A few spots remain for the Summer Kids Making Art program. Please note, these will be the last sessions of the year as the program will be taking a hiatus until 2013. Please register by May 29 to hold space for your children!
I’m always on the lookout for kid-friendly art materials. There’s so much to choose from, and they can be hit or miss depending on the brand. Here are a few suggestions for art materials to try out with your 2-5 year olds. It may take several times of introducing an art medium to your kids before they decide they like it.
Watercolors – a less messy way to try painting with your kids. Try Crayola or Prang brand in the 8 or 16 quantity set. Don’t just use the tiny brush that comes with the set – give your small kids a wide-handled brush with lots of bristles. Make sure to change the water frequently so the colors can stay less muddy.
Watercolor paper – using a better quality paper will allow your kiddos to actually achieve some good painting results. Try a student grade watercolor paper of 100 lbs or higher. (If the paper says cold press or hot press, go for the cold press which has a texture to it.) You don’t need to spend a fortune, but it’s important to use the right paper for the medium.
Finger paints & finger painting paper – Crayola finger paints are great for little kids. Use proper finger painting paper (shiny & slick) otherwise the finger paints absorb into the paper and they won’t achieve the proper result. Try stamping into the wet paint, dragging paintbrush handles or forks, using sponges, etc. to make patterns & textures.
Watercolor crayons – the kids and parents in my classes have loved these! Faber-Catell makes a kid-friendly pack for about half the price of artist-grade. They create rich colors and it’s like magic when you get them wet because they act like real watercolors.
Tempera Paint – this inexpensive paint is good for beginners, and very washable. Again, use better-quality papers.
Construction paper & glue – nothing beats Elmer’s glue and construction paper for creating first collages. Look for the fade-resistant papers as they are higher quality.
Have fun making art with your kids!
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The number one concern we’ve received from parents in our classes is regarding the use of scissors. Our classes often have two year-old’s and early three’s and parents are (rightly) hesitant to have them start cutting willy-nilly. Once kids try them they are intrigued, fascinated and equally frustrated by them. Some kids might be tempted to cut things they shouldn’t (i.e. hair, bills, etc.) But, rather than outlaw them completely, my thought is to introduce them in the context of a supervised and guided art class so they can begin to learn this important skill. Occupational Therapist Kimberly Wiggins states that children should begin using scissors by age two because the practice builds the hand muscles, strengthens eye-hand coordination and improves bilateral coordination (using both hands at once to do separate things). Read more in her post.
Learning to use scissors is a challenge for little hands requiring intricate fine motor skills. Once kids approach Kindergarten, it is important that they have had experience using scissors. During our Kids Making Art class, we are challenging our children to try new things while working alongside them. Scissors can be a wonderful, freeing tool as a child grows. Once a skill such as scissor use becomes more comfortable, the child’s sense of confidence grows in addition to important physical and brain developments.
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Recently, several parents in my art classes have expressed their fear of making art with their child. They don’t know what to do, how to make it fun, what materials to use, and they certainly don’t want a huge mess. I hear you! When there’s laundry and housework to do, meals to be cooked, or peace to be kept among siblings, who wants to tackle a painting project with their 3 year-old on the kitchen table?! You don’t have to make it so complicated (or messy) in order to make, expose or appreciate art with your children.
Here are 10 suggestions for introducing art into your everyday life. Please let me know what you think and if you’d like more posts like this:
1. Look at colors, shapes, lines and patterns out and about in your world. Play color & shape games, talk about how the color red on an apple looks different from the color red on bricks. How does the zig-zag pattern make them feel versus a wavy pattern? What would the color green sound like versus the color black? Games like this help your child improve their visual, color, and overall vocabulary.
2. Collect interesting items from nature in a shoe box. Take them home to make collages using glue on any kind of paper. Leaves can be easily pressed under a heavy book for about a week. Or, create your own earthworks by making designs in the grass/sandbox/sidewalk with your collections. Artist Andy Goldsworthy is a master of this type of ephemeral artwork.
3. Visit a museum or art gallery together on a quiet day. Choose one room and look closely at just a couple of artworks – don’t overwhelm by trying to see the entire museum. When you visit these places they need to look and not touch, and they have to be calm and quiet. Seem impossible? Why not try! Over time, these visits will increase their respect for these environments and begin to develop a respect for art in general.
4. Set up an art area for your kids in your home. A small table, a corner of the kitchen table, or an area on the floor. Set out a box with some papers, a few crayons & markers, a few collage materials, glue and scissors. Let them try to be self-directed. You might be surprised to see them spending a few minutes each day in their “special art corner.”
5. Check out children’s books from the library that have rich illustrations, or find interesting picture books. Ask the children’s librarians to help you. Read together, talk about the pictures, talk about how the artist created them.
6. Make some art yourself! Take a class, a one-hour workshop, attend a free knitting group, or get a small sketchbook and some pencils and go sketch in the park. Show your kids that you can make things too, tell them how it feels to try something new, show them that even if it is hard it can be rewarding.
7. Get creative with household objects and hardware. Q-tips, sponges, packing peanuts, aluminum foil, oatmeal containers, painter’s tape, bolts & washers – the list is endless. Make collages, puppets, imaginary creatures or collections. Art making is not about expensive materials.
8. Try using food as your art material. Pudding paintings, bread painted with food coloring and then toasted, corn syrup paint, cereal designs stuck together with cream cheese or nut butters, fruits & veggies cut in creative ways. There are a lot of ideas online relating to making edible art and snacks.
9. Remember, it’s about the process and the experience, not the final product. Try not to control or direct your kids – allow them to experiment and find their own way. Don’t get caught up in whether or not your child is holding the scissors correctly, or that they only want to use the same color crayon for every drawing. Did you and your kids have fun making art together? That’s what matters more than what the art looks like.
10. Take a Kids Making Art Class! Monthly classes are small in scale, age appropriate and great for a parent/child art making experience. Email Melinda@melindalaz.com for more info and browse the website www.kidsmakingart.wordpress.com.
Thanks for reading!
RedLine Young Artists program is a new collaboration with RedLine, a contemporary art center located at 23rd & Arapahoe just north of downtown Denver. The art classes, which are based on my current Kids Making Art classes, are being held at the RedLine facility in their new community art room. We are also working with Rocky Mountain Parent’s As Teachers, an amazing organization that offers a wide array of parenting resources and services to families throughout our city. PAT families may take our art classes free of charge as a benefit of their membership.
Our pilot program, which has had a strong turn out of nearly 20 kids, will be a total of three weeks of class. Once concluded, we’ll poll the parents to find out if their kids have made any strides in their development through the art program. For example, did the children improve their ability to hold or cut with scissors, did their drawing ability change in any way, did they grow more comfortable with various art materials, did they grow closer to their child through the experience of making art together? Our ultimate goal is to generate grant funding to run this program throughout the year at RedLine, which brings in an entirely new audience to RedLine, and expands the ability to offer art programs across different populations.
We will hold an exhibition and reception on Saturday, April 14, 10:30-Noon at RedLine. Drop by to see some of the amazing artwork the kids have created!