Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids

Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids

When it comes to parenting my girls, I want to ensure that they are able to follow their passions and pursue their interests–even when it’s something I’m not very knowledgeable about!  I am so thankful for a husband who can teach our girls about music and for a group of amazing women online who share their expert insights with the rest of us. Today, I am excited to share a guest post from Alana Chernecki of Brillante.    

Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids | Rolling Prairie Readers

Did you know children have 100 languages?

Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood education, believed that children communicate in a myriad of ways – through painting, drawing, sculpture, singing, dancing, building, acting – long before they are ever able to read, write or even speak. How your children share their thinking tells you a lot about how they view the world. As parents, we need to offer our children many tools to communicate their understanding so that we can help extend and enrich their thinking.

Art is a language that is accessible to all. Children share their ideas in drawings and paintings long before they are able to write. But the “mess factor” often gets in the way of setting up enriching and enticing art experiences for kids. The art tools we offer children are just as important as the way they are presented and shared with kids, and just like everything else, children need to be taught how to use them responsibly.

Depending on your comfort level with art, and the space you have available to you, here are three options for promoting artistic literacy with your kids.

1. Portable, Accessible and No-Fuss

Boon Stash Storage Caddy

If you are just beginning to experiment with art for your kids, the Boon Stash Storage Caddy is an excellent solution. It is made of several compartments of varying sizes and depths to accommodate all kinds of art supplies. I love this caddy because it can be washed easily in the dishwasher. It is large enough to house most basic art supplies, and can be transported to any corner of your home. A great place to store: pencil crayons, markers, scissors, pastels, pencils, glue, beads, and yarn.

2. The Art Cart – The Roll-Away Solution

For those of you who are willing to experiment with a larger spectrum of art supplies, but want the option of tucking it away from eager hands, the roll-away art cart is for you. These art carts are widely available at IKEA, Costco and various craft stores. An art cart typically has 2-3 levels. Each level can have a different theme: Loose parts on one level (beads, stones, sticks, wire, buttons, pom poms, feathers); various papers on another level, and “wet” art supplies (paint, watercolours, brushes, clay/plasticine, glue…on the third level. Keep levels labelled with chalk labels for easy clean-up.

Image Source: Tinkerlab

3. The Art Shelf / Atelier

In Reggio-inspired schools, the Atelier is at the heart of the learning programme. The atelier {italian for “art studio”} offers all the art tools and media, accessible to children all of the time. Loose parts and art media are housed in glass jars – not only for aesthetic reasons, reflecting light and bringing in colour to the space – but also for practicality sake. When media are stored in transparent jars, children are able to “read” the media, and make independent choices about what materials to use to share their ideas. Whether you use shelves (like these IKEA EKBY shelves),

storage units (like this IKEA KALLAX unit)

or a wall storage device (like this IKEA GRUNDTAL set), the idea is that the art supplies have a permanent place in your child’s play space. In this way, children can help themselves freely without the nuisance of always having to ask an adult for help (and permission), which can inhibit creativity.

Examples of media that can be stored in jars:

  • paint brushes
  • paint
  • stones, sticks
  • beads, wire
  • feathers
  • Pom poms
  • watercolours
  • stamps
  • scissors
  • crayons, markers, pastels
  • popsicle sticks

How to teach your child to use art media responsibly:

When introducing your child to a new medium, have them use their senses to discover (“get to know”) the new tool. For example, with clay, have them smell it, have them stand on it with bare feet, have them roll it between their fingers, even taste it! Slowly start to introduce and model strategies or ways to use the new medium. “Here is how you can roll it long, like a snake.”

Teaching your child to access (and clean up!) is imperative. Have them practice, practice, practice taking out, and putting away – start with the easiest (crayons and markers), and move toward the more challenging (paint!) Simple things like: “This is how we put a marker cap back on so it doesn’t dry out – Listen for the Click!” and moving towards: here are paper towels, and a jar for water so that you can help yourself, and clean up easily when you’re done (with paint).

Over time, your children will improve these processes, and art-making will not feel as daunting as it once did. Your child will learn new ways communicate their understanding visually, and will probably surprise you with their artistic sensibilities. Honour their work by framing it, and sharing it on a gallery wall in your home.

Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids | guest post from Alana Chernecki of Brillante

Alana Chernecki straddles the line between education and design. As a retired teacher and mom of three, she discovered early on the importance of creating a learning environment that was both stimulating and calm, clean and colourful, engaging and organized. Her company Brillante is an intersection of motherhood, education and design. As an Educational Consultant, she works with families and educators to design, style and curate spaces for kids and teens to inspire learning and creativity.

Visiting De Smet, South Dakota – Ingalls Homestead and Tour

Visiting De Smet, South Dakota – Ingalls Homestead and Tour

Growing up, the Little House on the Prairie books (and T.V. show, let’s be real) were a major part of my childhood. Getting to visit De Smet, South Dakota–one of Laura’s hometowns–easily ranks as one of the top 10 destinations of my life! If you follow me on Instagram, you got to see some of the highlights of our time at the Ingalls Homestead. I hope you enjoy this deeper look at our time in De Smet.

Note: This adventure was not sponsored, and all opinions shared here are my own. This post does contain affiliate links; if you click on them and purchase an item, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our family library! 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Tour
De Smet, South Dakota

We arrived in De Smet around lunch time, so we had time to plan our adventures. The girls didn’t know our destination until we were close to town, but we had been listening to the audio book of By the Shores of Silver Lake on our way to South Dakota. It was my husband’s excellent idea, and we all showed up at the tour with a fresh reminder of Laura’s story.

