Our Montessori-inspired Art Space
At the beginning of this year, before my daughter turned 2, I started creating this Art Space for her. She was showing a growing interest for drawing and she loved experiencing with finger painting and play dough. So I thought that it was the right time to create a dedicated space.
In our little Montessori-inspired studio we have:
1/ A shelf with all the art supplies at child-level and available anytime
2/ A table, a little stool and a footstool
originally the footstool was for me to sit along but she likes to climb on it and paint from a higher level and I am the quiet observer in a corner of the room
3/ A washing station
very practical for washing hands after she finished painting. Here she also finds water, sponges and cloths to clean the table when she’s done.
4/ A little table and metalcontainers for sensory play
5/ A few art books and exhibition catalogues
6/ some paintings on the wall:
a reproduction of Gustav Klimt’s « Mother and child », and drawings that I bought when we were living in Seoul.
On our Art shelf, the art supplies are organized in 4 areas, according to her interests at the moment:
Drawing : on the top left
Painting: on the first level of the shelf, the left side
Modeling (clay and play dough): on the first level, the right side
Crafting: bottom right shelf
+ Notebooks, paper and portfolios: bottom left shelf
Before we take a closer look at the shelves, one word on art supplies:
We started with very few art supplies and gradually added some new ones. When we moved in this new home I found a box with all the art supplies I used during my interior design evening classes in Paris (pencils, paintbrushes, portfolios, paper and sketches notebooks…). I gave them to my daughter to experience with. They were good quality, professional art supplies. Likewise the kitchen and garden tools, once we started with real tools, it felt really odd to buy « kiddy » versions. Therefore I continued to buy professional and good quality art supplies for her. We do have some child-friendly ones, more precisely ecological and non-toxic painting, glue, markers and wax pencils. My little one is at an age when she is still tempted to put the painting into her mouth and cover her skin with it. So I preferred the non-toxic ecological painting for this reason. It’s also environment friendly. And I did my best to find art supplies that are produced in Europe.
Now, let’s look at each area:
We have pencils, non-toxic washable markers, watercolor pencils, wax pencils, oil pastels, charcoal, chalk, a rubber and different sizes of pencils sharpeners.
We also have a mini-tray with ink and stamps representing animals (I found these in a local organic shop in France but I know Melissa & Doug have similar ones although I’m not sure they are non-toxic)
All the painting supplies are placed on trays, in jars or wooden boxes. Trays are practical because she can take them and put them on her table. Paintings are accessible anytime but she needs help to open some of the containers. It’s safer like this, because not all the painting we have is non-toxic. At her own pace she will learn how to safely use all the art supplies on the shelves and she will be able to open the containers by herself.
On this area we have non-toxic watercolor, acrylic, tempera and non-toxic finger painting.
Also some « home-made » palettes for putting painting in. They are quite unusual but they are very handy. We use lids, a ceramic plate originally designed for serving tapas and a container for eggs from an old fridge 🙂
Further to the right, there are all types of paintbrushes, foam brushes and paint rollers.
3/ Modeling (clay and play dough)
On the same level as the painting area, to the right there is a second tray. Here we have: non-toxic play dough, clay, modeling tools, craft sticks, rolling pins and cookie cutters.
In this area we have only two mini-trays:
one with paper and scissors.
and one with biodegradable glue, transparent tape, white tape and washi tape and hole puncher. We mainly use these supplies for collages.
The Montessori-inpired tray with scissors and paper is a hit at the moment. When I added it to the self she had absolutely no interest in it, but one day I found her in front of the shelf, very focused, quietly cutting paper without any previous demonstration.
Behind the crafts area, we store some supplies that she sometimes uses when painting, making sculptures or crafting: feathers, pipe cleaners, pompoms, salt crystals and different types of glitter:
On the bottom shelf, underneath the painting area, we have
different sizes of notebooks (we like these big notebooks from Canson)
and different kinds and sizes of paper (for watercolor, for sketches, colored ones, rice paper, silk paper, wrapping paper…). I keep the silk paper from wrapped flowers in the big basket you see on the bottom right and we use it for collages and crafts.
All the pieces of art finished and waiting to dry are stored on a tray on the top of the shelf. We decide to display some of them on the wall behind the shelf and the rest of them are kept in a portfolio.
I would love to put some of the drawings and paintings in frames and hang them on this wall but unfortunately it is made of concrete and it is impossible to nail down anything here. We will probably hang the frames somewhere else in the house.
Here are some of the best moments in our Art Space. I have to say that it sometimes ends up in body painting 🙂
My little one’s interest for art has ups and downs. Sometimes she loves experimenting with different mediums and sometimes she couldn’t care less.
It is fascinating for me to see that some of her interests (like her love for horses and nature) are constant and some others (like art for example) go thorough different phases. What I always remind myself is that what we want is to follow her lead and to facilitate self-directed learning. What she wants to do and learn is her choice.