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Summer is here, take your art outside

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Now that the first day of summer is officially crossed off on the calendar, it's time to start filling your toolbox with outdoor art activities.

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The students at A Sunny Place Learning Center live for art outside because it gives them the opportunity to really express themselves without worrying about making a mess or spilling paint on their neighbor's work. It does give them the opportunity to mix gross and fine motor skills and really get into a deeper level of creation.

This particular day, we used a variety of mediums to make our art. Here is what we used:

  • Butcher paper taped to the fence line (duct tape works the best on our wooden fence)
  • spray bottles with a 50/50 mixture of liquid water color and water
  • trays with lines of tempera paint
  • brushes
  • rollers
  • scrubbers

Before my class goes outside, I make sure to set everything up because I love to see that look of wonder when they all run out and realize what we're doing. Then, I give them each an over sized old shirt to protect their digs from overzealous art, and I let them go, only helping when they ask, and never giving input on how they use their tools or create their art.

Yes, there will be places with too much paint where the paper will dissolve to nothing. Yes, there will be paint mixed, rollers used on hands, and, well, paint everywhere. It's part of the process when you have a play-based preschool program like we do at A Sunny Place Learning Center.

When we do art of any kind, we're using an amazing set of skills such as:

  • creativity
  • imagination
  • fine motor skills
  • cause and effect
  • creating theories
  • understanding order of process
  • confidence
  • problem solving
  • perseverance
  • literacy
  • communication
  • cooperation
  • processing feedback
  • complexity
  • math
  • spatial relations
  • properties of materials
  • cognitive skills
  • self expression
  • sharing space

When we do art outside, we add all of the large muscle groups to that list of skills as well as dive deeper into skills such as communication and cooperation.

When we're finished, we display their art no matter what shape it is in and encourage positive words to reinforce the exercise.

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