Handmade Conversations — Preschool Art Projects

Posted by on Aug 10, 2013

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When it comes to crafts for kids, especially those in the preschool set, author Susan Schwake has loads of fun ideas. From coloring with rainbow ice to making models from clay and recyclables, these crafts will teach preschoolers the fundamentals of art. Her book "Art Lab for Little Kids: 52 Playful Projects for Preschoolers" is a great resource for parents, teachers and sitters of little ones. Let's hear more about what she has to say about preschool art projects!

Susan, your book "Art Lab for Little Kids" is geared toward preschoolers. What are some basics to keep in mind when choosing preschool art projects?
Letting the preschoolers know that their ideas are important and to let them do their own work. Too often adults want to "fix" children's work and it is very important to be hands off in the process. Sometimes the very young child will find observation of a project or simply handling the materials is enough. Take your cue from them by tuning into their process and let them be done when they are done. There is always tomorrow to finish! Or begin again!

What are some fun ways to get little kids excited about drawing?
Children are naturals to drawing. Giving them a varied choice in materials is always a crowd pleaser. In my book there is a lesson drawing with ice. That's one of the most fun ways to get kids involved with drawing as it's so unconventional. The buttermilk chalk lesson is another as it's eye-popping with vibrant color.
Is painting with preschoolers practical? How can you keep things relatively clean while planning preschool art projects?
Every child should have the opportunity to paint freely and without the concern of "making a mess." Cheap plastic tablecloths make clean up easy — one on the floor under the easel or table and one on top. I come from a long line of mess makers and this keeps things easy breezy for painting. The other secret is to only dispense small amounts of paint at a time. It's less overwhelming for the artist (both children AND adult artists) if there is less paint in the pot.

What are your favorite printmaking and sculpture crafts for preschoolers?

Printing with glue plates is endless fun (outlined in my book) as you get to make the plates first and all kids love glue and secondly you can enjoy the printing process. For sculpture there are so many different media that they love but one of the favorites seems to be construction with paper tubes, boxes and masking tape. They can make anything out of those items!

If you had to put together a low-budget art kit for kids, what 8-10 things would you definitely include?

- Tempera paint + brushes
- Heavyweight paper
- Chunky sized oil pastels
- Crayons
- Copy paper
- Stapler modeling clay
- Wood scraps
- Elmer's glue
Susan Schwake is the author of "Art Lab for Little Kids: 52 Playful Projects for Preschoolers," published by Quarry Books. Check out a free project excerpt from the book, Ice Drawings.
Paper crafters, scrapbookers, origami artists and card makers — we want to see what you’ve been making! Add your project to the CraftFoxes site and we’d love to feature your projects on the blog and social media. Come back next week for more paper-crafting ideas and inspiration!

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