Montessori has taught me a few things about how to keep my house organised and how to present children's materials! We know that children need their materials to be;
- beautiful, attractive,
- age appropriate, engaging
- simple, not overwhelming
When it comes to art materials in the home simple is best. Art materials provide an opportunity for creative, independent work that uses lots of fine motor skills, develops coordination and concentration. It is so important. But we want to avoid mess and waste. Here are a few of my tips.
- Often it's best to present fewer materials or in lower quantities. Rather than a whole packet of feathers for collage, we could put a handful in a basket. Rather than a large bottle of paste, we can decant some into a small jar. The child is likely to use less, waste less and this will also reduce any mess made.
- Only present the number of activities the child is able to manage. For young toddlers, 2-3 art activities might be enough. The child still has a choice; you can keep out favourite activities and rotate when desired. As the child gets older, you can put out more activities.
- Use trays. Present all the materials the child will need for the activity in a tray. The exceptions would be fresh water or paint. It's ok to top these up when needed. Presenting the materials on a tray allows the child to access what they need, they can carry their work to their table and easily pack up and put it away when finished. Presenting the materials on a tray makes it very easy for the child to know what they need and focus on the activity rather than collecting supplies.
- Make materials accessible and allow the child a choice. Even if it's some playdough and some cookie cutters on a tray or some crayons and paper, make it accessible, put it on a tray and put it on their low shelves. Allow the child to choose which activity they would like to do. Even a very young toddler can be empowered by the choice, it's also interesting to observe and allow them this independence.
- Choose non-toxic, natural where possible and make it age appropriate. Observe the child, if the child can't use the hole punch then put it away until they will have some success with it. If the child throws paint on the floor, put it away until they are ready for the responsibility.
- Allow materials for and encourage clean-up. Making sponges, cloths, buckets, broom, dustpans and/or perhaps even a little mop available can allow the child to help with clean-up. With young children work together but encourage them to put away and clean up all of their activities.
Looking for art activity ideas? Here are a few ideas we used at or around two years of age.
1. Pencils and paper, 2. Collage, 3. Chalk and chalkboard, 4. Crayon rubbings, 5. Water colour paint and water colour paper, 6. Natural Clay and tools, 7. Soft pastels with pastel paper, 8. White poster marker and black card, 9. Water colours with pipette and water colour paper, 10. Natural charcoal and card, 11. Pasting on card, 12. Markers and card, 13. Animal stamps, 14. Cut and paste, 15. Dot stickers, 16. Other stickers, 17. Hole punching, 18. Black marker on coloured card. Washi tape is fun for crafting, collaging and sticking on paper, for this age group too.