We’ve read the articles, watched the news stories, and listened to the experts: creative activities are essential for raising innovative thinkers and successful adults. Creativity is about much more than artistic endeavors and is an essential element for nurturing a child’s growth and development.
A great way to expand a child’s mind is by giving them fairly free access to art supplies. Now, if thoughts of freshly spilled glitter, puddles of paint, or clay in the carpet are giving you anxiety, you’re not alone. Creativity comes in many forms and the great thing, YOU’RE the gatekeeper of what enters the Art Castle in your home. Sequins make you sick? Don’t use them! Paint make you paranoid? Work up to it, start small and your children will get there eventually! A good basic creativity center should include the following items: washable markers, watercolor paint, quality crayons, glue , and paper. These 5 items will provide a myriad of projects and are perfect for kids of all ages. I prefer using glue sticks with children of any age, just for the convenience factor. I also recommend purchasing paper in the 12×18 size or a roll of paper because of the multi age versatility. A good principle to remember is that the younger the child, the bigger the paper should be and the smaller the choices should be. For instance, if working with a 2 year old, offer markers or crayons, dumping 64 crayons and a dozen markers on the table is overwhelming and you’re sure to be playing 76 pick up by yourself after everything has been swept on to the floor. If you’re doing art with multiple ages at once, encourage the older ones to draw with the crayons, clean them up, break out the watercolors to fill in their designs, clean up paints, then finish off by outlining their painting with the markers. The toddler has been able to participate in all parts of the project, everyone has created on an age appropriate level with plenty of stimulation and exposure to various art media. Access and exposure to art supplies is the biggest thing that has spurred creativity at our house. A few years ago, I wanted to build my son’s fine motor skills, especially his handwriting. I stuck a few jars of supplies in the middle of our dining table and found him doodling away at random times throughout the day. The simple fact that the items were in plain sight and easily accessible increased the time ALL my children spent in creative pursuits. If you’re ready to really take the plunge, I’d suggest these additional supplies which will greatly expand your potential projects: Tempera Paint– I generally purchase the primary colors(red, yellow & blue) as well as black & white and encourage my kids to mix any additional colors they want to use. Obviously, this will easily teach the basics of color composition but it is also lends itself to exploring shades, hues, & textures based on the mixtures they create. Construction Paper– The possibilities are truly endless: collage, masks, directed crafts, or wherever the imagination takes them. Colored Pencils– I’ve written about these pencils before and continue to be a big fan. Vibrant, woodless, & long lasting, they are an item everyone loves at our home! Oil Pastels– An inexpensive way to really expand the mediums your kids are using, perfect with watercolors or dark colored construction paper, fabulous way to teach about blending, just use your fingers or a damp cloth. I repainted a dresser to store our art materials and it has worked splendidly for us. Paper of all sorts, coloring books, stencils, and a whole smattering of supplies easily fit in the drawers and everything is easily accessible whenever someone has the urge to create!