Art Spaces, Kid's Art Project, Preschool Art, Process Art

Tips for setting up a kids Makerspace

For the past 5 years I have taught art and managed art studios and makerspaces designed with kids in mind. One question I am asked frequently at my job is,

“How could I set up a small makerspace for my kids at home?”

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Well today I thought I would offer a few tips to get you started. First off there is no correct way to do this. Makerspaces will be as different as are the individuals who use them. Think about your kids. What are their interests? Do they love to paint or do they prefer to build things? Do they enjoy using new tools? Drawing? The main goal is to spark their creative interest so beginning with something they are already familiar with can be a great place to start. New items and supplies can always be added or changed out as time passes. In fact changing out items can lead to new challenges, keeping the makerspace fresh and interesting!

My Favorite art supplies to begin with:

colored pencils

  • Tempera paint, I love Blick student grade paints. They are bright, offer great coverage, don’t crack, and are some of the more washable paints I have found.
  • Watercolors. I enjoy both liquid watercolors and pan watercolors. I have linked to some reasonably priced favorites.
  • Good paper. Thick nice mixed media paper is great for most painting. I prefer SAX  80# or higher grade paper. Watercolor paper is great but a bit pricier.
  • basic crayons, Crayolas are great
  • Colored pencils, Crayola work well but there are many great choices and the quality varies. Prisma Colors are my favorites but are a bit pricey.
  • #2 pencils or drawing pencils.
  • Water soluble markers, Crayola work fine for kids and are washable.
  • A black sharpie. They are great for line work and for drawings that you want to paint since they don’t run when wet.
  • Elmer’s school glue
  • Craft glue sticks
  • Low temp Hot glue guns

Recyclables to collect for repurposing:

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  • Toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  • Old Magazines
  • Small boxes
  • Flat cardboard (cut up amazon boxes work great!)
  • Tin cans without sharp edges
  • Interesting plastic, metal, or cardboard bits and pieces…
  • Corks and bottle caps
  • Other interesting tidbits, pretty much anything that can be glued to something else is fun to explore!

Nature Items to collect:

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  • Sticks
  • Pinecones
  • Acorns
  • Pebbles
  • Flat rocks
  • Seed pods
  • Flowers and grasses
  • Leaves

Other Favorite Items to add in here and there:

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  • Oil Pastels
  • Chalk Pastels
  • Buttons
  • Beads
  • Fabric
  • Yarn
  • Wire
  • Other interesting craft items, the possibilities are endless!

 

Storage Solutions:

supply storage

Your storage is going to be dictated by the space you have available and by your collection of supplies. If you have a whole craft room to dedicate great, but don’t feel that you need that much space. All of the supplies do not have to be available at all times. A small shelf can be a great place to house a smaller makerspace! You will also need a table or a desk for your child to work on (floors can work as well if tablespace is not available.)

I suggest getting a vinyl table cloth or place mat to protect and designate your child’s work space. I also enjoy having a collection tray on hand. Trays are great to hold the small items while your child work so that beads and such don’t just roll away.

Small baskets are a great way to organize kids materials on the shelf. Civilware trays work well to hold small tinkering items and loose parts. Larger boxes and wood crates are perfect for storing the larger items such as tin cans, small boxes, and cardboard items. Papers and magazines can be kept in a paper stacker.

Remember that all items do not need to be visible at all times. They can rotate in and out on the shelf if you have limited space. A storage tote can hold any excess until needed. I would recommend rotating interesting items every couple of weeks. You will always want to have paper, some type of paint, glue, and drawing materials available, but the other items can come and go as they are available or as older supplies begin to lose interest.

Note on art displays:

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If your kids are anything like mine they will make a ton of art in their awesome new makerspace! Art display and storage can get to be a bit of an issue…

Here are some ways that I have found helpful in handling this little problem.

  • Flat art like paintings, drawings, or collage can be pinned or taped to the wall or fridge for a period of time. One favorite display method is a clothesline approach. Simply hang a piece of twine and use clothespins to hold up art. Old art that has been on display for a while can be replaced as new art is made.  Old art can be stored in a folder, given away as gifts to family and friends, or photographed and then recycled.
  • Larger sculptures need to have a designated display shelf or stand to display them. Display space will likely be limited so talk to your kids and make sure they understand the size and quantity limitations for these types of projects. We display them for a week or two and then they are photographed and dismantled. Many of the parts used can go right back into the art bin for future use!

