Take art out and about to open a new world of creative possibilities! As children engage in art activities outside, they break free of the easel, explore on a larger scale, and learn to take time to observe things more closely. The following suggestions can help make your outdoor art adventures a successful learning experience.
Help children see the possibilities around them. Great art options abound outside - from painting rocks to dyeing sand with food coloring. A fence can become a wonderful collage as children weave sticks, feathers, and grass through the pickets or links.
Encourage children to experiment with nature. Try leaving a wet painting out in the rain and seeing what design the raindrops create. On a sunny day, hang paintings on a rack and watch what happens as they dry. For an easy science experiment, cover part of a painting and leave it out in the sun all day - then compare the part that has faded with the part that was protected.
Make cleaning up easy - and part of the fun. If possible, work near a hose or other water source so children can wash themselves and the area around them. Or give children spray bottles filled with water. Use a cart or wheelbarrow to simplify bringing supplies - and be sure to have an easy-to-carry container for smocks.
This article originally appeared in the April, 1998 issue of Early Childhood Today.