It’s Not About Art: Skill-building in the studio

The other day I was going through photos of our art space over the years and it hit me how much my girls have learned from having a dedicated art space in our home.

I always say that having an art space is about so much more than just having a place to do art. But I realized that maybe I take this for granted and maybe other people don’t know what happens in an art space over time.

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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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Garden Wish Flags With The Artful Parent

When I started blogging about kids and art in late 2009, I discovered my first blogger hero, Jean Van’t Hul at the Artful Parent. She was (and still is!) my go-to resource for creative project ideas and living artfully with kids. Her toddler art group was also the inspiration behind my first toddler art classes. Over the years, Jean has only become more inspiring, always delivering countless fresh ideas for engaging children in the arts.

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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!!!