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Arts & Crafts to Try - from 3yrs+: Watercolours, Clay and More.

Montessori Art Trays at How we Montessori  three years+ painting 2021

Liquid watercolours and clay are my two favourite art mediums. We've been trying a few Waldorf inspired arts and crafts with watercolours, clay and more. Some of them have two steps so I recommend them for children aged three years+. Here are a few of the activities we've tried this week.

Wet-on-wet watercolour painting - includes liquid watercolours in primary colours, watercolour paper (soaked in water)  and a sponge to remove excess water. The child applies one colour at a time, blending the edges of each colour. This is a Waldorf inspired activity, Sarah has a good guide here. We also tell Sarah's Tippy paintbrush story which helps the child to wash and wipe the paintbrush before switching colours. For the most part, my 3-year-old (41 months) is able to follow this and he asks for this activity almost every day. He loves to say "yellow (red/blue) came out to play!". Watercolour paper is important as thinner paper will break down with the excess water. 

Clay candle holders - this is an activity we loved at our UK Forest School. Using air-dry clay the child shapes the block of clay as they wish, then they make a hole for the candle. The child then places the air-dry clay in the direct sun to dry. This only takes a couple of hours on a warm day (keep in direct sun). Once dried the child can decorate/paint the candle holder. The hole is made big enough so the candle sits firmly but can still be removed and replaced. We use beeswax German Christmas candles. 

Painting peg people - includes clean wooden peg people, a small brush and acrylic paint. I've also provided a jar of water and a cloth for cleaning the brush. The child paints the peg people as they wish, older children may want to draw a face or paint specific clothes. 

Dyeing wooden blocks - this tray is heavy so I try to help the child with it, you can also put lids on the jars to prevent spills. Includes liquid watercolour paint in jars, mini tongs, sponge, wooden blocks and spools (with holes in them) and thread on an embroidery needle. The child places the wooden blocks in the paint jars and then leaves them for a couple of hours. You can stir the blocks while they are being dyed if you wish so the colour is even. The child then uses the tongs to place the blocks on the sponge and allow to dry. Ours only take around 30 minutes to dry in the direct sun. Then the child can thread the blocks onto the thread to make a necklace or bracelet or for threading practice. The colours are lovely. 

Beeswax candles - includes beeswax sheets and precut wicks. The child places the wick at the end of the beeswax sheet and presses it down firmly. Slowly and as tightly as possible the child rolls up the wick, resulting in a beeswax candle. 

Dried flower luminaries - includes dried and pressed flowers, Mod Podge and a glass jar. The child applies the Mod Podge all over the jar. Then the child presses the dried flowers on the jar. Allow the jar to try, the Mod Podge will dry clear. The jar can be used for pencils, as a vase or pop in a tealight!

Wet on wet watercolour painting colour mixing at How we Montessori art preschool tray

Wet-on-wet watercolour painting - in Waldorf wet-on-wet painting it is recommended to start with one colour, then two colours, then three - each step teaching the child to blend the colours, not to mix them all in together.

Using primary colours (although our red looks a little pink), you can see how this is valuable as a colouring mixing activity! 

DIY clay candle holders air-dry clay at How we Montessori art preschool tray

Clay candle holders - the child can mould the clay into any shape they wish. Push the candle in to make a hole and wiggle it so the hole is big enough to replace the candle when it's finished. This would make a nice child-made gift.

Painting peg people acrylic paint at How we Montessori art preschool tray

Painting peg people - this requires fine motor skills to hold and paint the peg people. My three-year-old loves playing with peg people so this was attractive to him.

Water colour dye wooden blocks for theading at How we Montessori art preschool tray

Dyeing wooden blocks - you could dye large blocks too. We've dyed small blocks and spools to later use in a threading activity.

DIY rolling beeswax candles at How we Montessori art preschool tray

Beeswax candles - this simple however the child needs to roll the candles tight so it gives them a good hand work-out. On this tray, I provided one candle pre-rolled so my child can remember what he needs to do. The completed candles are also nice to give as gifts and the beeswax smell is always warm and welcoming. Ask the child to smell their hands once they've finished!

Dried flower luminaries at How we Montessori pressed dried flowers preschool craft

Dried flower luminaries - a simple way to re-use glass jars. 

Resources: EcoLine watercolours paints (in small 30ml jars), they have lasted over a year and I'm only halfway through the jars. I add a few drops to water for the children to use and the colours are perfect (add more drops for more intense colours). If You Care (green) sponges, easy to cut and compostable. Mod Podge glue and sealant - dries clear. Luca Pottery Air Dry Terracotta Clay (AU). Bamboo tray. Mini tongs. Wooden blocks and spools (AU). 

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