Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Art Box

art box photos (5) (M peering into the art box to see all the *stuff*)
We have a very small house and there just isn’t space enough for M to have his art supplies available to him at any time.  Normally I have something planned each day for him to do – usually some sort of painting or gluing activity.  He does have access to markers, crayons, colored pencils, a glue stick, scissors, and paper, and he does a lot of cutting and drawing, but I just feel there’s a lot more that he could be experimenting with.
Now that he’s three I’ve been thinking about giving him a bit more freedom with art supplies, but I don’t want him digging through my art stash all the time and driving me nuts with the mess.  So I came up with the “art box”.
It’s just a cheap $1.00 dishpan-type tub from Dollar Tree.  I filled it up with some random art supplies (should’ve gotten a good picture of it before he dug through it) – colored paper, newsprint, torn tissue paper, foam stickers, oil pastels, a strip of crayola gel paints, glue, scissors, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, glitter glue, googley eyes… maybe a couple of other things that I’m forgetting.
I put it on the kitchen table and told him, “This is your new art box!  You can make anything you want with any of the things in here.  Come look at all the stuff!”  I pointed out a few things to him and he was definitely interested.  He kept grabbing things and saying, “I want to do this!”, like he thought I must have some sort of project in mind… so I kept telling him, “You have to think of what YOU want to do – you can make anything you want and if you need something that isn’t in the box, let me know and I’ll see if I can get it for you.”
So, he got busy.  First he wanted to make the craft sticks into an airplane.  He showed me where they should be cut and then I helped him glue them together:art box photos (6) (Sorry for the huge close-up, not sure what I was thinking.)  It pretty much stayed like this.  I’ll see if he wants to decorate it in a couple of days.  And, can I just say, I was totally impressed that he knew how to make an airplane and knew where I should cut.  Wow.  He sure surprises me sometimes!
Next, he saw the glitter glue and thought he was in heaven.  He grabbed some paper and did a little experimenting:art box photos (2) Who doesn’t love glitter glue?!
At this point I was actually able to leave him and get a few things done in another room (yes!), with the understanding that he should not get down until he called for me so I could make sure he didn’t need to be cleaned up.  Sometimes it’s easier to let him create freely if I’m not actually there to watch the process. ;)
He also apparently saw the glue bottle, because when I came back he had made this:art box photos (3) Not sure what it is, but that’s an awful lot of glue for a couple of googley eyes. :) 
He asked for some beads to put on the pipe cleaners, so I found our pony bead stash and he strung some on.  He wanted to make shapes, so when he was done he told me the shape and I helped him form it:blog pics 045 Later he hung them on the window tie-back. :)  For some reason this is his favorite place to hang things.  
He made a sticker collage with the foam stickers:blog pics 043
And colored a bit with the oil pastels:blog pics 044
He painted with his roll-on painters over some stencils (he asked me for the roll-on painters and the tape to hold the stencil down):blog pics 042
Then he wanted to open the gel paints.  I gave him some paintbrushes that are quite a bit smaller than what he is used to, we pulled a piece of cardstock out of the art box, and he made this:art box photos (1)I was stunned when I came back to see this – I think it’s absolutely beautiful and one of my favorite paintings ever.  (I love it so much I turned it into a button for my blog over there on the left!) 
He spent 2 hours with his art box and I was able to get a lot done, even with checking on him and supplying him with the extras he asked for.
He surprised me over and over again with his creative thinking and I was so proud of him.  The art box will come out on a weekly basis, if not a daily one.  I just have to keep it well stocked.  There is such a variety of things to put in it I don’t think I’ll have trouble with that.  I’m excited to see what else he comes up with, and just had to share this with all of you!
Have a beautiful day! :)


  1. Wow he really created some awesome things! =) You should frame that painting.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post. You are such a great mom to put a box like this together for your son; you've definitely inspired me to do something similar. I love his painting, and I've added your new button to my blogroll!

  3. Wow. Wow wow wow. I am so impressed with his imagination and how many different things he came up with!! Quite a clever guy you have there (must get it from his mama!).

    And the gel painting is gorgeous. Seriously, I'd frame it.

  4. I love to see what kids do when we just let them loose with art supplies. That painting is frame worthy!

  5. What a creative day he had! He has some wonderful pieces of art here.

    I love your blog button!

  6. What a fun day! I love his painting and your idea of turning it in to a button is genius!

  7. How wonderful!! You're such a fabulous mommy and he's such a creative, curious little guy because of it! :)

    I can't wait to see what else he creates. I would absolutely love to do something like this with Maddie when she gets a tad older.

    I'm feeling a lot better and need to get back into the swing of things. I think about you so often and will email soon. ::Hugs!::

  8. What a fun box, and a fun button. I'll have to grab it and add it to my button collection.

  9. I love all of the projects that he did in one day! That is great that he got to use his creativity. Love the amount of glue he used on the googly eyes.

  10. Such a great idea! I think I'll be making an art box today too!!! I am very impressed with what your son made - everything was so creative! And the amount of glue used for the googly eyes made me LOL! :)

  11. The art box is such a great idea. I love how creative he was in coming up with ideas for using all the different supplies. That painting needs to be framed and hung on the wall!

  12. I am positively jealous, and I am wondering if Anna would have fun with a box like this. My problem is mostly that she wants to create when she feels like it and not when I want her to do it. That's why I keep thinking of creating an art corner for her when such supplies would be readily available. Now I am even more motivated to talk my husband into it. By the way, that painting is truly beautiful - you are definitely raising a very creative little artist there.

  13. I feel so bad that we haven't been doing a lot of crafts lately with me packing like crazy. I know once we are out of our house and living with Gram and Gramps we will have a lot of time on our hands to create. I can't wait! M made some great creations.

  14. What a great idea and yes, his painting is stunning! I love that you turned it into a button!

  15. This is great! I love the see what kids come up with when they are given access to a variety of art supplies. we have a similar system at our house: one tackle type box in my older daughter's room, a small basket by the kitchen table, and a bigger set of bins (one of those open toy organizers from target) in our art studio.

  16. He was really creative with all that stuff. It must have made your heart swell to see him creating all independently like that (I know it does to me when I see Bear just working away on her own).
    I love the idea to use his art work as a button.


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