10 ways to make art a part of your kids’ lives (and yours, too!)

15 Mar

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!



One Response to “10 ways to make art a part of your kids’ lives (and yours, too!)”

  1. hk March 19, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Loved the 10 suggestions. Even though our little guy is too young for your classes, he can definitely do some of these things – I really appreciate them! (Fingerpainting sessions have been a bit daunting…)

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