Art projects don't have to be anchored to kitchen tables these days. Instead, take advantage of the warm days to get outside and explore the colors and textures of nature.
Research continues to support the importance of being out in natural environments, especially for the young. Add to that the benefits of creating art, which improves and enhances physical, mental and emotional well-being, and you have the makings of an incredible day of play.
Get the blender out and creative juices going by mixing things
up for a super-healthy breakfast drink. Have kids combine their
favorite fruits, yogurt and natural juices.
As you add different items, have your little artists talk about the colors and guess how it will change the shade of the drink.
Find a lovely spot in a park, playground or backyard. One way to start making art is with traditional sketch pads and crayons, but with a new twist. Crayonball created various shapes of crayons (spheres, cubes and pyramids) that are not only easier for many children to grasp, but inspire artists to use them in different ways.
Start with modern/interpretive art by encouraging children to use their entire arm, create long strokes, apply a lot of color and play with shapes and shades. You also can tape a large piece of paper to the fence for upright drawing to encourage reaching up high and squatting down low.
Collect bits of nature like leaves and petals. Place them under a piece of paper and use a Crayonball or the side of a crayon to create a rubbing. Draw a frame around the edge to help a child focus. This exercise also brings nature to a child's level if they require a stationary position.
Keep the color theme going and serve a lunch of colorful finger foods like orange carrots, red cherries, yellow cheese or other playful morsels. If you want a sweet treat, cut grapes in half and dip them into un-dissolved Jell-O powder.
Slow the pace of the day by introducing brushes and having kids choose the nature scene they want to paint. You can even bring a self-contained easel like the Bright View Easel by Little Tikes. This easel allows children to draw directly on the surface with dry-erase markers or paints. Plus they can look through the clear surface and "trace" the scenes they see.
Another self-contained set to travel with is the Young Artist Texture Painting Set by Creativity for Kids. Three of the five brushes have wide, flat handles that are easier for kids to grasp, plus the paint is non-toxic and washable. These brushes are fun to use with water play.
Kids can even create the patterns by painting with water on the sidewalk for temporary art fun.
If children prefer sea blue to tree green, take them to the beach or waterfront. Bring an art project to do on picnic tables or beach blankets on days that are not ideal for getting wet. Creativity for Kids has a Beach Buddies Shell Crafts project all put together. Kids can paint, embellish real shells and create sea creatures with the included paint, felt cut-outs, glitter and glue. Or have them collect their own shells or rocks to add extra trimmings.
Keep the creativity going
When you return home, ask the young artists to explain their artwork and remember the day. Nature, fresh air, a change of environment and a few creative sparks can wake up the artist in everyone.
For more play ideas and toys for children with special needs visit ableplay.org. The website was created by the National Lekotek Center to encourage children of all abilities to experiences the benefits of play.