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Fun Art Trays to Tray - Isolation Edition Part 2

Montessori Art Tray activities in Isolation at How we Montessori   (2)


We are at the end of a 7-day isolation period. Staying at home and not being able to go out means I've been preparing more activities than usual for my preschooler! I've raided our art cupboard and art books to put together a few new art trays. These activities are generally appropriate for children 3-5 years old. 

These activities allow the child to focus on one activity or one skill at a time. The art trays can be used:

  • to introduce a new skill. 
  • to introduce new materials.
  • on the kitchen table
    • for the children to work on after breakfast.
    • after preschool/daycare/school alongside a healthy snack to relax and decompress.
    • in the afternoon while the caregiver is preparing dinner.
    • in a kitchen helper at the kitchen counter alongside a caregiver.
  • on art shelves, rotated to maintain interest.
  • during playdates.
  • inside or outside.
  • on the kitchen table, kitchen bench, child-size table, Chowki, lap tray or coffee table.

The trays allow the child to easily move the work around and will contain most of the mess. The idea is that everything the child needs for the activity is in the tray, however, sometimes my child will ask for extra colours or for more paper. Children can do the work in the tray, or if they like they can take the work and do it out of the tray. Generally, I don't mind and I follow the child. 

When deciding on activities for your child consider the child's skill level and interests. We want to establish a balance of support and challenge, so the child can successfully do the work, feel a sense of accomplishment and success and also learn new skills. We want to support developing fine motor skills AND creativity!! 

For more art tray type activities you can also read Fun Art Trays To Try - Isolation Edition Part 1.

Spinning top with marker art tray at How we Montessori

Spinning Top Art. Using simple spinning top markers (AU here) (similar US here). For a wooden option, this spinning top for pencils looks fantastic.

Spinning top with marker art tray at How we Montessori (2)

This was hard for my four-year-old to start with. He got frustrated until he worked it. For young children new to spinning tops it will require perseverance. My ten and fourteen-year-old children also enjoyed using these! I'm thinking spinning tops with markers would be ideal for children 5-8yrs, think Easter Baskets, Stocking stuffers or small gifts. 

 Spinning top with marker art tray at How we Montessori (2)

These drawings are crazy and my kids are now hooked! 

Smudging pastels with a beauty blender at How we Montessori art tray

Blending Pastels -  using soft pastels and a beauty blender. Beauty blenders or make-up sponges are useful tools for blending pastels. I gave my child a brief demonstration but he pretty much ignored me and just wanted to try it out for himself. 

Learning to blend pastels with beauty blender at How we Montessori art tray

We started with cool colours. Perhaps this is the sky or the ocean?

Learning to blend pastels art tray at How we Montessori (1)

The next day I presented warmer colours. This could be fire, larva or a sunset? We can teach children how to blend pastels, how to mix colours and how to create unique effects for their art. Our pastels are a little messy so we wash our hands once we've finished.

Mix it up art tray with play dough mixing at How we Montessori

Mix It Up! Play Dough. Mix It Up! board book By Herve Tullet is a fun and engaging book for young children. There are many activities we can do with this book to encourage colour mixing. Using paint would be an obvious option. This week I was looking for a cleaner, low prep option so we went with play dough.

Making secondary colours with play dough mIx it up book by Herve Tullet at how we Montessori art tray

We frequently use play dough but we haven't used it before for colour mixing. I was so surprised. It worked really well. We didn't have any red play dough and used play dough that was slightly pink, but we were still able to make orange (with yellow) and purple (with blue). Blending the play dough colours required lots of squishing and working the hands. 

Water colour painting doillies at How we Montessori art tray

Watercolours on Doilies. Do you have any spare paper doilies in your art cupboard? We can use doilies for printing on clay or play dough, we can draw on them, we can also paint them. Here I've presented doilies with watercolour paints and a pipette/dropper.

Water colours on doilies at How we Montessori art tray

It looks so bright and colourful but when it dries the colours mix a little more and the colour is more muted. 

Water colour and food colour on doilies at How we Montessori art tray

Above the two top doilies were painted with watercolour paints, for the bottom one we used food colouring. It's best to do all of this work in the tray as watercolours and food colours can stain.

Drawing with highlighters art tray at How we Montessoripng

Drawing with Highlighters. I often use highlighters, as does my teenager, so I thought it would be fun to show my four-year-old how they work. I presented them with a black felt tip pen and demonstrated how we can use the pen and then go over it with a highlighter.

Drawing with highlighters at How we Montessori

He had some fun with patterning, lines and squiggles. 

Coin rub art tray at How we Montessori
Coin Rubbings. This is an oldie but a goodie. I presented some coins, block crayons and white paper. I demonstrated how to hold the paper over the coin and rub with the crayons.

Rubbing coins art activity tray at how we montessori

We could also use special coins or coins from different countries. 

Stencil art tray at How we Montessori

Stencil Art. I'm not sure about the artistic value of these stencils but I do know they are good for developing fine motor skills.

Stencil art tray at How we Montessori (1)

If your child enjoys using stencils you might like these stencil activities, using single larger stencils.

Stapless stapler at How we Montessori art tray making mini books  (2)

Making Mini Books - using a stapleless stapler. Since our whole family is at home in isolation our kitchen table has turned into a work/study area, it's full of stationery supplies and bits and pieces. My preschooler found my much loved stapleless stapler and was walking around clicking it. Rather than take it off him, I decided to show him how to use it. To make the work purposeful we decided to make little books. Don't think that a pre-writer wouldn't like this, children who cannot write but can draw and scribble may still like to make their own little books.

I presented the stapleless stapler with markers and blank paper. We could add scissors or different sized paper, stickers, pencils or other materials for mark making.

Using stapleless stapler to make mini books at How we Montessori

The stapleless stapler really works. You can pull the 'staple' apart but only with some effort. It is so much safer than a young child using a real stapler and perhaps it's more eco friendly too.

Using stapleless stapler to make mini books at How we Montessori

Many pre-writers will enjoy making their own little books, it's not too early to introduce this work. 


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