It's chaotic. It often requires more time to set/clean than time spent playing. And it all just kinda seems like one big mess. But by allowing children to be artists, we help them grow and thrive on so many levels. It develops and refines their coordination and motor control, it is a means of self-expression, and it allows for endless opportunities to explore, experiment, mix and create.
While I know all of this, I often still struggle with how to structure, respond to and clean up toddler art projects. I find it especially hard after particularly short art sessions where I feel like the only thing accomplished was getting paint everywhere but the intended target for the project. Below are some great resources that I turn to when I'm in need of assistance in thinking through how to set up and structure an art project for maximum enjoyment and enrichment, and minimum clean up!
Resources for structuring and responding to children's art
- 7 Tips for Making Art With Children. Great, quick piece with a few pointers and reminders
- What Do You Wish You had Known About Making Art with Children. Wonderful article, a must read I think for all parents. Key points - Process over product, be flexible and open-minded, embrace the mess, be present and organize your materials
- 8 Questions to Ask Children About their Art. Thoughtful questions to ask your child about their art to get them thinking deeply about their work and expressing it verbally
- 10 Questions to Ask Your Child About Their Art. Another list of open-ended questions to ask children about their art to get them thinking and talkingResources for cleaning up after the fun:
- Cleaning up Activities. Incredibly helpful tips and tricks for what to use to clean what (crayons on the wall, anyone??)
- Cleaning up Messes Sticky Hands for Kids. GENIUS idea for getting kids excited about cleaning up
- Tips on How To Clean Up After a Creative Session With Kids. LOVE all these tips. Key points - Use music to signal clean up time, be organized so children know where to put things back to, use a timer, create a space for projects still in process and involve children in cleaning up
- Art Tips for Cleaning up Art Messes with Kids. Another list of great clean-up ideas. Key points - clear bins with labels, cleaning supplies handy, make it fun, break it down into easy to follow steps, be strategic about where you create, where a smock!