Starting a new daycare center is an exciting opportunity! With all the planning and preparations you’re doing, you may be wondering exactly what supplies you’ll need to successfully open a child care center. There’s a lot to think about, but we’ve got you covered.
In this comprehensive checklist, we’ve outlined 100 of the most important child care materials you should consider for your center, why you’ll need them and how to make the most out of them. Every area of your center is covered, from the kitchen to the craft table. You can download this list, print it out and use it as a shopping list for your center.
What are Child Care Center Materials?
On top of the considerations of child care building design and furniture and decorations, keeping your center well-stocked with child care supplies and materials is essential to a well-functioning center. By “materials,” we mean the things you’ll need to buy other than furnishings and fixtures to keep your center running: books, craft supplies, cleaning supplies, toys and so on.
When making purchases, consider the quality and appropriateness of the materials to your center. All your supplies should be high-quality so they will endure wear and tear without breaking or posing hazards. Materials for children should be age-appropriate and interesting or attractive to kids. Finally, make sure your supplies are well-maintained and in good working order with regular inspections — anything worn out should be replaced.
100 Must-Have Child Care Center Materials
Child Care Materials
Safety supplies consist of everything you need to keep your center and the kids in it safe and healthy. Consider fire safety, first aid and medical emergencies, carbon monoxide, falling/stair safety, building security, room security and outdoor play safety when acquiring supplies.
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Smoke detectors
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Safety gates for doors/stairs and child-proof locks for cabinets
- Safety mirror
In addition to the fixtures in your kitchen, you’ll need a number of supplies — not to mention, a generous stock of food! It’s best to have at least a week’s supply of food on hand, just in case of supplier issues or other emergencies.
- Pots and pans
- Cooking utensils
- Eating utensils (forks, knives, spoons, etc.)
- Plastic cups, including sippy cups
- Paper towels
- Food and condiments
Now more than ever, hygiene is a crucial aspect of running a child care center. Make sure that your center is well-stocked on cleaning supplies at all times — especially hand sanitizer. Kids can spread illness at the best of times, so you’ll want to do everything you can to keep the daycare environment sanitary.
- Disinfectant sprays
- Hand sanitizer
- Cleaning cloths
- Mop and bucket
- Scrubbing pads and sponges
- Soap and cleaning solutions
Child Care Supplies
These cover the basics you’ll need to provide care for kids, especially infants. Most centers ask for parents to send along their own diapers and wipes, but it’s always handy to have extra! Baby wipes are especially useful for wiping up sticky kids.
- Diapers in varying sizes
- Hand soap
- Baby bottles and formula
- Cots and cribs, including a portable crib
- Blankets and pillows
Child Learning Materials (by Activity Area)
Reading Area Materials
The reading area should be a cozy, quiet zone, with plenty of comfortable child-sized seating, indirect light and soft pillows to help kids get in the mood to relax and read. Use educational displays such as alphabet posters to reinforce the development of literacy.
- Pillows and rugs
- A wide variety of books and magazines, including fiction and nonfiction, for various age levels
- Audio player/listening station with headsets
- Written materials from daily life (such as calendars and phone books)
- Paper and& writing materials
Block Activity Materials
Blocks are a classic activity for kids that engages their fine and gross motor skills, creativity and problem-solving. With a variety of age-appropriate blocks, themed mats and figurines, the sky’s the limit on what they’ll build.
- 200-250 standard wood building blocks
- Large hollow wooden blocks
- Large plastic blocks
- Foam blocks
- Cardboard blocks
- Figurines for block activity play (such as people, vehicles, animals, roads and traffic signs, city-themed play mat)
Fine Motor Activity Materials
This activity center gives children the chance to develop their fine motor skills by manipulating, structuring and sorting small objects. Consider how these activities can be connected with other educational objectives, such as teaching math and science.
- Texture and visual puzzles (foam, plastic, wood, etc.)
- Beads, bead pattern cards and strings
- Child-safe sewing materials
- Pegs & pegboards
- Pop beads, gears and other small connecting objects
- Shape sorters
- Connecting straws/sticks
- Small themed toys for sorting, such as fruit
Gross Motor Activity Materials
This is likely to be the most active, hectic zone in your center, so it’s important to have plenty of space — , separate it from quieter zones, and protect kids from hard falls with soft mats. Some of these items, such as bats and balls, are best used outdoors for safety reasons.
