5 Tips to Get Your Kid’s Art Space Started

Happy New Year! Every new year I get the urge to do a little re-decorating and get organized in our home. Do you feel the same way?  If you do and you’re thinking of re-working your kid’s art space or setting one up for the first time, I’ve put together my top 5 tips to help you get started.

Getting Started With Your Kid’s Art Space

1) Keep It Simple & Uncluttered

Design has the ability to affect our mood and productivity. An inspiring and well-organized space is inviting and stimulates creativity- which is what we want for our kid’s art space, right? If your art space is accessible, organized, aesthetically pleasing, and filled with quality materials, your child will be drawn to it. Don’t be surprised if you are drawn to it too!

Although design is important, simplicity is key. Keeping the furniture and decor simple will allow for the creative materials and your child’s work to take center stage. You want your child to be inspired by the design, but also feel like there is room to fill it with their own creativity.

It’s also important to keep the amount of supplies minimal so you don’t overwhelm your child. Too many supplies can be overstimulating- not to mention it makes it much harder to clean up and keep organized. If you have a lot of supplies, minimize what you have on display by storing away the excess and rotate them in whenever you want to rejuvenate your space.

2) Make It Open & Accessible

Help your kids gain creative independence by having some familiar materials always accessible. Kids will use the space more if their art supplies are visible and they can access them without having to ask for help. It’s hard to be spontaneous if you have to ask permission every time you want to make something. Make sure to go over the rules with your kids and let them know you trust them (even if you’re not so sure!). Maybe they will surprise you as they gain a sense of autonomy and responsibility.

3) Invest In Containers & Ditch The Packaging

When you add up the cost of shelf organizers, bins, and art caddies, it can be surprisingly expensive. But when you see how much of a difference it makes, it is well worth the investment. Find containers that fit your space well and keep your supplies organized. If you have a tight budget, you don’t have to invest much. You can find great containers at second-hand shops or home discount stores.

Store your art supplies in your containers and ditch the packaging.  Art supplies look fun, vibrant, and inviting without their packaging, which appeals to kids. This also makes them easier to access. Use containers that fit your supplies and organize them by category.

4) Mix It Up

A creative space isn’t only about art. Don’t be afraid to mix some toys and art supplies together in the same space. Think of it more as a workshop, where your kids can use their art materials to enhance other types of “work.” Plastic toys are easy to clean if they happen to become covered in paint or glue, so I usually start with those. Sometimes I include wooden blocks or play kitchen items to use with play-dough. We often keep little dolls or characters in our studio and my girls end up using the art supplies to make accessories for them. Art making becomes woven into their imaginative play, which can keep them engaged for long periods of time.

5) Supplies To Include Beyond Markers & Crayons

These are my top five mediums that I recommend for beginner artists that go beyond markers and crayons (even for toddlers). When I taught art classes, these were my go-to activities for any new group of kids because they create a great foundation for learning about art.

1. Washable tempera paint

I always start with washable tempera paint because it’s a wonderful introduction to art exploration. Tempera paint works well for finger painting, brush painting, easel painting, mixing colors and simple print-making.

2. Oil Pastels or Beeswax Crayons

I like to start kids off with oil pastels or beeswax crayons because they’re softer and have more vibrant colors than traditional crayons. This makes for brighter marks on paper, which is more interesting and satisfying for kids. If you’re not sure whether your child will keep the supplies at the table, then I would start with beeswax crayons (which are more washable) and hold off on oil pastels until you know your furniture is safe!

3. Liquid Watercolors

Liquid watercolors are really fun for toddlers who love to mix, pour, and stir. Toddlers love water- and colored water is even better! Liquid watercolors are also great for older kids because they are more vibrant than watercolor cakes and can be used with droppers (pipettes). Droppers are also a great tool for strengthening fine motor skills in preschool age kids.

4) Play-Dough Or Clay

Play-dough and clay are great for modeling, pretend play, and building fine motor skills. You might feel more comfortable starting with play-dough because it’s easier to clean up, but if you’re ready to try clay, it offers an entirely different sensory experience (especially when you add water!).

5) Glue & Collage

Squeezing glue is another great way to strengthen hand muscles and kids love squeezing! I offer glue, thick paper or cardboard, and small collage items like pom-poms, gems, paper shapes, and items found in nature. I always make sure to have extra glue bottles to start and let kids squeeze out as much glue as they want while they are learning how to use it. Then I talk with them about what happens when we use too much glue. Does it dry well? How much glue do we need to use if we are trying to attach something to a piece of paper? They eventually figure it out.

When you allow kids to explore materials in their own way (with respect to your house rules, of course!), they will learn to self-regulate and figure it out for themselves. If you want to see an example of this in 2-year-olds, you can read this blog post from from my toddler art class over 7 years ago.

6) Tape

Although tape wasn’t part of my top 5 mediums in my art classes, I have to include it here. Kids love tape! I try to be generous with tape and know that buying extra rolls is worth it when I see how focused and excited kids are when they have free use of tape. I usually start with scotch and masking tape for toddlers and preschool aged kids, then move on to washi and duct tape when they aren’t using up the whole rolls anymore.

*I’ve put together a clickable image list of my favorite art supplies for getting started. Click here to check it out.

Looking for More Help?

If you decide that you want more help setting up your art space, my online course, Design Camp, is starting next week on January 8th. It’s a 5-week course where I take you step-by-step through my process of setting up an engaging art space for your child.

Learn more about Design Camp here

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