When it comes to reading aloud to the kids, I've found a secret weapon. Enter: the art cart. I purchased this one from Target and added lots of art supplies that I would be comfortable with them using without supervision (i.e. no paints at this point). We keep the cart tucked away in our storage room, but as soon as I pull out our read-aloud book (currently The Mouse and the Motorcycle), one of the kids excitedly rolls it out. It contains everything they need to work quietly with their hands while I read.
I will probably switch things around as the year goes on, but for now, a list of our favorite supplies. Many of these had been purchased a while ago (and you could probably find them cheaper at a dollar store), but I'll link to something similar on Amazon for each. Just click on the item to take you to a direct link.
Paint brushes (these can be used with the watercolor pencils, which are very low mess. I don't mind if they grab some water and work with these unsupervised)
"Found" materials for collage (scraps of paper and empty egg cartons, which make perfect paint palettes if we pull out the tempera paint)