Your year end art area refresh plan!

2017 is winding down, and it's the perfect time to review, reflect, and refresh!

December is crazy... no doubt about it! But, you can reclaim a tiny sense of calm by slowing down and enjoying a little one on one art time with your kids. It doesn't need to be fancy, or well-researched! Just grab some plain white paper and make snowflakes. (Maybe make them wacky like Calder or Matisse would?)

Or invite your kids to paint a wintertime landscape.

Or pull out a favorite art history storybook and get cozy on the couch.

While you're enjoying a little time connecting creatively, think about some simple changes you might want to make in January when you get back to your regular routine.

We used to have all of our art stuff in one area, but over time, we switched it up and we now have little zones in different rooms for different kinds of art activities.

The dining room is for messy art. 

There's a drawing nook in the school room.

And the storybooks which used to be all on one bookshelf are now in their bedrooms (where they get read more frequently.)

Sometimes I introduce new topics that I think they may be interested in learning more about (without actively suggesting it) by strewing objects and books around the house for them to find, pick up, and examine with no pressure from me to "learn" from them.

If your kids are interested in art, you are in luck! There are so many fun things you can incorporate into your home that will surprise and delight your kids when they come across them. There is no right or wrong way to do this... whatever works for your kids and your home is the "right" way... and it might change over time as they grow older and their interests change.

Today I'm suggesting 5 areas you could easily set up in a day with minimal to no cost (depending on what you already have on hand). A quick trip to the library and the dollar store, and your home could be transformed into a creative wonderland!

So go ahead and plan your refresh strategy for next year! 2018 is bound to be full of creativity!

AREA 1 – Art Games

Browse your local museum gift shop to find a large selections of games that are so fun, you would never suspect they're also educational. Here are some of my favorites...

It's a fun memory game that introduces some of the most recognizable and famous works of art.

Everyone loves go fish... and when you throw a little great modern art into the mix, things really get interesting! 

I haven't actually played this one, but it was on display at our museum gift shop, and it looked REALLY fun. It's definitely on my short list of art materials to buy next.

It's also fun to make up your own games. You can reimagine a lot of classic kids games with an art history twist. Have you tried our Pin the Nose on the Picasso Game? When you subscribe to the Art History Kids Newsletter, you'll get a link and a password to visit the Learning Library. It's full of great resources, and one of them is this super fun game you can download and print at home. 

AREA 2 – Art Books

You can find lots of specific recommendations here, here and here, and I try to keep all my current favorites listed on the Resources page. My favorite way to find new books is to search the catalog of our local library, and check them out first to see if the kids LOVE them before I purchase them for our collection at home. Follow me on Instagram for frequent book recommendations and an occasional video flip-through of the ones that are really fun!

AREA 3 – Art Supplies

Despite what you see on Pinterest, you don't need a perfectly arranged, color coded and neatly labeled closet of matching bins full of boutique art supplies. Just the basics will do fine. I have an art cart tutorial and supply checklist of my favorite materials in this post. But don't underestimate the impact of 5 dollars of new supplies from the dollar store and a fun new arrangement of what you already have on hand. Presentation counts... and a fun new arrangement can be really inviting for kids who have lost interest in art.

Just adding one fun thing like a roll of butcher paper (they have them at Ikea, Target, Michael's, and most office supply stores), or a fresh supply of washable paints (watercolor or tempera), new colored construction paper and kid-friendly scissors, or a small sketchpad for taking out to museums and parks can make their art area feel new and exciting again. 

AREA 4 – Art Activities

I love things that are interactive. Kits, workbooks (like the really amazing Andy Warhol one below), and coloring books of famous paintings are some of my kids favorites. They are also a great no-pressure way to introduce art history to kids who are new to the subject. Although it's not really super creative and open-ended (as I like most projects to be) it's a perfect beginning for those kids who don't want to jump right in to creating their own paintings, but would rather get familiar with the art and artists more slowly at first before diving into the bigger projects.

They are also great no-prep solutions for those days that you want to incorporate art, but have no time for set-up and clean-up. We all need a stack of easy go-to project for those days... am I right?!

AREA 5 – Unexpected & non-traditional art objects

It's fun to keep a little basket or bin of interesting and unusual art materials to encourage experimentation. Objects from nature are always a favorite at our house... Use pinecones as paintbrushes, color sand with chalk to do a southwestern sand painting on sticky contact paper, or use common household objects like finger-paints added to shaving cream for a fun tactile experience.

This area is really fun, because the materials usually don't come from the art aisle at the store, but are everyday things you repurpose creatively.

Let's Connect

I want to hear all about all your favorite art areas at home! Find me on social media and use #arthistorykids, or feel free to email me anytime. Have you joined the private Facebook group yet?! It's a place to chat about art and art history for your kids, homeschool, and all other creative education topics. Get in there, and let's be friends!