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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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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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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Spiderweb Printmaking

For some creative Halloween decorations, we decided to try out these styrofoam spiderweb prints, seen over at Tinkerlab. We started off by cutting out two circles of foam from our Scratch Foam Boards (affiliate link), but you could also use a Styrofoam plate.
Karuna and I weren’t sure exactly how to draw a spiderweb, so we looked up a photo of one online and talked about the lines and shapes in the web. Then we each took a stab at it, and drew our version of a spiderweb and spider onto our plates.
Next we used a ball point pen over our drawings to make deep grooves in the foam. Here are our finished printing plates:

To make a print, we used a brayer (affiliate link) –a foam paint roller would do fine as well- to roll out paint onto the foam plates. In addition to black paint, we were excited to try our glow in the dark paint left over from Karuna’s birthday. We had fun swapping plates to ink and print over and over again.

After rolling out the paint, we pressed a piece of paper onto the plate, rubbed it carefully, then peeled it up to reveal our print. For an added pop of color, we used a small paint brush to paint in the spider with the opposite color.

And here are some final prints, taped to our doorway for Halloween! I haven’t yet seen whether the glow in the dark one actually works, but the yellow looks pretty cool anyway.

Happy Halloween!

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!

Wacky Painting To Kick Off The New Session

Our new session began last week so, as always, we started it off with a messy painting exploration. The new children got to know the qualities of the tempera paint and investigated some of our wacky painting tools, while the returning students dove right in to this familiar scene.

In addition to our textured toys and tools, the children tried painting with an onion bulb, freshly plucked from the garden outside. The long dangling roots were especially fun to use like a brush!

The 3s class also experimented with the onion and wacky painting tools, but they first worked on color mixing and creating some multimedia paintings with their new colors and tissue paper shapes.

Every spare wall was utilized this week while the kids moved around and found new surfaces to check out.
Looking forward to a great session!
If you want to try out some wacky finger painting at home, check out our Make+Believe Finger Painting Fun! Supply Kit.

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.

Mask Making

For the past two weeks, the 3s, 4s, and 5s classes have been working on making plaster masks. Each child began with a child-sized plastic face form (older kids can actually use their own faces and have someone else apply the plaster, but preschool-aged kids are still too young for this method). They first dipped strips of plaster bandages into water, then smoothed them out onto their face form. This took a lot of concentration and commitment to cover the entire face, but the kids were super into it! I’ve used paper mache with this age group and it seems like the plaster bandages were easier (or more appealing) to work with.

After covering the face forms, the masks were left to dry until the next class. The following week, the kids worked on decorating their masks. The teachers, Kory and Jhaya, first helped to cut the eyes or mouths out for anyone who was interested. To decorate their masks, some children began with markers or glue, while others began with paint.

During the first week of mask-making, some of the kids discussed how they wanted to decorate their masks while Jhaya wrote down their ideas. The next week, Jhaya reminded the children what their original ideas were and provided them with specific materials to help them execute their plans.

After adding the final details, the kids decided whether they wanted to add string or a stick to hold up their masks. A few masks were kept as is, but most of the kids were really excited about the idea of actually wearing their masks!

A few of the final pieces… so impressive!