Fall Art Ideas for Young Children

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Fall is here, the leaves are starting to turn and the air is becoming crisper. Hooray! It’s time for the scents and smells of autumn. Here are some fun ways to bring autumn themes into YOUR home or classroom.

Small gourds and Indian corn make great additions to your sensory bin and inspire children to observe, compare and explore nature and its many attributes. This sensory bin promotes STEM learning foundations, as does the observational painting that you can introduce with the same gourds.

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This 3-year-old is painting with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ as she observes and documents a gourd. Observational drawing and painting is an important way to facilitate critical thinking and brain development in early childhood. Drawing and painting from nature can also slow children down, reduce stress and promote self- regulation. These are important skills for children to learn that go way beyond the more obvious benefits of art-making.

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Leaf Punching is a great way to incorporate nature into your fall art activities. Use large hole punches that are easy for young hands to manipulate and punch shapes out of leaves that are at various stages of drying out. You can also let colored leaves dry out completely and crunch them into “leaf glitter” to use in collage work.

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Tree bark makes a good natural painting surface. Look for fallen bark pieces on a nature walk this time of year. These chunks of eucalyptus bark made for wonderful paintings by 2- and 3-year-olds. Painting on bark calls for an opaque paint, like acrylic paint.

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Don’t forget how much fun it can be to add Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ to soil and paint with it. This Writing Center incorporates color-tinted soils to Twig Books, a variation of the Paper Bag Book lesson plan from Smart Art Ideas.

Thanks for checking in and have a wonderful autumn.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™, 8 oz – Set of 18 (LW18)

Colorations® Acrylic Paints, 8 oz – Set of 8 (CACRYLIC)

Giant Paper Punches – Set of 8 (BIGPUNCH)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

“Mommy, My Art is in the Trash!”

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“Mommy, my art is in the trash!” said 4-year-old Noah with shock and dismay. This is how Board Supervisor, Janice Rutherford, opened her keynote speech to a large group of educators. She held up her son’s paper plate painting, and told us how distressed he was when he found it in the trash can at home. How could this have happened? Surely it must be a mistake because who would throw away original artwork?

I was completely amused by her poignant message as this Education Board Member went on to show us that she “walked the walk” and “talked the talk” of early childhood education. She knows from first-hand experience and her own sensitivity that the values we instill in our children are important and our actions need to match those values. (By the way, she confessed to me later that she kept so much of Noah’s artwork, she had run out of storage room, but that she learned a lot from this lesson and would be more discreet in the future.)

How can we teach our children that we DO value their artwork, both at home at school?  Here are a couple of handouts to start the school year out. They make great take-home flyers for parents, or feel free to post them on your school web site. (Click each flyer for a full resolution version)

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anna why worry pdf

In my next post, I’ll be highlighting “Art in the Foyer” and show you inspiring examples of children’s art in school foyers and classrooms. There are many temporary displays of process art experiences that enhance your classroom walls, but permanent or semi-permanent displays also add to your school aesthetics and make a statement about how you value creativity.

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In fact, without much cost at all you can turn your entire school into an Art Gallery full of children’s work. Here are a few creative ideas from Pierce College’s Child Development Center where Director Phyllis Schneider hosts a monthly forum and idea exchange for local Preschool Directors. This abstract feather painting hangs in their meeting room and was easy for children to create with feathers and Colorations® Metallic Activity paints on a large donated canvas.

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Phyllis gave me a tour and introduced me to their art specialist, a lead teacher named Miyuki. Sometimes it only takes one art oriented teacher to make a big difference in your entire school.  Hopefully you have one of those, like Miyuki, and will encourage her to spread her mark throughout your school. Check out some of these inspiring abstract painting examples, which I will talk about more in future posts.

