Art Workshop For Children: Self-Portraits

Let me introduce you to my favorite new book about process art and Reggio-inspired learning. Friends, meet Art Workshop For Children. Art Workshop For Children, please meet my friends. I’m sure you guys will get along really well.

Art Workshop for Children, by Barbara Rucci and Betsy McKenna, is a breathtaking book (the photos literally made me gasp when I first flipped through the pages) filled with unique process-based art activities for kids and tips on how to prepare your art space for creative exploration. I especially love the thoughtful reflections woven throughout the book by Reggio-inspired educator, Betsy McKenna, on how to raise creative thinkers and why this is important for all children.

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Reggio Inspired Art Secrets

You probably know this by now, but I am a huge fan of the incredible art teacher and blogger, Meri Cherry. I remember discovering her work a couple of years ago when she wrote a post about wood working with toddlers. I immediately felt a kinship and was so excited to find another Reggio inspired art blogger. We eventually got to meet in person over a plate of tacos and we both couldn’t stop blabbering on about Reggio and kids art. We have been friends ever since! Meri has a way of sharing her experience as a teacher that is unlike any other teacher and blogger I know. Her beautiful photos and down-to-earth voice bring you into her world and make you feel like you are being let in on a secret. So it’s no wonder she recently published an e-book called  Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know, A Reggio Inspired Approach.

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Embroidery Multimedia Art

This summer, my hubby, Aaron, decided to run a small soccer camp for some of the 7-year-old girls that will be on his team in the fall. It’s been a while since I’ve taught art classes and we thought it would be fun to add an hour of art to each day of camp. Then, to top off this already incredibly cool camp, Aaron decided to add in dessert adventures at the end of each day (walking around town, in search of the yummiest treat!).

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Meet Rebecca Picker of Studio Sprout!

Rebecca Picker is a mother of 3, performer, costume designer, and founder of Studio Sprout, a children’s art studio and discovery garden in Santa Cruz, California. Rebecca and I have been friends since first meeting in college at UC Santa Cruz. When we re-connected at a college reunion a few years ago, she was super excited to hear about how I had started a toddler art studio out of my back cottage.  This got her thinking…
With a little encouragement from me and a lot of talent and drive on her part, she too was able to start a successful children’s art studio at home. I recently spent a morning at her art studio enjoying her amazing program and finding out a little more about how she managed to follow her passions and create a fulfilling business as a stay at home mom.

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So Many Ways to Make Prints!

Here are some fun photos from our last two weeks of the Winter session. Both weeks were dedicated to a variety of print-making techniques (because there are so many great ones to try for young children!) I would like to go into detail about each of the techniques, but I am on maternity leave and trying to take it easy. Our healthy baby girl, Ora, was born March 11th. She’s adorable, full of love, and sleeps really well :)
Enjoy the photos and I’ll be back with more documentation from the new session next week.

Check out our Make+Believe Magnificent Monoprint! Supply Kit if you want to try scratch foam print-making at home.

Beading, Building, and Messy Fun

For our beading week, we started the 2s classes off with a simple bracelet making activity with large beads and pipe cleaners. The stiffness of the pipe cleaners make it easy for the little ones to practice their hand/eye coordination. Some kids were super into the beading and finished it off by twisting the pipe cleaners into a circle to make a bracelet. Other kids had absolutely no interest in beading and preferred to go straight into painting or gluing instead.
After their beading exploration, each child was given their watercolor paintings from last week to continue their work. With the watercolors dry, the kids could now add to their paintings with markers, glue and fun Valentine collage bits. Some kids decided to use the beads for the collage instead of the bracelets… great idea!

Our hope was that the kids would use glue sticks for their collages so that they could take them home in time for Valentines day. As it turns out, 1 and 2 yr olds would much prefer to to squeeze white or colored glue rather than rub an unfamiliar clear stick onto their paper- imagine that!

For the last part of class, the teachers brought out our super fun floor painting tools and a canvas for some gross motor painting. The toilet plungers made really cool circle prints, but the child-sized broom was probably the hottest commodity.

After each class, we added painters tape to the canvas to preserve some of their work before the next class got to the painting. Once all of the classes have had a chance to add to the 2 canvases, we’ll peel off the tape and see if we can find the contrast between the classes.

While some kids got messy on the floor, the table was full of various tools for more collaborative painting.

The 3s, 4s, and 5s classes worked on an entirely different type of beading project. They began with a block of wood, markers, paper shapes, nails, and mallets to make the base for beaded sculptures. Of course they loved the hammering part!

After drawing on the wood and hammering nails and paper shapes onto their blocks, the kids attached craft wire to the nails (we used Twisteez craft wire, which is super flexible and coated with colorful plastic). Finally the kids threaded the wire with beads before attaching the other end of the wire to another nail on the wood block.

 Some chose to embellish their sculptures with glue, glitter and more collage items.

 We even had a sibling pop in to help her older sister finish her sculpture!

Don’t you love how they turned out?! Once finished, kids can experiment with bending the wire to create all kinds of new sculpture forms.

