The following post is by contributor Vanessa Brown.
Hosting an art group is not as scary and messy as it might sound. Okay maybe it’s a bit messy that is why it is called an outside art group. My girls and I really enjoy having art group out in our front yard a handful of times during the spring and summer months. I feel like it gives us a chance to get to know the neighborhood kids, is a nice break from the routine hot days when kids are out of school, and the kids really enjoy themselves.
I promise it is doable, even for a parent that is not an artistic in the slightest (which would be me), the following are some simple tips to set you up for success:
Hosting an Outside Art Group
1. Chose projects that will be inexpensive, you don’t want to break the bank doing this. For example most of the paint I use is powdered tempura paint, that I buy in bulk and can be added to cheap things like; water, shaving cream, salt water, corn syrup, etc. Then I make sure the art projects can all be done with paper just from a large butcher roll. Also you can buy cheap bags of brushes from the craft store or get rocks, leaves, branches, etc to have them paint with.
2. Prepare a bit and have the set up be kid friendly so everything flows well. Have a cleaning station set up outside just a couple of yucky towels, a hose, bucket, and soap. Have pieces of papers labeled with the children’s names on them ahead of time or have a pen at each table where you have them jot down their name before beginning. Also I really have loved having these tables (pictured below) that are just the right height for them. Have everything set up before they arrive (bowls on tables, brushes out, paper already cut) because you can lose their attention very quickly. I always tell the parents to send their kids in clothes they don’t mind being stained and I do own about 8 oil based aprons that the kids love to wear. Lastly decide on where you are going to let the art projects dry and anything you might need to weigh them down with so they don’t blow away.
3. Chose projects that don’t need too much direction and allow the children to be artistic. I like doing more detailed projects with just my two girls at home but not with anymore children than that. Plus one day during art group my oldest girl looked at me and said, “Mom, I love this because you aren’t bossing me around.” Meaning there weren’t a lot of steps or instructions or reminders and they just had fun doing what they wanted.
4. Keep the time limit to about an hour. I never have tried to do it any longer than that and sometimes we are done right at 40 minutes. So I will have some sidewalk chalk out and tell them the last project is to decorate the sidewalk. Depending on the project sometimes I only have one planned and other times just two, but never more than that.
5. Dropping off the projects: plan a family walk that night to drop the art projects off to the kid’s homes, it really is a great way to get to know your neighbors. Although I am sure it would be just as great with a homeschooling group, church group or to reunite school friends during the summer.
List of My Project Ideas
- Painting with Eggs,Condensed Milk, Powdered Milk, Corn Syrup, Paste and Liquid Startch,
- Monoprinting with Old Cardboard Boxes
- Tracing & Painting Your Body
- Monster Blow Art
- Homemade Sidewalk Chalk
- Painting in an Oversized Traced Cartoon
- Stuffed Art
- Liquid Starch with Sidewalk Chalk
- Thumbprint Art
- Faces with Fall Leaves and Sticks
- Coffee Filter and String Art
- Painting with Pine Needles, Leaves, Dried Flowers, Etc.
- Laundry Line Painting & Shaving Cream Finger Painting
Other Websites with Fantastic Ideas
- The Artful Parent’s Art Projects found here
- Any of the idea from MaryAnn Kohl’s books found here
- The Children’s Art Group, found here
Do you host an outdoor playgroup? What about an art group? What are some of your favorite art resources for kids?