Embrace the Mess! Why All Kids Need a Dedicated Art Space at Home.

Megan Schiller, Founder of The Art Pantrya design studio specializing in children’s creative play spaces, reveals her best tips to encourage learning through art + design.

Photo Credit: The Art Pantry

Why is it important to create a dedicated space for art projects at home? It’s not just important to have a dedicated art space for kids, but a dedicated and accessible art space is the key. When art supplies and creative tools are set up in a way that is inviting and accessible to kids, they are free to explore the materials in their own way—while building creative confidence, and independence. A dedicated space can be as small as an art caddy (used somewhere like the kitchen table), a corner of a room, or it can be an entire studio. Having a dedicated space means that kids know where their tools are and they can access them whenever inspiration strikes!  Sometimes they might need a little help to spark their interest, so I like to set up “invitations to create.” I put out a few different materials on the table in a purposeful and inviting way and leave it for my kids to find on their own. Once they stumble upon this prompt, they get excited and immediately sit down to explore. Eventually, they will decide that they want to include new materials and they will head over to their supplies to gather more.

How do kids benefit from creating art at home? With the national emphasis on testing in schools, art programs have become a low priority in public education in the U.S. If children are not exposed to artistic tools and materials at school, than it is even more important to make room for art in the home. Doing art as a family is also a fun way to connect and learn together. Growing up, my husband never thought he was creative so he shied away from art, but now he loves to sit with our kids and explore alongside them. Art spaces are not just for kids who thought to be “artistic.” I believe all kids should be empowered to use creative tools and materials to enhance other areas of their life. 

What are the 3 things every home art space needs? 1. A work surface large enough so that kids don’t feel crammed next to siblings or friends (If you don’t have a dedicated play table, this can be the kitchen table). 2. Quality art supplies (quality over quantity!). 3. Large trays to contain messy projects. Whenever I design a play or art space for kids, it’s important for me to create a calm environment. Kids’ personalities, their colorful artwork, and playful toys add plenty of stimulation on their own. I like to create soothing spaces that are inviting and engaging, so they absorb the chaos rather than add to it. This is a playroom I designed to help minimize sensory overload.

SHOP: Megan's Must-Haves: Large Tray | Art Caddy | Wall Organizers | Utility Cart

How much time should kids be spending on art activities at home? Kids have varying attention spans for art activities. Regardless of age, certain kids can focus art for an hour or more, while others will get restless after 10 minutes. It helps to allow for kids to leave their “work” (even if it’s messy) on the table if they get restless and come back to it later on. For kids who enjoy sensory activities offering materials like finger paints or wet clay can get them to sit for long periods of time. 

Are there art materials you recommend that develop children's fine motor skills and concentration? Some basic art materials that are great for all ages include washable tempera paint, glue & collage materials, liquid watercolors, crayons (beeswax crayons have brighter pigments and are easier to make marks), markers, clay and playdough. For toddlers I recommend chubby paint brushes and things like popsicle sticks and cups that encourage poking (for clay and playdough), stirring, and pouring. As kids begin to gain more fine motor skills, I like to introduce droppers for liquid, safety scissors, tape, stamps, stickers, and fine brushes. Once they master those skills, I introduce fine motor projects like sewing, embroidery and beading.

SHOP Creative Space Decor: Oeuf Table + Chairs  | Flexa Storage Table | Krethaus: Group Project Table

For art project inspiration visit The Art Pantry. And for more decor ideas to create the perfect art space click here.