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Gluten-free art supplies for school

Posted on August 18th, 2008 by Alison Read 8 Comments - Add Your Own »


It’s back to school time and time to make sure that the products used in the classroom are safe for kids with food allergies! The main concern with classroom supplies is gluten or wheat because wheat flour is a common ingredient in craft supplies.

Some kids cannot make contact with wheat at all. For other kids, it is an issue of eating gluten (as in little kids eating play dough) or gluten getting on the hands and then the hands go in the mouth or the hands touch food.

Here are the things to watch out for:


Most play doughs contain wheat, including PLAY-DOH brand. PLAY-DOH’s website says it does NOT contain peanuts, peanut oil, or any milk byproducts. Crayola Dough also contains wheat, but does not contain peanuts, shellfish, fish, tree nuts, eggs, milk or latex .

Here are some wheat and gluten-free play dough or modeling clay options:


Paper mache and wallpaper paste and that smelly paste we used to use in school (that some kids liked to eat!) contain wheat flour.

Here are some wheat-free alternatives to traditional paper mache:

  • Make your own paper mache with this recipe from Planet Pals:
    Ingredients: Glue, water, paper
    Mix two parts white glue with one part warm water. Stir well and the Paste is ready to use. Now you need paper-newspaper works well! Dip each piece of paper in the liquid mixture and apply it one piece at a time to form your shapes.

  • Claycrete Instant Papier Mache – made from 100% pure paper pulp, you mix with water and knead it and model it.


Most paints are free of food allergens, but Elmer’s Finger Paints contain wheat and oat products.


Another thing to watch out for is dry pasta used for art projects (again, because some kids like to eat it). If you know about it ahead of time, you can substitute gluten-free pasta in almost any shape, or use dried beans or beads or whatever else you can think of instead.

Now parents, get that bulletin board or refrigerator ready for all those beautiful works of art!

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  1. Allison,

    Thank you for this info! And to have your help in letting us know of truly, not only food but products. School products that school “demands” participation of my child.

    Long story short, my son has been recently diagnosed with DH, a rare skin condition. And it recommends going 100% gluten free. Well, I’ve been educating and reading and trying and every thing with going gluten-free for my son.

    His 1st grade year at school was quite horrible. So much school meetings and so much repeating and such of his mystery skin condition. School wants him to participate in every thing. Just horrible.
    But, talking with the principal recently, I decided to give this school another try for next year.

    But, reading about school art supplies and even activities, I’m so grateful to you! I will not stop being a voice and help to protect my son from any gluten. If I’m trying out some gluten-free meals, I must get educated with material things too.

    sorry to babble. I am just so overwhelmed with so much information. Trying to just have his environment, and i guess mines too, to get accustomed with this gluten-free way of life.
    I plan to read more about your website.

    Thank you!

    Jeannie from maui

  2. You’re welcome Jeannie — that gluten can be sneaky!
    And Dermatitis Herpetiformis is probably not as rare as you think. There are many people living with DH that have not been properly diagnosed. A gluten-free diet is the treatment for anyone with DH.
    Good luck!

  3. Rice Dream Rice Milk is NOT gluten-free. I contacted the company shortly after they updated their packaging to say gluten-free. I wrote several emails and called several times before I got a straight answer. They have not changed the process by which they manufacture their rice milk. They Still use a barley enzyme in the manufacturing of their rice milk. This is what made their product something to avoid in the first place. However, a recent slacking of laws, allows companies to call any product with less than .02% Gluten-free. Do not fool yourself if you think that a little won’t hurt. Gluten Intolerance causes an auto-immune response in the body whether from one or one hundred molecule. The only difference being in the length and intensity of the reaction. A little Will go a long way, and for Celiacs and others intolerant to gluten, that is a long and Painful way.

  4. Hi!
    I am having trouble finding out if the paints used at my son’s school have gluten – any chance you know about Sax Versa Tempera Paint?
    The company doesn’t seem to make a statement on it officially – I am looking into it but have a meeting w. the school tomorrow so trying to get some answers asap!

  5. Sorry Sabra,
    I don’t know the answer to that one but I don’t think tempera paints should have gluten (they probably contain egg).

  6. Parents thank you for letting the teachers know if your child has this problem.
    It would be good for you to gather art products in a special “name here” box for your child. I know it would help me a great deal. Budgets are almost none existent for art teachers now. Classroom teachers would appreciate it also I know.
    I am very lucky that I have always used the glutten free products! Now I am even more aware of which things to buy for my glutten free students.

  7. Thanks for the info- I’m looking for a gluten free modeling dough for one of my students to use.

    Years ago I had to find a gluten free alternative to wheat paste for paper mache. A great one is called Elmer’s Art Paste. It is a methyl cellulose paste. It works well, and an added bonus is it doesn’t spoil!

  8. I found a professional watercolor paint that is gluten-free and certified by ACMI to be kid safe just in case they put it into their mouths. The company is called Colors of Nature at http://www.colorsofnature.com.

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