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Creating an Art Space for Children - Part 1

Andrea Sanchez

One thing I believe to be very important for young children is having a dedicated space for art. Creativity is one of those things that comes naturally to every child but takes a little watering to help grow. D enjoys being artistic but it is not necessarily his first choice of activities (he's a bit more rough and tumble as you can tell by this photo) so having a space that is inviting and encourages him to be artistic is vital. 

There are 4 kinds of basic art spaces (however, since we are talking art, there can be many more variations on these!): a mobile art space, an art space incorporated into your home, and outdoor art space, and an art studio. In our home we don't have a dedicated play room so our art space is part of our dining room.  Here are some things to keep in mind when creating an art space for children.

Make it inviting

You want your child to want to sit down and work with the materials and no one wants to work in a space that is cluttered or messy. So this means well organized and neat (yes, think a place for everything and everything in its place). Children should be able to see their supplies and readily access at least the most basic ones. 

Having an inviting art space also means teaching your child to keep it clean (having a space for everything will help!). We do a big clean about once a week. This means tossing old/broken materials, wiping the table and chairs, wiping the wall as well sometimes...

Location, location, location

This goes hand in hand with making an inviting space. One of the reasons our art space is in the dining room is because there it can be next to our giant windows that look out into our back yard. You are trying to create a space that is inspirational. For us, this means near the window where one can look out and see nature. Last fall we hung a bird feeder near the window to encourage some wildlife to come visit!

If you don't have a window, try setting some plants near the art space or even inspirational pictures your child might like. Think about their favorite outdoor spaces, take some photos the next time you're there and hang those on the wall nearby. 

Also, don't try to hide it away. Keep it out in the open as much as possible since kids love to be where you are (like you don't know that already! ha!). Having it near the kitchen has worked great for us since D loves to be nearby when I'm cooking or cleaning. And when I used to have time to sit and work while D was awake (read: before baby) I could set up at the dining room table and D could work at his too.  

Easy to clean

We keep crayons, color pencils, stickers, and paper out at all times. Each of these items has a home in a little tub that hangs above the art table on a rod. There's also a tub for playdough toys since when we make play dough I keep it stored on the art table for easy access. Messier stuff like glue and paint are used under supervision because D is still just three. Older children can manage more and to be quite honest, if they are using an art space on a regular basis can learn to be responsible for more.

Because your little will have spills, keeping your art space on a floor that is wipeable is a good idea too. If that's not possible, look for those inexpensive table cloths at the dollar store. Some of the heavier duty one can be tossed in the wash. Also, when I repainted my dining room last winter I chose a heavy duty paint that could stand up to some scrubbing if needed. 

Include a gallery space

One of the best ways to encourage kiddos to keep creating is to have a place to display all their works of art! Displaying their work shows children what they do and create is valued. When I was thinking about where I wanted our gallery space to be I knew (for me) it needed to fit two criteria: it had to be easy to switch out and I wanted to use it as part of our home decor. Like I said, I repainted the dining room last year and had a big empty space that needed some art. I used a curtain line and clips from Ikea and boom! Gallery wall! D loves picking out his favorite pieces to display, especially during the school year when we are brining a ton of art home each week.

You can see in the above space that we even hung a very special piece of art right on the wall. D's preschool was studying Vincent van Gogh (it is an awesome preschool) and painted these precious canvases as part of the school's art show for the Akron Art Museum. Isn't that amazing?!

I'd love to hear what kind of art spaces you have for your kiddos in your home. Let me know if there's anything else you'd like discussed. Later this month I'll be talking about the other types of spaces as well as art and kids literature! So stay tuned. 

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