Modern neuroscience has provided hard evidence that connective pathways in the brain are actually created by repeated early experiences. A child’s early engagement in art activities can help create unique brain connections that will have long-term impact on a child’s life.
Art engages children’s hands, minds and emotions and helps develop valuable cognitive, social-emotional, and multi-sensory skills. Learn to identify the many developmental skills children master through art activities, and how self directed art fosters creativity and self esteem.
“Art & Brain Development”
Repeated experiences with open ended art builds nerve circuits in the brain that influence how a child does in school, in relationships, and in society as a whole. A developmental theory presentation will discuss how art activities facilitate intellectual growth and cognitive development in early childhood. A Power Point presentation on Art in Child Development includes 20 slides of children’s artwork. Participants will review these slides and discuss how each different art activity facilitates specific problem solving, decision making and other cognitive skills.
“Art Therapy: Tools & Techniques for the Classroom”
Participants will be introduced to basic principles of art therapy and simple guidelines for understanding the language of children’s art. Through better understanding the language of art, participants will be better equipped to understand the emotional needs of the children in their care.
Session concludes with a playful hands-on art experience where participants engage with a partner and make their own art.
December is here so I’d like to reflect back on 2013 and share some innovative art ideas that came from YOU and never made it into a blog post. The above photo is Printmaking with BioColor® on painted spaghetti, and other innovations follow. I hope you are inspired to try some of these soon.
Collaborative Quilt from the recent NAEYC Conference in Washington, D.C., using Classroom Canvas Quilt squares
I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write this blog, it’s always fun to be on the lookout for innovative art ideas. My thanks go out to Discount School Supply® for having the vision to start this blog five years ago. Their intention was to have me collect and share ideas on how to use Colorations® products with continuous innovation, and I work hard to live up to the task. More importantly, my thanks go out to you, the parents, teachers and early childhood program directors who read my monthly posts. Without you there would be no Arts & Creativity community. I love that you join me in sharing your own ideas and spreading the word about the value of art in education. Thank you.
PS – Special thanks to Monica Marshall and Kathy Walker from College of the Canyons CDC, the always innovative Danielle Monroy of Creative Care for Children and the awesome Mona and other ECE staff of Pressman Academy.
1. Gather up some regular old computer paper or card stock in either white or light green and some finger paint.
2. Let each of your students put their hand print on a sheet and decorate it however they wish.
3. Ask each student to add their name, city or town and school.
4. Collect all the handprint pages and send them to the address below.
5. Once the helping hands are collected our team of volunteers will string them together and hang them in the halls of the new school facility pending district approval.
6. A poster explaining our mission will be hung unobtrusively at the entrance to the school also pending district approval.
The message will be simple: You are not alone. You are loved. You are safe.
Please join us!
If you live near Newtown just leave a message in the blog and we’ll pick up your helping hands.
If you’re far, please mail your helping hands.
Please note that we have not yet been approved for the school. Ultimately our goal is to help the school community as they see fit.
If we are unable to hang the hands in the school we will find another appropriate venue in Newtown.
We promise your hands will be shared.
As the school year drew to a recent close, my daughter bought little gifts for her teachers, which I was happy to support. To further encourage her generosity, I suggested she create handmade gift wrap paper for each of her presents. I know from being a teacher and a mom, that a child’s “personal touch” has great value. So with the goal of pleasing her teachers and encouraging her creativity, I joined my daughter on our front lawn to create our own original, hand painted wrapping paper. Check out the results, we were both pretty thrilled! In a very short time (thanks to the big trigger spray bottles we used) we completely covered a 4’ x 10’ piece of soft “Cooperative Mural Art” paper with pure, brilliant color using Colorations® Liquid Watercolor. We added sparkle at the end with swirls of Washable Glitter Paint, and created a dramatic painting in less than 20 minutes. That is some quick artwork! After it dried, we cut up the painting into smaller strips of paper to wrap our gifts. With great enthusiasm my daughter loaded up her presents to take to school this morning, feeling quite happy and proud of her creations.
