ArtSkills provided me with product to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.
I love doing craft projects with my pre-schooler. Before he could even hold a marker the right way, I’ve been encouraging him to get creative and play with different art mediums. I proudly hang his artwork around our playroom and I want him to develop a love for creating things. So, I’m always looking for new products that make my job a little easier — products like the huge collection of arts and crafts supplies from ArtSkills.
Michele Demsky, co-owner and Creative Director at ArtSkills, is the mother of three boys and a master at bringing arts and crafts into everyday life. I got to ask her a few questions about how to improve in this area, especially since I have two boys myself and I feel like a lot of the crafty stuff gets pegged as a “girly” activity as they get older. Michele has some great ideas so check out her answers below!
MISCFINDS4U: What tips do you have for helping antsy pre-school kids get excited about art?
MICHELE: Pre-school children are inherently excited about art! It’s in their nature! What parents need is to help “antsy” kids stay focused by keeping the intended result in mind. A general rule for doing a project with a preschooler is to cut the expected time limit in half. If you think it will take ten minutes to complete, expect five. Staying with an activity is difficult. Here are some good ways to keep them engaged:
- Do it with them! Art is always more fun with mom or dad joining in.
- Make the art a gift for someone else (teacher, grandparent, etc). Get wrapping paper, tissue paper, etc., and prepare it to be sent as a present in the mail. Talking with kids about giving their art to someone special builds their excitement as the gift nears completion!
- Display their art. Have them choose frames, magnets, etc., to display their artwork, and assign an art piece of the week.
- Give them space. Children love to spread out when they are doing art projects. While fine motor skills are still being developed, make the experience enjoyable and easy for them by giving them plenty of space.
- Use their bodies. Get a banner paper roll, trace their body, and have them paint a life-sized self-portrait!
- Go outside. Art is really fun on the driveway with a big piece of poster board, and messy supplies like finger paints, glitter, and glitter glue. Fill paper plates with paint so kids can step in them to make colorful paint footprints on paper. Saturate a toothbrush with paint and run your thumb across the bristles to make splatter art on poster board. These methods are not only fun, tactile experiences, but create art that is bold and exciting to see!
- Stay inside and make art that really cooks. Some of the most delicious art projects involve baking and food decoration so kids can eat their projects!
- The more things children touch, the more fun art becomes. Choose materials that are fun to play with. Painting rocks and sculpting with clay are always a hit!
MISCFINDS4U: What are your favorite art projects to do with your boys?
MICHELE: A. My boys and I love cake contests! The most creative cake decoration wins. I give them little bowls of edible decorations like sprinkles, candy, and icing. I also provide design tools like toothpicks for making towers of fruit, sticky substances for edible glue, fondant that acts as a moldable clay, and cookie cutter shapes.
B. My boys love to build things! They take plain and colored craft sticks, and glue them together with a low-temperature (for safety) glue gun and quick-drying glue (instead of white glue). They begin by assembling a square structure, and then let their imaginations take over. We have rockets, windmills, bridges, space stations, houses, buildings – all in my attic because they are too big to display, but my kids won’t let me throw them away and they are too beautiful to dispose of anyway! A great surface to begin on is foam board because it is sturdy enough to support a large project (while carrying it to the attic!), and it won’t stick to the table or floor.
C. Another family favorite is our Crayon melting project. Glue a long row of crayons (side to side) to canvas in a row. Once the glue has dried, melt the crayons with hairdryer as the colors drip down the page in a dripping rainbow! When it all dries, it is really beautiful and dramatic.
MISCFINDS4U: If you could only have one art supply on hand for the rest of your life, what would it be?
MICHELE: Colored Clay! ArtSkills makes a bucket full of pre-flattened clay strips in 50 colors that never dry. It is the perfect art supply because it can be used over and over again, and provides a lifetime of fun and creativity!
Thanks, Michele, for these awesome ideas! I think my son and I will be going outside to try some messy art projects in our driveway this afternoon. I need to add that we got to try out the ArtSkills Clay Bucket, Activity Bucket and Foam Critters (featured in the images above) and they were all a major hit with my three-year-old. He asks to do the clay every day, and those foam critters were the PERFECT 30-minute airplane activity for my recent flight to California. Thanks, ArtSkills!
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Parents, any other tips for getting your kids excited about arts & crafts?