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I hope you have had a great start to the school year. My life has been crazy busy with the back-to-school season, but things are finally settling down, whew! I hope you are settling into your routine as well and finding balance in your life. Remember to take care of yourself, and find time to do what you enjoy. And stay creative to replenish yourself.  Remember that art is one of the only ways you can find yourself and lose yourself at the same time. LOL. Anna

Key Words:

PreK Art, Value of Art, Art in Child Develoment, Parent Handouts, Parent Education, Messy Art, Paint Stains on Clothing,

Materials Used:
Colorations® Metallic Activity Paints

Colorations® Paint
Feathers, assorted pack
Smart Art and More Smart Art Books

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

Painting and Freedom

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“There is no ‘must’ in art because art is free.”  Kandinsky, 1911

Freedom is a powerful concept in our culture. We want our children to experience freedom, yet we continuously impose rules and limits on them. Art is an activity where freedom can be experienced directly, and many rules can be set aside. Through open ended painting experiences, children can safely take risks and enjoy the sense of freedom that comes from acting spontaneously and making their own choices.

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I just noticed how the message on my coffee mug matches what I’m writing. I’m drinking coffee from a mug designed by Cambria artist, Fred Babb, who states “art is working on something til you like it, then leaving it that way.” Try a Google or Pinterest search of Fred Babb quotes and you’ll find delightful poster sayings like this one:

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Such is the simple and pure relationship of art to freedom. This wonderful splatter  & drip mural created at Creative Care for Children, illustrates the freedom and power of open-ended painting. Children of various ages are visibly engaged in “learning by doing.”

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Anna Freedom 5 The black background paper adds an unexpected surprise and provides contrast for brightly pigmented paints. This oversized black photography paper was donated to Creative Care. If you can’t find a donation source, try a black fade resistant Colorations® Prima-Color™ Paper Roll and be sure to use Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera for brilliant colors and washability.

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I’ve always been impressed with the art program at Creative Care for Children, which is owned and operated by Danielle Monroy in beautiful Santa Barbara, California.  Danielle is a passionate arts advocate whose expertise in delivering play based learning is inspirational. Danielle let parents know to dress their children for a day of painting.  She also directed children to the water tub for sensory play, or any easy and playful way to encourage “clean up.”

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Anna Freedom 9 Print out this “Why Worry?” mini poster from Smart Art if you’d like help getting parents on board for open ended painting at YOUR school. Because once parents understand the positive skills children learn through art, they won’t worry when children come home with paint on their clothes.

Thanks for checking in!  We’d love to hear your comments.

Anna Freedom Why Worry

Materials Used:
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera Paint, set of 15 (SWTALL)
Colorations® Flourescent Simply Washable Tempera Paint, set of 7 (FSWTSET)
Colorations® Prima-Color™ Fade Resistant Paper Roll, black (RESIST)
Smart Art and More Smart Art Ideas, set of 2 (ARTY)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

Fun and Affordable Holiday Art Ideas

I love to spray paint. Whether I’m working with children or adults, it’s exciting to watch people experience freedom and leave their inhibitions behind by spraying liquid paints onto paper. Let’s think about making Color Spray Murals for the winter holidays, it’s a spray paint process that creative, affordable and makes for great gifts and festive decorations.

At the NAEYC Conference in Atlanta last month, Peter and I made a video of “How to Make a Color Spray Mural.” Here’s a photo of the artwork I made in the video, I draped it outside my studio so you could see how nice it turned out when it dried. The paint I’m using is Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, which is super easy to use in spray bottles and is also 100% washable, always a plus.

Here the same artwork folded and used as a coffee table runner. (Notice my sweet dog Abbey on the sofa , awww). Color Spray Murals are a great way to dress up your home or classroom for the holidays and this one used just a third of a sheet of mural paper so it cost very little to make, including the paints.

Best of all, Color Spray Murals can make you feel over-the-top creative. To the adults and teachers I work with, I like to say “you will feel like an instant artist!” and this quick YouTube video will prove just how and why that is. Take a look!

The “fabric-like” paper I’ve used is called Cooperative Mural Art Paper, and it’s the key to success with Color Spray Murals. Notice the soft drape and spongy textured surface in this plain white one that’s ready to be painted. Cooperative Mural Art Paper is a actually a special 2-ply paper drop cloth that’s sold in some hardware stores, but it can be very hard to find. It’s available from Discount School Supply® for $8.99 and is an oversized 4’ x 10” sheet with plastic backing. One sheet will make 2-4 small murals or 20 individual works of art. I recommend this paper over any other surface to spray paint, and I’m certain you’ll agree.

