Creating artwork with your children can be such a fun, bonding experience. It allows them to experience the world through their senses, and it gives you the opportunity to witness them exploring, growing, learning, and enjoying the process. I have to stress, though, that this experience is a much more valuable one for them when you are creating art - not crafts, and when you hold appropriate expectations for each age.
Art is a process – open-ended, free and authentic. Crafts are result-based; there is a particular product in mind and the emphasis is on what that looks like and much less on the process. Yes, crafts are fun and there is a time and place for them, but art is the enriching experience that truly brings the benefits mentioned above.
At the same time, each age has a certain level of ability, so selecting an appropriate activity is key. Babies, from newborn to 18 months or so, are obviously a little young to be doing much hands-on art themselves. Instead, you have a perfect opportunity to treasure the fleeting moments of infancy by creating your own artwork about it. Here are a couple ideas to get you started:
Pop Art Prints
In May, I came across a project for toddlers called Pop Art Handprints. This activity was created for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s children’s classes by Erin, who blogs about her classes at Laugh Paint Create.
I replicated the activity, only I used my infant’s hand and foot prints and cut out my own hand silhouettes as seen in the activity. Kellan loved the experience of feeling the paint on his hands and feet, and we had to make several prints on some extra paper so he could do it again and again.
The result is a bright, colorful and unique way to preserve a memory of his tiny hands and feet.
This ongoing activity is not necessarily like a scrapbook, though it could look similar if that is what you want. An art journal takes the typical journal in which you write entries – whether full pages or just sentences – but instead of using just words or any words at all, you use images, drawings, and paintings. Its free form is easily personalized to a medium you are comfortable with and the look or style you desire. It doesn’t have to cost much and it expresses with great passion the experiences of life with your child.
I have a personal art journal and have decided to create the boys’ next journals as these. I begin with a small spiral bound journal that lays flat with thick pages – 140#, if possible. This weight holds up to a variety of media. If I am painting with acrylics it helps to prime the page first with Gesso, but it is not absolutely necessary. I like to play with a variety of media so I selected a color palette to help unify the journal as a whole.
This project is so much fun. I am fulfilled by the process of creating it and the result is a perfectly unique and beautiful way of treasuring these fleeting years of childhood.
Doing these types of projects from infancy also lays the foundation for creating the experience of art with your children right from the beginning – as soon as they are old enough, they can join in with you!
Acacia is a stay at home mama playing through life one moment at a time with her husband and two young sons. She is a natural parenting, cloth diapering, gentle disciplining, home schooling, wholesome foods eating, spiritually centered steward to this great Mother Earth.