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.

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Creating With Clay Slabs

For the second week of our sculpture classes, the children were introduced to clay slabs (which had been laboriously rolled out on an industrial slab roller prior to class). If you were going to try this at home, you could use a rolling pin to form a basic slab. Jhaya’s plan was to draw on the children’s interest from the previous session and make clay houses, like the cardboard box houses that were such a hit before. As it turned out, the children who were in the previous session got the concept right away and began planning on what type of house they would make. Some of their ideas: Barn, Pirate Cave, Fairy house, Castle, Pig house, Spider house, and Bird house.

This project was a great way to learn about making cut-outs in the clay for windows and doors. The children also learned about balance and stability in order to get the walls and pitched roofs to stay put.


Some of the children worked on additional items to go inside the houses, like a horse, a spider, a pig, a birds nest, or a person. When one child was trying to figure out the body proportions of her person, another child offered to stand up and model for her!

The class with all new students (who hadn’t made the cardboard houses in the previous session) decided to go in a different direction. Instead of making houses, they wanted to use the slabs to make vases, so Jhaya helped them learn how to make wall vases using two slabs of clay. To create texture, the children pressed leaves onto the clay to make prints.
Below are some photos of the children glazing their work from the first few weeks (after everything had been bisque fired).






Once glazed, the pieces were fired again for the final time.
Here are a couple of finished houses. The rest of this amazing work will be shown at our upcoming art show on may 19th- don’t miss it!

Messy Clay Discoveries and Pinch Pots

For our clay week, the 1s and 2s classes explored the qualities of clay with a variety of objects. They used tools such as rolling pins, clay hammers, plastic pizza cutters, garlic presses, and modeling tools to cut and shape their clay. You can try this activity at home with our Make+Believe Create With Clay! Supply Kit.

Other objects like toys, old CDs and necklaces, were used to add texture to the clay.

The children squished and molded bits of clay with their hands- a good work out for those tiny muscles!

After a while, the teachers introduced water to investigate what happens when the clay gets wet.

A little water made the clay softer…

A lot of water made a big, fun mess!

The classes with 3 yr olds took the exploration a step further and worked on making pinch pots out of clay, then decorated them with tempera paint, sequins, and jewels. Some kids also made “elbow pots” by pressing their elbow into a ball of clay. This creates a slightly shallower bowl than a pinch pot.


What a keepsake!

New Sculpture Class! Pinch Pots and “Nature”

This session we have introduced a new sculpture class for children ages 3.5-6. Taught by professional sculptor, Jhaya Warmington (one of our regular toddler teachers), this class will focus half of the session on ceramics and the other half on a variety of sculpture techniques and materials. How lucky are we to have a sculpture specialist create this awesome class for us!

The first week of the session, the children worked on some basic elements of hand building, learning about pinch pots (and elbow pots!), coil making, and how to attach two pieces of clay together.

In one class, the children decided they wanted to make birds nests out of their pinch pots and add “nature” to the nests. One child suggested they collect “nature” from the garden outside. So off they went to find some more materials for their projects. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, we are always open to emergent curriculum and letting the children lead the project in a new direction. This way, the project takes on more meaning for the children and allows for a deeper learning experience.

Sometimes birds nests need a little glitter to make them sparkle!

The next class followed the lead of the previous class, when they saw the birds nests and natural materials drying on the shelf. They expanded on this by creating tall sculptures out of sticks and clay.

A mommy and daddy bird made by one of the students:

Clay Exploration, Leaf Prints, and Sculpture

For our week of clay exploration, some children worked with clay for the first time, while others re-visited this fun medium, experimenting with new techniques. The 1s and 2s classes began testing out a few tools to manipulate the clay.

After a bit of exploration with only the tools, the children were offered decorative objects to use with their clay (popsicle sticks, buttons, glitter, and paint).

The older twos classes tried out our new plaster molds. They pushed clay into the mold, rolled over it with their rolling pin, and then peeled it up to see detailed designs appear- So exciting!