Try this sometime you have a group of presents to wrap. At just $7.99 for a 4’ x 10’ piece of soft mural art material, you get 40 square feet of wrapping paper to decorate – pretty economical gift wrap, indeed!
This was a fun way to make practical use of a “Color Spray Mural,” one of the lesson plans from Smart Art. Find the Color Spray Mural PDF listed under Lesson Plans on this blog.
Father’s Day is around the corner and it’s time to help your children make a wonderful gift for Dad. These papier-mache boxes are colorful, creative and sure to please, plus they’re an economical gift at around $1 each. Arts & crafts like these plain white boxes make a nice surface for Colorations® Foam Paint which is brightly colored and dries right away. In these samples, we turned Papier Mache Banks into “Love Banks” for a great Father’s Day gift. For this effect, children first draw pictures on their box using a permanent fine line marker, then add crayons, then apply Foam Paint colors on top. The other paper boxes shown here are Window Boxes which are decorated the same way. To simplify for younger children simply use several colors of foam paint and eliminate marker and crayon. Window Boxes make a beautiful gift for Dad’s desk and are sure to be proudly displayed for many years to come. Add a literacy component to the project by filling any of these cute little boxes with a hand written “love note” to melt Dad’s heart.
Learn more on “How to Use Foam Paint” by viewing the short video clip below. See why Foam Paint not only looks beautiful, but is also super convenient to use.
Mother’s Day is around the corner and it’s time to plan ahead for that special day where every mother hopes to receive a charming, handmade gift. Here’s a wonderful gift choice that’s both creative and useful. Our little canvas pencil bags are great for open ended fabric art and make adorable carry-all bags for grown ups. Wouldn’t you carry THIS in your purse? You could use it as a make-up bag, take it to the gym, or use it to organize all that stuff that falls to the bottom of your purse. Imagine the possibilities!
These samples use BioColor® Scraper Art and Easy Grip Stampers, but this project is open ended so children can paint their fabric bags any way they like. Be sure to use BioColor® Paint for vibrant colors that will stay permanent on the fabric after washing. Simply pre-mix the paint with BioColor® Fabric Medium first. This is a quick, easy and inexpensive process demonstrated in this BioColor® Fabric Art video.
In these samples, we’ve used Sea Life themed Easy Grip Stampers. Notice in the photo that you paint ONTO the stamper directly with a brush BEFORE stamping onto fabric. This gives you a nice, clean design. We’ve combined the stampers with Scraper Art techniques, where you simply sweep the paint across the fabric with a BioColor® Scraper, either in an organized fashion with dots of paint, or in a free-form fashion with random squiggles of paint, all scraped across the fabric in one sweeping motion. The special effect you see with the Scraper Art if one of the “magical” properties of BioColor® and it’s so easy that even a young child can do it.
If you like the idea of Fabric Art but are not keen on the zipper totes, these same design ideas would also look great on Canvas Pillow Cases, or Canvas Duffel Bags. But my personal favorite is the little zipper tote because I know I would use it all the time. I hope these ideas give you a head start on your Mother’s Day planning! And as you plan ahead, remember how long most mothers keep their mother’s day presents, because nothing speaks of love like a young child’s handmade gift.
Blotter art is one of the easiest ways to create colorful abstract art and is a good exercise in color, balance and symmetry. Look carefully and you’ll see that each design includes a mirror image of itself from left to right and has been created along a fold in the paper. Imagine how dramatic each of these paintings would look in a frame or as a journal cover! You can also create these same designs on t-shirts by adding Fabric Medium to BioColor® ahead of time to make your paints permanent. Blotter art shows off the beauty and vibrancy of BioColor® and is a great time to incorporate BioColor® Gold, my personal favorite.
To make blotter art, fold heavy white construction paper in half and place “dime sized” dots of BioColor® along the fold. Then fold paper in half again and rub the paint out to the edges with your hands and fingers. Or add lines by pressing into the folded paper with a BioColor® scraper or craft stick to make the contrasting lines you see in these designs. Open up the folded paper to find a beautiful abstract painting inside. Keep it just the way it is, or add a little more paint and re-fold it to alter your picture. As long as you use heavy construction paper, you can work with your painting for quite a while until you are happy with your design. Keep going until you like it! That’s the magic of art.