Check out this Wrapping Paper station, using the same Color Spray Mural from the video. Gifts look so beautiful when wrapped with swatches of a Color Spray Mural, and imagine having 4 x 10 feet of brilliant colored paper that you made by hand. For truly affordable gift wrap this season, consider a few other bargains from our ribbons and trims such as my personal favorites: Satin Ribbon in eight colors for $11.99, or Printed Craft Tape in 10 colors for $15.99, or wonderfully soft Textured Craft Yarns in eight colors for $17.99. All are an affordable way to reflect CREATIVITY and personalize your holidays.

You can also cut Color Spray Murals into smaller pieces and make scrolls, using dowels or chopsticks on the top and bottom. These make wonderful holiday gifts. You can leave them as art only, or mount a child’s poem or message or drawing on top. These beautiful scrolls are unique and easy to make, and use about 50 cents worth of materials. 

Handmade gifts are such a personal way to show you care. I found some ideas on Etsy the other day that I wanted to share:

Handmade Work has Authenticity and Soul.
There is JOY in handmade.
Nothing’s better than having a little piece of someone’s passion.

If you’re working with young children, you may wonder where to start with making ideas like these. Sometime a fence or wall outside is the best place to start.  

Notice that the sprays of paint are not running down the paper, like they would be if you spray painted onto the usual white butcher paper. The children are spraying Colorations® Liquid Watercolor onto spongy, fabric-like Cooperative Mural Art Paper so the paint is staying on the mural and reflecting back a lot of color.  

 

Here’s a picture from a 3-year-old classroom where we created a collaborative mural outside on the playground. The children used ferns and large leaves as stencils and sprayed on top of them to make leaf shapes. The bright drizzles are Colorations® Gold and Silver Liquid Watercolor, which was dripped on top of the sprayed areas.

Because Cooperative Mural Art Paper (LWMAT) has a plastic backing, you can do these murals inside also. Just be sure to put newspaper under all the edges. You’ll find these and other tips in my Color Spray Lesson Plan from Smart Art Ideas Activity Book.

(click here for the lesson plan)

Here are some girlfriends who came over to play. I spray paint on the weekends for relaxation sometimes, and when my friends hear about it they often want to join me. It’s very therapeutic and is a great activity for people who think they’re “not artistic.”

In Conclusion:
After a lifetime of being passionate about art and experimenting with every art material imaginable, I think I like to make Color Spray Murals the best of all. Why? I love the sensory and physical freedom of spraying color. I love that I am forced to work quickly and spontaneously and not over-think anything. I know I don’t have to be afraid of the final outcome or “how it will look in the end” because the color and texture will carry it, no matter what I do. I can suspend judgment, trust the process, and allow the incredible combination of light and color and movement take form in front of me.

Have a wonderful holiday season and thank you for checking in.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor – set of 13 (13LW)Colorations® Gold and Silver Liquid Watercolor (MLWG and MLWS)Colorations® Washable Glitter Paint – set of 11 (GLPA)Cooperative Mural Art Paper (LWMAT)Smart Art Ideas Activity Book (SMARTART)
Satin Ribbon – 16 spools (SATIN)
Printed Craft Tape – 10 rolls (PRINTED)
Textured Craft Yarn – 8 skeins (TEXYARN)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

 

Welcome Back! Let’s Start with Art

Welcome back to school! It’s a fresh new school year and the season of beginnings. Many of you already have classrooms filled with eager, bright and often shy new faces. Others are busily preparing for that exciting first day of class. All of us, whether we are teachers, parents or simply “grown ups” who love children are eagerly anticipating a year of joyful learning.

Let’s explore how ART ties in with those first exciting weeks of school.

How do YOU use art to help children engage in your classroom? Here’s a useful handout to send home with parents as school begins – it helps them understand how they can partner with you in using art to help children grow and become their best selves.

Recently I asked a group of seasoned teachers about their favorite “first art project.” Several responded with SELF PORTRAITS, I liked that! But given that there are so many drawing materials to choose from for a self portrait, where is a teacher to begin? I love the use of BOLD permanent markers for early self portraits. Here are some examples of back to school self portraits from Francine Farkas’s 4-year-old class.

