Mini Fall Collage

fall foam leaf collage, basic weaving, asheville art nanny, asheville nc

This tiny work of art was truly an example of emergent learning (which is my favorite early childhood learning philosophy, by the way!) My 2 year-old friend is enamored with the paper crafts I showed her I love to do. She expressed immediate interest in making her own art using my supplies. I surely cannot say no to a child that is hungry for an art project! So, I picked out a handful of treasures for her to play with. While she worked on her art, we talked about how fall is here, and how the leaves will be turning colors soon.

She wanted to attach the leather ribbon to her foam leaf, but I talked to her about how it was heavy, and wouldn’t stick well with her glue, so I punched holes around the leaf (she was brave and attempted to punch her holes all by herself, but her adorable little fingers are still developing!) And, then I taught her basic weaving – how to thread the leather through the holes, and down and up through another hole. She thought the washi tape with the mustache images was funny, so she of course had to add a piece of that, along with other bits of tape and a flower. She later painted a paper with glitter glue and bedazzled it with faux gems, and we attached her leaf to the page.

**Helpful Tip: When creating mixed media projects with kids, give them a small bowl to hold their items. This keeps them focused and organized while working with various pieces of material and embellishments. 

Developmental skills practiced: hand-eye coordination, fine-motor exercise

Creative skills explored: Cutting practice, basic weaving, adhering objects together, using materials with different textures.

Things we discussed: The season changing to fall, basic weaving concepts, how to assemble individual items to create a single piece of art,


Project Inspiration: Freeform Weaving Boards

Freeform Weaving Board

Here is a fun and easy process-based creative project I did with several children recently. I offered the children 8 x 10 pieces of masonite board, yarn, and several random items such as feathers, silk flowers, jewelry pieces, various types of threads and fibers.

The children (some with my assistance) created a grid with yarn on the masonite by wrapping the yarn around the board both horizontally and vertically so that the boards are divided into squares. I instructed the children they could create larger or smaller grid squares as they wished.

I helped them tie off the yarn on the back to hold the grid pattern in place. And, then, the children turned the boards face up, and had tons of fun choosing the items to place on their boards. Some of the items were tied or secured onto the yarn grid lines, and some of the items were laced, woven, or loosely placed between the yarn lines.

I love the results! This project is an easy way to introduce sewing skills and fiber arts, and also allows children to work with materials of various textures.

Let me know if you try this project with the children in your life!

Exploring Cultural Diversity With Children

When planning my projects for children, I often tie in lessons of cultural diversity to introduce the children to artistic traditions and techniques from various people groups and various time periods in history.

Here’s a few culturally diverse projects some of my friends have completed recently:

 Tribal Twigs

I taught children how various tribes use colors and patterns to identify their groups and how the use of symbolism can mean important things to their tribe, such as family history, their place of residence, qualities that are important to them, and can be expressions of communication.

I encouraged the children to think about what is important to them – their favorite colors, their hobbies, their family. They each chose a twig, and decorated it with tissue paper, yarn, and paint.

Tribal TwigTribal Twig

Aboriginal Paintings

We discovered the amazing creativity of the Australian Aboriginal people through creating Aboriginal paintings using the dotted texture patterns found in some of the Aboriginal tribal artworks. The kids seemed really excited to explore this fun way of painting with dots. We used q-tips, and some children were able to create dots by holding a small paintbrush upright.

 Paper Mola Artworks

Another fun project was to introduce children to the amazing Mola textile designs in Panama’s fashion culture. I showed several images of the interesting patterns and lines displayed in various Mola pieces, and then had the children use that as inspiration to create drawings on paper. The kids all jumped right into the project and came up with some very imaginative and exciting works of art.


Top 20 Art Supplies For Toddlers

Top 20 Art Supplies For Toddlers

Parents and caregivers, I have heard you! Your little ones are ready to begin their artistic journeys, you want to be brave and offer them authentic, quality art experiences, but you don’t know what supplies to buy. I figured I better make an official list since this question has popped up multiple times in the past few weeks. Feel free to start with the first few and work up to the 20 as your budget allows. I just personally cannot function happily with less than 20 art supplies in my world, hence the generous amount of items on this list. 🙂

Top 20 Art Supplies For Toddlers

1. Washable tempera paints in red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, and white. Buy good sized bottles (16oz +) that are economical and will last you awhile. Remember, you can mix colors, so 8 colors are plenty to cover basic mixing needs.

2. Watercolor Cake Set. (pictured) Repeat after me: “I WILL NOT BUY THE HORRIBLE WAXY CHEAP WATERCOLORS FOR MY PRECIOUS BABIES.” Most art stores have inexpensive cake watercolor sets that are far better to work with and last a lot longer than waxy ones. Note: These paints are not always washable, but you can just put Little One in an old t-shirt and paint in a zone that is easily washable. It’s worth it!

3. Variety Pack of Assorted-Sized Paintbrushes

4. Washable Glue Sticks

5. Washable White Glue

6. Crayola Crayons, I am partial to the 64-count boxes!

7. Washable Crayola Markers, “Bold” and “Classic” color boxes

8. White Copy Paper (great for simple every-day drawing needs)

9. Colored Construction Paper

10. A Big Variety Box of Plastic Cookie Cutter Shapes: These usually come in holiday and seasonal shapes, basic geometric shapes, animals, nature objects, letters/numbers, and can offer SO MANY USES! Other than the obvious use of cutting cookie dough into shapes, you can also use them to make special shaped bread and cheese snacks, use them in play dough activities, press the shapes in a plate of paint and print the shapes on paper, use them in sensory tables with sand or water, trace the shapes with markers or crayons on paper… and more!

11. Washable ink pads and ink stamps. Animals and shapes are my favorites!

12. Bottles of gold and silver glitter paint. Everything is better with sparkle, just trust me. This is a “safer” way to introduce glitter. It’s trapped in the clear paint, so it won’t get dusty loose glitter everywhere. Although, I honestly don’t see anything wrong with having glitter everywhere, but I know I may be in the minority on that issue. 🙂

13. Q-tips (great for applying white glue, and for a different paint brushing option)

14. Cotton balls (good for sensory projects)

15. Yarn, in various colors

16. Washable “Dot-Paint” Blotter Bottles

17. Colored Tissue Paper (start saving all that leftover tissue from gift bags!)

18. Clear Contact Paper 

19. Safety Scissors, child-sized.

20. Stickers, assorted kinds