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How to Set Up an Art Center for Kids – and Inspire Creativity in Your Home

Do your kids love to create? My boys will literally craft and create things all day long if given the opportunity.

I’ve been reading Julie Bogart’s new book, Brave Learner, and it’s inspired me to up my game in my own home when it comes to carving out spaces for my kids to express their creativity.

I love Julie’s heart for creating an “enchanted childhood,” as she calls it, with space and opportunity for our children to chase their creative spark.

We’ve always kept markers and coloring books out, but why limit their imagination? My boys are alllllllways asking to “do a craft,” so why not just let them come up with their own craft when the mood strikes?

And for some reason, my boys are in total craft mode as soon as they wake up in the morning.

Which is why I love the idea of an “always open for business art table,” as Julie calls it.

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How to Create an Art Center in Your Home

Requirements to preserve your sanity:

  • Stable table and chairs (ones you don’t care about)
  • Floor protector if your area is carpeted
  • Smocks for hanging on the wall next to the table
  • Butcher paper attached to the walls adjacent to the art table (if you’re opposed to paint on your walls)

Organizational must-haves:

  • A storage cart for art supplies – a must! We have this one and I LOVE it – and it’s on wheels!
  • Buckets and containers for holding supplies (get ones that are open or easily opened by a little person)
  • Hanging rod (like this one) for storing rolls of craft paper
  • An area for displaying artwork using string and clips

Supplies:

You can find a lot of these items at the dollar store, if you don’t already have them!

  • Drawing paper
  • Watercolor paper
  • Construction paper
  • Craft paper
  • Watercolor paints and brushes
  • Washable craft paint
  • Colored pencils
  • Crayons
  • Washable markers
  • Wooden stamps and inkpad
  • Scissors
  • Gluesticks
  • Glitter glue
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Googly eyes
  • Feathers
  • Stickers
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Beads (you may want to skip this one if you have toddlers… I can just hear them being dumped out on the floor…)
  • Stencils for tracing

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Another key to sparking creativity is keeping the art center or table and supplies out in the open, in a frequently used area. As Julie says in her book — art tables in spare bedrooms or basements are lonely tables.

Sure, you may have to clean the area (or better yet, train your kids to clean up!) once a day, but at least it’ll get used – and that’s the point, right?

Of course, you can always start small. Try leaving watercolors, markers and papers out and see how your kids wander over to paint multiple times a day. It’s magic!

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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DIY Tide Pool – Ocean Science Activity for Kids

This week we studied ocean zones while following the Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 19 curriculum – and to add an extra element of fun, we also studied the Intertidal Zone.

Did you know that the Intertidal Zone is one of the harshest environments on earth? It’s true. Animals who live there have to withstand extreme variations in temperature and water levels, not to mention crashing waves and predators.

Amazingly, so many little creatures still make tide pools their home, like sea stars, puffer fish, crabs, anemones, barnacles, mussels and even baby octopuses!

See, I bet you learned something. Class dismissed.

Jk.

One of the ways we studied tide pools was this fun little backyard activity. I know it’s winter and 30 degrees outside, but my boys were not opposed to playing in the water. It’s a mystery, but it’s true.

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DIY Tide Pool

  • First, get some sort of large container to act as your tide pool. We used the top of an old plastic bird bath, which was perfect. You could also use a trash can lid or storage container.
  • Put a few scoops of sand or crushed rock in the bottom.
  • Add some seashells or small rocks. Check your local dollar store or craft store for shells, sand dollars and starfish. We got a very inexpensive bag of shells (since we live nowhere near the beach) and it was so worth it!
  • Add some mini sea creatures – but only ones that live in the intertidal zone! We used sea stars, sea turtles, crabs and a little octopus.
  • Have your kids fill up the tide pool with buckets of water. They can take turns making it high tide and low tide. My boys especially loved making waves by rocking the container back and forth.

This activity kept my boys occupied for hours!

Further Resources

 

Wild Kratts Stars of the Tides episode

Tide Pool Secrets

Look Inside a Tide Pool

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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Fizzy Valentine’s Day Sensory Art

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Last week we made baking soda and vinegar volcanoes to go along with our volcano study with Classical Conversations. And since there was much begging and pleading to do more “fizzy experiments,” I cobbled together this sensory art project (the idea is from The Pinterested Parent) as a sort of last-minute Saturday morning activity and the boys loved it!

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And anytime I can turn a hands-on art activity into holiday-themed decor – I’m in.

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First, we traced hearts onto watercolor paper using a cookie cutter and cut them out. Of course, you can freehand this, but I’m horrible at drawing hearts. It’s a curse, but I’ve accepted it.

I would definitely recommend using watercolor paper, since the end result is VERY wet. I can’t see regular old paper (or even cardstock) holding up well. We use this paper from Amazon and it holds up fabulously (and is the best deal out there, in my opinion).

Place all your hearts on a cookie sheet. You can cover it with aluminum foil or parchment paper like I did to make cleanup easier. Or you can live on the wild side and put ’em right on the cookie sheet.

Next, get out a muffin tin and add a couple of drops of food coloring into each section and fill them halfway with vinegar, mixing well. Sort of like coloring eggs.

Then, get out your eyedropper. Or, in my case, rummage through your medicine cabinet and find an eyedropper-like syringe. What can I say? I’m resourceful like that.

Now’s where the fun begins. Give your little people a cup or small dish with a few scoop fulls of baking soda and a spoon. They are going to carefully pour a spoon full or two of baking soda onto each heart and spread it around with the back of the spoon until the hearts are fully covered. It doesn’t matter if there are small clumps or if it’s not even – it’ll just make it more fun later. I let the boys take turns choosing their hearts and spreading the soda on.

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Okay! We’re finally to the action-packed part. Using the eyedropper, squeeze out a few drops of the colored vinegar onto each heart and watch as it fills with fizzy color.

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You can talk about the acid-base chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar, or just ooh and aah over it while your kids make loud volcanic eruption noises – your choice! 😉

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Right after you’re finished, carefully remove the hearts from the cookie sheet and place them on a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil to dry. You can tilt them to allow some of the baking soda to drip off, but this will change how the colors look.

The actual color after they dry is lighter and more muted than it looks during the reaction. We found that rubbing off some of the dried baking soda helped the colors show a little more vibrantly.

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I’m sure there are many ways you can showcase these colorful hearts, but we turned them into a mobile. (Since I turn everything into a mobile. I can’t help it.)

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Go get a stick from the backyard (or, better yet, send your kiddos out to fetch one), thread a needle with some string and have the kids help you string them up.

Just don’t leave the stick in reach of your dog, who’s favorite thing just happens to be sticks. Oopsie.

Add some smaller white hearts for visual interest, hang it all up and viola! It’s your new Valentine’s Day decoration.

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I wonder how many more of these hearts I can hang around the house? It’s a nice departure from the transformers and legos decorating the floors.

Did you try this with your family? Let me know how it turned out!

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**