Mixing it up

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By Lorraine Frankish an early years tutor and NVQ assessor.

Young children learn best through hands-on experience. Use your art and craft area to experiment with messy resources

messy play

Art and craft

Having a choice of activities and materials helps children to become independent learners, while making their own decisions. These principles are especially important when considering art and craft activities, together with the belief that it is the process that is important rather than any predetermined end product. Preparation and the organisation of materials are key to the success of your art and craft area. An uncarpeted floor with a sink is ideal, but if this is not available, put down polythene sheets and provide soapy water in a bowl.

Use cupboards, shelving units or screens to form a bay to help the children understand that messy activities should be contained within that area.

Encourage the children to take care of the area and give them access to sponges, mops and brushes so that they can clean up when necessary.

Suggested resources

Selection of natural and found materials as well as bought products and household items; wide variety of different papers, card, boxes and tubes for mark-making, sticking and cutting; joining equipment such as staplers, sticky tape, masking tape and glue; crayons; felt-tipped pens; pencils; paints; paintbrushes (see ‘Messy play resources checklist’) for a full list of suggested items. Hang aprons on low hooks in the area and ask parents to dress their children in appropriate clothing. Not all children will want to put on an apron initially, and this may hold them back from joining in. Make space for any finished artwork to dry and be displayed.

1 String and wool painting

Create colourful paint patterns

Creative Development

Exploring Media and Materials

Development matters: differentiate marks and colours on paper (30-50 months).

Early learning goal: explore colour, texture, shape, form and space in two and three dimensions.

What you need

Group size: eight children.

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