Exciting Colored Craft Tape – Catch the Trend!

AR Washi Tape Lead Colored craft tapes are exploding with bright colors, patterns and FUN this year, so it’s the perfect time to discover this newly expanded arts and crafts material. Catch onto this trend, and you’ll be amazed at some of the easy applications you’ll discover. AR Washi Tape 2 Check out these colored tape paintings from Pierce College’s Child Development Center, aren’t they beautiful? As simple paintings they would have looked good – but with the added texture of the craft tapes, they look GREAT and really capture your attention. The addition of colored tape turns a painting into rich media artwork that looks like “gallery art,” but is easy enough for a preschool child to create. Amazing, huh? AR Washi Tape 3 AR Washi Tape 4 AR Washi Tape 5 AR Washi Tape 6 Thin craft tapes like these originated in Japan where they are called “Washi” tape. Washi comes from wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper. Here are close-ups of washi-style patterned tapes. Both the bright solids colors and the patterned tapes are easy for young hands to tear and stick down on paper. AR Washi Tape 7 AR Washi Tape 8 Children can design with both solids and patterns on a large piece of butcher paper, placed on the floor. You can also apply tape directly onto the floor or wall since these are “low tack” tapes that do not harm surfaces, and are easy to remove. AR Washi Tape 9 Grown ups will enjoy using craft tapes too! This child’s room wall shows one of the many ways parents and teachers can use colored tapes to create wall décor that is easy to change and adapt over time. AR Washi Tape 10 AR Washi Tape 11 AR Washi Tape 12 But best of all, you don’t have to be a grown up to make colored tape art – from simple to sublime applications. They are so bright and inspiring, people of all ages will want to dive in and discover their own creative ways to play. I’ve been including craft tapes in my conference workshops this year, and teachers quickly fall in love with them. Recently we added them to paper mache tambourines and “secret books” to everyone’s delight. Here’s a great offer on beautifully colored and patterned craft tapes. Try some soon and see what YOU come up with! And check back next month for another special offer on my recommended arts & crafts products from Discount School Supply®!

Receive 15% OFF the below products!

Use code ANNAJULY at checkout.

Offer valid on below products only. Offer expires 8/31/14.

Material’s Used: Glittery Craft Tape – Set of 10 (SNAZZY) Printed Craft Tape – Set of 10 (PRINTED) Fabulous Printed Craft Tape – Set of 15 (FABULOUS) Craft Tape Super Pack – Set of 20 (VIVID) * Brought to you by Discount School Supply® * For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

Focus on the Elements of Art: Line

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Line is one of the essential “Elements of Art,” and one of every child’s first art experiences. Line precedes all other elements of art. If art is a child’s first language, then line is where the child’s self expression begins.

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What does it mean to focus on LINE? It means breaking down the elements of art into their components, expressing those components individually, and then naming them so they become part of your verbal and visual vocabulary.

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As we provide art experiences for children, we often forgot that breaking down the elements of art into line, shape and color – is a good way to begin. Teachers who like to inspire children with Paintings from the Masters often include the work of Miro, an artist who emphasized LINE in his work.

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But you don’t have to focus on the Masters to emphasize line in your art program.

The Common Core Standards and Pre-K Foundations remind us that LINE and the other elements of art should be an important focus in early childhood education.

Kindergarten Common Core Standards

Visual Art: Analyze Art Elements and Principles of Design

1.3 Identify the elements of art (line, color, shape/form, texture, value, space) in the environment and in works of art, emphasizing line, color, and shape/form.

Pre-K Foundations

Visual Arts, Substrand: Notice, Respond & Engage:

1.1   Communicate about elements appearing in art (such as line, texture, or perspective), and describe how objects are positioned in the artwork.

As you organize your art area and make decisions about what types of materials to provide, keep in mind that line can be explored not just with crayons and markers, but with other exciting materials as well.

