Art is my favorite area in the classroom because imaginations of young ones can run wild. Children of all ages can come up with some of the best art pieces. Open-ended art activities strengthen cognitive, fine motor skills, creativity, and social skills. Open-ended art materials and activities allow children to use their imagination and create so many innovative pieces.
Allowing children to be able to express themselves freely in the art area is impressive. When teachers ask opened questions and allow them to fully engage themselves in the moment, then great things can come from the children in the classroom. The following tips are ways to promote art in the classroom while engaging children in this area.
Plentiful Art Materials
• Having a variety of art materials readily available to all of the children during free play is key to a thriving art center. Only allowing crayons and paper is not going to make the center intriguing. There needs to be enough for the children that you allow in the center as well as different types of materials.
• Having materials like paint, different types of paper, crayons, colored pencils, markers, 3D materials, collage materials, stamps, ink pads, modeling clay, scissors, hole punches, dabbers, glue, watercolors, and stencils are great items to have readily available for children to use.
• Change out materials in the center or add specific items on a daily or weekly basis like q-tips, rollers, or spray bottles. This keeps art exciting!
NO Cookie Cutter Art Activities
• Art activities should be open-ended. This means you can give them a theme to think about or thoughts on materials to use but allow the children to make the art in ways they see it. When you cut out materials or when you make them glue the materials in specific areas, then you are making them do cookie cutter activities which does not expand their imagination.
Art Center Location
• The art center should be located close to a sink and an easily cleanable surface. Allow children to explore the materials and make a mess. It is O.K. I promise. That is what this area is for. Let the children have fun. You can allow this area a few extra minutes when it is clean up time beforehand to have time to clean it all up.
• If you see that children are engaged in the art activity, then allow them extra time to finish or an area that they can put it up and come back to it when it is center time again.
Show off their work
• Children become very proud of their work when their teachers and parents make a big deal of what they have created. This allows them to embrace their creative side and it makes them feel good. Showcase their work by putting it up on the walls for everyone to see. Have a showcase area outside of the classroom where all parents can see what great work your classroom makes. Take pictures of the child and their art activities and post in the center or in a book for all to remember the great work that has been completed.
• It is great to take pictures of what each child makes through the year and make a picture book for each child so that they have pictures of what they have done through the year. This is awesome to give to parents at the end of the year so they can see how they have improved.
• Let children explain their work to you and put captions on what they have made so that their parents know and they can talk about it. Great ways for others to understand their work.