Trying Something New For Art

As an open ended art kind of gal (for kids at least..I personally like direction), I have always had plenty of art supplies around. The challenge has always been organizing them. I've tried all sorts of stuff, but to be honest most of it has not worked well. The problem is either a- art supplies don't get used because they aren't accessible enough or b- they get used until the system doesn't work to contain the clutter anymore and then they don't get used.

But the kids enjoy art, I enjoy art, and it just doesn't make sense not for them to be used. I also don't want to have to be the one to always initiate "art time" by bringing out special things. I'd much rather things be self- service!

So I am trying again. We cleaned out the art cupboard and hopefully organized it in a more user friendly fashion. Instead of baskets of individual things that always end up mixed together and dumped out, I'm going for baskets of things that go together. Beads and string, for example, or scissors and glue. Different kinds of paint are stored in separate containers (empty wipes containers actually) with the brushes right in the container and a dish for water. Instead of loose paper, construction paper, magazines for cutting, and coloring books we now have "paper to make art on" and "paper to make art from". The coloring books got booted to the diaper bag for those inevitable times we need something to do.

While I was at it, I tamed the computer cords that happen to be inside the same cabinet and took out the phone books and miscellaneous cords that had found their way inside. This is the after, but I really should have taken a before. I threw out almost half of a trash bag of junk that had accumulated. It looks somewhat empty, but half of this stuff wasn't even in here yesterday.

(The wipes container in the basket is supposed to be next to the basket.)

After I finished sorting and reorganizing, we had a "presentation" on using the art cupboard. Which materials go where...taking out one basket at a time...seemingly obvious stuff like that. Sounds silly, but I must say it worked. The cupboard still looks like this after 4 different baskets/projects were used during the day today. I'm hoping if they can keep it clean, I can make changes quickly to keep things interesting. That front basket on the right is the cutting basket and I'm hoping to sort of rotate what is in there for collage making.

Here is some of the art that went on just today.

Look at the tongue in cheek as he carries the water.

We also talked about where to find their own newspaper to put down underneath during our mini-lesson.

Aidan's playdough scenes...The river at night and The river during the day

I put this picture in to show off Aidan's jewelry making binge (the beading box).

While I'm talking about art, I might as well talk about what we do with completed art projects. The kids basically have 4 choices.
  • Write a letter to go with it and mail it to someone or give it to a friend.
  • Hang it up in their room.
  • Put it in their school portfolio (Aidan only) or on the works wall
  • Throw it away
Maybe I'm mean, but I cannot keep every scrap of paper the kids scribble on. Waaaaay too much clutter for me! Plus I think it helps the kids evaluate if it is really something they worked hard on and how they want to proceed. Ultimately it is their decision what they do. If the school portfolio, works wall, or bedroom walls are full then they have to take something out to make room. I'm all about prioritizing.

I'd like to get a few more frames for this wall so it can look more put together, but I think it makes a nice looking wall without being too cluttered. When we were cleaning today I took some things down and put new things up. I also left a few spaces open in preparation for the new school year. Kylee has her first contribution up in the upper right hand corner. The Owl (also featured at the top of this post) is probably my favorite of all of Caleb's art...ever. He did all his own design, cutting, and construction without any input from anyone. Completely spontaneous.

And the heart? Aren't you glad you asked. My super sweet boy, Aidan, made the big heart with the little heart cut out from the center to match a necklace that we have from the hospital where Kenna was born. He's a doll that one. (Even if he is currently laying awake in his bed at 10:30 at night...but I won't hold it against him, so is his brother.)


Michelle said...

The after shit looks great but I have a suggestion. There looks to be a lot of unused vertical space in that cupboard with it only having two shelves. Maybe a set of adjustable shelves to go on those that are in there would give you more room to play around with? I just picked some up a few days ago to organize my spices in our kitchen. Just a few dollars eack from Big Lots.

We love art, your pictures are great!

Rachel said...

We learned a great tip at MACHE - photograph your kids art projects b/f throwing away! Then they don't feel sad and you have a dated record of it.

Heidi said...

Rachel- That's what the blog is for! (well...sort of anyways) That's a good idea though...I wish I would have gone this year. There is always next year!

Michelle- Thanks for the idea, unfortunately the cupboard is custom built on the back of our dishwasher and there isn't a lot we can do to the inside of it. I could add stackable shelves, but I haven't been able to find ones the right side. Also, I'm hoping it was a typo, but in case it wasn't, please don't swear here. I know some people don't really think its a swear word, but its not something I would care to have my children read and my oldest does like to sit with me and look through the blog.