Home art corners can be great time

What would happen if you provided an art corner for your children and supplied them with objects found around your home and in the great outdoors? What if you read to them every day and took them to the library and provided a literacy-rich environment? Listen to the words of Caldecott Award winning children’s illustrator, Lois Ehlert, tell us about her childhood experience as described in “The Scraps Book: Notes From a Colorful Life.”

“When I was little, I read all the books on the library shelf, and I thought maybe someday I could make a book. I was lucky. I grew up with parents who made things with their hands. Mom loved to sew. She had colorful fabric scraps, buttons, lace, ribbons and many scissors that she shared with me. Dad had a basement workshop. He gave me wood scraps and taught me how to paint, saw and pound nails. I had wonderful art supplies and tools close at hand. In a small corner of my house, Dad set up a folding table for me. It was my spot to work and dream.

Ehlert goes on to tell how she created a love of art but not for books right away. She knew that it takes time to develop dreams.

Easy ideas

She finds her book ideas and inspiration from the world around her. For example, shopping for fruits and vegetables gave her the idea for her book, “Eating the Alphabet.” Your children could eat their way through the alphabet for fun. She planted a spring garden for her mother using red, orange, yellow, blue and purple flowers. The result was the book “Planting a Rainbow.” Children could pick and dry flowers to make a rainbow garden picture for you.

“The Scraps Book.” provides several other sources of inspiration including her ice fishing decoy. Your children could make little bird, or other animal decoys with nature scraps or wood glued together and painted.

Ehlert tells about her art technique called collage. She describes it as very messy but “when ideas are flowing, I keep working.” She uses a variety of tools to create texture, including spatter painting with a toothbrush and rubbing a crayon over a grater. She adds objects close at hand such as toys, food, pinecones, seashells or bottle caps. The many colorful photographs in the book show the results and give children ideas for their own projects.

Creative focus

Why is this important to children? Creativity focuses on process of forming original ideas through exploration and discovery. Creative children learn to think and solve problems for themselves.

They learn not to fear mistakes and feel free to invent, create and find new ways to do things – all valuable and much-needed skills in today’s world. For more ideas see grandparentsteachtoo.org or wnmufm.org “Learning through the Seasons.”

Editor’s note: Grandparents Teach ,Too is a non profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. Writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers.Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan (PAM), Upper Peninsula Association for the Education of Young Children (UPAEYC), Northern Michigan School of Education, U.P. Children’s Museum, and NMU Center for Economic Education.