This Guest Post is written by Stephanie Shevitz, founder of Red Panda Art Studio and an art teacher with over 8 years of experience. Stephanie’s goal in creating Red Panda Art Studio is to develop classes and camps where children can channel their inner artist while exploring and creating freely. Stephanie teams up with instructor, Sandra Rodrich to teach weekly art classes to ages 2 to 8.
Creating Opportunities for Process-Based Art in your Child’s Day!
In parenting, we hear a lot of buzzwords- play-based, child-led, free-range, etc. and in the children’s art world, the current buzzword is “process-based.” Trends change constantly, but process-based art will stick around. Process-based art places the emphasis on the creative journey, not the end product. It gives children room to explore, experiment, and make their own decisions. We can encourage open-ended exploration by highlighting the creative choices that children make during the art activity, as opposed to focusing on the finished picture. It’s about asking “how did you make this?” instead of “what did you make?”
Here are a few simple tips to use when setting up a creative table in your home:
- Start with things that are already of interest to your child and try to bring the art to those ideas. For instance, have a child that loves sea animals? Leave out a few sea animal figures, markers, and paper. See if your child will feel motivated to try and sketch his or her favorites!
- Use everyday items in unconventional ways. Legos are great for paint stamping squares, rectangles, and little circles. Recyclables (paper towel rolls, food pouch tops, egg cartons) can all be transformed into endless different creatures.
- Art is about making materials interact- much the way chemical reactions are a part of science. Try combining the two- add baking soda to one paint color and vinegar to another, and watch the colors mix and the reaction occur as they are combined together.
- Try to limit the amount of materials available at one time. Rotate available materials often.
- Don’t be afraid to create and collaborate with your child!
- Contain the mess: emphasis that art materials are only to be used at a pre-approved table and invest in a few trays. Start with less messy materials and work your way up to incorporating paint without supervision. Using only water-based supplies will cut down your stress level– and the mess!
For ages 2-3:
- Use sensory experiences. Play dough is a great tool to use with younger children. Set-up a color mixing activity by rolling red, yellow, blue, and white playdough into small balls. Encourage children to pick two different colors at a time to mix. Watch how they create an endless amount of new colors.
- Encourage “small world” play. Set out under the sea, jungle animal, or bird figures. Include some other materials (felt, paper scraps, playdough) that children can use to build a home for the figures.
- When using markers or crayons, change up the size of paper or art material. Put out various sized pieces of paper. Use different color paper as well.
- Color sorting collages: set up a few different circles, pom poms of different colors, colored circle stickers, and washi tape. Let the kids sort the different colored materials onto different bases. Glue pens, glue sticks, or glue stickers work well for limiting mess!
- Encourage development of fine motor skills: set out pipe cleaners stuck into a styrofoam base and have beading materials available (large buttons or foam shapes).
- Create color mixing in ziploc bags: fill a bag with two paint colors on opposite sides of the bag. Tape the bag closed. Your artist will be ready to squish the bag, mix the colors, and see what happens!
- Contact paper collages: set out a small square of contact paper along with paper shapes and tissue paper squares. The cutouts will stick directly to the contact paper.
For ages 4-6:
- Experiment with watercolor “resist” techniques. Put out a white oil pastel, encourage your child to write a secret message or make a design. Watch how the white oil pastel appears as soon as you paint over it with watercolors.
- Test out still-life drawings. Put out a flower in a vase or for a “virtual” still-life- display a picture. Set out different art materials to encourage your artist to try and draw the image.
- Use old magazines and newspapers for collage materials. Set out magazines (animal magazines are great for this purpose), scissors, and glue.
- Encourage upcycling: put out paper towel rolls, egg cartons, washi tape, and scissors.
- Card making: set out fancy patterned paper, glitter glue, scissors, and markers. Have a few cards folded from white cardstock ready to serve as the backdrop for creations.
- Model Magic™ creations: model magic™ serves as a great sculpture base. Set out a small ball along with wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, feathers, and modelling clay.
For ages 7+:
- For this age, I recommend putting out these groups of materials and seeing where your artist takes the activity.
- Grid paper, highlighters, and scissors
- Shape templates, rulers, paper, highlighters, and permanent markers
- Felt, sequins, and puffy paint
- Watercolors, watercolor paper, oil pastels, and salt or lemons. Salt and lemon juice react to the watercolors creating a crystal-like effect.
- Model magic™, wiggly eyes, modelling clay, pipe cleaners, and scissors
- Strips of jewelry wire and fancy beads
As an art teacher, I occasionally hear parents say that their children are just not into art. It’s possible that they haven’t been introduced to art that speaks to them yet. Art for children should be a sensory-based experience that challenges their ideas about what art is and who they are as artists.
Is your child ready for more art? We would love for you to check out our class offerings at Red Panda Art Studio. Our children’s class and camp options are designed to engage creativity, enhance imagination, and explore artistic abilities– with an overall focus on having fun and collaborating with peers.
We currently offer Wednesday and Thursday morning classes for 2-4 year olds, Thursday afternoon classes for 4-8 year olds, and private at-home group classes for all ages. New sessions for all ages start the week of April 2, 2018.
Interested in checking us out? Come to our Open Studio/Spring Class Preview on March 22, 2018 from 4:00-5:15PM at the Wisconsin Place Community Center (5311 Friendship Blvd, Chevy Chase, MD). Ages 2-8 welcome. $25/child. Use code BELTWAYBAMBINOS when checking out on our website for 20% off this preview! Keep an eye out for summer camp dates as they will be announced very soon.