Lately I've been trying to set up an independent art station for my little guy every night before or after dinner... and before bathtime. During his independent art time, I clean up dinner (or get it ready), get the baby fed/dressed for bed, and get things a little tidier before my husband gets home.
This week's stations included the following tools: crayons, dot markers, tempura paint, pencils, paintbrushes, and several vehicles or other objects that relate to "things that go" like plastic gears, plastic cars, plastic airplanes, etc.
When I say "independent" art station, I mean that loosely... because he isn't left alone in the room. I am close by, but am occupied with other things (though always have an eye glued on him). It is amazing how much destruction can happen in just 2-3 minutes. :) The main reason I have liked this activity is because it is open-ended and helps my son be a little more creative with less structure. Usually he demands to know "what we are making," but by having specific rules for this art station time, one of which is to use the tools to create something all by himself, he seems OK with not having an end product in mind.
Before we start his art station time, we review the rules for the different materials (ex. We only use pencils/paint/crayons ON the paper). I avoid saying where we DON'T use them, because that tends to give my son more ideas. Every kid is different, so I think rules and the way they are explained change at every house.
I loved listening to his conversations with himself while he was painting. He talked about the different things he was making. Splats, race tracks, fire, jetways, etc.
He even moved into stacking and counting.
Independent art time at our house usually lasts about 30 minutes and ends with clean up and a bath! I love it! My son is starting preschool this Fall and all of stations are child-led. Although I don't mind if he spends all of his choice time playing outside, I am hoping that this independent time will help him begin to feel more comfortable creating projects on his own in the creative centers in his preschool class.
What are some of your favorite tools to keep in art stations for kids to use when creating?