Our Art Centre - Freedom and creativity

Craft is a fun way to let children explore lots of different materials and resources while building on their fine motor skills and many other crucial developmental abilities. It is a great tool for inside play on rainy days or for the times your child is feeling crafty and creative, it can also be a fun outlet for imagination.

Is your craft usually structured?
It can get very messy.
Young children love LOTS of glue and need to learn to hold scissors correctly and I am sure you have had your share of Art creations that are wall art or carpet sculptures?  I remember finding Dimples one morning camped up under our king size Doona, quiet as can be.... I now have a lovely white flannelet fitted sheet with beautiful black swirls all over it!

For this reason I, as I am sure many parents do, easily fall into the habit of using quick easy craft ideas out of books and off the web that require few materials with the least amount of glue and let dimples make his own version of these cool craft projects.  Cool yes, original No!

To celebrate Dimples creativity I decided to redesign a corner of our home as a Art Centre for him where he has the freedom to create what ever he wants to safely. Everything is at his level and organised. All his materials and tools are bright, appealing to the eye, easy to see and easy to reach.  He calls this his "business" & his "Office work".

The materials in it are all his to use for the taking as he wishes, however there are rules he needs to obey such as using the bin, tidying up, using materials wisely not wastefully and sitting at his desk.
So far so good!

Dimples Art Centre includes-
  • His own glue (sticks and clag only mind you),
  • a scissor caddie,
  • The scissor box You can check out the scissor box idea here 
  • sticky tape,
  • some craft jars (sequins, googly craft eyes and beads),
  • a crayon caddy,
  • a pencil pot,
  • a pot full of bingo stampers & stamps,
  • a pot full of kids stamps and hole Punch's,
  • colour coordinated markers in jars (These are office pen jars painted and hung on the side of the shelf)
  • a file of coloured paper and card stock,
  • a box full of colouring in books,
  • a box full of craft paper and envelopes (cellophane, crepe, wrapping paper)
  • Craft draws with felt stickers, pipe cleaners, pompoms, ribbons, chipboard letters and numbers.
  • His own Desk, Bin and Display string with clips.
  • stickers
To date there has been some unique and clever creations that I would never have thought Dimples could or would create. He has let his imagination go and its been amazing to watch how this freedom has allowed him to express his ideas in a way he wants. If you are creating a space like this you must remember that these materials will most likely get used in every way other then intended, sticky tape around crayons for instance but the point of the art centre is freedom and creativity so pick your materials wisely and keep the special resources out of reach.

Dimples is nearly 4 and has been very responsible in his space, if he were a little younger or this space was tucked away in an area out of sight I wouldn't be comfortable with this much freedom. There are times when he will just sit and cut different shapes right into the bin from his scrap paper, he is still learning, focusing and practising important skills so I am happy for him to do this.

That is the beauty of the art centre. It is meant to provide freedom so if he feels like sharpening all his pencils for no apparent reason then he can, if he feels like folding a pompom over and over again inside a treasure map then he can, if he feels like cutting a bit of paper into a million pieces then he can and every once in a while he makes an awesome creative piece of art that I get to hold on to.

Happy Adventures

Easy Gross Motor Obstacle Course

This Obstacle course was so simple to create inside. It is a great way to get the kids active when your trapped indoors, or to just do for fun! All you really need is some paper masking tape (not the plastic stuff, the paper form will come over the floor in one go) and a little space.

Using the tape we put down a Start line. Writing "start" in big red letters.
We started with a straight BALANCE line.
First Dimples balanced toe to heel, then he tried hopping and finally I got him to walk with a golf ball in a spoon.

Then he had to jump, do a twist/turn jump, jump backwards 3 times.
I cut some little coloured foot prints out and stuck them on the ground as a guide.

Wearing a hat on his head Dimples then had to balance heel to toe, twist at the corner, rotate his body in the next direction and follow the zig-zag line.

More jumping, coordinated jumping over some soft blocks.
You are not allowed to touch them or you have to go back to the start remember!
Then he had to walk in his monster shoes a couple of meters until he got to the tunnel.

