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On Our Montessori Art Shelves

Artistic expression is a huge area of interest for most of my children right now. They can always be found drawing, coloring, or painting something. We had so many little scraps of paper around the house with must save drawings that recently we even moved to providing sketch books for the older 3. This way everything stays together and it doesn't create an overwhelming amount of clutter. 

At nearly 18-months-old, Teddy is just starting to show some interest in creating art. Mostly he's still just removing the work from the shelves, exploring the material, and abandoning it! HA! But, it's these early experiences that will eventually lead to more concrete creation. 

So, what's on our shelves? Here's a look at the few trays we have out! Remember that for the older kids, this is an addition to the open ended materials that you see here

Montessori friendly art trays for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary kids in our Montessori home.

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  1. Basket of Fabric: This is for Nora (6) and Gus (4). There are some sheets of felt (with the bugs) and some strips of cotton below (similar). They use this for all sorts of stuff - cutting it up, tying it up. Nora also has a sewing basket where she has sewing supplies that she can use. It's stored elsewhere to be safe from the little boys. 
  2. Easter Stickers: These stickers (ours are from a craft store, these are similar) are also meant for Nora and Gus for creating Easter cards. Card creation is having a moment at our house so these add a little seasonal fun. I just took the regular sized sheets and cut them into smaller chunks to remind them not to use all of the stickers in one sitting. 
  3. Glue Box: This is mostly for Gus although Nora will occasionally grab supplies from it. The box is from MontiKids (similar here) and I've filled with sequins (similar), and cut up shiny paper. We switched from liquid glue to a glue stick just to cut down on some of the mess. 
  4. Watercolor Cake: This is for Teddy (17-months). The single cake can be brought to our easel or the table and I can gather the water.  He isn't quite ready to get the water on his own but I anticipate that over the next couple of months this will change. I limit him to one color and rotate what's available. 
  5. Stickers: These are Easter themed but we also do regular dots or other simple stickers. The  difference for Teddy is that the tray is a complete activity. He doesn't need to go searching for paper or the stickers. Everything is right there. The stickers are limited in number because he doesn't usually sit for very long. I have a basket of pre-cut supplies to replace this tray after he's done (behind the box of fabric on the shelf.) 
  6. Rock Crayons: These simple crayons have been really great for my kids in starting to encourage a pincer grasp while coloring. I limit the number and place into a box. The box helps to keep them from falling out while Teddy walks with a tray, but mostly keeps them away from our dog who loves to eat them. Yikes. Teddy also has been known to mouth them, so it's something that I watch carefully while he is using them. Again, the tray is organized with paper ready to go. 

Our shelf also includes a place to keep their sketch books, and some regular paper. This is used only by the bigger kids (including Henry.) At their ages, they can grab the paper they need and the supplies without needing it all on one tray. This allows for a little more flexibility in what they are creating. The shelf also includes Teddy's water transfer work. He can bring that off the shelves to show me if he would like to play with the water. 

What kind of art exploration do your children enjoy?

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