Francine gives children bold, permanent markers to draw with so their portraits really “pop” on the page. She keeps these initial self portraits in her children’s Art Portfolios (more on that in a future post) and they will serve as a “baseline” drawing of each child’s development when the year began. Each portrait will be saved and shared at parent/teacher conferences and will serve as a valuable reference point for measuring developmental growth as the year goes by.

Francine mounts each portrait onto construction paper to emphasize the importance of each one and to create an “art gallery” effect. Because her classroom is not so large, she uses the supply door closet as a gallery space.

The teacher next door took a different approach to her “first art” self portraits, still using bold permanent markers so the portraits “pop” on the page, but adding a photograph of each child. Look closely at the clever use of a blank picture frame held by each child in its photograph.

This teacher’s laminated self portraits hang outside her classroom door. What a delightful way for both children and parents to be greeted at the start of each new day.

Teachers in the four-year-old classrooms at Pressman Academy often leave fine tipped, black permanent markers (PERMBLK) out for open-ended drawing, and as a result children create bold pictures with a sense of authority.

One other thing: When I asked my group of seasoned teachers for their favorite “art tip” to start the new year right, they said to offer lots of open ended exploration of art materials right from the start. This included the simplest idea of starting out with easy to use Colorations® tempera cakes (A8TCA) with Colorations® easy grip brushes (EGBRUSH).

And moved on to including unusual sensory art ideas that children would not likely find at home. Such as these rainbow striped pom pom balls (COLORPOM) in a sensory tub (TUBS) which I saw in one classroom, and those same colorful pom poms in another classroom on trays with sea and zoo  sticks (AP632J) and a variety of other pinch grippers. I loved both these applications! And I also imagined several other things we might do with these same colorful, oversized pom poms.

Have a wonderful new year, and don’t forget to stock up on fun new art materials to inspire your students and keep YOU feeling inspired as well.

 
Materials Used:
Sea and Zoo Sticks – set of 4 (AP632J)
 
* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education



Collaborative Art & Inspiration

Sometimes I feel like I work with angels. I just heard the most inspiring Conference Keynote and felt so proud to be a teacher. I was standing in the back of the room, listening to a Superintendent of Education inspire a room full of educators, all readying themselves for the new school year cycle. What’s not to be proud of when you realize how much the world needs good teachers?
I was reminded of this quote:
“Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task.” ~ Haim Ginott

With inspiration in mind, I’m posting some of my favorite Collaborative Art ideas to help put you in the mood for a creative summer, and to prepare you for working with your new students this Fall. Collaborative Art can be such unifying, positive group experience, and open-ended art is a great way to bring people together in a feel-good kind of way. 

(CLICK HERE for Inspirational Quotes to download and print)

The teachers from Stephen S. Wise Nursery School are photographed here at a back to school Pre-service, making their own Collaborative Art fabric murals with BioColor®, paint scrapers, and Colorations® Washable Glitter Paints. Incorporating hands-on art into your Pre-service is a good way to start the year off, and reminds teachers about why art making is so important to both intellectual and emotional well being.

Here’s another collection of my favorite Collaborative Art ideas from classrooms I have visited this year. I hope they inspire you to do art in a group setting soon. Please send me YOUR favorite ideas and I’d be happy to include them in a future post.

What a great time to work in education, our challenges are greater than ever and there’s no better time to work in a field that contributes to the well-being of children. Have a good summer and rest well so you can get back into the classroom this Fall and do your best work. And remember to learn to reward yourself for working in a field that makes a positive contribution to the world. Because a teacher really does affect eternity – you will never know where your influence ends.

I know you’ve seen this, but I’ll remind you to remind yourself once again: 

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.” ~ Witcraft

Materials Used in Pre-service Canvas Paintings:  BioColor® Paint – set of 11 (BIO16)
Colorations® Washable Glitter Paint – 16 oz bottle (CGP)
Canvas Art Banner (ARTBAN)
Paint Scrapers – set of 4 (SCR)
Good Times Painting Rollers – set of 6 (FUNROLL)

Materials in Other Photographs:
Liquid Watercolor™ Texas Snowflakes – set of 35 (TEXAS)
Classroom Canvas Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASQLT)
Insta-Snow® (SNO)
Colorations® Ultimate Liquid Watercolor™ Paint Kit (LWKIT3)
Colorations® No-Drip Foam Paint – 8 oz bottle (BFP)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

Gelatin Giggles for Summer Fun!

