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Monday, May 11, 2009

The Art Center

In an earlier post, I explained that I was taking a course on learning centers. I have learned that there are five primary centers that all facilities should have. I posted about the block center, and today I would like to talk about the art center. Ms. Maxine Cornwell, the author of the course, states that the art center is the second most important center.

The very first point she really wants to stress is that the art center should not be confused with the craft center. The two centers are different and have different purposes. The art center is about the process. The craft center is about the product.

The first thing one would need for the art center is room to work in. I must interject here: as I read these courses I think room/space would be a big stumbling block for many centers. I have now finished two courses, each fabulous, wonderful, inspiring me to no end. But, I must admit that I don't know if I would have the room for all the materials needed to set up the areas the way they should be. My room is huge compared to many, but I still don't know where I would put everything.

So, room to work in. Children need plenty of space to be able to move around, able to explore, and most importantly, able to make a mess. The area will need tables, easels, and easy access to a sink. The tables should have a smooth surface. There should be cleaning materials available; spray bottles, pans of soapy water, cleaning rags, and even, are you ready, mops. Ms. Cornwell suggests cutting the handles down and letting the children enjoy some "big muscle pushing and pulling." Large trays are great for finger painting, and kitchen spatulas will help children to scrape tables.

Next, you will need a place for all the art materials. The area should be self-help and easy for the children to use. Making the area self-help will give the "children a sense of responsibility and self-confidence."

What kind of materials? Playdough, clay, tempera, paintbrushes,cutting and pasting materials, , and paper. First, playdough and clay are two different mediums and children should be allowed to experience both types. Secondly tempera paint. I know this sounds scary, but according to Ms. Cornwell this should always be available. Ms. Cornwell says with continued use, the children learn how to manage tempera more easily, making the mess become less. She also states dry tempera is great to have around.

Cutting and pasting, a task that should always be free form for the children. The objective here is to help the children become efficient with the scissors. She states, which is something I never thought of, the first scissor experience should be with playdough. It's stiff and easy to cut. When children are comfortable with the scissors you can add paper--lots of different types of paper, then other materials, coffee filters, she says grass is fun, bread, or even sandwiches.

Finally add all types of fun materials. You will need plenty of glue or paste. The author suggests paste, as it's a great multi-sensory material. Once you have everything together, you have a wonderful art center for the children to enjoy endless experiences.

UPDATE: Sandra at Preschool to Pre-K has a GREAT post about setting up an art center. It is very clear and concise. Thanks Sandra:

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Bev said...

I am finding these Center posts quite interesting. I do agree that once the kids get used to having the paint available to use on their own, the mess becomes more manageable. Although I think that it becomes more about the teacher's mindset than anything. Once YOU get used to the paint always being there, you aren't so consciously thinking about the messy aspect of it.

I agree with you, too, that space for all this could be an issue for a lot of people. I know it is for me, and I'm only working with 6-8 kids at a time. Nothing in our environment is ever always available. We have a small space and a big age range. All our materials and experiences constantly rotate, otherwise the kids do get bored with them. I've tried to make some things always available, like paint and playdough, but it just never seems to work as well as rotating. said...

i too like the posts, i use trays for playdough , this way less ends up on the floor and more to play with each time, also i make my own playdough in class and the kids love it and seem to respect it more when they make it because it becomes "theirs"

paula said...

I´ve got a prise for you... take it on my blog.

Gidget Girl Reading said...

I have an Art center I think for my girls besides a science center it is their most important!

great post!!

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice said...

This info about centers is fascinating! I can't wait to read more! Thank you for sharing.

Sandra said...

Loved your post. I agree that making an art center is important. I have a post on "Making an Art Center" if you are interested in reading.

Miller Moments said...

Just wanted you to know that I am highlighting you today on my blog.

Patti said...

With scissors another great thing to cut besides playdough is yarn or even tape (though that's more challenging). The nice thing about a piece of yarn is that it's skinny and you can cut all the way through it in one stroke.

No matter how well I clean our scissors I think they will always have playdough stuck somewhere in them!

I'm really enjoying the centers posts. You can probably tell I'm doing a little blog catch-up right now. :)

dany chandra said...

Excellent blog creation for art that useful for painting....
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