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I love the idea of exploring line with mud painting, shown here from an Outdoor Classroom Conference in Pasadena.Anna Elements of Art Line 9

You can take line into physically active learning by using these new paint rollers, which are also good with clay. Paint rollers let children explore line while engaging both sides of their brains in expansive large muscle movements and “crossing the midline.”

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Here’s a video clip of Marble Magnet Painting, a fun science-oriented exploration of line art. The second photo shows the same painting turned into a monoprint.Anna Elements of Art Line 11

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The new colored tapes are easy for young fingers to tear and are perfect for exploring the quality of line.Anna Elements of Art Line 13

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Nature oriented art often includes branches as line. Here Master Teacher Kathy Walker shows off one of her student’s nature mobiles.Anna Elements of Art Line 15

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Pipe cleaners are bendable lines that can be combined with other materials in 3-D art.

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Not to be missed are the new (and fabulously inexpensive) Twisty Ties, or Twist and Bend Craft Ties Super Pack (TWISTY). They are shown here wrapped around paintbrush handles, and then combined with Colorations® Super Lightweight Air Dry Putty (CPUTTY).

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Last but not least, don’t forget the art of scribbling, which we did at the BAEYC Conference (and many other conferences this year) – reminding us that scribbling with crayons is fun for children and adults alike.

Written language and art…..it all begins with a line. So go find new ways to look at lines and offer children a wide variety of materials to express themselves through line.

Go for a walk and look for cracks in the sidewalk, flower stalks, telephone poles, and other lines in your environment. And as you do, think of the amusing words of the famous artist Paul Klee – “A line is a dot out for a walk.”

Materials Used:
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty – Colored (CPUTTY)
Twist and Bend Craft Ties Super Pack (TWISTY)

My Love Affair with Colorations®

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I love to sing praises for Colorations® art materials, how can you NOT love a brand with that name? There’s always something new, sparkly or magical coming down the pike.  So I say, who needs the high-priced brand, when Colorations® is less expensive and of better quality. Do you feel the same?

When the new year rolls around, it’s fun to see what’s NEW in Colorations® art. Have you taken time to experiment with something new lately? If not, why not try something NEW each time you re-stock.  If you “change up” your list of art supplies and new things here and there, you’ll help S-T-R-E-T-C-H young minds and imaginations.  It’s true!  Creativity thrives on new input, and new materials provide unique challenges and discoveries.

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This weekend I experimented with three Colorations® dough products to compare and contrast their properties. It felt like a science experiment as I immersed myself in exploration and documented my results.

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I was eager to try a brand new product: Colorations® Amazing Air-Dry Modeling Foam.  Why was it called foam and not dough? How was it different from Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough or Air Dry Putty? How could I use it to raise my Ecers scores for 3-D art? Given fifteen minutes to play with it, here’s what I found out:

The colors are bright and inviting. The small air-tight containers are practical and re-usable. The price is right at $14.99 for a set of 12 colors. After digging in, I realized immediately that it’s way denser than other manipulatives. It offers  a completely different tactile experience than play dough or homemade putties. Children will enjoy the simple process of rolling and pounding it. You can use it with the same clay tools you have on hand. I took the green and made a simple pinch-pot to test the material’s stretch-ability. It’s pretty amazing  – unlike any art material I had ever played with.

On a therapeutic note: Because Colorations® Amazing Air-Dry Modeling Foam is dense, it would serve as a great tool for helping children channel stress and calm themselves down if they’re feeling angry or fidgety. In other words, modeling foam will provide a physical release for tension much like the resistant putties that occupational therapists use. It will also help develop muscle strength in hands and fingers, which is excellent preparation for early handwriting skills.

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Look at how the dense quality allows it to stand up tall and keep its shape. Here I rolled out the blue, took a potato press to the pink, and simply squeezed the orange in my fingers. They held together when I pressed them, but if I was going to keep this I would add a little white glue to hold it together. If I didn’t want to keep it, I would put it back in the plastic air-tight containers, for re-use another day.

