Children love to draw and colour - there's something very rewarding about turning a blank sheet of paper into a work of art. No matter what their ability, your babies and toddlers will create something that they can be proud of.
Rather than sticking with a single type of drawing implement (for eaxmaple, just crayons, pencils or paints), experiment with 'mixed media'. Make scribblings with wax crayons and then paint over them, or colour with pencils and then add bolder patterns on top using felt tip pens. Create a firework display using chalks and paints on black paper, or an abstract work by scribbling on paper with highlighter pens and use a narrow black felt pen to outline some of the lines.
Encourage your little ones to experiment with the different textures and properties of various drawing and painting materials and see how creative they can be by combining them together in their art.
Five year old Aelita Andre has taken the art world by storm having created colourful works of art compared to the works of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Aelita has already made over £100,000 through sales of her art, she has exhibited internationally to critical acclaim and you cannot snap up her works for less than £3,000!
Aelita creates large canvas artwork using a variety of techniques including dropping and spraying paint, using hands to massage it into shape and sticking small objects such as twigs, pom poms and sweet wrappers to the canvases. You might think that she is just a precocious child with pushy parents who have created a story from nothing, but visit her website and you have to agree that there's something profoundly awesome about the art that she is creating! It really isn't the typical work of a five year old!
Aelita started young - her first exhibition in Melbourne opened when she was just two years old, and the same year she exhibited work in Hong Kong. Since then her work has been exhibited in New York and at the Chianciano Art Museum Biennale in Italy. This year she will exhibit in New York again, but a little closer to home, her work has just exhibited in London at the Gagliardi Gallery where she was one of 30 artists to have work selected from the Biennale.
Art is not her only talent, Aelita, of Russian heritage but living in Australia, speaks English and Russian fluently. She plays piano and violin and sings and enjoys ballet and gym. What a talented young lady!
As your baby grows into a toddler and then into a little boy or girl, you'll collect a mass of scribbles, artwork, craft, models and all sorts of other creations. Many of these will carry evocative memories, perhaps their first colouring in, their first writing, their early scribbles, the first time they wrote their name. You probably won't want to keep all of your little one's art, but keep a scrapbook of some, and find a wall to hang some of their art too. One important thing is to add dates to their work so that when you are looking back on it in years to come, you can chart their progression.
In addition to dating work, you could also make a few notes to remind you of the context under which the artwork was created. Write simple notes like 'First day at nursery', 'Our day out at ...' and so on. This will give you a gallery of your little one's work that you can return to and keep your early memories alive!
Art enables us to express ourselves both symbolically and emotionally, so it should not be surprising to learn that art therapy offers a good way to help children overcome personal or emotional problems. Young children may not be able to communicate verbally, and if they can, they may not be able to express what they are trying to communicate in a comprehensive way. Art therapy offers a way for a therapist to work with children, or indeed adults, to explore personal issues, especially ones hidden deep beneath the surface of consiousness.
Art therapy is used on people who have suffered trauma or grief, who are suffering severe illness or who may have mental health problems or learning difficulties. It is nothing to do with learning to draw or be artistic, but about exploring personal problems through art as a medium. If a child has problems nagging at their subconsciousness, they may not be able to talk about it. They may not even be able to understand how underlying feelings are affecting them. Feelings harboured as a child can have a profound impact on future development and behaviour in later life if left untreated. A therapist can bring these suppressed problems and emotions to light simply by working with the child, talking with them, encouraging to express themselves through art and then talking about the results.
So, summer is slipping away and the autumnal breezes are gathering but here are a few activities to do with your little one to cling on the those summery days. Enjoy!
Use a white paper plate and decorate it with yellow paint or paper to make a sun! Add some sun rays with cardboard strips and colour them yellow too! A sprinkling of glitter on top and you're done! Hang the sun from a window and watch it twinkle in the sunlight.
Take a white sheet of paper and make a beach picture. Use blue tissue paper for the sea with a ball of silver foil as the sun. Get some sand and glue that across the bottom of the page like a sandy beach. Then cut out some squares for buckets with some string for handles. Cut out more cardboard from a cereal packet and make sand castle shapes too.
It may be getting too cold for a picnic lunch, but how about a rug on some grass after nursery for a cup of milk and a cookie in the warm afternoon sunshine? Take a couple of good childrens' books and enjoy some quiet time together.
