Our classroom has always had a center for independent art. It is always stocked with paper, glue, markers, and scissors. I never put anything else in this center because I was afraid that the children wouldn’t know how to use other art supplies on their own without making a huge mess. I always saved paint and other messy supplies for project time when a teacher would be supervising their use. The problem with this was that it didn’t always give children the time they needed to explore different art supplies and techniques because the teacher-led project time is usually confined to a half-hour period. Some children wouldn’t even get a chance to do the art project because they would be busy with something else during that half hour.
In order to give the children in our class more time to do involved art projects and the freedom to choose when to do them, I set up a new independent art center in the classroom. I choose a spot near the sink for easy clean up. Then I printed out easy, step by step instructions with pictures so that the children would know how to use the new art supplies. Today’s art project had four steps:
1. Choose a coffee filter
2. Drip some colors
(we used eye droppers to drip liquid water colors onto the coffee filters)
3. Hang it to dry
(I provided clothespins and a line to hang the finished products on)
4. Wipe up your spills
(because it is important to clean up the center for the next artist)
We kept the center open all morning and the children really enjoyed the freedom to choose when they would do art and how long to do it. Besides allowing the class to try out our new liquid water colors, this art center encourages independence and self-reliance. It also promotes reading skills as the children make connections between the words on each instruction card and the action in the pictures. This art project itself helps to develop small muscle coordination and control as the children squeeze the eye droppers and clothespins.
Here are some of the finished products hanging to dry.