As first this product looks a lot like Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough, but it has a much finer grain, so it holds a shape more easily. It also dries hard and is perfect for 3-D art (required by Ecers, remember?). I look forward to seeing children use it in large recycled 3-D art, by molding and gluing it onto cardboard boxes, wooden blocks, plastic bottles and other recyclables.

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Here you see how another green bowl made from Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough compares.  IncredibleFoam® has much larger grains, so it makes a rougher bowl shape. While the Air-Dry Modeling Foam dries overnight, the IncredibleFoam® never dries. Both art products are fun to play with and can be completely child-directed.

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My favorite Colorations® dough is Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty.  I love the white version since you can paint white air-dry putty with any water-based paint or marker, and therefore personalize it completely.  But lately I’ve been working with the colored version of air-dry putty, which works beautifully with the new dough pattern plates. In fact, pattern plates and air-dry putty were born to go together.

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Air-dry putty is extremely fine-grained, so it picks up incredible details when imprinted with clay tools or pressed onto these patterned dough plates. These pattern plates will make all your play dough and clay experiments more fun, too.

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Next I brought out a pack of new In the Garden Plastic Beads. These brightly colored beads were much smaller than I expected, but they were full of delightful little colored leaves. I was worried that no small child could string these beads because the holes are small, but they all fit perfectly onto Colorations® black elastic cord. I think they’d be fine for four- and five-year-old children to string.  Plus they make great glue-down collage materials for the younger set and you get 800 beads in a pound, so this is a good budget-stretcher that ties in with nature themes.

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In the Garden Beads are very dimensional and make interesting stamped patterns on the air-dry putty.  I used some of the leaf beads as stamps, and then adhered other leaf beads into the putty with a little glue. This is an excellent exercise in fine motor skill development, and the designs will motivate children who are visual thinkers.

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My mind kept going back to recycling, so I found a baby food jar and placed a large ball of putty on the lid as a decoration. Then I glued some more putty around the sides.  I could have continued my discoveries, letting one idea flow into the next, but I was running out of time and the Super Bowl was about to begin.

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To finish off my experiments, I rolled out all the excess air-dry putty and created a simple Mandala with what I had on the table. When in doubt with what to make, take a paper plate and create a mandala. There’s something about a circular design that’s always satisfying.

Thanks for witnessing my discoveries, and please try some of your own soon.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty –  Colored (CPUTTY)
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty – White (WPUTTY)

Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough (FOAMDO)
Colorations® Amazing Air-Dry Modeling Foam (MODFOAM)
Patterned Dough Plates (DOPLATES)
In the Garden Plastic Beads (NATUREBD)
Black Beading Elastic (BLKELAS)

To celebrate Discount School Supply’s love affair with Colorations®, we are hosting a giveaway on our Facebook page! Beginning the week of February 10, you could win a Stamp Prize Pack, a Craft Prize Pack, a Finger Paint Prize Pack, a Paint Prize Pack or the Grand Prize of a Colorations® Ultimate Liquid Watercolor™ Paint Kit! Head over to our Facebook page to enter to win our drawing! The contest ends on Friday, February 14!

Displaying Children’s Artwork – Budding Artists!

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Wait until you see this exciting display of children’s art from the College of the Canyons, and how open-ended preschool art looks when it’s beautifully displayed. This unique art exhibit was coordinated by CDC Director Monica Marshall and master teachers Kathy Walker and Faby Marton. You’ll see a wide range of creative paintings, weavings and collage, and some unique 3-D art applications. Get ready to feast your eyes!

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I was particularly moved by the branch weavings that were inspired by reading Margaret Musgrove’s The Spider Weaver, a legend about Kente cloth weaving. The exhibit included children’s thoughts about the story itself. One of the branch weavings was done on burlap and a second version was created without burlap. Here Kathy Walker shows off the branch weaving without burlap, and comments that the burlap inset made it much easier for young children to weave. That’s something I wouldn’t have thought of, but it makes good sense as the burlap offers a large, loose fabric that big needles can carry yarn through. Nice to know!