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I hope you have fun setting up and using your very own kid’s makerspace at your house. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out. I would also love to see pictures of your spaces as they are set up!

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Adult Art Project, Art Project, collage, Kid's Art Project, Preschool Art, Process Art

More fun with collage, part 2.

prompt 8 collage

In Fun With Collages, Part 1 we looked at torn paper collages, cut paper collage, and vision boards. The post was getting long, but I felt like there was still so much more to cover! So today we will look at recycled art paper collages, cardboard collages, fabric collages, and found object collages.

Just a reminder of the supplies you will need for your collage work:

  • Old magazines, Papers, Cardboard or even Fabrics
  • Glue (Glue sticks work well for lightweight papers, Mod Podge for fabrics, or a stronger craft glue for cardboard.)
  • Scissors
  • Something to glue your collage to. If you are working in a sketchbook or journal great, if not any piece of plain paper or cardboard will do.
  • Found objects and a low temp hot glue gun for our final collage project!

 

Recycled Art Paper Collage

old art collage
Old art from several different activities with kids between preschool and elementary age. I cut both geometric shapes and more organic shapes out. In many cases I let the shapes on the painting dictate what I cut out.

So in the last post we were mainly using magazine pages and other decorative papers such as scrapbook papers. Today we will be focused on recycled papers and repurposing old art work for our collage purposes. I enjoy doing a lot of process art with kiddos and myself, but you end up with a lot of art papers that really don’t have a function. So what are you to do with the ever-growing stacks of paper? Well collage of course!

 

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A quick little playful ocean life collage made from the fun shapes found in abandoned process art which was left unclaimed.

I often will cut up old art papers into fun shapes to reuse at a later time either myself or with a kid’s art class. I like to keep fun cut up papers on hand in a collage basket for kids to experiment with.

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This beautiful landscape collage was done by an elementary aged child using several of their own process art pages we had created in class throughout the year.

 

Cardboard Collage

Cardboard is a great medium for collage. Shapes can be cut and arranged on a larger sheet of cardboard to create a new image. Paint can also be used to unify the piece of art created. You can play with texture by peeling the top layer off a piece of corrugated cardboard to reveal the fun rigid texture! I recommend using either a craft glue such as Elmers or even a low temp hot glue gun as the cardboard will need a bit more sticking power!

cardboard collage

 

 

Fabric Collage

Another fun twist on collageing is using fabric scraps instead of paper. For fabric I like to use Mod Podge instead of glue sticks or craft glue because it dries flat without any ridges.  I usually will use the Mod Podge both under the fabric and as a top coat to make sure it is sealed. I usually will use cardboard for my backer but you could experiment with other substrates as you wish.

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A quick little landscape that I created one afternoon.
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Some fabric collage landscapes from a summer camp I ran. The kids were elementary aged.

Found Object Collage

The final style of collage that I want to discuss today is found object collage, sometimes refered to as assemblage art. For these projects you will need the low temp hot glue as many items are too bulky for craft glue. You will also need a sturdy backer or substrate. I often use wood or corrugated cardboard.

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This fun little bird used both old cut up pieces of art work and various found objects!

Quick tip: When working with children always be sure to use low temp glue guns. Point out the hot parts and let them know to place the glue on the backer surface and then add the small found object to avoid holding tiny items in their hand to glue which could lead to a burn. Show them how to use a small popsicle stick or some other stick like object to pres into the hot glue instead of pushing the object with their finger.

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A foun object mandala from a yoga and art camp I helped lead.

Kids love to use the hot glue, and it can be done safely even with very young kids as long as you pay attention to safety measures. Yes, small burns do happen from time to time but small injuries are a valuable learning experience. It is worth the small risk to see the sense of wonder and excitement in the face of a child who has acted independently with a tool!

bottle cap art
Remember incorporating a bit of mixed media is also a fun way to unify found object collages as is the case with this awesome flower vase with bottle cap flowers!

I hope you have enjoyed this series of collage projects as much as much as I have. I love to both make my own collages and teach collage workshops and classes! They are so much fun and the possibilities are limitless!

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Kid's Art Project, Preschool Art, Process Art

Simple toys for creative play.