Cut out some butterfly shapes from card or old cereal packets. Get the brightest, most colourful paints and decorate them all over! Add some pipe cleaner antennae and some thread to hang them with. Gather 6 of the butterflies and hang them at the window at different lengths and as breeze comes is see them flutter!
Gather some pots, packets and card tubes ready for recycling and make a model of a sandcastle. Glue the bits together then cover with glue and stick on sand to make it look like a real sandcastle. It's a bit messy and probably best done outside!
Ice Cream Cones
Take a few pieces of card and roll into a cone shape or use a card tube and squeeze the end. Then take a load of coloured tissue paper and scrunch into a ball to look like ice cream. Add some pretend chocolate sprinkles with some glitter or sequins for chocolate chips. Delicious!
Ice Cream Picture
Take some sand paper and cut into a long triangle shape. Stick onto the paper and draw a big swirly ice cream shape on top. Decorate with what ever you have to hand! Tiny coloured cotton wool balls look great!
Children can use drawing as a way of expressing feelings or emotions that they don't understand - drawing can reflect how they are feeling, or fears they might have However, don't worry that your child only draws in black or never puts hands on the people she draws because it doesn't necessarily mean they are unbalanced or unhappy. However, it is interesting to see how different children interpret things in different ways: both the instructions and the application of drawing can be very different between children of the same age who have been given the same instructions.
Here are a few pointers which may, or may not, reflect different traits in our children.
- If a picture is in the middle of the page, the child is happy, content or it could mean they are egotistical.
- If the picture is in the top half, they are ambitious.
- If the picture is in the bottom half, they child may be insecure.
- If the picture is towards the top left, they are musical or artistic.
- If its in the top right, they are eager.
- If features are missed out in a person, this may indicate mistrust.
- Children tend to draw what they love most: sibling, toys, fantasy world ie. fairies etc.
- Using a ruler frequently in a picture could mean anxiety.
- Lots of dark colours or black could mean sadness, anger or anxiety.
- If they coulour in with bright colours, they are warm and happy children.
- Pictures drawn very small could mean they are shy.
- If the hands are too big, this could indicate aggression.
- If there are no hands or small hands, this could mean they have an inferiority feeling.
However, don't worry too much and get too stuck on interpretation! If your child draws lots of circles it could be that's what they like to draw. If they draw people with their hands up that's not helplessness, it could be a cheer. If they keep drawing bees, it's not a hidden anxiety about insects, it could be just that they are fun, nice things to draw. If they draw lots of flowers, it doesn't mean they are optimistic, it could just be something their Mummy has shown them!
So, looking at and trying to interpret children's drawings is just an interesting exercise to see how your child draws differently to others... so don't read too much into it. And, after all, incoherent pictures don't mean confused or bewildered children, it could be that your child is just not good or practiced at drawing!
Smita Srivastava has taken 'making food fun' to an extreme - we've all laid out vegetables into a smiley face, or cut toast into the shapes of animals in order to encourage our children to eat them, but Smita has taken food craft to a new level to encourage eating in her household! Smita writes a blog called Little Food Junction which pictures some of her amazing craft-quality food. Most of her cuisine wouldn't look out of place in a gallery rather than on a plate. Smita has become one of those internet sensations, go along to her blog and marvel at her creativity!
Why not try recreating some of Smita's artwork at home and get your little one involved. No matter how fussy they were when you set out, they are sure to delight in eating creations that look this tasty!
If you have snow around you then no doubt it's cold, but on the plus side, the children are probably loving it! Wrap the children up in coats, hats, scarves and gloves, put on some cosy boots, and they can go out and play while the snow lasts. Here are some game ideas to play outside in the snow:-
- Snow Sculpture: Traditionally we build snowmen, but why not build snow animals and other sculptures like snow-castles or a boat? Help your children to scoop up mounds of snow and sculpt it into a variety of shapes!
- Animal Tracking: Look out for the footprints of different animals in the snow; birds, cats, dogs, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, deer...even if you live in an urban area you'll be surprised at how many animals wander in the wild! Look for animal tracks and tell your toddlers all about the creatures that make them.
- Footprint Art: There's nothing more inviting than pristine snow! Have your children create a track of snow pictures by trampling through a pristine blanket of snow.
- Obstacle Course: Build an obstacle course in the snow - draw a line that your toddler must walk 'tightrope' style, draw boxes that they must jump between and build hurdles that they must jump over.
