Art trays

20141116_Art Trays Collage High quality1. 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.


Our Shelves – 32 months

20141014_Montessori Life As We Know It_Our Shelves at 32 Months

Here is a quick overview of our shelves at 32 months (clockwise from top left):

  1. Basket of vehicles
    Joshua uses these for his block play. They are from various sources, including Lego.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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


Easter Activity Inspiration

I am really excited about Easter this year. Mostly because we are going away together as a family (yay!) but also because it is a time of the year that we get to spend quietly together and Joshua is a little older so he can appreciate a little more about what we do at Easter. We have been doing a few things over Easter and to us it is important to show that Easter isn’t just about chocolate Easter eggs (even though they are a lovely treat!) but is also a time of rest and renewal. I don’t usually post “themed” activities but here are a few things we have been doing to celebrate and introduce the idea of Easter. Stamping – I picked up some cheap Easter stamps from The Reject Shop (in Australia this is a $2 shop). These have been made into Easter cards for family. 20140406_105243 20140406_085542 20140406_085430 20140406_085324 20140406_084959 20140406_085114Pasting – I cut out some Easter pictures from junk mail fliers we received in the mail and Joshua pasted and stuck these onto paper. Instant Easter cards! And yes, there is a pine cone stuck on the paper. Joshua left the table and found this pine cone and declared “pine cone” and stuck it onto the page. 20140407_132533 20140407_132343 20140407_132421Some light Easter reading – we have been reading Spot’s First Easter. Joshua loves the Spot series of books and while this isn’t Joshua’s first Easter it is still a nice book to read as it shows Spot doing an Easter egg hunt.

20140408_150633We have been preparing a small basket for Joshua – as part of the basket I prepared an activity of growing some grass – new life – as a small project so that Joshua can see something grow from seed to become a plant. I think this is very important to show toddlers so that they can understand that things come from these beginnings and thus we can show the life cycle of plants more clearly.

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We did some pasting of cellophane onto Easter egg shaped paper, nice, bright and colourful. I had some inspiration from this post but we decided to use some cellophane instead as this is what I had on hand.

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And preparing an Easter basket ready for Joshua for Easter. We have also prepared a little something for his godsister.


We included some play dough made up into the shape of carrots, put into snap lock bags and tied with green pipe cleaner (inspiration received from here). I popped a little Easter chicken and a small ornamental egg into the grass we grew and lined the basket with autumn leaves we collected and a few small pine cones. To round off the basket I popped in a few coloured eggs with some little surprises inside for the kids to open and discover.

There are so many Easter ideas to explore, we really loved spending our time together preparing things for loved ones. It is such a pleasure seeing Joshua getting involved in festivities throughout the year, I hope you get a little inspiration from our Easter doings.

Activity of the Day – Softest Play Dough

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.

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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.

Activity of the Day – Sunday Art Time

We try to keep weekends relatively free but inevitably time gets taken up with catching up with friends and family and other things that need doing. Still, I like for Joshua’s Daddy to see a little of what Joshua is doing and for them to have a chance to try things together. Today was a relaxing day for us after a hectic week. I did a quick set up from a few items I had from around the art area and stood back to watch.

Drawing with crayons.

20140228_120200Making dots and marks.

20140302_103144 20140302_103532 20140302_103944Hole punching and colouring in.

PhotoGrid_1393751612512Coin impressions/rubbings.

20140302_105243 20140302_105355 20140302_105457 20140302_105544I really enjoyed using crayons to do coin rubbings, I remember doing this when I was young. Art can come from all sorts of places, this might work even better with pencils/charcoal with tracing paper but we made do with what we had around the house.

Activity of the Day – Pasting activity

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!

Activity of the Day – Stamping activity

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.

062 065 069

075 082

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.