Celebrating Martinmas - Thoughts on Adult Led Art Projects and Montessori

I rarely set up specific art projects for my kids instead favoring open ended art supplies and their own creativity. But, there are times when I know that a small prompt will lead to fun exploration - as long as we all keep our expectations in check! 

A look at how we approach adult created art projects, with our celebration of Martinmas

I recently decided that this year our family would celebrate Martinmas (the celebration of St. Martin de Tours). As Catholics, it was a great mid-autumn celebration and an example of something I felt like fit our family values. And, while this celebration is more common in the Waldorf community, I went ahead and adapted it for our Montessori family. So, here's how we approach specific art projects. 

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Spark Interest

The first thing I try to do is spark interest in the project. This can be either with a specific purpose in mind (like when we make Christmas gifts) or with a specific celebration, like Martinmas. There's lots of ways to do this but for this specific craft I chose to spark interest with a retelling of the life of St. Martin. 

For this project I adapted the story from here and here.

Get the Kids Involved - Supplies  

Another key to the success, for me, is making sure my kids are involved in choosing some of the supplies. While I gathered the art essentials, allowing the kids to gather leaves gave them agency in the project. It also gave them some ways to personalize and use their own creativity in choosing the direction of the project. Like Henry choosing the savory sage leaves (from our garden), and Nora choosing beautiful fallen tree leaves. 



For this project we used mason jars, modge podge with foam brushes, kite paper, and natural materials. 

Let Go of Expectations 

This is the hard one for me and for a lot of adults. Now, it's time to let go. We can have a very specific vision of how we want something to go, but it's really up to the children. They may not want to participate, they may want to create something completely different. They may not want to engage at all. And, you need to respect that. 

Also, there is no perfect. And, that's ok. They may choose not to use any of the leaves they gathered - looking at Nora here. We can't expect them to completely reproduce what we want. That's not art. They aren't computers or robots. Exploration is a beautiful thing, and often their own creations are way cooler than anything I could have suggested. Resist the urge to do something for your child, even if your child isn't able to do it themselves.  If you're finding your child is frustrated or can't complete the project, really look at whether that project was a realistic expectation to begin with. 


Finally, let go of clean expectations. Don't stress about the process or the mess, know that you'll get it cleaned up later. This is especially true the younger your child is. 

For this project paint the outside of the jar with modge podge then stick materials, paint over the materials and let dry. 

Get the Kids Involved - Clean Up Version

Now, as a Montessorian, I'm not just going to send the kids off after the project is done. No. This is where the real fun starts! Then we are going to work together to clean up. Everything from putting supplies away to scrubbing the tables will be done together. There's no reason to shy away from practical tasks! In fact, the only part of this whole project that Gus came and joined was for cleaning up! That boy loves to scrub a table! 

Wonder/Marvel Together 

Then, finally, it's time to enjoy the work together! For this, we will likely have a small lantern parade around our neighborhood with the lanterns on Sunday evening. We will invite our neighbors and enjoy the late autumn. And, we'll continue to talk about St. Martin and how we can incorporate the lessons he taught us into our every day experience. This can all be done by marveling at the work we put into our project and think about how that art can move us in our every day lives! 


Do you enjoy adult-led art projects with your children? How do they go? 

A look at how we approach adult created art projects, with our celebration of Martinmas

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