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These process paintings and 3-D constructions show that you can paint and collage onto practically anything. See if you can find the cardboard fruit inserts or paint stir sticks in these photos, they are the foundation for two of these wonderful creations.

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Thanks to Monica Marshall, Director of the Child Development Center at College of the Canyons and to the Fine Art Department and Art Gallery Director that made this campus collaboration possible. The exhibit will was up for six weeks and included a beautiful color postcard called Budding Artists.

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This awesome exhibit made me think of a story I recently heard from Anne Broussard, the delightful and highly experienced Child Care Coordinator at County of Orange. Knowing how much I love art, Anne told me this thought provoking story.  As part of her job at the County, Anne was assigned to entertaining foreign diplomats and teaching them about early childhood education in the US.  One afternoon she had guests from Iraq who were very interested in our preschool education system, so she was giving them a classroom tour. Her guests noticed some abstract art on the walls of a preschool classroom and asked her if a visiting artist had taught the children how to paint. They found it surprising to find so much art on the walls of the preschool, and were curious about it.  She told them preschool teachers in America are taught to give children the opportunity to make art naturally, to follow their own instincts without imposing adult rules or values. The educators from Iraq were stunned, they really could barely believe that children would naturally create art that looked so “artistic”!

As this Budding Artist’s Exhibit illustrates, children’s natural creations are indeed very “artistic,” and it is precisely this open-ended discovery that gives art its true value. As children make their own choices with messy art, they discover the emotional pleasures of sensory and tactile play while developing important cognitive and social-emotional skills….skills that will help them in life.

As Abraham Maslov has said, “Art education is important not because it turns out artists or art products, but because it seems to turn out better people.”

Favorite Art Ideas from 2013

Anna Fave Art 2013 1December 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.

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Leaf Punching with Giant Paper Punches

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Mud Painting with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Paint added into the mud with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ paint on Cooperative Mural Art Material.

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Color Spray Mural Team Building (click here for lesson plan) Staff Development Team Building at Pressman Academy.

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Toddler Messy Art with Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera.

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Community Paint Run by Ugly Dog Events using Colorations® Powdered Tempera.

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Leaf Mobile on branches using Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ paint on Liquid Watercolor™ Lovely Paper Leaves and beads

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Fabric Flower Mobile on branches with beads

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Painted Pinecone Mobile with Stringing Straw Beads on a branch.

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Pipe Cleaner Sequencing with assorted buttons

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3-Dimensional Pot with Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty

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Air-Dry Clay Impressions with fresh flowers

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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.

Materials Used:
BioColor® Paint, 16 oz – set of 13 (BIOSET)
Giant Paper Punches – set of 8 (BIGPUNCH)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Paints, 8 oz – set of 18 (LW18)
E-Z Pull Extra Large Clear Trigger Sprayers, 12 oz – set of 6 (TSBOT)
Cooperative Mural Art Material – 4′ x 10′ (LWMAT)
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera, 16 oz – set of 11 (SWT16)
Colorations® Powder Tempera Paint, 16 oz – set of 10 (CPTSET)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™Lovely Paper Leaves – set of 72 (LEAFSET)
Best Value Bead Bucket (BDBKT)
Fabulous Fabric Flowers – 200 pieces (VIOLET)
Stringing Straw Beads – 1 lb (STRS)
Pipe Cleaner Classroom Pack – 250 pieces (PCPACK)
Assorted Grandma’s Buttons (PTBTN)
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty (CPUTTY)
Air-Dry Clay – 25 lbs (AIRDRY)
Classroom Canvas Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASQLT)
Classroom Picture Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASPIC)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

Create Joy!

Anna Joy Tambourine 1What a handful modern life has become; it’s so easy to feel out of balance.