Watercolor Techniques and Valentines

We started off our watercolor week with a bleeding tissue experiment in the 1s/2s classes. The children placed pieces of “bleeding” tissue paper (the colors bleed when wet) onto their watercolor paper and used a variety of tools to moisten the tissue with water. When the watercolor dry, the children will use them as a base for making valentines.

Aside from the basic sponges, the children used droppers, sponge rollers, sponge stamps, and spray bottles to get their tissues to transfer color to their paper. All of these tools provide the kids with  different opportunities to develop their fine motor skills.

The spray bottles are not only a blast (pun intended!), but they also help to strengthen little hand muscles.

 Spray bottles and brushes were used at the easels with liquid watercolor to explore the dripping effect.

After some super wet exploration, the kids were introduced to foam paint (a non-toxic paint with a shaving creme texture). I like to provide white foam paint so the kids can add paint themselves and create their own colors. Adding glitter is fun too!

 Spraying foam paint on the acrylic wall panel offered a different kind of messy sensory experience!

In the older 3s/4s and 4s/5s classes, the children started off with a still life drawing of a pot of daffodils. For their drawings they used black sharpies and oil pastels, which are a great base for the watercolor resist technique. Each child was given a few different sized pieces of watercolor paper so they could eventually turn these works into Valentines.

After drawing, the children were given liquid watercolor and watercolor brushes to add more dimension to their work.

 A finished still life from the 4s/5s class:

If you’d like to try these techniques at home, check out our Make+Believe Wonderful Watercolor Resist! Supply Kit.
After working on the paintings, the kids made different Valentines by gluing small collage items onto bright tag board. The hearts and butterfly paper shapes were made by using a paper puncher on old paintings- a great way to re-use old artwork that you would otherwise throw away!

With our sporadic weather, we occasionally hit a warm day and get to have some fun outside in the garden after art class. It looks like a dance party going on on top of the hay stacks!

Mixing Paste for Collage

Last week the 1s, 2s, & 3s classes experimented with mixing their own paste for collage work. This project is super fun because it feels like a cooking and art project combined. First they scooped a cup of flour into a mixing bowl, added water, and then tried their best to stir it into a batter-like consistency.

As exciting as the combination of flour and water was, it got even better when the teachers brought out the colorful tempera paint and glitter!

Once the paste was ready, the children scooped it onto their tag board (the 3s class had frames cut from cardboard) and used a variety of scraping tools to spread it around.

Some of the scraping tools were made for children’s paint, while others were direct from the hardware store- plastic putty knives and plastic notched trowels for tiling. I love to see how the children learn new things by watching each other!

At times this was a very messy project (and not always the prettiest), but well worth the experience!

After the paste was laid down, the children began to assemble collage items onto their boards.

And onto the window… what ingenuity!

Exploring Circles- Welcoming the Cycle of a New Year

For our last class of the session, we explored a circular theme to represent the end of one year and the beginning of a new year. The 1s and 2s classes began with different types of ball painting. We used golf balls for children who aren’t accustomed to marbles yet, and introduced marble painting to kids whose parents felt comfortable with such small objects.

The kids used spoons to roll the balls in paint and scoop them into their trays. Next, they began to shake and tip the trays to make tracks on their paper.

Stirring the balls around and shaking glitter onto them was also a major part of the experience.

As the children began to collect new tools off of the shelf, the teachers brought out large paper to continue their exploration.

We even tried the ball painting on a large scale, where the kids collaborated to get the balls rolling.

As the kids began to move around the studio, we had some more exciting circular activities to investigate.

We tried out our new “spinner art” machine that spins the paper around really fast while the children added drops of paint to the moving paper. The machine came with squeeze bottles, but we first tried using our eye droppers with watered down tempera paint to help develop fine motor skills.

Here is an example of a finished spin art design!

While some of the children focused on the spin art, others were drawn to the pendulum painting, set up over the floor. We hung a string and plastic cup (with a small hole at the bottom) from the ceiling to act as a pendulum. The kids squirted watered down tempera paint into the cup and swung the cup around in circles to create circular and oval drip designs. The floor was covered with a painting that had been previously sprayed with watercolors, so the design overlapped the blotchy watercolor effect. One group of kids began to pass the cup back and forth, creating a cooperative painting game!

Before getting messy with the ball painting, the 3s/4s classes worked on a more crafty project for the new year… a “wish catcher.” They began by drawing a design onto a pre-cut poster board with holes punched into it. While they were drawing, the teachers asked them about what types of wishes they had for the new year and helped them write down their wishes. Some kids wished for snow, or to play with friends, and one even wished for a chainsaw (which it turns out he actually got for Christmas!)

After drawing on the poster board, the kids practiced their fine motor skills by “sewing” yarn in and out of the holes.

After sewing, the teachers helped the kids apply clear contact paper to the middle of the hoops so they could create a “stained glass” collage (they also made sure to stick their wishes into their collages).

Here is one of the finished “wish catchers” hanging in the window. Maybe they will help to manifest all of the children’s hopes and dreams for the new year. Happy New Year!!!