Saturday, January 11, 2014

Art is more simple than you think.

I feel like many parents don't do art activities at home, which is very sad (to me, anyways). Too many people use the excuse that they "don't know how" or they "aren't artistic" or "it's too messy" or "they don't have time" to do art activities with their kids.

Here's a secret: Those excuses are NOT TRUE. Art activities are good for everyone. Art helps learn the basics- colors, shapes, textures, etc. Art helps with fine motor skills. Art helps develop creativity. Art gives you plenty of ideas for when kids are stuck inside (although there are many ways to bring art outside also) or for when kids claim they are bored. We do an art activity at school every day in my classroom of some sort, and the kids look forward to it. Most often, they flock to me when I'm getting it ready and all want a turn.

If you treasure art and make it important, kids will also. That statement is true for many things. 

Here is a tip about the mess: You handle it how you want. Sometimes kids get the most joy out of being allowed to make a huge mess. Sometimes making a mess is fun. But, most of the time, you don't want your house or classroom a gigantic mess. This is where training comes in. You teach how you want the art materials used, and it works (most of the time). The training can be tough, but it's worth it. Kids are moldable- if you teach them how to properly use art supplies, they can do it.

So, you want to implement more art activities, but don't know how? Here are some simple ideas below to have in stock at home or school, and you can use these items to create many many things. 

Dot markers- A great mix between markers and paint. Not messy, but a great alternative to doing something different than regular markers, yet not getting all the paint out.

Foam stickers- A fun alternative to regular stickers. Kids enjoy the raised texture and peeling the back off.

I prefer the wooden stamps, because they are more durable and have a good handle on them for kids to grasp. The small colored stamps in the above picture are harder for kids to hold onto and also harder for the ink to get on the stamp properly because they can't push as well with a bad grip.

Don't have stamps or money to buy them? Create your own with the foam stickers! 

If you really don't want a mess, you can also buy self inking stamps so you don't even need stamp pads.

Regular stickers- Kids never seem to get bored of them. The only problem is you need a lot, because they will peel page after page. Thankfully, you can buy stickers in bulk for pretty cheap in some places. Even Target sells 500-600+ sticker books in the dollar section fairly regularly.

Play-Doh- I know there are a ton of recipes out there for the best homemade play-doh ever, but I just haven't found one yet, or I just can't follow the recipe correctly. I still love store bought play-doh the best. My homemade kind always dries out too quickly and doesn't mold well together. But, store bought or homemade, kids love play-doh. It keeps them entertained for a long time. I have trained my kids to pick one color and that's what they get. We don't mix colors, ever. If they want a different color, they can trade seats with a friend. When they are done, they put all of their color back in the jar. So, our play-doh doesn't get mixed and it lasts for a really long time.

Along with play-doh, you need tools of some sort. We have these, and they are well loved. We also have a few pairs of play-doh scissors, not pictured, and they love cutting up play-doh. My kids love these tools more than cookie cutters.

Kids love to draw, but sometimes it can be hard to keep the 17 pictures they seem to draw everyday, and that also takes a ton of paper. So, get dry erase boards! They enjoy erasing their pictures and coloring something again and again. Crayola also makes these washable kind, and they are also cheaper than other brands!

Glue sticks- Not all art has to be super "creative." Just use all those paper scraps in your recycling bin and have kids glue them! Be sure to use glue STICKS. Glue bottles are harder to train what the "proper amount" is and it takes longer to dry. (You also have to train kids with glue sticks in twisting up the right amount, as well, but that's a lot easier.)

Scissors- Learning how to cut is hard, so putting scissors out makes is more enjoyable and fun. Give kids an old magazine and let them cut away! We have a cutting paper bin and a coloring paper bin at school, so kids don't cut up all the good paper. I just put old newspapers, magazines, paper scraps, and even wrapping paper in there, and they love cutting it into little shapes and confetti pieces. We also have a rule that whatever you cut up, you clean up.

Sequins- Sequins are my alternative to glitter. Still small and colorful, but not as messy. (We still have glitter at school, but I don't recommend glitter because it needs to be very closely monitored. And "technically," we aren't supposed to use glitter anyway because it is shards of glass that can cut your eyeball. I learned that in a training course.) With sequins, it works better to use glue bottles instead of glue sticks, so we just use the "little bit" rule. You put a little bit of glue on, then put a little bit of sequins on. (Sequins and glue bottles is a teacher monitored activity, at least for me.)

Glitter Glue- Here is a good alternative to real glitter- it's colorful and fun, but so much easier. The only problem is these don't last long, but thankfully you can buy them in the dollar section at some stores.

Everyone should have a bottle of shaving cream. Barbasol is the cheapest. Shaving cream is great for finger painting, and you can also make puffy paint. Puffy paint is fun because it's raised, and so easy to make. You just mix glue, shaving cream, and a couple drops of food coloring.

Paint- Paint is scary to some, but it doesn't have to be. I have never been brave enough to put paint out on our classroom easel, but I regularly use it during our art times. When we paint at school, I usually put it in cups (which is kind of the same as my play-doh rule). Each color has one brush, so if you want a different color, you trade the whole thing. Then the paint never gets mixed together into a yucky brown color. This works well for big groups of kids, but could still work well for even one kid by just putting small dots of paint out with different brushes. You can even buy these special paint cups with these lids, pictured below, to prevent less mess. (But only if you want to- we never use them and it still works fine. These lids also help the paint brush not tip the cup over.)

Another way to make simple painting more fun is by changing what you paint with, like these crazy fun brushes. You can paint with anything- sticks, food (corn cobs, carrots, etc.), toothbrushes, sponges, etc. You can also paint on different surfaces- try painting on aluminum foil instead of paper!

Watercolor paint- A great alternative to regular paint. You just need a little cup of water.

For older kids, perler beads are really fun, but you need an adult to iron them when completed.

For younger kids, they could just make necklaces or bracelets out of bigger beads.

Another fun idea is to make recycled crayons- you just save all the broken pieces, and melt them together! The only annoying thing is that you need lots of crayons to make this happen and it takes forever to peel the paper off. It also destroys your fingernails. But, the good thing is they last a really long time, and it can be a fun alternative to regular crayons.

So, there are some fun and simple art ideas. Most of these items are fairly cheap, but even if you don't have the budget to buy any art supplies, there are still many things you can find in nature or from recyclable items at home. Create something with leaves, toilet paper tubes, egg containers, kleenex boxes, etc.

Art is simpler than you think. Your kids will love it!

(*Note- links and images are not always the same product.)


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