children and art

Last week, Larkspur was inspired by a book of stained glass designs.  She set out to make a house that she could use cut-outs of some of those designs in.  She worked on her house over a course of several days, and her plans and visions clearly evolved as she went, because in the end she hardly used any of those stained glass cut outs.  She did use a lot of paper and hot glue, cardboard and popsicle sticks.  Then came furniture crafted from notecards.  After finishing it, she demonstrated to me how all the furniture fits in the house.  Since then, the house has been sitting on the back of the piano, largely untouched, a reminder to me that much of the joy of creating comes from the process itself, not the finished object.

Later in the week, it was paper mache (Calvin’s bowls from Handmade Home).  Larkspur’s bowl, once dry, joined her house on the back of the piano.  Beatrix’s is still wet because she laid the paste on so thickly, and who knows what happened to Silas’.  Neither one truly cares, they really just wanted to dip strips of paper in paste and stick them to something.

As I began making my preschool plans for the little class I will teach at the homeschooling co op, I found myself planning crafts.  I was starting to get a little stressed about the whole thing.  I don’t like planning crafts.  Then it occurred to me that I don’t need to!  Instead, I got a little too excited on the Dick Blick website, and ordered a bunch of art supplies.  We’re going to do art!  Free spirited and creative, art!  This is way more my thing, to focus on the process with my little preschool rather than working toward specific finished objects each week.

My friend Lori (who is very artsy!) is going to be helping me.  She and I bought aprons to wear during class on a trip to Ikea last week (along with more preschool stuff!) so now we’re ready to go.  I almost put mine back, noting that, patterned with bold horizontal stripes, it would make me look like a giant ice cream bar. Lori said, “Yeah, but the kids will totally like that.”  So I threw it back in the cart.  I do like ice cream.

I’ve got to make a couple more batches of play dough, but other than that, I think I’m just about ready for our first day, later this week.


  1. Mary Martha says:

    Such gorgeous photographs, as always, of your children. Thank you for sharing these.

    Quick question:which play dough recipe do you use? I have tried a couple but haven’t found one I like yet.

    Thank you!

  2. I have in home day care in addition to homeschooling my only child. The kids just love to get into all the art supplies. Their favorite projects are always the ones where they just create. Although a craft once in a while is fun too. Good luck with the preschoolers…you will love it!

  3. Oh, you are a terrible influence on me. Now I want to get more art supplies. (We really do NOT need more art supplies. But seeing them all new in a pile like that…ooooh, it’s so tempting!) xo

  4. Love the apron!

    I send all my best wishes for your first day of preschool teachin!

  5. I am in love with your daughter’s house and creative spirit. Clearly you do know how to set up children to be creative!

  6. Dear Ginny, such a lovely house! I experience the same with my children and remember it from my childhood – the process of creating is much more important than the result. At some point we had about 7 or 8 little huts in the garden and my father jokingly posted a law on the fridge – he made himself head of the public construction office and we had to get planning and building permissions for new edifices 😉
    Your art class will be so much fun – open mind, ice cream apron, lots of supplies – nothing can go wrong with this!
    Lena x

  7. Do I see a future architect budding there?

  8. When my kids crafts got too big or too much to store we would decide which ones we needed to recycle and take some photos of them. That way I didn’t have so many large crafted things that they really didn’t care about anymore cluttering up the house and the kids could still look at the pictures and enjoy the memory.

  9. Amazing, truly amazing. You, Ginny, and your children have so much to be proud of. That house is fantastic!

    There are art supplies all over my table, constantly. My children explore every day and, despite the mess, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  10. I read peace and hope in this post. Creating has a great way of healing.

    Unrelated, but I took a picture of a 150 year old oak tree this weekend and thought of you.

  11. Oh I do miss those days.

  12. Ah, I’m not the only one who loves Ikea it seems! 🙂 That house is hands down the most adorable handmade dolly home I’ve every seen. Such a creative daughter you have!

  13. A beautiful house!

    And such a great idea to provide materials and let the young ones explore what they can do with them. There will be time later on, to teach drawing/painting technique. For now joy in discovery, and confidence in creating, need be your only real goals.

  14. the paper house looks beautiful and I love the idea of unstructured ART! Our youngest son started having “Art” class in school in Kindergarten and , while the results are beautiful, to me there is nothing exciting about 20 projects that all look the same because there is NO exploration , NO individual expression, in other words: BORING! I look forward to seeing some pictures of your students’ ART! 🙂

  15. I’d like to live in that little house.

    Now this song is in my head.

  17. Dear Ginny, I am one of those avid readers that feels like an interloper so rarely comment, but it was time for me to butt in here and let you know I’ve been thinking of you. Am so proud of your strength and I hope healing is coming to you in whatever form works. I love that you’ve found your groove on this endeavor!! And your apron is glorious – SPUMONI!!! Much love, Emily

  18. Ginny,

    I love this! I feel like my kids are happiest (and I am too) when I set out some simple (and rotated? If that makes sense) supplies and let them create. Otherwise, when I have too many ideas about a finished project it seems harder for me to let them be and do. I am wondering (with some of the others): what have you found are the essential basics for your homeschool art cabinet? And what parameters do you place on who/with what level of permission/when the children may dip into the art supplies? I feel like I always have grand ideas and then the supplies sit untouched and my kids end up coloring w colored pencils all year because between homeschooling five kids at different levels I’m always doing sthg and unable to supervise.

  19. Larkspur’s house is so cool! As I was scrolling through the photos, I totally though “I wonder if she still plays with it or just enjoyed making it.” It’s so fun to create, but then you feel like since you’ve made something once you can’t keep making others. Which certainly isn’t true.

    Fun! I wish I could come take your preschool art class! 🙂

  20. I love it when kids create things, but then what do you do with the masterpiece. I suppose one can always take pictures, but the kids are heartbroken if any of their work gets tossed (I do it on the sly), understandably. And beautiful houses take up more room than flat paper…any ideas?

  21. Love it! This is the way we do art around here lately too:) Please give more details about what you ordered, that website looks awesome!

  22. I love new art supplies! Isn’t there just something so possible about them? 🙂

  23. Good morning! We LOVE (as in big, capital letters L.O.V.E) process art over here. I was wondering if you would share what you do with all those lovely creations. We can’t possibly save them all. I have no problems hanging on to them for a while, but then the pile(s) build and build. If it were up to my girls, the piles would just get bigger as nothing can be disposed of. Who am I to say what art is save worthy or trash worthy? Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

  24. Your idea sounds wonderful Ginny! My kids really, really dislike crafts where adults tell them exactly where to colour, paste or cut. Please tell Larkspur that her house is Beautiful! Maybe she will be an architect someday.

  25. You’re going to have so much fun! I have the tea towel that matches your new apron. 🙂

  26. So funny, I have the exact same apron, here on the other side of the globe. Mine doesn’t fit though, I’m probably too short 🙂 I just wanted to say that I come here everyday and have been for years. I love to visit this window into your world. You have such talent for sharing. Thanks for doing it!

  27. how lovely! great idea!

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