Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Setting up an Open-ended Art Area

I recently read a great post about open-ended art here. And setting up an area for M to create whatever he wants has been on my mind a lot lately. He's been painting and gluing since he was able to sit up by himself, so I'm not too worried about him making messes (and in the kitchen or outside the mess is pretty easy to clean up) but I'm not sure how to put it all together in our tiny home, or what should be included.

Right now he was a lap tray that we call his "desk" in a corner of the living room. Here he has a sketch pad of plain white paper, some coloring books (recent additions since he just started being interested in them), a bucket of crayons and colored pencils, some construction paper scraps, scissors, a glue stick, and a small container of the pieces he's cut up from the construction paper, as well as some stickers. He did make some collages at first, but he is not a big fan of the glue stick. He is a glue bottle kind of guy. Squeezing the glue is a huge part of the fun for him. Obviously that can't be done in the living room, or I might turn into the crazy-mama-who-yells. ;)

In the kitchen he has an art easel with a drawer. One side has a white board. We normally keep peices of newsprint up on that side, held in place with magnets. His markers are here, more stickers, chalk for the chalkboard on the other side, and more magnets. He makes several drawings here daily.

When he paints it's usually outside on his homemade easel, or inside at the table, doing something I've set up for him - open-ended or crafty. However, I like the idea of him being able to do it on his own whenever he wants. *But* I like the set up we have now because it works for us. So, I'm going to try having a container of other supplies - more paper, glue (in a bottle), less-messy paints like his do-a-dot painters and roll-on painters, tissue paper, scissors, etc. Having it in a container means I can set it out in the morning and he can do what he wants with it, then I can take it off at dinner time or whenever we don't want it out. I plan on trying this some time soon, hopefully one day this week if I can get myself organized in time.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has other suggestions for what to keep in our art container. Am I adding too much? Should I rotate items in some way? Do you have a place in your home where your children can create whenever they want? How is it set up in your home? Have you posted on your blog about this topic? If so, leave the link in the comments section - I'd love to read them!

We will still try to do (almost) daily art projects and may take part, once in a while, in this "open-ended art carnival" that a reader introduced me to.

Have a beautiful day! :)


  1. Great post! It seems that you gave a lot of thought to your open-ended art area. We are not as far along, because my husband and I disagree on how much access our daughter should have and to what. He hates messes and feels that Anna is too young to manage art projects independently. Seeing how every managed project ends in a mess I have to reluctantly agree. So right now she only has access to magnetic drawing boards and stickers/notepads. By the way, she is also a glue bottle girl - loves glue with a passion :)

  2. I know what you mean - messes are inevitable. I just wanted to let you know the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are GREAT for cleaning up markers and crayons from walls and other surfaces (not carpet obviously and that's why we don't allow markers anywhere other than the kitchen). I would not be half as relaxed about messes if it weren't for knowing I can easily clean up almost anything M does. Of course he still goes to time out IF he does color on anything other than paper or what I've supplied him with. You do a lot with your daughter! I'm not sure young kids need to have an art center they can access any time. The time will come when she is older! Thanks for stopping by my blog again!


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