Today’s simple art invitation is to set out cotton rounds to paint with watercolors. I got this idea from the book Play Make Create by Meri Cherry. It is an excellent resource for inspired art invitations for preschool and school age kids, and also has sensory recipes and other art project ideas. I recommend following her Instagram account if you use that app.
I picked up a package of cotton rounds with my last grocery pickup. They were $1.99 for 80, so a bargain for an art supply. The novelty of the round shape and the cotton material are interesting for the kids to explore. If we were at preschool in the art studio, we would try this with liquid watercolors. They have bright, saturated colors and you can use droppers to drip the paint. However, watercolor paints and a brush work just fine!
If you’re lucky, you might even have a cat assistant!
Today's Invitation was inspired by the artist Matisse and the book Matisse's Garden. You can watch Kirsten's read aloud and tips for cutting curves here.
Invitation ingredients - scissors, white paper, colored paper (mine is cut to 4.5 x 6") and a glue stick.
• In the book, Matisse started by cutting a bird from white paper. What animal can you cut from white paper?
• After white paper, Matisse started cutting from colored paper and experimenting with color combinations of the shape + the background. What is your favorite color combination?
• Matisse discovered that the "leftovers" from cutting shapes could be part of the final composition. Arrange some of your leftovers and glue them into a collage design.
• Matisse used cut paper shapes to represent items he saw around him - can you find something in your home or yard and make a paper cut out to represent it?
Or just have fun cutting and gluing! I'd love to see what you create!
The Tate museum in England has some fun resources for kids to learn more about Matisse.
I gathered a variety of supplies I had on hand, but curated and presented only the rainbow colors. From top left to bottom right: Thin markers, colored pencils, colored pens (Staedler triplus roller from RSVP), crayons, artist chalk, gel sticks, rainbow tape (RSVP stocks lots of fun washi tape as well), watercolors and rainbow stickers. Mine are just crayola paints, but these are the high quality paints we have at preschool. Including a few links if you're in the mood to shop for art supplies. Both Dick Blick and RSVP in Iowa City are doing curbside pick up.
Of course the rainbow display is inviting, but it's also inviting to children when you let them use the good/fancy art supplies. It's ok to give some guidelines about how to use them. I also recommend thicker paper for this invitation - such as watercolor paper.
For a related read aloud video see: Monsters Love Colors
This collage invitation is all about the novelty of the grid of circles holding the items. What's inside the circles doesn't matter as much, I gathered up some supplies that were on our art table. I took a few minutes to cut squares, triangles, and circles to go along with today's shape book.
Scissors and glue are provided, and the paper is cardstock - it will hold up better than drawing paper or printer paper. A rectangle of cardboard would be a great option for a collage base as well.
For a related read aloud video see: The Shape of Things
I've gathered some recycled items together for a sculpture invitation. When creating an invitation, spending some time thinking about the presentation pays off in increased engagement for the child. I cut my toilet paper tubes in quarters, cut apart a drink carrier, and cut up an egg carton. Which is more appealing - the jumble of materials in the box, or the neat rows?
I also put glue in a bowl with a brush. This can help with the over zealous bottle squeezing that sometimes happens with inexperienced gluers. It also allows the child to be very intentional about where the glue will end up.
I will give my artist directions to keep their sculpture process inside the rectangle box. This will contain the mess and also challenge the child to build up instead of out. This invitation could easily become a two (or more) day project - once dry tomorrow, more shapes could be added to go taller, or paint or markers could be added for colors.
This simple invitation is a great outdoor activity. Sidewalk chalk isn't just for sidewalks! If you dip the chalk into water, the texture changes and can create richer colors. How will the chalk look on the branches? Does it look different when the chalk is dry vs. wet?
For a related read aloud video see: Not a Stick.
One well-known element of Reggio inspired classrooms is “invitations”. In the preschool context, these invitations are the teachers’ way of providing a loose framework and inspiration for student-led exploration and learning with a group of materials. As the name implies, the presentation of the materials “invites” the children to explore. In the setting of the Art Studio/Atelier, the invitation inspires children to explore art materials, build their confidence with using different tools and media, and discover new interests and ways to use materials.
In our time away from school, I thought I would share some ideas for preparing art invitations in the home.
How are art invitations different than art projects? An art/craft project usually has an end product in mind. You may show the end product to the child so they know how to create it, or follow step by step instructions. Invitations are about the process (not the end product), exploring materials, and enjoyment of creation. The end product might look different than expected, or there might not even be a finished product. While a craft project at home probably requires hands-on parent guidance throughout, hopefully after thoughtfully setting up an invitation at home, the parents can go hands-off and allow the children to explore and create independently.
What do I need to buy to prepare for creating art invitations? Nothing! You can rummage though old art supplies, bring in natural items from your yard, or raid the junk drawer or recycling bin. If you do want to do any shopping, try to look for supplies that could work for multiple projects. Make sure you have kid-friendly scissors, glue sticks, glue bottles, tape, and some coloring supplies on hand.
Where should I set up an art invitation? Think about how your child works, how your home is set up, and what the materials will be. If the materials have potential to get messy, I like setting up invitations outside, or in the bathtub, where clean up is easy. You can use (and reuse) a plastic tablecloth to protect a table and designate the approved work space. If your child needs lots of check-ins or reassurance, try setting up at the kitchen counter, or a small desk by your big desk, where they can work while you work nearby.
Why art invitations?
• Open-ended art time allows children to express their own ideas and interests.
• They help children see materials in a new way, and build knowledge of materials through exploration and experimentation.
• Children build confidence and feel successful.
• Working with materials in different ways develops fine motor skills.
• Children develop cognitive skills by problem solving, comparing and contrasting, predicting and planning as they work.
• They encourage independent creative time.
• Working without an end product to “accomplish” can be more relaxing for children.
• Curating and narrowing down the supplies available to the child helps to avoid overwhelm.
• They can be fun to brainstorm and put together!
This sounds like a lots of work, is it worth it? Invitations can be as simple or as complex as your energy or schedule allows. Some kids will dive right in and explore, others might be more hesitant or dependent on parents at first. And sometimes, the kids just aren’t that interested in the invitation you present (this even happens to us at Preucil sometimes!) It’s just another way to think about a preschool activity while away from preschool - another tool for your tool belt.
I’ll offer some specific ideas and more tips this week. If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com.
Branches + Chalk + Water
Just before spring break, we were learning about and making shapes in the art studio. Each preschooler painted both side of a square piece of cardboard. Then we drew a shape on each side with oil pastel. I hung them all in the Art Studio windows, and the result was a
Art Studio teacher