Outdoor art is great for summer when we can enjoy time outside in the light and sunshine. If you love COLOR and gem-like quality of the Gelatin Giggles pictured here, you will want to add this simple sensory activity to your summer plan. Because we are making memories here with our summer, right? And there’s nothing much more memorable than colored gelatin slipping through your fingers on a perfect summer day. 

These photos are from Sari Abram’s 3-year-old classroom at Pressman Academy in LA where I recently a led a 30 minute Gelatin Giggles activity on a corner of the playground. I took in eight blocks of gelatin, plastic eyedroppers, five bottles of Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, and an art tray with a 1” lip to contain the mess. I volunteered for this because I’m developing a new workshop called “Messy Art with 2’s and 3’s.” I had already tried Gelatin Giggles with school-age children, but I wanted to see how very young children would respond. I learned that the best way to introduce Gelatin Giggles to a group of toddlers was to have them take turns two at a time, while I managed some semblance of control over the paint. As a firm believer in messy art, I also recognize there’s ultimately an “art” to controlling the mess while allowing children the experience of freedom with the materials.

Things were pretty clean and tidy as the first two children began playing with the eyedroppers on the white art tray. I instructed them to fill their eyedropper with the color of their choice, then stick the eyedropper into the gelatin chunk and squirt the paint inside. They learned that if they didn’t stick their eyedropper in very far, some of the color would splash back out on them, surprise!

They also learned that their eyedropper would sometimes suck up the gelatin and create a colored gelatin snake, surprise!

Before they finished their turn at the sensory table, I offered the opportunity to select a second color and inject that into the gelatin. Then they could watch the colors blend and pick up a chunk of gelatin in their hands and hold it up to the sunlight. We didn’t clean up between children, so the colors and gelatin chunks accumulated on the tray as the activity progressed.

To create Gelatin Giggles, purchase unflavored gelatin (Knox makes one and others are generally sold next to the flavored gelatins at the grocery store). Use less water than called for to make your “giggles” a bit more solid than usual. Here’s the recipe:

Knox Gelatin Mold: The ratio is 3/4 cup water to 1 packet of Knox. Take the number of cups of water your container holds and DIVIDE by .75 This is how many packets of Knox you need. In a saucepan, heat the water over low heat, add the packets of gelatin. After it dissolves pour it into your container. Let set over night. **BE SURE TO USE OIL OR SPRAY YOUR CONTAINER WITH PAM FIRST! Wait for a sunny day and unmold your gelatin onto art trays or a sand and water table.

Did I talk enough about the exciting presence of light and color? Check out how this glob of green sparkles in the sun! Does it make you think of stained glass windows or a sparkling crystal? If you own a diamond ring or anything cut from crystal, bring that to class and show children how these minerals are faceted, which means they have flat planes that refract color and light. Amazingly, clear gelatin also breaks along facets in similar fashion, which is why Gelatin Giggles look like gemstones in the light.

There’s nothing like group art experiences to bring children together and create a sense of collaboration in the summer. Gelatin Giggles is a perfect way to introduce sensory art while the weather is warm enough for outdoor play and the sun can provide a brilliant light source to enhance experiments with light and color.

If you like this art idea, you’ll probably also enjoy “Ice Tunnels” and “Sand Tray Gemstones”, two of 18 Colorations® Liquid Watercolor Activities in my book Smart Art Ideas 2. Thanks for checking in, and I look forward to reading your comments. If you would like to have your own art ideas included in a future post please send me an email at areyner@discountschoolsupply.com. Together we can continue to build a strong art and creativity community.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor
SuperSafe Plastic Droppers (12SSD)
Brawny Large Art Tray (RECTRAY)
Smart Art Ideas 2 (MOREART)

From grocery store: Knox or other brand clear gelatin

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education