For now, we have a place to host our Infants & Toddlers’ Art Group. I’m so thankful for a warm place to paint on these wet days. Unfortunately, colds in our home kept us from attending our last art group. So I was challenged (and who doesn’t love a last-minute challenge?) to pack up the art materials and keep cleanup as simple as possible for the moms who would be packing things up instead of me (thanks Kimmy and Anne).
Sensory Play and Action painting
I poured a few drops of food coloring in a ziplock bag along with the finger paint, and mixed it by squeezing the bag instead of packing it in small jars as I usually do.
Aside from the art medium, paper, and/or tools themselves here’s a short list of things I bring with me when setting up art anywhere but at home. This time, I replaced all my reusable cups and plates with disposable ones so that the other parents would have less to take home/return to me.
- Drop cloth – Doesn’t keep paint from getting everywhere, but it helps.
- Paint cups or plates for infants – Since I was not going to be able to help clean up, I sent paper plates.
- Masking tape
- Clothespins & clothesline – to hang art with. I can always manage to find something to tie the line to and let the art dry.
- Weights – depending on where we are going I may just use rocks or paint bottles, but it keeps the drop cloth in place when the infants are moving throughout the art area.
- A trash bag – or two
- Wipes or cloths – I generally use wipes because we don’t often have access to water.
- Extra smocks
- Markers – just in case there is a child who is hesitant to use any of the materials provided.
- Optional* easels and clips – I have used cardboard for makeshift easels to provide a hard surface for the children to draw or paint on when we are at the park.
Finger Paints on Textured Surfaces
Since we were finger painting again, I thought I’d set-up a varied texture experience. I cut several pieces of bubble wrap wide enough for a child to keep both hands in front of them.
I also cut several pieces of foil for something smooth, and perhaps cold, to paint on – or in this case, sit on.
Lastly, I always try to have a tool for children to paint with, just in case they are uncomfortable with getting the paint on their hands. I try to stay clear of anything too gimmicky that may devalue the painting experience. For example, I cut 10-inch pieces of twine for the children to paint with, which I’d cut much shorter next time.
Art Group versus Art at Home
When I set up paint or sensory places for our art group, I offer them several choices because I don’t always know the children well and their developmental abilities often vary (some are sitting, while others are running). We also have art group once a month right now, so several things at once is still manageable.
When I set up art for the girls at home, and when I used to do it in the classroom, it’s is scaled down quite a bit because I know their experiences and interests. Also, I know that I can offer sensory/art experiences over time.
So, while their friends had several painting options at art group, Greysen & Moon had one option at home. They, however, were more involved in the prepping process.
Moon mixed the finger paint by squeezing the bag! Greysen squeezed the food coloring and chose the colors, then helped me lay the paper out and tape it in place.
We used white finger paint on bubble wrap, so the focus would be on the texture and sensory experience of the art. The white, however, was so hard to see that before long we added the yellow and blue paint that Moon had mixed just a short while earlier.
Now that I’ve got the hang of setting up art for a group at different places, I’m eager to try to set up art or sensory experiences for the girls at the park or garden. Have you ever painted at the park or away from home? What do you think would be the biggest challenge to making this happen?