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 kids’ 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, giving more power to their fine motor skills as hands and fingers develop and they start to colour and draw and write. Easels don't have to mean messy paints and brushes, either. Giant crayons and chalks work just as well on vertical surfaces. Get them to experiment with different coloured papers, brushes and pens, choose a subject to paint or challenge them to design something new.