“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
Below are 3 age appropriate ways to do crafts AND art with your kids using an art center idea at home
As a preschool and kindergarten teacher many years ago I was always making changes to my centers in center time. Since I always had different centers set up for the children to use I always tried to add interesting ways of livening up the centers. After circle time I would let the children choose from the available centers to use that day. They would begin at one center, then move on to other centers later.
“Art for kids” is one of my great passions. As a teacher I was always trying to upgrade my art center. The art center takes on various roles in different classrooms. Sometimes it ends up as a dumping ground for art supplies or maybe just a table for kids to do art on with the standard scissors, crayons and glue nearby. An art center can be so much more in the classroom as well as the home environment.
In more recent years I have taught adults through workshops on a three part art system approach. In other words, there are 3 kinds of art that can be done in an early childhood classroom and can easily be incorporated into a home school environment. The result? In a well prepared art environment, children can be doing art at all times if they choose.
In my classroom experience, when there is a large group of children there can be three types of art going on at the same time. I have found three types of art for young children particularly effective for children in the classroom.
Art type #1 – Predetermined Outcome
Most typical in early childhood classrooms are the crafts that are done for holidays and seasons. A project that has a predetermined outcome (like the puppets below).
Art type #2 – Process Art
These are the process art activities: Things like painting, collage, clay and activities where you are basically allowing children to explore the media without any kind of predetermined outcome for the project.
Art type #3 – Free Form
The third type of art is more of a free form art. Basically what this does is allows the children to see what materials are available that day, or every few days and choose to do with them as they will. To do this right, you need to always be aware of what is available and to make sure to change things often enough to keep things interesting and challenging. If all the children see is glue, scissors and paper over and over again, this area loses its charm and attraction. For example, sometimes I placed small recipes with pictures of the items available that day. I would also let them know how many they can take of them to use. In the image below the materials for that day were large papers with holes in them, crafts sticks and glue.
The ideas are endless and the children look forward to looking out for the new materials placed out for them. Some other ideas for this type of art would be:
- paper cut in different shapes
- no scissors
- yarn and stapler
- paper plates
- toothpicks and styrofoam
- aluminum foil and markers
In the classroom, all three activities can go on at once. At home, you may consider using a dedicated shelf or box in a corner for the children to access. By incorporating all three types of art into any curriculum, children will get the benefits of a good art program that will enrich their development.
By giving children the freedom to drive their learning and to explore on their own terms, they are exercising creativity, using thinking skills, developing initiative, and building their self esteem. They understand that they are trusted to create on their own and will feel great about what they create because of it.
Thanks for reading.
Faigie Kobre is a past early childhood teacher and director. She is the owner of the website Edu Art 4 Kids where she teaches parents and teachers how to give kids art , that makes them better learners. She has two free reports about doing the right kids crafts that may change the way you think about kids crafts forever.