Simple Toys for

Back in 2011 Jonathan H. Liu wrote an article for wired.com called “The 5 Best Toys of All Time” The title is linked to the article if you wish to read the whole thing. Here are his selections:

  1. Stick
  2. Box
  3. String
  4. Cardboard Tube
  5. Dirt

This article got me thinking about kids and creative play. As we enter this holiday season, our minds are focused on the next great toy. Each year there is that special coveted toy that makes every child’s wish list. It is usually flashy and colorful with buttons and noises. So much fun, right? Well yes, it is fun for a while… but have you noticed that once your child has played with it for bit they tend to lose interest in it?  That flashy, great, must have toy usually ends up in a corner somewhere collecting dust when the child loses interest and moves on to something else. Why is that? Well I believe that it is because children’s interest is better served with much more open ended play things. Toys that allow for creative play and thought. Toys that can be used in multiple ways and for multiple purposes tend to stand the test of time. Often times those toys are much more simple in nature, such as the box or the stick. They can represent many things at many different times. They grow with the child’s interest and knowledge of the world. They are  as dynamic as the child’s own brain. 

Found Object Sculpture collage

I am not saying that these fancy toys are bad or that you shouldn’t provide them for your child. I am only suggesting that they be balanced with simpler more open ended play things. Items that last beyond the lifespan of a battery.

I am reminded of two of my very favorite toys from childhood.

toys

  1. A wooden rope spool
  2. 2 pieces of plywood hinged together.

These toys were given to me and my brother for Christmas one year by a dear family friend and they provided hours of entertainment throughout the years…Yes I said years. I still had them when I went away to college! When we received these toys we were quite young. I do not remember exactly how old, but early elementary school anyway. At first the hinged wood became a fort/tent  to play in. We would set it up and hide inside. Sometimes it was a doll house of the cave for a stuffed animal. The spool was often used as a car or a wheelchair. Sometimes it was a tower as we built with blocks. I used to even pretend that it was a two story condo for my barbies.  I loved to try to walk on it, pretending I was in a circus act. Both of these toys provided hours of endless entertainment. As I got older the spool became a seat in my room or a night stand. The hinged wood became a table top, or a hard surface to draw on. These toys grew with us and allowed for many uses as we grew up and our interests changed. I can tell you I do not remember many of the toys I played with as a child. There are only a few that have remained in my memory, but these were two of them. These two simple yet creative and open ended toys remain as fond memories of childhood.

nature art collage

Throughout my work with children, I have seen the toys listed above turn into magnificent creations. When a child’s imagination is at play wonderful things happen. Creative play allows the child to process their own unique ideas and thoughts. It allows them to problem solve, to discover new ways to do things, and to build confidence in their own ability. 

bottle cap art

So with all of that in mind I would like to expand the list of toys to include a few more items that allow for creative play and foster the child’s imagination and creative minds. 

  1. Sticks of all sizes.
  2. Cardboard boxes, and sheets of cardboard.
  3. String/yarn/ribbon
  4. Cardboard Tubes (Toilet paper tubes , and sturdy mailers)
  5. Nature Item: dirt, leaves, pine needles, pine cones, acorns, seed pods…
  6. Corks
  7. Bottle caps, both plastic and metal
  8. Tin cans
  9. Wooden Spools, (both large and tiny!)
  10. Scrap wood (Large and small pieces, perhaps with a hinge!)

These are simple toys that are readily available to just about anyone,  they provide hours of creative play, and are engaging to all ages! Children of all ages can enjoy playing with these items. The photos throughout this post have been made by preschoolers, school age children, teens, and even adults! So go ahead raid your own recycle bin or collect some items from your yard.

What can you create out of these items when you allow your imagination to run wild?

cardboard tools

Consider the following tools to use with your creative items when playing:

  1. Low Temperature Hot Glue Gun
  2. Scissors (Sharp enough to cut cardboard)
  3. Tape (Try out different kinds!)
  4. Sharpie Markers
  5. Paints
  6. Simple hand tools (hammer and nails, drill…)

child with hot glue gun

Note: All of these tools can be used with children, however adult supervision is necessary to prevent possible injury with some of them. Just remember not to take over if you are assisting a child. Your job is to assist them in creating their ideas… even if you can think of a better way to accomplish the task. Failure is ok in creating…it provides opportunities to problem solve and to learn perseverance. Most importantly it shows the child that you have confidence in their ability and that their thoughts are valid. And always, remember to have fun!  🙂

creative play art collage

box costume

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I would love to see what you create leave a photo in the comment section or on Instagram with the hashtag #artbreaks