Encouraging a Creative Art Environment for Your Kids
We all know how important play time is. We also know there is structured play time (classes, sports etc) and there is unstructured play time, where kids go off on there own. The same can be down with art. You can have projects that you can supervise, especially with younger children. Then there is unstructured art time, where they can wonder over and start creating.
I have a passion for art! I love to create art. I love to look at art. I love the history of art. I have been creating art since I was a small child. I could not wait to encourage my children to express themselves artistically. My Mother (God bless her) encouraged me to express myself. She says I drew on EVERYTHING. I drew on walls, books and furniture.
I know a lot of mothers are cringing out there when they think of kids let loose with art supplies. I, unfortunately, was not born with the meticulous clean house gene. There are times when I wish I had been. When I talk about letting my boys use paints, I see the fear come over them. They see their children running wild; with paint covering there bodies, all over the walls, the house torn down. Now this may occur but not likely. I want to assure you, that you can have both; house that is still standing and a creative child.“How do you foster a creative art environment for children to experiment and keep your house together?” Environment can be a relative term. It can mean a literal space but it can also be a state of mind. When children know they can have uninhibited access to art supplies, they will dive right in. It is necessary part of the creative process to experiment. Not only do we have “thinking outside the box”, fine motor skills are worked on, problem solving skills and curiosity fired up. Where do we create? If you are fortunate to have a large home, I would recommend a room all their own for art. I saw in a magazine one time where a family took a formal dining room they never used and turned into a playroom. Complete with child size counters and sinks. Wow! That would be awesome.But if you are strapped for room and cash, like me what can you do? You can set up an art nook. A small area that has a table chairs and bins for art supplies. A plain wall is good for putting up work that is drying or use as a “gallery”. A neat idea is to paint chalkboard paint on a wall for kids to write on or put up large dry erase boards. I painted a Winnie the Pooh theme in my nursery. I used black board paint for the opening to Rabbit’s house.
Yes, kids write on walls. They are going do it anyway, why not give them a space that is all their own. Then tell them to leave the other walls alone. If they do transgress, that’s what washable crayons are for.
Now an art nook is great for unsupervised art. I would recommend however for structured art, the family table is the best choice. With structured art, you general have more materials and more mess. This way you can contain those as well. I general put my kids in an art smock, play cloths or if it’s summer I strip them down as much as possible. Remember when warm weather is hot, the great art doors can be your art room!
Now rules. Yes there are rules. They are very few but important for the art area:
- Kids need to put away all materials where they belong
- Kids need to clean all bushes
- Respect other people’s art work (do not destroy or make fun of others work)
- Have fun!
Here are some of my recommendations for generally inexpensive art supplies. Some of these supplies, you can let kids go to town on there own and some they needed supervision. This of course depends on the age of your child.
- Washable crayons
- Washable paints
- Washable watercolors
- Glue sticks
- Safety scissors
- Tape (masking, clear, painters)
- Post its
- Paper clips
- Play dough (You can make your own)
- Pipe cleaners
- Glitter (if you are feeling very brave)
- Popsicle sticks
- Google eyes
- Pain paper
- Construction paper
- Cotton balls
- Small paint rollers that have a texture
- Magazine, old books
There are many more everyday materials that kids can use. Things you find in office supply stores or hardware stores. Materials you recycle such as milk cartons, plastic bottles, cardboard, etc. When warmer weather arrives you can pick out nature objects flowers, sticks, leaves, rocks, you can even use the rain and snow to let your children create with. As children get older you can branch out into more traditional art supplies such as cra´y pas (oil sticks which are very inexpensive way to introduce oil painting), acrylic paint, conte´ crayons, pastels, sewing machines, computers, clay, wood, etc.
I think the most important thing a parent can do is, have as much fun with your child. Do art with them. It does not matter your skill level or their skill level. There will be so much shared experience memory and learning together it does not matter if you are Picasso! I hope this gives you some ideas to get started. I will have some art projects in my other blogs when you need some inspiration.
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