1. Crayons on paper (US supplier here)
2. Pencils on paper (US supplier here)
3. Dot markers on paper
4. Rainbow pencil
5. Pasting cupcake patties and natural materials on paper
6. Hole punching natural shapes
7. White marker on poster card
8. Metallic marker on poster card
9. Cutting poster card with scissors
10. Animal stamps
11. Charcoal on paper
12. Water colours on water colour paper
13. Oil pastels on paper
14. Spring play dough with cutters and rollers
15. Markers on paper
16. Transferring coloured water with a pipette (and using pipette to drop onto water colour paper)
17. Air dry clay with tools
18. Stencil shapes with pencil
19. Small spray bottle with water colour paints (or water with dye) on water colour paper
20. Bug rubbing plates and crayons
I was recently asked to do a post on what art trays we put out for Joshua. There are so many activities available to him now that we have a full supply of art materials on hand. We have made sure that all the materials available are good quality and beautiful to use.
We are experimenting with a few activities at the moment, the different mediums is always interesting. I put watercolours away for a little bit as Joshua seemed more interested in drawing but an increased interest painting has meant that I have put this back into rotation. I do leave pencils and crayons out generally so that Joshua can practice drawing and “writing” when he feels like it and has the opportunity to work on his own things during our quiet afternoons. A few of these trays are more recent as Joshua is now colouring in things so I felt that things like the bug rubbing plates would encourage and develop this skill further.
The transferring of coloured water from one glass to another is not strictly an art activity however I have listed it as we are mixing colours which I think it is important to introduce given we have been working with quite a few mediums. We have also done an activity where we have taken different colours and used the pipette to drop these onto paper in droplets, we liked the effect so much I hung it up above Joshua’s snack table to look at.
Here is a quick overview of our shelves at 32 months (clockwise from top left):
- Basket of vehicles
Joshua uses these for his block play. They are from various sources, including Lego.
- Nature basket
We add to this regularly as Joshua loves collecting rocks, sticks and leaves. He is using this basket for some of his art activities too.
- Threading small beads with a thin string
Joshua has not done threading for a while so I put out a small challenge for him. These are actually probably for older children as they are so small but they are making him work hard. I cannot find the ones that we have online but I like these and these as alternatives.
- Photos of architecture around the world
I put together this on a whim. It is near his block play area and is giving him ideas for things to build.
- Rock display
Joshua loves rocks. This is a collection of rocks that all have names which I am teaching Joshua what they are all are. We have a little magnifying glass so that Joshua can look at these up close if he chooses to, especially the small ones. Joshua has these and these. The magnifying glass is a hand me down but there are many you can purchase quite easily, ranging from your local toy shop or Australian Geographic. I particularly like the look of this and this.
- Art tray – textas on paper
These are fabulous. I am an advocate for water based textas as well as really good quality art materials. We use these. These can be used with water too, we have not yet experimented with this.
- Tap tap hammer activity
Joshua has been hammering away for a while now. You can buy kits of these but we already had a few parts at home so I got out some cork heat mats we have and a hammer from another set and paired these with the pins and shapes. You can get these from many toys shops.
- Play dough and tools
Joshua is loving play dough at the moment. I make our play dough as it is fun, easy and so easy for me to make this plain or make it more sensory. Lately we have had lavender play dough and this week we have spring time play dough. The tools are fantastic, he uses these to poke, prod, cut and roll away at the dough. You can get lots of different tools but I loved these because they are so natural looking. I also included in there some proper cookie dough cutters which I picked up for a few dollars on sale at our local Aldi. These are preferable to the ones that are sometimes provided for children that are plastic, these do not cut shapes well and break easily. Joshua loves cutting out shapes using the proper cookie cutters. You will see he also has a metal spoon and knife in there to use on the play dough as well.
I have made more of a conscious effort to have more art trays available for Joshua as I like for these to be available for him to get for himself rather than having to ask or digging through our art cupboard. The side effect of this is that he is able to find something for himself to do easily and also is doing a lot more art which I love seeing. We have a lot of Christmas presents and artwork to give to friends and family as presents this year. He is really showing a flair and interest in art and it reinforces my efforts to freshen up his shelves.
An Eye that Sees
A Hand that Obeys
A Soul that Feels
The truth is that when a free spirit exists, it has to materialise itself in some form of work, and for this the hands are needed. Everywhere we find traces of men’s handiwork, and through these we can catch a glimpse o his spirit and the thoughts of his time.
– Maria Montessori
I admit that lately I have been on the lookout for the best play dough recipes. As far as Joshua is concerned there is not enough play dough in the world to satisfy his need to press and kneading and squish.
I found this lovely no cook softest play dough ever recipe and decided to give it a go.
Soft dough recipe:
1 part hair conditioner
2 parts corn flour
(Colour if desired)
Mix together, that’s it! You might need to adjust the amount of hair conditioner required to suit the mix depending on what conditioner you are using.
This is seriously soft, smells wonderful and keeps really well in a snap lock bag. We experimented with bits of glitter and cutting tools and rolling which was wonderful. The bonus is that after mixing this up and playing with it my hands felt super soft and smelled awesome!
This is a great activity for fine and gross motor skills as well as the feel and smell being a wonderful sensory experience.
Please note that this is not edible and therefore not for children that are still putting things in their mouths.
Joshua tried pasting at his Montessori class so I thought I would reproduce it at home with a twist to see if he would be interested in it. For flair I decided to see if he would paste some cupcake cases to a piece of paper. We intend on giving some of these for Christmas presents so it was the perfect time to start our decorative efforts.
We did the activity in a tray so I didn’t worry too much about covering the table to protect it. In any case the glue is very easily washed off as it is water based. Joshua pasted until all the cupcake cases were pasted onto the paste and wanted to do some more so he went to his art supplies area and pasted with some off cuts of different coloured paper. He now knows how paste works.
This is a wonderful activity for children around this age. Pasting, understanding different substances and how they work, and just having some plain old fashioned fun!
I noticed recently that Joshua was using a self-inking stamp with vigour when we were out and about. So I decided to set up a stamping activity for Joshua that would be fun but also taking it one step further. I happened to be looking around for arts and crafts materials in a local toy shop and I asked if they had any stamping supplies to which the assistant asked how old Joshua was and I said 20 months. She looked dubious and pointed me toward some stamping sets which she said were suitable for older children however if I wanted to give Joshua a go I could.
So I did. A quick explanation of the process: Inking, stamping, repeat process. These are the results.
These are rated as ages 4+. Joshua is 21 months old and understood it and loved it. Exercises hand and arm strength, fine motor skills and is well, just plain fun!
Do you think that sometimes the ages listed on some of these activities do our children a disservice? There are quite a few things we have that are graded for older children that Joshua uses. This is why I love Montessori philosophy so much: follow the child (and you can only succeed). He now stamps things at home every few days so this has been left available for him to go back to when he wants to stamp.