Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Our Craft Play Group

I've wanted to start a toddler art group for a long time - ever since I first discovered The Artful Parent . I had recently started writing my blog (I think) and was reading First Art and Young At Art . I was discovering the idea of children doing art for the sake of doing it, without regard to the final product. I thought this was a wonderful concept, and I've been playing with paint, play-dough and crayons with my daughter without concern for what we're making (because it's not so much about making but about doing).

I haven't had the opportunity to start a toddler art group, partly because we live in a fairly rural area and partly because I don't currently have a space that would be welcoming to small children who might fling paint around. In September, though, I offered to take over the craft playgroup hosted by my moms' group, and I've been trying to come up with activities that children from 18 months to 5 years old can all do at the same time.

This is a more difficult task that it seems (or maybe I'm just making it hard). The skill and interest levels vary so widely for this age group! So far, I've been relying a whole lot on paint, because the babies can just use the paint anyway they want on anything the parent is ok with (paper or whatever surface we happen to be using), and the older kids can have a more structured activity without getting bored. At least, that's my hope. So far, I've only seen one child older than mine at craft group.

At our first group, we essentially played with paint. We had put marbles in paint, and then put the marbles in a box lined with paper, and showed the kids the designs they could make by moving the box.

At another meeting, we painted on placemats with dried leaves, which sort of worked. I don't know if the leaves were dryer than they should be, or if I was using the wrong kind of paint, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped. We painted on the leaves, and then pressed them onto the cloth. I thought the impression would be darker than it was or something. It didn't seem to matter, though. The kids had so much painting the placemats. Unfortunately, I grossly overestimated how many kids would be at that meeting, and I now have a huge stash of blank placemats (paid for out of my personal spending money - ouch). I'm sure we'll do this craft again - without the leaves, maybe?

Next month, we're making cards for Valentine's Day, which I think will be a lot of fun. We're all bringing our own cardstock or card blanks (available at craft stores near the scrapbooking section) and paint, crayons, stickers, and other embellishments. I have yet to meet a kid who does love putting stickers on any available surface!

For Christmas, my Mama got Abigail and me a copy of Preschool Art by MaryAnn Kohl . (Ok, I found it at a used book store and told her about it, and she said it could be my Christmas present.) I've already got an idea lined up for our craft in March from that book.

What are some of your favorite open-ended art projects to do with your child (not pre-planned "the final result should look like this" that so often frustrate young children)?


Sammye Jo said...

Matthew loves creating. He has a "craft desk" I made him in my studio and sits at it all the time. From stamping, to stickers, play dough, to paint, he loves them all!!!

What kind of placemats do you have?? I might be interested in buying 8 of them off of you for Matthew's preschool valentine's party!

Rachel said...

Well, my 2 yr old and I just finished making some of these:
that I found over at Wendolonia.
They were fun and fairly painless. :)

Sian said...

Hi Deanna. I've left an award for you on my blog today. I hope you like it!

Indigo, madder, marigold said...

Painting is a favorite activity around here. If you use watercolors on fabric, then you can use the fabric in crafts as well.
My absolute favorite book on children's creativity is KidsPlay by Michele Cassou. i got it off of amazon for something like, $1.50. It is chock full of information. Also Understanding Children's drawings, at
love, Angie

Rachel said...

Hi Deanna! I responded to your question in my own comment section but wasn't sure whether you'd return to see it.
The pattern for the pirate doll I made can be found here:

He's the John Doll pattern. :)
Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate your kind comments very much.