Art and Creativity

Art is important for children especially during their early development. Research shows that art activities develop brain capacity in early childhood; in other words, art is good brain food! Art engages children’s senses in open-ended play and develops cognitive, social-emotional and multi-sensory skills. As children progress into elementary school and beyond, art continues to provide opportunities for brain development, mastery, self esteem and creativity.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Enchantment Boxes

I've been testing out art ideas for my CAEYC workshop next week, and have fallen in love with our new Mini Geometric Papier-Mache Boxes (GEOBOX). At first I was shocked at how small they were, but then I realized small can be an asset (think tooth fairy box, ring box, and the old saying “big things come in small packages”). Aren’t they fun? They combine perfectly with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ and Colorations® Lightweight Air-Dry Putty (WPUTTY), but you could color or paint them any way you want. The white papier-mache surface is so tactile, it will accept just about any paint or collage material. I recommend my test version of this project for children 5 and up, and the simpler seashell versions for preschoolers. Both are lovely, creative, inexpensive, and make a great gift.

In addition to playing with the mini boxes myself, I sent some to my CAEYC co-presenter, Danielle Monroy who owns Creative Care for Children in Santa Barbara. She tested them with her preschool children who had a great time with them as well. Danielle also used Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ but her preschoolers painted it on with a brush (whereas I sprayed on the Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™). Both painting and spraying work nicely, but painting is easier for the very young. Danielle’s children collected their own sea shells and glued them on top. (They have the good fortune of living near the ocean, but you could collect colorful pebbles, small pinecones, or other tiny objects from your own natural environment). I loved her sea shell idea, so I ordered small sea shells and used them my boxes too. You could also finish off with rhinestones for a little “bling.”

Here’s a photo of what I used for the school age version of the “Enchantment Boxes.” The Colorations® Lightweight Air-Dry Putty gives them so much interest and dimension. If you haven’t yet tried Air-Dry Putty, I cannot recommend this unique material highly enough. Colorations® Lightweight Air-Dry Putty is similar to Crayola® Model Magic® Modeling Clay (BMM), but more affordable. Both materials give children a wonderful tactile experience and offer a 3-dimensional art experience that’s very different from play dough or clay. It’s great for coiling and making texture impressions. You can use it with clay tools, kitchen tools, stamps or stamping sticks, and rubbing plates. It’s stretchy and so lightweight that feels like a magical marshmallow, but it doesn’t stick to your hands. Children do love it, and you can keep the price down by giving them a small amount (about the size of a ping pong ball per child) and having them use it as a 3-D relief material on top of papierpmache, wood, or other 3-D objects like picture frames or masks.

To begin with the Colorations® Lightweight Air-Dry Putty, give each child about the size of a small ping-pong ball as pictured here. Have the children experience the texture, pull it and play with it to explore its elasticity, then ask them to practice coiling it into little “snakes” and wrapping their coils into a circle. It sticks to itself so the coil will create a little snail shape easily. This practice and experimentation gives children the ability to discover things on their own, and also provides the structure for how to create a small 3-D shape that they will be able to glue down onto the top of their box before painting it. The flower imprint shown here illustrates a stamping stick impression. Colorations® Easy-Grip Super Stamping Sticks (STICKS) are the perfect size for imprinting Air-Dry Putty for these mini boxes

Before painting, be sure to glue your finished air-dry putty design on top of your box using simple white glue. You do not have to wait for the glue to dry to begin painting. I used Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ in our small spray bottles, (again, best for children 5 and up). Practice with the spray bottles yourself first and teach your children how to spray from a distance (8 to 12 inches away from the project) to achieve a light “splatter paint” effect. Use a few different colors and spray from different angles to create secondary colors. 

Here’s a visual review of the coiling technique, the amount of Air-Dry Putty to give each child, a fork used for texture and the result of a stamping stick impression. The close-up shows you how beautiful small sea shells are when glued on top at the very end. 

These enchanting little boxes make a great gift and they cost just 50 cents a piece. Don’t forget to plan ahead for Mother’s Day or any other special occasion on your horizon. Thanks for reading this new post. Please share it with friends and colleagues so we can keep the creative ideas flowing between us. I hope you’ll do something creative today, and remember that creativity exists more in the searching than the finding.
Materials Used:
Colorations® Tacky Glue (GLUEIT)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

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At 1:45 PM, Anonymous whyducks said...

I love these little boxes, very pretty indeed!

At 7:46 PM, Blogger The Messy Artist said...

The liquid watercolor paints are amazing! At The Messy Artist we use them for so many different projects. We love the teddy bears and canvas tote bags from discount school supply and apply liquid watercolors with q-tips! What great fun!


This is an innovative idea, chides are enjoying this type of work at the same time they learn many more thinks

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At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Kathy said...

Where are you located? We'd love you to come and do some classes at our Early Childhood Conference in Utah this November. Please contact me:

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