Washable Marker Experiment

I’m currently working with a client to set up an art space for her 16-month-old daughter. Whenever I’m thinking about materials for toddlers, I always think about washability, but even more so when the art space is in a central area of the home. This toddler art space is in an open family room/kitchen that leads out to the back yard. It’s where this family hosts guests and spends the majority of their time, so I’d like to help them out by stocking them with the most washable supplies I can find.

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Q&A: Toddler Art Exploration And Clean-Up

I’m starting a new Q&A series! I get a lot of questions from readers that I think are universal challenges when it comes to kids and creativity. After sending long e-mail responses to these questions, I realized that I should be posting them here on the blog so that others can benefit as well. So if you have a question, please fee free to send me an e-mail or ask in the comments below and I’ll do my best to post my answers to each of them.

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The New Playroom – E-Guide Launch!

Today is an exciting day! I am finally launching my first e-guide, The New Playroom, a step-by-step guide on how to set up a home art space for kids (actually, I am launching my first two e-guides at once! I have also created a bonus guide, Invitations to Create, but I’ll leave that for another post).

For the past 13 years I have been on a mission to help kids gain creative confidence by exposing them to artistic materials and process-oriented art at a young age. I believe that being creative and understanding how to use tools and materials to make things is an essential part of learning.

The New Playroom Launch 2


I am a strong believer in the Reggio Emilia saying, “the environment is the third teacher” (the first two teachers being adults and peers). When we create spaces in our homes that are stocked with interesting tools and materials- that are organized and inviting- we are giving our kids the message that they are creative and capable little beings. We are inviting them to explore the world around them through these materials so that they will gain confidence in their natural creative abilities and take these skills with them as they grow older.

Through my work I help clients design art spaces in their homes and schools. But this is not enough. I want to reach more families than is possible with a one-on-one service, so I created this guide for you to tackle it on your own. The New Playroom offers all of the insights that I have learned over a decade of working with kids in creative settings. I take you through my design process when working with clients and give you every tip and trick in my tool belt. And if you ever have a question or need a little encouragement, I’m here for you.

Thanks for joining me in this launch day celebration!

Click here to learn more about the guide or to make a purchase. And don’t forget about the bonus guide, which includes 30 days of easy art prompts!

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 :)

A Little Research Project

I just finished ordering all of our products for the online shop and decided that that I’d share some interesting information. There are a lot of products out there to choose from and I wanted to make sure that I was picking high quality items that are also true to their advertising. If a paint says “washable,” is it too much to expect it to actually be washable?? As a parent, I’ve experienced first hand what it’s like when I let my daughter finger paint with “washable” paints, only to find out after doing the laundry that her yellow dress is now practically tie-died with blue and red stains. I’m all about getting messy and don’t even mind stained clothes, but I do mind when a product boldly pronounces itself to be washable when it clearly isn’t.
So here is a little research I did while choosing children’s “washable” tempera paint to sell in my shop.

After narrowing it down to two brands, I did a swatch test and painted red and blue from each brand onto pieces of white cotton. Paint A has better colors, closer to true red and blue which is good for color mixing (but the blue also had a strong chemical smell that turned me off). Both paints are clearly labeled “washable” on the front of the bottles. I let them dry, then threw them into the washing machine with cold water and regular detergent. Here are the results…

So it looks like there is a clear winner! You won’t find any of “Paint A” (Melissa & Doug Poster Paint) in my shop. Paint B is Palmer Washable Poster Paint that will be available in many colors on Make+Believe. If you’re looking for brighter, truer pigments we will also have Palmer Prism Tempera paints that are not very washable, but don’t claim to be!

Update (6/2016): I no longer have the online shop for art supplies, but you can find Palmer Washable Poster Paint here (affiliate link) as well as another great washable brand here.

Welcome to My New Home!

For all those of you who have visited me at the Littlest Birds Studio, thank you for finding me here at Make+Believe. I have spent more than 3 years helping young children discover the world of art… the technique, the self-expression, the collaboration, the messes, and the pure joy of creativity! Although I will continue to teach and post about classes, I am beginning a new journey, bringing my passion for children’s creative growth to the greater public.
In September I will be launching my new online shop, Make+Believe, where you’ll find children’s art projects, creative products, events, and a community forum. I hope to encourage children’s creative development through open-ended, exploratory art projects and unique products. I look forward to connecting with you and creating a large community of folks who believe in the importance of creativity and want to help inspire the next generation of creative thinkers.

This photo of me and my family was taken by the awesome Sarah Wert of Modern Kids Photography… more of her photos to come soon!