Using the top of the dinning room chairs and a table cloth, he had to crouch down low and crawl through the tunnel. The next time we made it lower, off the seat cushion and then he had another go at commando crawling down real low, without touching the table cloth.

He had to spring out of it and jump over 2 large soft toys, they were pretty close together so he had to judge the distance and land carefully so that he didn't hit them.
One big Monster Jump to the final stretch.

There was a pillow case waiting for him to climb into.
He had to race down the hall in the pillow case until he reached the stop sign.
Winner!!!  Lets do that again.

Do you have active kids?

Even on rainy days it is possible to utilise what seems like boundless amounts of energy.
Try having a stop watch timer and see if they can beat their time.
Or you could try doing it backwards, sideways or wearing a super hero Cape.
We extended our race by adding in some animal actions; Hop like a kangeroo, tip toe like a sneaky fox, slither like a snake!

Happy Adventures  :)

Developmental milestones - What should my 3-4 year old know?

I've found myself searching this topic many times and seeking out an average milestone comparison for my son. I am sure many parents do this. You want to be reassured that they are on track and ticking off the necessary developments of childhood.

Yes it is important to have an average to compare to so that if there are any causes of concern they can be identified and intervened with early on but on the other hand why do we feel the need to compare children based on cognitive ability such as how high they can count, or if they can recite the alphabet when there are many other more important things to a child.

So for instance, how high should a 3-4 year old be able to count to?

There is no absolute answer, every child develops at a different pace.
Every child has a different learning style and has different parents, careers and lifestyle factors to consider. There's also the fact hat there are different levels of counting, rote learning is simply chanting back the numbers in order. 

How high can your child count and does it matter?

After careful consideration of this question I felt the answer was I dont care and no it doesnt matter. I wish not to compare Dimples to averages of his age because he is anything but average.
He is unique and I have never fussed about rote rehearsal so no he can't chant 1-30 or the alphabet like a robot, but yes he knows numbers and letters have meaning, how to spell his name and identify many numbers and letters. He can match letters and numbers to corresponding pictures so he learns visually with meaning.

I found myself searching developmental milestones of a 3-4 year old and had a light bulb moment. Pushing all comparisons and judgements aside I stopped trying to rank my son on his knowledge base and started to brainstorm my own list; I feel this "developmental list" should be the focus more so than the cognitive comparisons.

A 3-4 year old should know-

That they belong
That they are cherished and loved unconditionally
That they make their loved ones smile
Their full name, parents names and place of residence (for safety reasons)
How to laugh and giggle
How to have fun
That accidents happen
That books are enjoyable
Where food comes from
How to pretend
How to explore and investigate
That it is alright to deviate from others
That they are unique
That every person is different
Not to judge a book by its cover
The family rules / boundaries
That they are safe and will be cared for
How to dream and imagine
That it is alright to cry
How to be kind
How to ask questions, many questions!
How to give cuddles
How to get messy
How to enjoy the outdoors
How to pull faces
That its alright to get angry and let it out appropriately
That its not alright to intentionally hurt or inflict pain on other people/creatures.
When to ask for help and who they can turn to
How to pack up and clean up
How to create things
How to give to others
That manners are important
How to listen to nature and sounds from nature
That they can say no to others
How to sing in the rain
How to jump in puddles
How to smile
That they shouldn't talk to strangers
That oral hygiene is important
How to play independently
How to move to the beat and groove to music
How to sing silly songs
That fruit and veges are delicious
That sun hats and sunscreen are important
That time out is chill out time and not a punishment
How to be creative
How to think outside the box
That grown ups sometimes need time out too
How to dress up as a character
How to make silly voices
How to be a 3-4 year old.

Personally, I think that it is more important to have a happy healthy child who knows they are loved and knows how to enjoy themself then a child missing these things who can count to 100 at age 3-4

Is there anything you would add to this list?

Children learn through Play. 
Here are some posts on the importance of different types of play.

Happy Adventures


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