Taking care of our emotional health is more important than ever as the stress of every day living increases. It’s a good time for adults to get together and enjoy the pleasure and renewal of creative pursuits. Collaborative art activities, like those presented here, are an engaging and affordable way to create community, have fun, and take active steps towards regaining the balance we all crave.Anna Joy Tambourine 2Anna Joy Tambourine 3

These photographs are from a colorful workshop held last month at “A Window Between Worlds,” a resource agency for domestic violence shelters. Every year I lead a workshop at AWBW for their “Train the Trainer” series. Those who attend are therapists and staff who run therapeutic art programs at battered women’s shelters throughout Southern California. Feedback on the training was very positive and I hope you enjoy these delightful photos.Anna Joy Tambourine 4Anna Joy Tambourine 5Anna Joy Tambourine 6Working with AWBW’s program directors, we focused the training on self-renewal. Our idea was to create a safe, nurturing environment and encourage participants to re-connect to their own happiness and experience a real sense of joy. To achieve this goal, the art supplies had to be colorful, inviting and abundant. I wrote a lesson plan based on our papier mâché tambourines and some of my favorite collage materials. We called the lesson plan “Creating Joy,” and I recommend you try it for staff development (download here). The results were beautiful, the participants had loads of fun, and the process was both relaxing and energizing (one of the paradoxes of art-making).Anna Joy Tambourine 7Anna Joy Tambourine 8Anna Joy Tambourine 9My favorite part in preparing the lesson was finding “clip art quotes” to use as focal points. I found these color quotes on Sherri Bishop’s website. (download here) and also revamped my Values Clarification Worksheet. (download here). Feel free to use them both for this and other paper crafts. Remember, art and language go hand in hand.

Anna Joy Tambourine 10Anna Joy Tambourine 11Anna Joy Tambourine 12Adults relax and unwind with open-ended art activities when the instructor presents easy, success oriented art techniques. I hope you have someone on staff that truly enjoys leading art activities, and that you’ll try some ideas like these with your own staff soon.

Materials Used:
Make Your Own Tambourine Kit for 12 (JINGLEKIT)
Colorations® Washable Glitter Paints – 16 oz, Set of 11 (GLPA)
Stubby Chubby Brushes, Set of 12 (SPIFFY)
Tissue Paper Circles, 4″ – 480 pieces (TCIR)
Mini Tissue Squares – 5000 pieces (TINYTIS)
Spotted Feathers – 1 oz (SPOTTED)
Colorations® Premium Glue Sticks – Set of 12 (PRETRAY)
Colorations® Tacky Glue (GLUEIT)
Metallic Pony Beads – 1 lb (PONYMET)
400 feet of Satin Ribbon – 16 spools (SATIN)
Iridescent Fabric Shapes – 500 pieces (SHINYFAB)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

Want to know more about A Window Between Worlds? 

The AWBW Program is available to any agency or organization seeking to implement art as healing tool for survivors of domestic violence. For further information on AWBW, please call (310) 396-0317, e-mail info@awbw.org, or visit www.awbw.org.

“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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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®

Group Art Activity: Tennis Ball Painting!

anna tennis ball painting 1Summer is almost over and here in Los Angeles school has already started. But for many children, there’s still a final stretch of summer freedom and the joys of outdoor play.

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Here’s a creative group art idea from Danielle Monroy, who own and operates Creative Care for Children in Santa Barbara.

Let Danielle’s children inspire you to take advantage of the final stretches of summer weather with messy art in the great outdoors.

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Ingredients:
1 small plastic pool
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera, poured into plastic tubs
An equal number of tennis ball
Salad tongs
Cooperative children
Large sheets of white paper

Stir together and serve with a smile!

Reports Danielle: Some of the great things about this project? It was a truly cooperative activity – it only works when everyone works together and the more they do, the more giggles are produced!

During outdoor play sometimes children need more large motor play. This is a wonderful large motor activity that includes art, collaboration and concentration!

