29. Easel

Find it hard to believe an easel is essential? It’s actually a brilliant piece of equipment to have around, for many more reasons than painting.

Easels encourage children’s wrists to bend upwards, in the same way they do for writing.

Standing at an easel is also good for upper arm and shoulder strength, which in turn provide the wrist with more stable support.

Easels don’t have to mean messy paints and brushes, either. Giant crayons and chalks work just as well on vertical surfaces. Children can experiment with different coloured papers, brushes and pens, choose a subject to paint or challenge them to design something new.

If you don’t have an easel, it’s easy to tape some paper to the wall, and you’ll get all the same benefits. In fact, you can even ditch the paper. Next time you’ve got a bored preschooler on your hands, give them a bucketful of water and a paintbrush and ask them to paint the house or garden fence. The long, straight, vertical strokes will encourage confident handwriting, which is built on a smooth up-down motion.

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