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How to Set Up an Art Center

How to Set up an Independent Art Center

Encourage independence, creativity, and fun!

by MaryAnn F. Kohl

Copyright © 2015 Bright Ring Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Select a corner of the room or a table that will be the center of art activities. This area will be “child ready” with supplies at child level: scissors in a can, pencils, brushes, crayons, glue, tape, stapler, and other commonly used materials. Keep a supply of paper, newspaper, paper towels, collage items, sewing trims, ink pad, empty cups, and other items often used for art on hand. Always keep a scrap box filled and ready to go.

Art activity books for kids maryann kohlHave a shelf or cupboard nearby at child level to hold materials. Use shoe boxes, plastic trays, coffee cans, or other inexpensive containers to organize materials. In all cases, remember that the art center will be dripped and splattered, so use materials that can be cleaned or materials that can be enjoyed without concern for ultimate cleanliness.

Many activities will only need a refreshing of materials that are always on hand, needing little or no adult direction. Other activities will require some explanation for simple art techniques or safety. Children should, however, be supervised at all times.

Most important, under no circumstances should an adult make a sample for the artist to copy. The art in these books are open-ended, and are provided to encourage each child to experience the process of creative art rather than a finished product. The finished product is an outcome of exploration and creativity, not the goal. Therefor, no finished product samples are necessary.

Special art materials will be provided periodically in the center. Simple explanations of how to get started are often the only “teaching” necessary for these activities. Let creativity take its course. You will be pleasantly surprised and often amazed at the outcomes of creative exploration by children of all ages.

The adult in charge should keep an eye on the art center and assist in keeping it tidy and child ready. Of course, children should be responsible for cleaning up after themselves; thus, keep a trash bin and recycling containers handy, provide a dust broom and pan, a sink or bucket of soapy water, a sponge, and other cleaning materials.

Encourage independence, encourage creativity, and encourage fun. And prepare to see amazing art process from the natural imaginations of children.

It's the process, not the product!