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, April 30, 2012

The Messy Art Studio

What I love best about blogging is how we stay connected and share new ways to have fun with art. It’s so refreshing to know there are other “like minded” spirits out there. I always have fun with messy art, especially the kind of OUTRAGEOUS fun you see in this photo, sent to me by a fellow arts educator, Donna Bernstein.

Donna owns The Messy Artist, an art studio for children in New Jersey. She recently sent me a blog comment, so I looked up her website and I found it over-the-top inspirational. Just the name of her art business was enough to make me smile. Donna enrolls over 150 students a month in her afterschool art classes and delivers 15 Messy Art Birthday Parties a month. What a creative and successful entrepreneur! She must have boundless energy and a very happy staff. Imagine all those happy children and families, being exposed on a regular basis to the pleasures and values of sensory play.

To promote the VALUE of messy art, Donna highlights these words on her website:
Exciting, exploratory, creative, imaginative, fabulous, just plain fun.

Kudos to you, Donna, that pretty much sums it up. The ideas and the photos from The Messy Artist studio were so much fun, I knew you would enjoy seeing them too.

Check out these two boys messing around with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ on top of shaving cream. Donna was excited to tell me that she buys all her art supplies from Discount School Supply® and first learned a lot of her messy art ideas from our catalog. Everything here is written up as a Lesson Plan in Smart Art Ideas Activity Book and Smart Art Ideas 2.

This larger photo shows the group process at a Messy Art Birthday Party. Donna says when older siblings come to a birthday party, they sometimes have even more fun with the sensory play than the little ones! She went on to share her ideas about art in society: “In today's society where children are so structured and pushed to grow up it's great to see them just being kids and playing with goop, slime or finger paint.”

Here’s some orange colored Sensational Spaghetti in a large sensory tub, one of the Messy Artist’s signature projects. You’ll find the lesson plan in Smart Art, but here’s a copy (click here for the pdf) of it for you to see and print out.

Now check out this Sensory Box that Donna keeps filled with colored rice; it’s like a sandbox but for indoor use. Donna pre-colors rice with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ and keeps her sensory box filled with it. It’s the hit of her studio! Donna found that outdoor sand boxes typically don't have a strong bottom or cover, so she had her husband make this to her specifications. It’s 4' x 4' with a bench all around for kids to sit on. It's also big enough for kids to sit inside. It can accommodate about six kids inside and 8-10 if they are sitting around it.

The full-on body contact with colored rice and the sensations of this total body immersion are unforgettable. In fact, Donna says as children grow up, leave home and come back to visit her studio, they always first ask if she still has the colored rice to sit in!

Donna’s photos inspired me to make colored rice and spaghetti at my next conference, so I opened up my sensory collage box. There I discovered some colored rice I had forgotten about, I made it over two years ago! That’s some pretty good “shelf life.” I kept it because I loved this color combination, I even called it “mardi gras” rice. I colored it with lime, black, red, violet and magenta Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™. I always color some rice with black Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ because black gives such good contrast against the bright colors. And for the same reason, I throw in a little plain white.

To make this multi-colored, “mardi gras” rice, simply take dry rice and place it in different plastic zip lock bags, and make up each color separately. Pour, drizzle or spray Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ into the bag, shake it up, then pour it all out on a paper plate to dry. When the rice colors are dry, mix them together like the mardi gras mix, then keep other colors pure for use in various types of collage.

Getting back to the colored spaghetti: The night before my conference I cooked up 3 boxes of differently shaped pasta, and stored them in large zip lock bags. Here you see them in my favorite sensory tub heading for their travels. If you don’t have good sensory tubs, try these! They are wonderful. I use mine constantly and they last for years.

Here we are at the San Diego Association of Family Child Care, where I just delivered a Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ workshop. The crowd was mesmerized! But of course they were, how often does a speaker bring out 3 pounds of pasta and begin coloring it?

I showed everyone how to place rice or pasta into a zip lock bag, add Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™, shake it up to distribute the color, then pour it out. We poured the rice out onto paper plates, but we poured the wet pasta into the sensory bins. Here we have a bag of wet rigatoni colored with magenta, followed by other wet pasta shapes colored with lime. Are we crazy? Perhaps, but it sure was fun!

By the way, one final note about coloring foods. If you work in a low income area, it’s not a good idea to use food as an art material for obvious reasons. In that case, try substituting ice cream salt, plain wooden beads, or shaving cream, they work just fine!

Contact Donna or check out her website at:
Donna Bernstein
Owner and Director
The Messy Artist, LLC

Materials Used:
Sand and Water Activity Tubs (TUBS)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ - set of 13 classic colors (13LW)
Smart Art Ideas - both books (ARTY) Paint'M Beads (PAINTM)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

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At 4:18 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Colourful threads look beautiful when nicely decorated.....impressive deigns and patterns are made for the decorations.Lovely concept!!!!

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At 10:38 PM, Anonymous  In Home Speech Pathologists said...

This could be a good activity for all special children out there. I am sure that your children would love it and enjoy the performance of it and it is a good way of interacting other people.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't you use food coloring instead of paint? Then you wouldn't have to worry about the kids eating a little.

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