Celebrate Children’s Art Week | Learning Resources UK

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Children’s Art Week is run by Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education. In this guest blog, founder of the the Instagram account, rascals and rainbows, Sheila O’Reilly has some fun ideas for teachers and parents to celebrate Children’s Art Week.

Celebrate Children’s Art Week with Sheila

Hi everyone, my name is Sheila and I am the founder of @rascals_and_rainbows on Instagram.  I am mum to two girls aged four and seven and a primary school teacher for the past twenty years. We live in Belfast NI, although I am originally a country girl from Co. Donegal.  I’ve worked with lots of different year groups in primary school from early years upwards and am passionate about learning through play.  I have become more involved in social media and working with educational companies since the first lockdown last March. I’ve been doing lots of home-learning activities and crafts with my girls so I shared our play and learning on Instagram and had a wonderful response😍.

I am delighted to be writing a blog to promote Children’s Art Week, a UK wide programme which kicks off on 28th June and is run by the company Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education.  It is a wonderful way to encourage children to get creative through arts, crafts and tactile activities. Schools can get involved or children can get participate at home😀.

Art and craft activities are hugely beneficial for young children’s development. Through arts and crafts children have the opportunity to:

  • Develop their creativity and play and experiment in a relaxed environment.
  • Use a variety of materials to learn about shapes, colours/colour mixing and textures.
  • Develop fine motor skills and hand eye coordination through using different tools and media.
  • Develop language skills through talking about processes involved and their creative masterpieces!
  • And most importantly, develop a sense of achievement and pride in what they have created.

It’s easy to get started

Art and craft activities don’t have to be time consuming and difficult to set up.  There are lots of fun craft activities you can do at home with minimal resources.

During lockdown, paper plates and TP rolls were my essentials😅.  We used paper plates to make lots of different animals, flowers, minibeasts and birds and we used TP rolls to make all sorts of crafts including dragons, octopuses, and penguins! TP rolls were really useful for printing activities too. 

It is also fun to consider a variety of media to paint with. As well as using paint brushes, my girls love painting with their fingers, using forks for printing, sponge painting, printing with fruit and vegetables, using nature paintbrushes made with twigs and leaves and using cotton wool with clothes pegs for painting and printing. These are all wonderful ways of developing fine motor skills in early years while having fun in the process.

Here’s are a few of our favourite art and craft activities:

Make sea animals from paper plates.

Using their fingers to paint leaves, apples, and blossoms on trees.

Fork printing is a great way to create a lion’s mane.

Create heart shapes by printing with TP rolls. (We used this idea to create a Valentine’s Day card.)

Natural resources make adorable leaf fairies and flower art.

Cut toilet rolls into sections to create a peacock.

Make repeat patterns by printing with apples.

My girls also enjoy creating pictures with Playfoam. Playfoam is a wonderful mess-free sensory resource that can be moulded, squeezed, and flattened into any shape and can then be reused. It never dries out and it is non-stick so your carpets and clothes are safe!  Playfoam is a wonderful resource for developing fine motor skills and allowing children to get creative.

My four year old really enjoyed creating this flower picture with her Playfoam and recently they have both enjoyed Colour by Playfoam activities. Using Playfoam to create pictures is a great way to develop concentration skills too. My two spent ages carefully placing the Playfoam in each section of their unicorn and dragon😍.

They are both big fans of designing outfits and styling their dolls, so the Papercraft Fashion Parade and Sweet Boutique have been a huge hit. The Papercraft Fashion Parade is a spiral bound book with 24 doll pictures and 160 outfit stickers and they absolutely love to mix and match fashions to make different outfits.  It is the perfect resource for taking on journeys and kept my girls entertained when we recently travelled to visit with my mum. The set is so easy to use. Simply colour your outfit, peel off the repositionable stickers and position on your doll.

This set appeals to both my four year old and her seven year old sister as they can each work at their own level to create outfits. Brilliant for encouraging creativity and a great way to develop those all-important fine motor skills for my little lady beginning school in September.

The Papercraft Sweet Boutique is a similar concept but not contained in a book. The box can be used to create a boutique and when the outfits are coloured and designed, they can be peeled and added to the cardboard dolls which can stand upright.

The 3 cardboard dolls are double-sided, giving them more opportunities to create outfits. The stickers are easily peeled off so new and different outfits can be created.  It also comes with accessories stickers including jewellery, bags, and hats. My girls enjoy using this set for pretend play. Once they created the outfits for their dolls, they love to choose a character to play shops.

Another creative resource which is very popular with my seven year old is Artie 3000. This brilliant robot introduces children to coding and programming language. She simply has to design a code and Artie 3000 draws the lines. A brilliant STEAM resource.

For beginners, there are pre-programmed designs and my seven year old uses the iPad to drag and drop blocks of code to tell Artie how and what to draw. Then she tests the programme on the online simulator and if she is happy with her creation, she can set Artie 3000 on a sheet of paper and watch him create her programmed masterpiece! There is no need for Wi-Fi to use Artie 3000. You simply connect your tablet or computer to Artie’s built-in Wi-Fi. Find out more on the creative side of coding.

There is a wealth of free activity sheets for kids available on the Learning Resources UK website to develop literacy, numeracy, fine motor skills, creativity, outdoor learning, and much more. The activities are organised according to subjects and within each subject, there are activities suitable for pre-school, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

There are also hints and tips sections included to give parents more advice on how to work with their child and lots of themed blogs to provide further ideas for activities and learning.  Some of our favourite creative activities include:

Fine motor scavenger hunt:

Playfoam characters colouring sheets:

Colour by numbers:

Scissor skills activities:

Butterfly colour match:

I hope that you have found some ideas within my blog to help you get creative with your little ones. Art and craft activities are such a lovely way to spend time with your children. Quite often my girls will open-up about different issues, feelings or emotions that they are experiencing when feel secure and relaxed during a craft session.

I also enjoy mindful colouring when I’m feeling a bit frazzled at the end of a busy day!  It definitely helps to relax my mind and unwind.

We are always getting creative over on my Instagram if you are looking for more inspiration😍❤️.

Looking for more ways to encourage your child’s creativity and keep them busy and learning? Try 10 reasons to get crafty with Playfoam.

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