By Amanda Johnson
SNOW DAY! This month we’ve experienced some uncharacteristically snowy days in the Pacific Northwest. Classes have been canceled for a week! I’ve struggled to find activities to entertain my preschooler who has been stuck inside a lot of the time. Which is how I found myself daydreaming of the amazing art room at Bothell Family Coop Preschool. How great would it be to have a mini-easel like theirs set up in our living room, complete with a spread of toddler friendly art supplies?
I love the idea of my preschooler experimenting with art, but I very seldom think of it on my own. I am not Crafty Mommy. It doesn’t cross my mind to make up art projects at home. I only think of crayons when a hostess gives them to my son at restaurants along with a children’s menu.
I understand the importance of expressing yourself creatively and do want to encourage this in my toddler. I’m just not always the best resource to make that a reality. That’s why I’m grateful he can experiment with art at preschool.
“Kids are hard at work every day building their skills, and art can play a huge part in that process. Art allows for exploration, motor skill growth, problem solving, and working creatively,” says local art teacher Sarah Crumb. Sarah proclaims preschoolers are her favorite age group to work with because they are so curious and enthusiastic about new experiences.
Art Stations don’t usually have templates or step-by-step instructions, which allows children to express themselves freely using whatever color or material they choose. Different material stimulates the senses in different ways. Tiny hands molding clay is a different experience than holding a brush to paint bright colors across a piece of paper.
Kids can learn a lot at the Art Station. A few of the things art can help preschoolers learn how to do are:
Express their feelings
Express their creativity
Learn cause and effect (Ever squeeze too much glue out of the tube?)
Develop hand-eye coordination
Develop fine motor skills
Help with language skills
This is all well and good, but how does this help you on your fifth snow day when your kids are sick of sledding and you’re stuck inside with no more hot chocolate and you cannot watch one more episode of Daniel Tiger? How about you create your own art station? Chances are you already have a lot of the materials at home, but here’s a couple tips to make your art station top notch:
Protect your surfaces! Place something on the floor like an unused shower curtain or newspaper. Kids are cute, but they are messy!
Same goes for the table or surface you are working on, make sure to place a protective cover down first.
Curate your materials. It’s nice to have on hand some of the following items:
Paper of all colors and sizes
Kid friendly scissors
Play dough (check out BFCP’s recipe here
Paper towel/toilet paper rolls for crafty projects
Don’t intervene. Allow your child total creative freedom. Unless they’re painting your couch purple. Then you might want to step in.
“Let's let kids be kids for as long as we can! Preschoolers are the optimal age to encourage freedom and leave worksheets or step by step instructions by the wayside. Allow your child's creativity to shine!” says Sarah. I couldn’t agree more.
Sarah Crumb teaches art at Cloud 9 Art School in downtown Bothell. For more information visit: https://www.cloud9artschool.com/