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Four New Art Ideas To Try - from 3.5 yrs+

Art trays at How we Montessori (1)

Today I'm sharing four art activities that we've tried this week. I often share activities using commonly found household objects or items from nature, however, these activities all require specific art materials. All of these activities help to develop fine motor skills. I would recommend them generally from 3.5 years+. 

  • Wikki Stix Modelling - we love to use Wikki Stix (AU here) and presenting them on a tray helps to keep them all together and saves the table from getting all waxy. I also like to present them with scissors so my child can cut them to size. As much as possible we try to reuse the Wikki Stix.
  • Scratch Paper Art - this has been so popular, my three-year-old loves it. Using scratch paper (similar here) the child uses the stylus to remove the black layer to show the coloured paper underneath. The only potential issue with younger children is the angle the child holds the stylus, if it is upright at a 90° angle it is hard to remove the black layer, the child really needs to be using a grasp where the stylus is closer to a 45° angle to easily scratch the paper.
  • Beeswax Modelling - this can be super hard for young children to use as it takes a while to warm up and get soft, once soft it is easy for the young child to shape and model. I recently watched a video of a Waldorf kindergarten and they had a huge bowl of modelling beeswax in the middle of a table, but the beeswax was cut into small squares. What a brilliant idea, the small squares makes it much easier for the young child to use. I presented our modelling beeswax cut into small squares to my three children and they all were successful in making wonderful creations. I feel like this is best presented as a group activity where the children can chat and work at the same time. When presented to my three-year-old alone, he doesn't stick with this for long but when with his brothers he will make 2-3 creations. 
  • Making FIMO Beads - we use various FIMO kids packs, scissors, a size 14 embroidery needle and some twine. The child can cut the FIMO into smaller pieces and then roll it into bead size spheres. The child uses the embroidery needle to make a hole through the sphere, turning it into a bead. We then bake the FIMO (in a 110°c oven for 30 minutes) and allow the beads to cool. Once cooled the child can thread the beads onto twine and make a bracelet or perhaps a necklace. The FIMO requires the baking in the oven to set it. I love that this just isn't a threading activity, that the child can make the beads too. 

Wikki stix art activity at How we Montessori (3)

Have you used Wikki Stix before? They are like waxy string pieces that can be moulded and shaped. 

Wikki stix at How we Montessori art activity modeling tray (2)

I've really left this activity open-ended. Otto, pictured here, is tinkering and just playing with shapes. 

Scratch paper art activity tray at How we Montessori (1)

Scratch paper was a huge hit. 

Scratch paper activity at How we Montessori

Otto just has fun scratching away, it's so colourful!  

Modeling beeswax art activity at How we Montessori

Even my older kids love using modelling beeswax. It is hard at the start so I wouldn't recommend this for toddlers or for children who are still putting things in their mouth, definitely for three-years+. To make it easier you can also warm some of the wax first in your own hands and then give it to the young child. I've also read some families pop the wax in warm water to warm it up first, especially if the weather is also super cold. It smells wonderful.

Making FIMO breads at How we Montessori

Making FIMO beads is a multi-step activity that requires some hand strength and patience.

Making FIMO beads at How we Montessori three years preschool (1)

First, we cut the FIMO into smaller pieces and roll it into spheres. We generally use 'soft' or 'kids' FIMO. 

Making FIMO beads at How we Montessori three years preschool (1)

Then we use the large (and blunt) embroidery needle to make a hole. 

FIMO beads at How we Montessori tray activity at three years

Then bake the FIMO beads at 110°c for 30 minutes, in a regular fan-forced oven. 

Threading fimo beads at how we montessori (3)

Once cooled the beads are hard and the colours don't fade, they are still vibrant. 

Threading FIMO beads at How we Montessori (2)

We thread the beads onto twine, we could also use a coloured embroidery thread or even an elastic jewellery thread. 

FIMO bead threading at How we Montessori

Then we can tie it to make a cute necklace or bracelet. This would be a cute gift for Grandma.

I hope you've found these ideas useful!

Resources: Wikki Stix, similar Scratch Paper, Modelling Beeswax, FIMO kids, scissors, embroidery needle, bamboo tray.

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