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

STEM to STEAM: Shrink Art Sculpture, Dale Chihuly Style

Anna Chihuly Shrink Art LeadHow do you encourage and preserve children’s natural creativity and belief in their own capacity?

This week I had an “Artist Play Date” with 7 year old Nora, who taught me the shrink art techniques she learned at summer camp. Nora knows I am a big fan of Shrink-It-Sheets, so she was eager to show me her innovative and truly unique creations.

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Nora had learned how to use clear shrink art plastic to make 3-D art abstractions in the style of glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. Here’s Nora in my garage studio with some of the clear shrink-it sheets that she decorated with permanent markers and rubber stamps.

I love the combination of art, math and science that shrink art projects provide. It engages scientific inquiry, physical science and geometry, and includes active explorations of cause and effect, change of state, and mathematical reasoning. Not to mention that it’s colorful, creative and fun.

Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 4Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 5Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 6The artist we were emulating is Dale Chihuly, a glass art sculptor known for his stunning and colorful organic shapes. Unlike the majority of glass artists whose work is functional and focuses on vessels and bowls, Chihuly’s glass work is pure abstract art. Children typically relate very well to his use of bright colors and shapes, and can easily be inspired by his style. People traveling to Las Vegas can see this stunning example of his work in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel.

Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 7Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 8A close look at Nora’s shrink art sculpture shows off the same brilliant colors and organic shapes of Chihuly’s style, and this close up blue “pod” created from opaque shrink art plastic also reveals rich semi-transparent colors.

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Here’s another example of opaque Shrink It Sheet cutouts, which we decorated with markers and rubber stamp impressions. They’re shown here in the oven, where we baked them for 3 minutes at 310 degrees. When they came out, Nora attached them together into this small sculpture using Twist and Bend Craft Ties. You can also a hot glue gun to attach baked pieces together, but twist ties add color and eliminate the stress of using hot glue.

Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 11Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 12While the oven was warm, we also experimented with permanent markers and stamps on plastic cups. Here are the cups before and after baking. Again, Nora used Twist and Bend Craft Ties to connect baked parts together into one composition.

Just like with the Shrink-It-Sheets, we baked the colored plastic cups for 3 minutes in a 310-degree oven. Various brands of plastic cups have different properties, and oven temperatures also vary, so this part calls for experimentation (aka the scientific method at work). You can use a toaster oven in the classroom too, just keep the windows open for ventilation. It’s so dramatic to see how oven heat distorts, shrinks and flattens various thin plastics, causing designs to shrink and colors to intensify.

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Thanks, Nora! I learned a lot from you and admire your curiosity. And while I’m kind of sad that summer break is coming to an end, I know a new school year of growth and discovery lies ahead for YOU and other children nationwide.

With the nationwide emphasis on STEM in education, there is no better time to combine art and science in creative ways like these to “fan the flame” of their natural curiosity. STEAM adds the ART to STEM and stands for science, technology, engineering, art and Mathematics. The goal of integrating STEAM practices into the classroom is to empower students to be problem-solvers and innovators, unafraid of failure and committed to figuring out open-ended challenges that mirror real world situations.

Nora probably didn’t think of her artist play date as a STEAM exercise, but she was smiling when she left and beaming with creative confidence in her discoveries and abilities.

As teachers and parents, we know children are born curious and creative, but too often the forced structure of formal schooling erodes their sense of wonder. I hope you consider incorporating more STEAM ideas into your classroom this year, and use them to facilitate wonder, curiosity and creative confidence.

Materials Used:
Clear Shrink-It-Sheets – 24 quantity (CSHRINK)

Opaque Shrink-It-Sheets – 24 quantity (SHRINKIE)

Sharpie® Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers – set of 12 (ULTCLR)
Sharpie® Multi-Colored Permanent Fine-Tip Markers – set of 12 (SHARPCLR)
Colorations® Color Permanent Markers – set of 12 (PERMCLR)

Fun & Friendly Rubber Stamps – set of 25 (ADORABLE)

Twist and Bend Craft Ties Super Pack (TWISTY)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

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

 

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®