One year ago, when my daughter was about to turn two I have created our very first Montessori-inspired art space for her. I'm so happy we started so early to include art in our weekly rhythm and our art space served us well for one year.
But at the beginning of this year, when she was about to turn three, I knew that some change was needed. I usually see this when her interest in an activity decreases. So I understand that she somehow outgrows the space/ the setting and a change is needed. Usually it's not just about materials rotation, it's about rethinking the space according to her needs.
In our Art space, the art supplies are organized now in 4 areas, according to her interests at the moment:
- Drawing : on the top of the shelf
- Painting: on the first level of the shelf
- Modeling (clay and play dough) : now on a separate area, on the little stairs at the right of the art shelf. I put it here because she can see them better and she can access them easier (the tray was to heavy for her to carry it to her little table as the play dough is stored in glass jars)
- Loose-parts and supplies for modeling and crafting: on the second level (and sometimes on the top of the shelf too, when we bring new treasures from nature)
+ Notebooks, paper and portfolios: on the bottom left of the shelf
Art supplies: ecological and good quality
I think it's not easy to find good art supplies. And there are so many criteria to think about. But I believe that ecology and non-toxicity should come first because it's something that affects us all and especially our children. For this reason we mainly use the OKONORM products. Unfortunately it's very hard to have only environmental friendly art supplies, I know we can still make some progress.
What we currently have on each area:
3/ Modeling (clay and play dough):
non-toxic play dough, clay, modeling tools, craft sticks, rolling pins and cookie cutters.
4/ Loose-parts and craft supplies:
This is one of the most important areas as it provides endless opportunities for creativity. They can be combined with drawing, painting, modeling or they can be used only by themselves
Here we have many things that we find in nature: leaves, flowers that we dry, sticks, pieces of wood, snail shells, stones and pebbles, pine cones, feathers etc.. We also have different types of glitter, pipe cleaners, pompoms, salt crystals. Also different kinds and sizes of paper (for watercolor, for sketches, colored ones, rice paper, silk paper, wrapping paper…). I usually recycle the silk paper and wrapping paper from presents and flowers and keep it in the big basket you see on the bottom left.
We also have biodegradable glue, transparent tape, white tape and washi tape, hole puncher, scissors, a rubber and different sizes of pencils sharpeners.
On the left side of our art shelf we keep our notebooks (from Canson)
The finished work is placed on the top of the shelf and then stored in portfolios, displayed on the walls or used for further creations.
How the space evolves organically, according to a child's development and needs
One of the major changes I've done is that some of the materials she used for crafts are now on her imaginative play/ loose-parts space, upstairs, in our playroom. We kept some in the art space but most of them are in the playroom: scissors, fabrics, washi tape, paper, ribbons, paper, yarn, etc..
The reason for this is that my daughter is very interested in the moment in creating her own materials for her imaginative play. She doesn't want to craft something for the sake of crafting. She wants to do something with a purpose and mostly with a purpose that she chooses and not one that I suggest. She now cuts the fabrics to create blankets for her animals and makes them little presents out of paper and washi tape.
Another major change in this space is that I have added a creativity space for myself, on the other corner of the same room. I believe that creativity needs to be modeled and creating things is important to me. So we have now our creative time and space where we can both work on our own projects.
We have added an easel last spring and it was a great thing to do as I realized that my daughter prefers drawing in a standing position. She can use the blackboard to draw with chalk on one side, or the white board to draw on with markers on the other side. She can also draw or paint on paper as a paint roller that is fixed on the upper side of the easel. So she can use all kinds of art supplies on it. Now she likes to work either standing or sitting at her table or on the floor.
.We used to have a washing station in this space but we moved it in the kitchen last year, where it was much more needed. This was a big change as my daughter can wash hands and dishes independently after meals. In the Art Space we have a little bottle of water and she uses to fill in her jars when she paints with aquarelle.
More than just materials rotation, rethinking a space brings fresh air
Reorganizing and rethinking this space made it look minimalistic and more practical at the same time. For us materials and toys rotation work for a while but then it's just not enough anymore. When I feel this moment approaching, I have to sit down and rethink the space. It's like when your child outgrows her clothes, you need to make or buy new ones. Rethinking a space is a similar process. A home grows with a child and her needs. I have made the changes on this space 3 months ago and I can see that it was a good thing to do. The creativity flows again.
I would love to hear how your spaces evolve with the age of your children and how your art shelves are organized.