Coloured Markers

Monday, 1 September 2008

A good selection of coloured markers around can spark a child's creativity and give you an instant activity almost anywhere, anytime. We check out these colouring tools to see if all markers are created equally.


The Basics

  • There are a two formulations to choose from:

    • Permanent markers are generally not what you want to purchase for children since the ink won’t come off anything it gets onto.

    • Washable markers are water soluble and non-toxic, the most common and safest markers for young artists. They’re available from many different makers and come in a wide variety of colours, even scented!

  • The marker’s tip size is important to consider depending on your child’s age and the project. Thicker tips colour larger spaces and typically are easier to grasp for small hands. Thinner tips provide more precision and are great for older kids who like to create more detailed works of art.

  • Most kids’ markers come with a seal of approval (AP or CP) from the Creative Materials Institute that ensure the markers are non-toxic if eaten. However, markers and tops can still be choking hazards so keep an eye on kids under 3.

Other Considerations

  • To get marker stains out of clothing, manufacturers recommend rinsing the item in cold water then dabbing some rubbing alcohol on the underside of the stain. Then put it through a hot water wash, and potentially use bleach. This method may get the stain out but keep in mind that it may be hard on your fabrics.


We invited a kids’ art class to help us test the following felt tip markers:

  • Laurentien: 23¢ per marker
  • Crayola: 62¢ per marker
  • Mr. Sketch (scented): 75¢ per marker
  • Prang: 84¢ per marker

Colouring Test

  • Laurentien had great colour tones and the inks blended well. There were a good selection of colours included, and the tips had thin ends, which were great for detail.

  • The Crayola set also had a great selection of colours and washed off very easily.

  • The scented Mr. Sketch markers were a big hit even though the tips were wider (less precision). However, they turned out to be a bit more difficult to wash off. The kids liked that the tops and bottoms could click together.

  • The most expensive set, Prang, also had a good colour selection and fine tips for detail work.

Cap-Off Test

Since it’s pretty common for kids to leave the caps off, we wanted to see which lasted the longest. We left the caps off for 5 days.

  • The Laurentien and Mr. Sketch markers passed with flying, vibrant colours.

  • The Crayola and Prang dried out.

Clean-Up Test

We marked up some walls, white t-shirts, and some fore arms to see how well they all washed off:

  • Walls: Laurentien and Crayola were the easiest to clean

  • T-Shirts: Laurentien, Crayola & Prang all came clean

  • Skin: Laurentien and Crayola came off with ease


The Laurentien did well in all of our tests. If you’re looking for some quick and inexpensive marker sets, we think this one will suit most projects.



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