- Balls (variety, and sports)
- Soft tumbling mats
- Catcher’s mitts and plastic bats
- Riding toys such as tricycles and scooters
- Hula hoops
- Crawling tunnel
Sand/Water Activity Area Supplies
Sand and water play are a fun, but potentially messy way for kids to get creative and engage their senses. Make sure to have easy-to-clean flooring under these areas, as well as dedicated toys for sand and water, so that they won’t spread mess when moved to other areas.
- Sand boxes and tables, bins, tubs and sinks
- Sand, modelling sand and/or pellets
- Sprinkler and hose
- Aprons for protection from water
- Trowels, shovels and scoops
- Cups and spoons
- Spray bottles, containers, pails and sand molds
- Sand and water wheels
- Natural materials such as driftwood, seashells or stones
- Figurines and vehicles for dramatic play
Dramatic Arts Materials
Dramatic arts materials include everything kids need to get their imagination running wild. This can include play props for games, dress-up clothes, toys and everyday items that can be repurposed into dramatic play. When stocking your dramatic arts area, try to be as creative as a child’s imagination!
- Play sets, such as kitchen and house
- Furniture and accessories: tables, chairs, pillows, blankets, storage and a mirror
- Play food and play eating/ and cooking utensils
- Play house items: bed/cradle, bottles, telephones, toy iron, toy vacuum cleaner/sweeper, clocks, radios
- Baby dolls, stuffed animals, figurines for doll houses
- Doll houses and furniture
- Dress-up clothes and costumes
- Prop box for themed dramatic play, such as doctor’s office or salon
Math & Science Activity Supplies
This area of your center gets kids discovering the natural world through their minds and senses, as well as learning basic numeracy and quantity skills. Educational displays such as maps, number lines, species charts or diagrams of the earth’s crust can round out the scholastic atmosphere.
- Measuring tools such as rulers, measuring tapes, measuring cups, scales
- Shape puzzles and displays
- Number cubes and rods, abacus and other counting tools
- Math games and puzzles, such as dice and dominoes
- Class pet, terrarium or plants
- Timekeeping items: clocks, stopwatches, kitchen timers
- Magnets, prisms, kaleidoscopes and color filters
- Lenses such as binoculars, magnifying glasses or a microscope
- Natural materials: labeled rocks/minerals, plant clippings, pine cones, seashells
Music appreciation can unite the domains of creativity and gross motor skills. Listening to music can be a quiet activity, but it can also get kids up and moving! A great music area has supplies for both types of musical fun.
- CD player or other device that can play music (such as a dedicated smart device)
- CDs or playlist of a variety of music, including children’s, classical, jazz and other
- Musical instruments such as kazoo, glockenspiel, maracas, tambourine, recorder, drums, toy piano, etc.
- Props for dancing and rhythm games such as batons, ribbons, balls, etc.
Arts & Crafts Supplies
Arts and crafts are an everyday favorite of all kids, and this area is one of your opportunities to provide the most fun and excitement for the kids in your care. Arts and crafts supplies will need to be restocked regularly as needed. Have fun with your choices, but don’t forget the cleanup required for some craft supplies such as glitter!
- Easels and canvas or large cardstock for painting
- Child-safe paint
- Paintbrushes, paint cups and palettes
- Smocks, aprons or paint shirts
- Variety of paper: drawing paper, construction paper, tissue, etc.
- Crayons, markers and colored pencils
- Various colors play dough or plasticine and tools such as rolling pins, cookie cutters, etc.
- Child-safe scissors
- Craft materials such as sequins, feathers, foam, pipe cleaners, glitter, cardboard tubes, paper plates, fabric, buttons, pom-poms, etc.
Child Care Technology Supplies
Today, child care technology is an essential aspect of the classroom. Take advantage of the versatility offered by smart devices to provide educational opportunities such as videos, music and even virtual field trips. For teachers, smart devices are a great way to manage drop-offs and pick-ups, keep track of your classroom and easily send updates to parents.
- Smartphones, tablets and/or digital cameras
- Speakers (Bluetooth)
- Procare Child Care Management Software
Manage Your Child Care Center with Procare Solutions
The right child care materials are essential to help the kids at your center learn and develop. Complete your child care materials list with Procare’s child care app, your all-in-one solution to managing centers big and small.
Procare lets you capture the magic that happens when kids grow and play with the materials you provided, and easily share it with parents using the built-in parent engagement app. And with features like contactless check-in and child care billing, it’s never been easier to make the most of your classroom technology.
Curious how Procare can become one of your classroom essentials?