|Back to Basics: Art center (inside front cover)
Art activities encourage children to explore materials and
express creativity. The best art activities support investigation
and experimentation and avoid focus on the product or end
result. Use these guidelines as you help children become
Position the art center in good light and, if possible,
near a water source.
Focus on open-ended activities—those that allow children
to be involved in the process of creativity. Avoid closed
activities—those that have only one correct method
Encourage invention and independence. Avoid making models
for children to follow.
Give children access to art materials. At a minimum paint,
paper, crayons, scissors, and paste should be available at
any time during the day.
Ask open-ended questions about children’s artwork.
For example, say “Tell me about your picture. I see
you used lots of blue paint” rather than “You
drew a blue fish.” Children sometimes share information
but it’s OK if they don’t. Encourage art for
its own sake—not for the product created.
Avoid writing on children’s artwork. Encourage children
to sign their own art. If a child wants to dictate information
about the art, write on a separate piece of paper that can
be attached to the back of the art.
Expect children to share cleanup tasks and to be responsible
for their own materials. Show children how to control paint
drips, wash brushes, cover dough and clay containers, hang
up smocks, and wipe up spills.
Use art materials that are safe and nontoxic. Stress that
art materials and equipment are used for visual art. Eatable
materials, like peanut butter play dough or chocolate pudding
fingerpaint easily confuse children. Avoid using food as
an art medium.
Art center basics
Designate areas for storing supplies and drying and displaying
Use easels that are stable enough to be used indoors or
on the playground.
Buy left- and right-handed scissors that are blunt-ended,
comfortable, sharp, and smooth in operation.
Provide a variety of paper including colored construction
paper, drawing paper, newsprint, tissue, cardboard, foil,
and wallpaper scraps.
Offer a variety of painting tools. In addition to standard
brushes, provide sponges, feathers, combs, cotton swabs,
toothbrushes, medicine droppers, spray bottles, and roll-top
Provide chalk, markers, watercolors, pencils, and crayons.
Invite sculpting with play doughs, clay, and materials
like straws, toothpicks, Styrofoam, pipe cleaners, and colored
Offer and let children discover the best uses for glue,
paste, glue sticks, and tape.
Collect beautiful junk for collage and other art activities
that use cloth scraps, paper tubes, string, ribbon, greeting
cards, gift paper, and yarn.
Buy powdered tempera paint. It is economical and can be
used dry or mixed to any consistency for the easel, stamping
and printing projects, and fingerpaint. Contain paint in
muffin tins, used margarine tubs, juice cans, or commercial
paint cups with lids.
Provide smocks and furniture protectors. Layers of newspaper
and vinyl sheeting are effective in containing messes.