If you've ever tried scrubbing crayon marks off a freshly-painted wall, you know children like to express themselves artistically! While walls and floors might not be the best surfaces for their talents, its great to encourage children to freely explore making art. Provide space, time, and tools for art, and watch their creativity flourish! Also, ask children about their artistic projects and support their efforts with an open mind and positive responses.
In outdoor playspaces, art and nature go hand-in-hand. Invite children to help choose flowers and plants for gardens, noting the colors and shapes of what they select. Leave designated spaces for chalk drawing, and provide chalk if you have funds for it. Sand studios are great additions to outdoor playspaces. Make room for sheltered easels or install a clear plastic art panel.
Children can really let their artistic selves shine in indoor playspaces. Easels with paper, washable paints, and watercolors are a great starting point. But don't stop there! Children can make art out of all sorts of materials. Scraps of colored paper, pictures from magazines, popsicle sticks, dried noodles, yarn, and cotton balls form fascinating collages. Let children reshape materials with safety scissors and glue. Play-dough and clay turn into amazing shapes in their little hands! You can even use recycled materials like toilet paper rolls, fabric samples, and paper dining products!
Artists Helping Children. Children & art resources for the budding child artist. http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/artforchildren.html
Discount School Supply. Arts & Crafts. http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/Category/Category.aspx?category=29
Lee, P. (1995). Why art is vital to child development. UniqArts & Technologies. http://www.uniqarts.com.sg/whyart.html
National Lekotek Center (2003). Adapted arts and crafts. http://www.lekotek.org/pdfs/packets/arts-n-crafts.pdf
Osborn, Sherri. (2006). Family Crafts. http://familycrafts.about.com/
Task Force on Childrens Learning and the Arts. (1998). Young children and the arts: Making creative connections. http://www.aep-arts.org/files/publications/Young%20Children.pdf
(Photo courtesy of Landscape Structures)