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Danielle and I will be co-presenting on Science and Sensory Play at the CAEYC conference in April 2014. We’re calling it STEM to STEAM – combining art and science in the early childhood classroom. We’ll post new handouts on that topic on the blog here, so you can also try them out. Stay tuned, and thanks for checking in!    It’s a pleasure staying connected with people like you who actively explore new ideas and embrace their own creativity.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Simply Washable Paint – set of 11 (SWT16)
Butcher Paper Rolls (P4018)
Sand & Water Activity Tubs – set of 4 (TUBS)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

Toddler Art with Clara: A Child’s First Art Materials

Parents often ask me, “What’s the best art material to start with beyond the obvious crayons and markers?” I remember wondering the same thing when my children became toddlers. When they could first grasp a spoon and feed themselves, did that mean they were ready to grasp a crayon or a paintbrush? As a lifelong art teacher, I was eager to give my own children the opportunity to enjoy art AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, and begin what I considered the joyful process of messy art and sensory discovery. But of all the innovative art products for children on the market, what would I introduce first?  I learned a lot from trial and error and observation, which I pass along to you here.

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Recently my friend, April, asked me what she should get for her daughter, Clara, who is 2.5 years old. Clara already enjoyed scribbling, drawing and finger painting, but her mom wanted to expose her to more good stuff. April sent me this delightful photo of Clara in the buff, painting herself with bright red paint. The photo shows that Clara is a budding young artist and that her mom has the good sense to set her up with a painting station at home. Yay! What a great start to art.

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I sent April two of my favorite toddler art supplies – Colorations® Smooth & Silky Art Sticks and Do A Dot Art™ MarkersSmooth & Silky Art Sticks are my absolute favorite for toddlers; you see them here in yellow, blue and purple. They are so smooth, they feel like drawing with lipstick. Smooth & Silky Art Sticks are creamier than oil pastels, softer than crayons, and quickly color blend into secondary colors. Children can even add water with chubby brushes for a watercolor wash effect, or an adult can sponge down the paper first and have children draw onto wet paper for a “bleeding color” effect. They are the perfect tool for enhancing creativity.

Do A Dot Art™ Markers are another easy-to-grasp paint marker and the easiest way to apply paint without fingers or a brush. They are a similar product to Colorations® Washable Chubbie Markers, but they have the added benefit of simple labeling that reinforces language development when children are first learning colors.

One last product I suggested for Clara is Colorations® Chubby Crayon Eggs, which you see here as chunky round color balls. Crayon Eggs are a fun way to introduce another tool that facilitates gross motor skills, since they are more likely to be used with shoulder motions than wrist motions. All these materials are easy to grasp and give quick and easy feedback. That is, they do not require a high level of cognitive or motor development to respond. They are quick to show a child the delights of cause and effect – the child made a motion and caused the effect of a mark on the paper.

Early childhood art is developmentally complex, and there are reams of books written on the topic. Most parents have no idea how useful it is to give children a variety of art tools to explore their world. Nor do they know how much they could help develop their child’s brain power by introducing them to a variety of art materials. The use of tools to impact the world is something that literally distinguishes us from other animals. Even though it may seem very simple when a child makes a mark on paper, it is developmentally complex. If you want parents to grasp these concepts more clearly, consider duplicating this handout {here and here or click on the images below} and giving it to parents in their Back-to-School handout pack.

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Getting back to Clara: It just so happens that this is a PERFECT time for young Clara to be expanding her art repertoire. She is at the age when she’s exploring her impact on the physical world around her. She is beginning to separate from her parents and experience herself as a unique individual. And in Clara’s case, she is about to have a new sibling because her mother is 8 months pregnant!  So Clara will benefit from new forms of art expression that enable her to express herself and channel her feelings about having a new baby in the family.

Which makes me think of an amusing story about sibling rivalry that I’ll end with. It’s a story my husband loves to tell, that illustrates a child’s point of view when a new sibling is born. “Imagine your husband comes home and tells you he’s about to bring a second wife home, but that you should not worry or be concerned because he has love enough for two wives. Just because he’s bringing home a second wife doesn’t mean he loves you any less. He has love enough to go around. In fact, he hopes you will love this new wife too, just as he does. He hopes you will treat her with respect and not hit her or pull her hair, but love her too, as part of a beautiful, growing family.”  I love how this silly story drives home the complexity of sibling rivalry. Young Clara pictured here, delightfully exploring Colorations® Smooth & Silky Art Sticks and Do A Dot Art™ Markers, is about to realize her parents have love enough for two children. But should she have “issues” with that realization, she will have new ways to express her complex feelings through art.

