art play

How to Steal a March #14: Play with Learning Tools = Advantage

Play with learning tools can give kids a huge advantage in confidence. Using a play-on-words for the month, it helps them “steal a march.” Here are some ideas ideas for fun and play with learning tools from an earlier post:

Letting your child play and experiment with these tools is not just fun, it’s also helpful before starting kindergarten or preschool. Being familiar with them increases a child comfort and confidence and fine motor skills.

To minimize the chance of walls or carpets being given a new color, it’s a good idea to crayon or glue proof an area. Big markers, crayons, and paint brushes are easier to hold than thinner ones. Paint dabbers are super handy as the color comes premixed with the sponge attached, but anything from q-tips to branches can be used. There are hundreds of recipes for homemade paint that vary from food colors diluted with water to instant pudding. (The pudding option is great for encouraging kids who are not particularly interested in drawing.)

learning tools for kidsGlue ranges from ordinary to sparkles to glow-in-the-dark. Paper can be recycled from cereal boxes, newsprint, and wrapping paper. Besides chalk boards, driveways, sidewalks and patios expand the space to giant-size. Scissors are the most challenging tool to use.

Playdough is easy to cut, doesn’t have any lines to follow, and can be cut over and over. As hands roll, pat, squish, and smoosh, they get lots of exercise.

The small muscles in the hand and wrist are still developing at this age. Strength and coordination will depend a great deal on how much kids have been able to play with learning tools and other toys, as well as their own unique strengths and challenges. Some kids are eager to use them and others are hesitant or not interested. Learning tools also give children a chance to be creative. Besides the physical opportunities, kids also practice problem-solving, planning, making choices, using language and other skills.

Children’s success in school depends on how they feel about interacting with materials and other people, both kids and adults. When kids are confident with the “tools of the trade” they have one less thing to be anxious about. If they have used learning tools before, they can go beyond the figuring-out stage to creating and collaborating. Introducing scissors, glue, and other items to kids thru play means they are comfortable with them. How can your child play with learning tools today?


How to Steal a March #7: Art Play Boosts Brain Power

We often don’t think of it as serious or important as academics, but art play boosts brain power. Art play helps develop the important skills of visualization and creativity.pre-printing activities for young children

Brains think in words, but we also think in images. When we hear the words in a story, we create the images in our mind. When we describe an event to someone else, we use words to help them picture what happened too. Reading books and telling stories is word play; art activities are image and sensory play.

painting for kids

Usually, when we think of art activities for kids we think of drawing. Art tools for drawing aren’t limited to crayons. They can include chalk, paint, sticks, rocks, buttons, and recycled and nature items of many kinds. Besides paper, kids can create on sidewalks, driveways, dirt, decks, cardboard boxes and sometimes, walls. That’s not such a great choice, however. Kids can make pictures with a stick in the dirt, or rocks on a beach. The recycling basket often has treasures for art with school tools

When it comes to painting, food colors, fruits and vegetables, and even clear water are more choices. Brushes can range from fingers to old toothbrushes to marbles rolling around on a tray.
In addition to drawing, hands love to play with play dough. Whether you make your own at home or purchase it at a store, kids of various ages can play with it over and over. There are ­countless variations of play dough with different textures to appeal to the sense of touch. Another part of it’s appeal is that kids can create whatever they want. The possibilities are unlimited.

art play with rocks

We might think of creativity as a talent we are born with. It is also a skill that we can help kids develop by letting them explore and create. Businesses are finding the value of creativity as they look for innovative ideas and solutions. Have you heard the saying to “steal a march” on someone? This refers to having an advantage over somebody. Art play boosts brain power and can do just that–give kids an advantage. What kind of art play might happen today for your child?

Christmas Art Patterns and Art Play Time for Kids

While art play time doesn’t necessarily mean doing a craft or project, the kids made some candy canes using Christmas art patterns, paper and paint dabbers.


These were fun and simple to make. Patterns, that is a repetitive sequence like red-green/red-green is something I’ve included in blogs almost every month. Little Sister has made patterns with toys, paint, and actions and makes them on her own. She liked the idea of Christmas patterns.

Candy canes are certainly Christmasy and they have a sort of pattern too. We had a fairly thick piece of paper from a shirt insert to make several sturdy candy canes. With the paint dabbers, Little Sister just stamped red-green/red-green on one side of the paper. She started way over on the right-hand side of the paper and then came down. It looks more like part of a letter T but she didn’t want any help. Sometimes, it’s hard to step out of the way.

Since candy canes are usually white, Little Sister really wanted some white on hers like a real one. This was pretty tricky. She stamped with red and green and then left a space for the white. She took her time to do this and said the pattern, red-green-white over and over to herself. We put these two candy canes aside to dry. For a while, she stamped the paint dabbers on the newsprint protecting the table. Then she went off to have an orange. Later in the afternoon, I cut around the candy cane shapes and another day she can do more Christmas art patterns on the other side.

art play for kids

Art play time doesn’t have to have an end-product in mind. It can be time to enjoy and explore art materials. Sometimes, there’s a story that goes along with a picture or a craft. Other times, kids are just involved in the process of drawing, painting, gluing, cutting out, and coloring. Their goal is to be hands-on and they are content to just do. Does your child engage in art play?