Friday, February 11, 2011

Encourage the Artist Within!

Give your children opportunities to express themselves artistically - even before they are able to make something that is identifiable! A friend of mine has a beautiful piece of art, hanging in her home, matted and framed, that is colorful and modern-art looking - and done by her then-three-year-old. A creative mix of colors or textures, when matted out in basic black or a color of your choice can be a thing of beauty!

I like to introduce children to art one medium at a time - and let them fully experience it: what it feels like, looks like, what they can make it do ... with some very cool results!

Crayons are usually one of the first art tools that a child comes in contact with - they will make "scribble" pictures, loops, dashes, color one color on top of another ... all methods of experimenting with the medium. And ... all good small motor activities, pre-writing practice, color mixing. Use your child's art to build instruction - ask them what they see, what they want this to say (because some of that "scribble" is "writing"!), what colors they see ... open-ended questions that will encourage language development as well! Just because you don't see a picture of a person or a truck doesn't mean that the picture has no value - it is just the beginning of the process that will lead, eventually, to more recognizable shapes and objects.

Pastels, paints, watercolors, etc. - all introduced one at a time - will help your child in developing so many different skills, especially if the human interaction is there also! Some children revel in the feeling of paint on their fingers, others have an aversion to mess - keep some baby wipes close by! Use things like q-tips or cotton balls to paint with (you can then throw away!) or cut vegetables to stamp with (potatoes work great!). If you want to work with sponges, you can get pre-cut or cut your own and, if they're too messy, use clothes-pins to hold the edges of sponges.

A gallery of clothespins with magnet strips will hold art on your fridge until you need the space for the next batch.  You can get creative with your art holders, too - attach fun foam initials or wooden crafts to the other side of the clothespin! And, if you don't want to keep every single item, start a digital "gallery" on your computer - takes up way less space!

Artwork is something every child can do - start early and encourage experimenting - and take the opportunity to converse with and compliment your child ... self-esteem is so key to development - and, most of all, have fun!


  1. I found that if I put a plastic tablecloth down first, I was much less worried about "messy" and clean-up was a snap!