What were YOUR child’s first art materials? We welcome your comments!

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Materials Used:
Smooth & Silky Art Sticks – set of 72 (SILKYPAK)
Do-A-Dot Art™ Markers – set of 32 (THEDS)
Do-A-Dot Art™ Primary Markers – set of 6 (PDD)
Do-A-Dot Art™ Brilliant Markers – set of 6 (BDD)
Do-A-Dot Art™ Flourescent Markers – set of 5 (FDD)
Do-A-Dot Art™ Shimmer Markers – set of 5 (SDD)
Colorations® Washable Chubbie Markers – set of 24 (CHUBBERS)
Colorations® Washable Chubbie Markers Primary – set of 8 (SPONGE)
Colorations® Washable Chubbie Markers Tropical – set of 8 (TSPONGE)
Colorations® Washable Sparkle Chubbie Markers – set of 8 (MESPONGE)
Colorations® Chubby Crayon Eggs – set of 8 (CHUBEGG)
Stubby Chubby Brushes – set of 12 (SPIFFY)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

Finger Weaving for Fun and Math

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I just came back from our annual sales meeting where we got to play with all our new products. The creative talents of our product development staff continue to amaze me, and I’m happy to say after 15 years of working for Discount School Supply®, I still love my job. And why not? I get to share creative ideas with people like you, and know that I’m helping make a difference in the lives of children.

Let’s talk a walk down “memory lane” and recall the simple woven “pot holders” that many of us made as children. Do you recognize them pictured here?

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It’s a new product in our Arts & Crafts, and it brought back many childhood memories.  When I was in early Elementary School, I was obsessed with making pot holders in every color imaginable. Did you make them too? If not, it’s never too late to start this simple and affordable weaving process, typically for children ages five and up. Not only is it fun, it’s a great learning tool that exercises pattern-making skills, problem solving, critical thinking and fine motor dexterity.

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But with summer here, I also recalled how my own two children loved “finger weaving” with just the loops themselves when they were young.  So I grabbed my computer for a refresher course on finger weaving and started making these necklaces and bracelets.  Pretty soon my friends were learning how to finger weave too. It is contagious, calming and creative. For clear instructions on how to finger weave, here’s the perfect resource from the Internet:

anna finger weaving pinterest tutorial

click picture to see the full size

Or, check out this YouTube video for more fun instructions!

Let’s get Practical:

How many bags of loopers would you need for a group of children? Our small group made eight long loop necklaces and a few bracelets with one bag. I’d recommend ordering one bag for every six or eight students, and at $5.99 a bag that is a very good summer deal!

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This is a perfect summer camp and vacation activity because once kids learn how to finger weave, it’s a completely self-directed and loved by boys and girls alike. Pack a bag in the car with you before you go on a family vacation, you’ll be glad you did.

PS – What about math? Loom weaving and finger weaving both exercise fundamental math skills, like these from Teacher Quicksource®.

1. Recognizes Spatial Relationships. The child is able to understand positions and direction, such as right-left, top-bottom, behind-in-front, between, under, over, etc.

2. Classifies and Sorts by Attributes. The child can classify and group objects based on the similarities and differences of the attributes of each object, such as color or size.

3. Creates Patterns by Extending and Comparing. The child can copy, extend or create a pattern, such as colored blocks: black,red, black, red, black ….

4. Understands the Concept of Measurement. The child understands that objects can be measured using height, weight, and capacity

Have a wonderful summer!  Anna

Materials Used:
Loopers – 16 oz Jumbo Bag (LOOPS)
Weaving Loom and Hook (LOOM)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®