The younger classes were eventually given water to add to their clay for a super sensory (and messy!) experience.

Window painting was also a hit this week!

The 3s/4s classes first were introduced to resist leaf printing. They chose leaves to press into their clay, painted over the entire thing with tempera, then peeled up the leaf to reveal their print.

After peeling up the leaves, you can see the veins printed into the clay. The leaves also acted as a resist to the paint, allowing the outline of the leaf to show when peeled up.

After leaf printing, the kids began to add to their work with more clay and decorations.

Some kids also decided to pick out items from the recycled materials bin to use with their clay.

 A couple of the finished sculptures…

Testing Clay

As you might have guessed from my last post, I’ve been on a product testing bender for the past few weeks. I want to make sure that the products I’m selling meet my high standards of quality art materials, are of good value, and are easy for children to manipulate. I try to get kids involved in the testing as much as possible… they make it so easy to see what works and what doesn’t!

When it came time to test the clay that will be in our kits, my 3 yr old daughter, Karuna, was super excited to try it out. She’s been working with clay in my art classes for a year and 1/2, but this was the first time she decided to sculpt a recognizable figure. I was caught off guard by the details of the little person she ended up creating. I love witnessing new stages in children’s creative development! Karuna was so proud of her sculpture, she wanted to keep working with the clay and decided to make a pinch pot as well.

After the clay pieces dried,  Karuna painted them with tempera and doused them with glitter (and to make sure they last, I sealed them with Mod Podge). I think we’ve found ourselves an awesome clay product for kids! Keep your eyes out for our Create With Clay! supply kit and project ideas in the Make+Believe shop. Coming soon :)

Exploring Clay- Creating Textures

This week was dedicated to clay exploration. For the mixed age class, the young kids worked inside, getting to know the clay and experimenting with various tools. The older kids sat together outside making sculptures.

In the 2s class, we experimented with different textured tools. The children first rolled out a slab of clay with textured rollers to see what kinds of marks they made on the clay.

Then I offered the kids clay hammers that pound different shapes into the clay. They got creative with the tools and began making textures in the clay in new ways.

After creating a variety of textures on their clay, the children decorated their work with glitter glue and fun materials like buttons, jewels, shells and pebbles.

After putting their work to dry on the shelf, I offered the kids new clay to explore with water. This is a sensory experience that is an important part of learning about clay. It won’t result in a finished product (more like a mushy clay soup )- but it sure is fun!

After working with clay, both classes got some painting in before class was over.

Leaf Rubbings and Exploring Pastels

For our final week of the session, we focused on leaf rubbings and pastels. The children first learned how to create an imprint of a leaf by placing it under the paper then rubbing on top of the paper with the side of a crayon.

After trying out the leaf rubbings, I offered the children chalk pastels to explore.

They experimented with rubbing, drawing, and blending this soft, dusty medium.

Then I offered them water and a brush to see what would happen if the pastel got wet. As they painted their drawings with water, the chalk dust mixed with the water and turned it into a colorful paint.

After wetting their papers, they drew again with the pastel and noticed how the colors became darker against the water.

Being our first drawing project for the youngest 1s class, we focused on making marks with oil pastels, then trying out liquid watercolor over the drawings.

No matter what age, all the classes love to paint, mix, and pour watercolors. Especially when glitter is involved!

The 1s classes also got to do some major sensory painting with foam paint.

Foam paint on the acrylic easel adds a twist to this sensory experience!

Remember the clay etching experiment in the 3s/4s class? The clay was dry and finally ready for the 3rd step to complete the process. In order to try to rub off some of the top paint, the children moved sand paper around in circles on top of their clay. The hope was that this would roughen up the top, leaving mostly the paint inside the scratches, so their design would stand out.

It was a little hard to sand off the top layer of paint, but they did manage to achieve a cool effect!

Thanks everyone for a great school year and final session. I had a blast!