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Thursday, August 9, 2012

the messy paintbrush studio

This week I held my first ever toddler art group at my house and I thought it went really well.
I have had this idea to start teaching art classes to children for a very long time, and it occurred to me that it would be great to do it while I am at home with Noah. This is something that I would like to continue doing and someday, maybe make a small business out of it.
My background is in the arts. For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to make art. I have some very early memories of making art from when I was about 3 years old I think. For me, it has always been about expressing myself, expanding my imagination, and making sense of the world around me. Art is like a second language for me and so I take great pleasure in being able to share that with the little ones around me.
To start off, I asked around to my mama friends if they would be interested in coming to some of my classes and immediately I had plenty of friends expressing that they'd like to join in. I decided that I would run the class every Wednesday for one month (to see how I liked it), but have since had to cut a few classes out because of travel plans. *Lesson here....let everyone know that there may need to be some flexibility in when the classes run.
I then started to divy up the spots to the people attending. I figured the 6 children would be the maximum number of kids that could partake in each class, and so I have to divide up the spots so that everyone gets a chance to come. Once I had my classes set up, I then started to plan some themes and activities to do with the groups.
When doing art with little kids, it's really important to remember that it's not always about the end result. Now I should clarify, the older the kid gets (in my experience) then results do matter (to them). Example: Have you ever watched an older child (say 9 years old) erase and erase and erase their drawing because they just can't get it "right"? It can be very frustrating to them...more on this later. The good news is that when children are young, their art doesn't have such limitations, because they don't have the complex understanding of to make something like real. What I'm trying to get it is that art to a toddler is all about the process, all about the experience and very little to do with the end result(although they do like to see their art hung up).
So all that to say, I kept our first class very simple by organizing two activities. Our first activity was to play with homemade playdoh ( I used this recipe and added vanilla extract for scent and glitter for looks). I  brought out some little rolling pins, cookie cutter, small plastic dinosaurs and a few other toys to press into the playdoh. I also brought out some plastic knives for cutting. It was a fun activity and lasted about 10 mins.
While the kids did playdoh, I mixed paint for the second activity, which was stamping/printing with found objects. This is a really simple and easy activity to do with kids. We collected toilet paper rolls, small boxes, sting, and some natural objects such as wheat grass and pine cones. The kids then dipped these objects and stamped on a large piece of paper. I think next time I do it, I'll give each child their own paper so that they can take them home. This activity lasted about 10-15 minutes too. So in total, we did our activities for just about half an hour. We also started out the group with a circle time, sang some songs just to get us comfortable with one another. After our art time it was snack time and we all enjoyed a nice potluck lunch together.
All in all, I'm very excited with how the first Messy Paintbrush Studio art class went. It was simple but it was a good way for myself and the children and the mamas to ease into it, and I walked away with some new ideas for up coming classes, as well as some things that I will change for next time.
I wanted to share this experience with you all in case you ever think you'd like to do something like this with the children in your life. For me, it's a no brainer. I love art and so it's something that comes easy to me and I want to share that with others. But imagine if every parent taught little lessons like these in the subject that they most enjoy, like sports or drama for example. I know that there are lots of classes to sign children up for, but sometimes they can be expensive and they aren't always catered to young children Noah's age (3years old). Just my thoughts.
Hope you are having a lovely and colourful week!
ps. look down! Aren't these two sunshine girls the cutest?


  1. Sunshine girls, thanks!
    I thought the class did a great job instructing parents on how to bring art into the home in a very laid-back, easy way. It was a blast for the kids, very sensory-oriented, and fun!

  2. Well, aren't you clever? I have a feeling this is going to be a very successful, and fun-filled, endeavor! I look forward to hearing more...


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