students can modify their greens without dipping a dirty brush into the yellow well. Keeping the yellow well clean is your top priority to maintain your palette.

When your kids get a little older and you are less concerned about them eating their paint or licking their brushes, you may upgrade to the Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box.

5 thoughts on “Watercolor Sets for Kids

  1. Joan Dunning says:

    I couldn’t agree more. The semi-moist, 16 pan Prangs are great for all ages!!!! I have used them professionally, and, best of all, you can get (or used to be able to) replacement pans of frequently-used colors. Not completely light-fast so keep out of direct sun. A product one can feel proud to share with kids….. especially if you give them good brushes!!!

  2. Nanci says:

    Thank you for this. I love simple modifications to make something more “user friendly”. As a homeschool mom, I really appreciate this tip. Honestly, I usually shy away from watercolor because my two youngest ones make such a mess.

    • Hi Nanci, Try the pentel aquash waterbursh (large fine tip) to reduce mess and make it easier. The only detail is that kids need to have supervision putting the caps back on the brushes so that they do not bend the bristles backwards. I also put part of an old sock on the wrist to wipe off excess color and clean the brush between colors.

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