- Target Practice: Build a snowman then have your toddler pelt him (or is it a her?!) with snowballs. Get a hat and have your children throw a hat onto its head!
You may be tired of the snow, but there are still plenty of games the children can have fun with outdoors!
Here at ToucanLearn we offer a lot of art and craft based activities, besides keeping children occupied, there are very practical reasons why art and craft is important to learning children.
Before they can talk, art offers young children a way to express themselves and communicate ideas. Just as their sounds may not make much sense, so their splodges and scribbles may not mean an awful lot to you, but they are communicating ideas and this gives children a sense of freedom that develops further with language. They are also using their imagination and expressing what they see and experience in an abstract form.
Craft offers a way to explore the physical world. Art is tactile, you are experiencing different materials and textures, and interacting with objects to understand how they 'work'. There are malleable materials such as plasticine, sticky tack and dough; there are items that bend into shape and stay that way such as pipe cleaners, wire, even paper when folded and tucked into shapes. There are runny substances like paints and glue, they can be poured and spread. The variety of craft materials that a toddler experiences helps them explore the physical world and teaches the how different materials act.
Craft is about making decisions, not important ones, but decisions all the same. The thought processes that go on whilst your little ones are being creative inform their approach to problem solving. What are the options to make a googly eye stick to a piece of paper? Which one is best in this situation? How do I apply glue to the back of a small googly eye? As adults these 'problems' are second nature, but to a young child, these have to be learned and the lessons learned at this stage of their lives will inform all sorts of practical needs throughout the rest of their lives.
Of course, craft is also about developing fine motor skills, the ability to colour in within the lines; to stick glitter to parts of the page; to roll a piece of card into a tube and stick it into place. All of these and so much more rely on the ability to control hands and fingers in ways that are easy for adults but for children form an important part of learning. How can they learn to write when they get to school if they still haven't mastered fine control of their hands?
In addition to being graded according to the Early Years Foundation Stage areas of learning and development, all the activities we offer at ToucanLearn are classified by one of four overriding key development areas: making, moving, learning and speaking (relating to communication more generally). Most craft activities are classified as 'Making' activities with the focus on development of fine motor skills, but as you can see, art and craft activities help to promote development in all four of these key development areas!
From their earliest days, babies and toddlers are creating art in their different settings, at home, at playgroup, nursery and school - the progression of their artwork tells a wonderful story of their development. From early splodges and hand and footprints, through to detailed pictures of the family, their house and other scenes that they have witnessed. Every parent is proud of their little one's achievement, and it's lovely to have see their artwork on display in your home.
Here are some ideas on how to display their artwork so that you can be proud of what they make, and they can feel special too:-
- Create a dedicated 'gallery' space for their art; it could be on the refridgerator, a wall in the kitchen, in the hallway or even in the bathroom!
- Look for some cheap frames that you can use in special places, such as the living room or bedroom. You can shop around for cheap clipframes or frames that come complete with prints - just make sure that you can unclip the back and change the artwork for your own
- Change the artwork regularly so that there's always room for newer art
- Keep a large scrapbook and stick in pictures that you have talken down
- Record the date on the back of artwork and write it in the scrapbook too so that you can look back through your child's artistic development
- Turn your toddler's artwork into Christmas Cards or other custon items, see our post on creating personalised Christmas Cards
- Have your child's best masterpieces scanned and printed onto canvas - this turns art into a talking point!
Chalks are inexpensive, safe for toddlers to handle and can be used for a variety of toddler craft ideas. Chalks come in a variety of vibrant colours and the fact that it is composed from solid particles makes it one of the few writing materials that works really well on black paper. You can create night pictures, stunning firework scenes and many other patterns and pictures on black and other dark coloured papers.
Chalk can be used to make rubbings, just like wax crayons. Find a textured surface, inside or out, such as a textured lino floor, a piece of wood, tree bark or patio stones. Lay a sheet of paper over your surface and rub across the texture. You will create an image of the texture on the paper. That in itself is fun, but you can go further and have your little ones use that as a background to draw another picture on top.
Chalks can be used safely outdoors to draw on patios or pavements. Make road layouts, games, obstacle tracks, mazes or other large scale pictures for your little ones to play with. It might look messy for a few days after, but the pictures will quickly disappear with a bit of rain.