For more detailed instructions, find a complete lesson plan for Blotter Art, T-Shirt Blotter Art, and BioColor® Blotter Art Masks in Smart Art, and Smart Art 2, available through Discount School Supply.
WOW, have you ever seen such brilliant color? Not since tie-dye t-shirts have colors stood out as brightly as they do with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor on paper towels. What an easy and inexpensive way to collaborate on a group art activity for classrooms, birthday parties, family reunions or any group event. There’s nothing like a handmade quilt to convey the idea that each individual is an important and equal member of the group. This colorful quilt is done with 2-ply paper towels (use the more expensive brands, as thicker papers absorb more color.) Bounty brand paper towels are currently sold in squares (not rectangles) so they make particularly nice geometric design quilts.
Prepare for this project by pre-filling Colorations® Liquid Watercolor into “bingo bottles”. Purchase plain white 2-ply paper towels, white glue, and backing material or something to mount your squares onto. I use “Cooperative Mural Art” material but you can also use white or black butcher paper. To create each quilt square, refer to the set up shown here. Take a paper towel and fold it 4 times to 1/4 it’s original size. Paint each corner a different color, dabbing on paint from the pre-filed bingo bottles. Children as young as 3 can typically manage this, but older children and even adults love the process too. By painting each corner a different color, you automatically get a repeat pattern when you open up your square to it’s original size. What a fun way to reinforce math concepts like shape, pattern, and symmetry. Allow to dry, then glue mount each colorful square onto Cooperative Mural Art or butcher paper. Hang in a prominent spot, and get ready for some admiration!
These “Color Spray Murals” are being painted by 3 year olds at Pressman Academy in Los Angeles, where I asked children to join me on the playground in groups of two for a special art project.
The results were exciting and the children were immediately engaged. I hadn’t tried Color Spray with children this young before, so I made sure to pre-pour liquid watercolor into large trigger spray bottles that were easy to pull and release. As a result, all of the children were able to manipulate the spray bottles using one or both hands. They seemed truly delighted with the challenge and jumped for joy when they saw the colorful results. I took plant cuttings from my garden to school that day to use as stencils. Each child got to select one plant cutting to use as their own stencil, then I showed them how to spray liquid watercolor over their plant cutting, then move the plant aside to see the pattern that it created underneath.
We used a 4 x 10 plastic backed paper called Liquid Watercolor Material that is much nicer to use for this application than white butcher paper (although butcher paper will do in a pinch). As children completed their color spray process, I offered them each a choice of silver or gold liquid watercolor to drizzle on top of their painted area. As new children came to the playground to take their turn, I guided them to create their painting on clear, white areas of the paper and little by little the mural began to fill with color. This project is popular with older children as well, and can be found as a Smart Art Lesson plan, which you can download here. For more colorful ideas using liquid watercolor, check out Smart Art and Smart Art 2.
I’ve always been curious about Sun Print Paper and began experimenting with it this Winter. It feels magical to work with because you use the sun to create blue and white photo-like prints. In these samples you see both Sunprint Paper and Sunprint Fabric Squares. You simply place leaves, ferns and other interesting objects on a sheet of Sunprint paper, expose it to the sun for a few minutes, immerse the paper in water, and watch as a permanent image appears. In these samples I used small wooden letters and small plastic letters to create names. The plastic letters let a little light shine through and created a more mysterious effect than the opaque wood. Lace and stencils add more imagery. Sun Print Paper and fabric squares react to sunlight, creating unique patterns that are always white on blue.
This is a perfect Winter activity that teaches science and illustrates the powerful and tangible effects of the sun. Both fabric and paper versions come with simple instructions and are suitable for children ages 6 and up, or small groups of younger children. I particularly enjoyed the fabric quilt kit and highly recommend it for beginners.