Three of the most beneficial additions to our home learning environment have been our art cabinet, paper shelf, and art corner. All have been utilized for over two decades and have been catalysts for creative expression and independent art exploration for all eight of our children.
In fact, for some of our learners these resources have been as important (if not more than important) as our home library.
We found having a child-size table near our art cabinet fosters interest and independence—a place where our learners can work comfortably. The cabinet is always available and ready for those ah-ha moments, those sparks of colorful enthusiasm. Having materials readily available has also provided a mode for self-governance (knowing one can choose an activity and engage with said activity while remaining in control of one’s actions). We didn’t expect this added advantage.
Our art resources were not built in one day. In fact, it was just the opposite. One day we began gathering interesting art-related items we already had and put them in a central location—simple steps with long-term positive results. We started small, with what we had.
As we moved through life together, as supplies were left over from projects, we added them to the cabinet. In addition, if a learner discovered something interesting or unique in clearance aisles of the craft store, we added those treasures, too. Our art cabinet was built over time with the things our learners wanted to add. Interest (versus me buying random items I thought might be used) played a big part in the creation.
We’ve had toddlers and preschoolers in our home for thirty years. Keeping our menagerie of construction paper on a slightly higher shelf works best for us. And, the scissors? We keep those tucked away and saved for supervised activity because small hands love to cut!
Maybe you want to start building an art cabinet or center in your home. Yay, you! Here are some of the things we had in our cabinet over the years.
Playdough and cookie cutters (letter cutters have been a favorite for preschoolers learning the ABCs)
Tempra (in some seasons of life I have removed this from the cabinet and stored it up higher)
A container of various size brushes (stored bristle up)
Palettes for mixing paint
Sponges in various shapes for sponge painting
Glitter (or maybe not - smile-)
When our children reached the middle and high school years (and we still had toddlers in the home), we kept more advanced—supplies which needed supervision—in a different area. Those supplies included (at any given time based on interest or electives)
Ink for printing
Watercolors (in tubes)
Acrylic paints (in tubes)
Linoleum blocks (to carve for printing)
V-shaped chisel (for cutting linoleum block)
Putting together a place where the creativity of your children and teens can be fostered will be well-worth your efforts. As you journey through the process, be sure to ask your learners what they would like to add. Having a say about what goes in the cabinet or what colors of construction paper are needed provides personal buy in while also fueling artistic interests.