The guided tour starts in town, where two of the original properties (and one replica) have been moved to a central location. We were able to see the surveyor’s house where the Ingalls family lived during their first winter in South Dakota, as well as the De Smet School which Laura and Carrie attended together. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society has done a wonderful job, and our tour guide was very knowledgeable and kind to our girls (which I always appreciate). We were the last tour of the day, so we got some very personalized attention.  

The tour does not allow photographs to be taken inside any of the buildings, but it was well worth our time and money!

Ingalls Homestead

We arrived at the Ingalls Homestead mid-afternoon with the intention of camping on the property overnight. The facility is open until 7:00 p.m., so we had a few hours to explore and chat with the staff. In the picture above, you can see about a fourth of the homestead, which includes a dugout, two shanties, two schools, a barn, a “garage,” a church, and lots and lots of prairie.

The girls loved climbing the tower to get a great view of the entire property!

Every activity on the homestead is hands-on. Our girls got to touch the inside of the dugout, wash laundry by hand, play a pump organ, and even drive a team of horses pulling a covered wagon!

The covered wagon took us down to the one-room schoolhouse, where we all got an education from the “school master.” He finished off our time together by letting each child ring the big school bell.

Both girls got to ride a horse and play with kittens, which was definitely a highlight!  

As I mentioned, we chose to camp on the grounds for just $10 more. They also have a bunkhouse and some “covered wagons” that you can rent for the night, but since we planned our trip spur-of-the-moment, they were already booked. (The staff was incredibly nice when we called, by they way!) 

It got pretty cold at night, but we had a campfire and lots of layers to keep us warm! It definitely made me appreciate everything the Ingalls family went through (and admire “Pa’s” taste in land!). Goodness gracious, it was beautiful. 

Both girls woke up with the sun, so we were very thankful for the new books we bought at The Loftus Store in town the day before. Kate enjoyed reading one of the My First Little House books, and Addie devoured By the Shores of Silver Lake while we took the tent down and loaded up the car. Once the rest of the campground started waking up, we headed off on a few more adventures!  

We talk a long walk out to the small church on the property, since it was Sunday morning and we didn’t make it out there the previous night. West Bethany Lutheran was built in 1905 and was moved to the Homestead in 2009. On our way back toward the car, we stopped to feed the horses, donkeys, and mules that were watching us walk by. (We also said good-bye to the adorable litter of kittens that were snoozing in one of the barn stalls.)

One last picture in front of “Ma’s Little House,” which was reconstructed on the location and to the dimensions of the Ingalls claim shanty! (And truth be told, there was plenty of room inside–especially with the amazing “yard” right out front.)

Silver Lake, South Dakota

Before leaving De Smet, we drove out to the local cemetery, where Charles, Caroline, Mary, Carrie, Grace (and her husband) are all buried. Laura and Almanzo had an infant son who died, and he is also buried with the Ingalls family in De Smet. (Laura, husband Almanzo, and daughter Rose are all buried in Mansfield, Missouri.)

We also found what remains of Silver Lake. It was once the site for the city dump (likely before Laura wrote her book series and made the lake famous), so don’t look too closely. But thanks to the sunny morning, blue skies, and green grass all around, we all thought it looked lovely.

The whole reason the Ingalls family ended up in De Smet, South Dakota (according to the book) was a job with the railroad. I have no idea if this is the railroad line that was built while the family lived there, but I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of the tracks right next to the lake.

Whether you are able to visit “The Little Town on the Prairie” yourself or listen to the audio versions of Laura’s books, I hope you are able to fall in love with De Smet, South Dakota–just like I did!

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you’re likely someone I would enjoy getting to know! (Traveler, adventurer, reader?) Consider joining our little Facebook group, The Parent Resource Room!

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Create a Flexible Family Schedule

Create a Flexible Family Schedule

Summer is a time of transition, especially if you have older kids who will be home from school for a few months!

Create a Flexible Family Schedule | family time, summer schedule, summer bucket list, indoor activities, outdoor activities

(I remember those years with younger children, when our daily routine didn’t change all that much, but all of our favorite places to spend time–like the library, park, and nature trails–were suddenly filled with lots of bigger kids. If you are a mom of little kids, don’t worry–the break will go by faster than you can imagine!)

The benefit of a flexible family schedule is that you can adjust your routines any time, regardless of the season. Some families prefer to have a full calendar, with lots of extracurricular activities…while some families prefer a more relaxed, spontaneous approach.

And then some families–or MOST families, I would imagine–are a mixture of both when it comes to their weekly schedule: some crazy busy and some that are totally light!

For that reason, I found that using a blank calendar template is best for our family. It allows me to see, at a glance, those open pockets of time where I can be a more intentional mother.

Create a Flexible Family Schedule | family time, summer schedule, summer bucket list, indoor activities, outdoor activities

Here are some of my favorite tips for creating a flexible family schedule:

  • Print off the printable calendar template for several weeks at a time. That way, nothing will stand in the way getting your week down on paper!
  • Fill in all the “out of the house” commitments for the week and all your regular family activities (meal times, nap/rest, etc.).
  • Check the weather and write it down. It’s silly, but it may help you make the right clothing and activity choices–a must for a busy mom!
  • Consider your personality and those of your family members. Do you need to pencil in some at-home time for the introverts? Or maybe you need to plan a social activity, like a playdate, for the extroverts.
  • Write down some activity ideas and family goals for the week–and remember, positive changes happen one small step at a time!

Create a Flexible Family Schedule | family time, summer schedule, summer bucket list, indoor activities, outdoor activities

Grab your family schedule template (its FREE and printable!) right here: