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

Signiture

 

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

 

About Me

My inspirations

Girl Reading Paper $80
Original watercolor inspired by a vintage photo.

As an artist I am a bit all over the place! I often describe myself as having art ADD, lol. I have never been able to lock myself down to a signature style or medium. I really enjoy trying new things. There are however some recurring themes in my art.

 

Inspirations…

I am inspired by Fashion, more accurately by vintage fashion! I even majored in Fashion Design in College. I am inspired by all types of dance. I am not much of a dancer myself, though I do enjoy dancing from time to time. I simply love the combination of strength and grace in the bodies of dancers. I am also inspired by circus arts, especially vintage circus performers!  I am intrigued by subcultures and counterculture movements throughout the various decades especially flappers, burlesque culture, circus culture, and punk culture. I draw a lot of inspiration from these and I am inspired other artists who do the same. I enjoy all things feminine and delicate yet strong, especially images of strong women.

I love to explore color and texture, combining abstract flowy forms with precise and controlled forms. I love the color green! I am inspired by the crisp geometric Art Deco shapes and patterns as well as the delicate and ornate ones associated with Art Nouveau. I love fiber arts especially wool. It is just so warm and fuzzy! My current medias of choice to work in are alcohol inks, and watercolor. As I mentioned before though I really enjoy trying out new mediums and tools so I am quite often scattered in my artistic efforts. 

My time is quite limited for doing my own artwork, but I spend a considerable amount of time facilitating process art for both kids and adults. I get to do a lot of creative play and experimentation which I love to do!

Here are a few examples of my art…

Jennifer MacIsaac Art
Tango Dancers in watercolor, Altered magazine image embroidery, Portrait of Josephine Baker in alcohol inks, Art deco gal in acrylic

My top 5 favorite artists!

These artists have all been inspirational to me in my own work.

1. Erte

 

erte collage
Images Via Web Search

Erte was a Russian born, French artist most famous for his art deco fashion designs. He designed over 200 Harper’s Bazaar covers in the 1920s and 30s. I love the use of pattern and whimsy in his designs. The Art Deco period is one of my absolute favorites!

 

2. Gustav Klimt

Klimt collage
Images via Web Search

Klimt was an Austrian artist who worked  in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He is a symbolist painter and part of the Art Nouveau movement. I am particularly inspired by his “Golden Phase” I love his use of color and pattern.

 

These next three artists are currently living and working so I have not included photos of their work since I do not have permission to do so. 

Please click on the links below to see some beautiful examples of their work from their own pages!

 

3. Cynthia Markert

Cynthia Markert is a local favorite here in Knoxville TN. She paints images of strong women and sisterhood on wood panels. She has a beautiful Art Deco style. I am inspired by her use of proportion and her mixture of large flat shapes and detailed pattern. I also love her use of color.

4. Puddleton Art

I found Puddleton art otherwise known as Alice Badgley, on Etsy one day while I was browsing and I fell in love. It is my goal to own a piece of her art one day (Update, I have a beautiful little pice now)!  I am inspired by her whimsical style and her use of mixed media to create these beautiful images of 1920s fashion.

 

5. Mimi Kirchner

Mimi Kirchner is a fiber artist from Boston. She makes these amazing dolls, many of which are inspired by vintage eras. She uses bits of old fabric and buttons in her designs. I love the vintage feel and her attention to detail. My favorites are her circus looking dolls , but they are all so unique and fun!

 

I would love to hear some of your inspirations as artists. Feel free to share some of what inspires you to create or a favorite artist of yours in the comments below!

my art
Various watercolors and alcohol ink paintings from this past year.
About Me

A New Journey Begins

 

open

Thanks for joining me! This space will be a creative journey celebrating art breaks. What are art breaks, you ask? Well art breaks are anytime one takes a moment in time to create something, anything. Art breaks could be a brief moment or a scheduled creative session of any duration. They could be enjoyed by anyone of any age or circumstance. One does not need to be an artist to enjoy an art break. Anyone can participate at any artistic level or ability. All you have to do is pause for however long you wish and with intention create something…anything! Sounds fun right?

I am a huge fan of art breaks. I love to create whenever I can, and I love to work with others to develop their own creative practice. Through my brick and mortar art studio, The Basement Community Art Studio  I have worked with many different types of creative individuals. I have enjoyed the creative play of infants and toddlers. I have helped to guide school aged children through creative discovery. I have watched as teens began to develop their own unique artistic style. I have witnessed families creating together. I have helped adults who did not believe that they “had a creative bone in their bodies,” to discover a way to honor their own inner artist. I have ventured out into the community to witness and take part in the larger “Maker Movement.”

In my business Creating Mindfulness, my business partner Dorothy Verbick and I lead monthly women’s circles and retreats that encourage women to embrace their creativity and channel it into a practice in mindfulness. We use art and creative breaks as a way to channel ones creative energies and enhance self expression.

Currently in my full time position as the Make Space Coordinator with the MUSE Knoxville, I am lucky enough to facilitate a beautiful Maker Space that encourages children to explore their own creativity. I am surrounded daily by creative kiddos who will grow up to be tomorrow’s innovators and creators. It is very exciting to see those young minds at work.

This little space, my tiny corner of the web, will serve as my journal, my documentation, and my observations. I will be sharing my observations as I move through my personal creative journey and as I facilitate creative sparks and Art_Breaks for others. I would love it if you would follow along. Please feel free to offer tips of feedback along the way. I absolutely love to collaborate with other creative minds. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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Playing with alcohol inks is a favorite art break of mine!

This space is for me to document my work, to reference what I have seen and done in this creative community. This space is also for you to follow along on my creative adventure. I hope that it will inspire you to take your own Art Breaks and to encourage those in your life to take their own Art Breaks too.

In this blog you will find:

  • Creative inspirations for working with children.
  • Creative inspirations for adults looking to take their own Art Breaks.
  • Resources that I have found helpful on my creative journey.
  • My own personal portfolios for my various creative adventures and Art Breaks.

Please feel free to leave a comment with any questions that you may have or share any of your own insights to your creative journey. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” — Picasso

 

watercolor
These girls are having fun playing with some watercolor techniques using liquid watercolors and alcohol.
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These preschoolers are experimenting with splatter-paint by painting rubber-bands and then flicking the bands to see what happens to the paint.