Friday, July 12, 2013

Our Preschool Art Studio

After years of having art and craft supplies strung throughout the house, this year I took the ground floor spare bedroom and made it into our art studio. It not only serves my students, it serves my own creative endeavors as well.

I can't describe how wonderful it is to have a child suddenly ask, "Can I add glitter to this?" and be able to simply ask, "What color do you want?," reach behind me, and present them with the necessary supply to enhance their creative vision. Every time it happens, I smile and sigh.

This is a LONG posts, so skim it as you will as I have gone over EVERYTHING! If an item is in a different color, it is linked to a project on this blog. 

Most of our projects do not get on here, though.

Let's take a tour...

When you first walk in, the children's art smocks [children's size small/6-8 t-shirts] are hanging on an accordion cup rack. They know to grab one and find a seat, putting on their smocks first thing. Even the littlest ones grab one on their own.

Above that is our sign. The letters are easily removable if I ever decide to change them.

And above that is our dedication space. A lot of people have donated products, materials, and money that have gone into this space, and I wanted to acknowledge their contributions. These are printed out, laminated, and adhered to the wall with spray adhesive.

Our activity table is the top from a dining room set I purchased 20 years ago. It was scratched and well loved, so I sanded, primed and painted it. The chairs were donated by my friend Ledonna Woolsey who went to home care from running a center. 

The two barstools were donated by my clients Heather and Steven Hunt. If the activity is process oriented, then I simply sit back and let them at it. If it is really messy or very involved, then I have my son Jacob sit in with me to assist with keeping an eye on, and helping, the littler ones.

To the left side of the door, I have two of my craft carts that I got at Sam's Club for $30 each. It was a deal, as they usually go for twice that anywhere else.

I plan to get a cabinet or shelving to go above it. On top it holds a container that has tubes - toilet paper, paper towel, etc. and another with our Frisbees that we use as holders for craft items that may roll off the table and for salt writing.  Another gets everything thrown into it that I don't have time to put away properly when I get it. Parents drop off items and I put them in here until I can properly put them away.

  • Bling: glitter, jewels, sequins
  • Cotton Balls: large and small
  • Lids: moved to larger bin
  • Paper Die Cuts
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Pom Poms
  • Silk Flowers & leaves
  • Stickers
  • Straws
  • Holiday Items [new]
  • Cards: fronts of holiday and occasion cards
  • Clothes Pins: various sizes & types
  • Corks: moved to larger bin
  • Doilies: various sizes of Valentine hearts and white ones
  • Packing Peanuts
  • Pinecones: big
  • Pinecones: small
  • Plastic: salvaged from misc. food and product packaging
  • Styrofoam: pieces and foam packaging
  • Styrofoam: chunk pieces
Next to these are a china hutch I received from my friend/quasi-SIL Tracy Simons. It holds:

My collection of foamies on the top left shelf:

Misc. Storage containers not in use at the moment on the second shelf, and the yarn bin, and some scrapbooking shape templates on the lower one.

Below those are my bin of tissue paper salvaged from every holiday and birthday party, especially by Miss A's grandma, Mrs. Truta, and a bin of scrapbooking paper, some of which has been donated by my cousin Julie Stokes.

The top middle has doors with handles that can hold a strap lock, so within here I store my adhesives, craft knives, spice/rice grinder, and concoction ingredients such as corn starch, Borax, flour, cream of tartar, food coloring, Koolaid packets, spices, salt, Epsom salt... and my own PERSONAL box of 64 crayons that I DO NOT SHARE.

Below is an open space where I have put up tension rods to hold up rolls of foil, wax paper, cling wrap, parchment paper and freezer paper. The last two I am currently out of. I have a metal strip from a foil container attached inside the doors above, so that I can pull the roll items up and cut them cleanly, without having to have anything sharp out around the children. I have my crepe paper just stacked in here, which needs a large bin. I also have CD cases and a couple of drawing instruction books.

In the doors below, I have my book binder and rice storage. I buy 50 pound bags of it at Sam's Club for crafts, bean bags [non choking hazard if they get ripped!] and heating pads.

The right side on the top shelf contains plastic cups of various sizes, foam bowls, large and small paper plates, paper condiment cups, white scratcher pads, envelopes, white and brown sandwich bags, cupcake liners and coffee liners.

Below that are some of my stamps and stamp pads. Some of those are still in the basement. The bottom shelf holds a materials tray, the book 1001 Paintings to See Before You Die, and a bin with a collection of previous craft activities that either need displayed or deconstructed and the items stored.

Next to this I have my bulletin board edges and some cardboard crowns stored on the wall by using binder clips and thumb tacks. On the floor in the corner are larger tubes from wrapping paper, etc. and rolls of wallpaper.

On the bottom is a bin of shredded filler of every color and type imaginable, various bubble wrap, and our cutting practice bin. Many of the fillers and yarns were bought at the Salvation Army and garage sales.

On top of this cabinet, I store pop bottles, bins of items such as corks, and our sensory bin fillers such as blue gravel, oats, hay, beans, birdseed, etc.

On the back wall,

I have two more craft carts and two paper sorters. I got the paper sorters a long time ago at Sam's Club for $20 each. On the top of the left craft cart is a bin of glue, glue sticks and Scotch tape and our bin of scissors, including teacher-assist, safety, and scrapbooking edgers.

The middle bins are FULL of crayons and markers. The paper sorters hold our construction and colored paper by color, along with tag board, corrugated cardboard, cardstock, specialty papers, and some specialty binding covers donated by my first client, Deidre Laughlin.

On top of the right side is a bin of ribbon reels and pieces and a bin of string & twine rolls, which are currently outside for projects there.

The two craft carts contain:

  • Beads
  • Beads [more]
  • Cording
  • Jewelry
  • Jingle Bells
  • Magnets
  • Puzzle Pieces
  • Shells
  • Tape: painters, masking, printed duct
  • Wooden Cut Outs
  • Buttons
  • Elastic
  • Fasteners
  • Lace
  • Patterns
  • Thread
  • Netting [new]: fabric and net grocery bags like from avacados
  • Trims
  • Trims
  • Velcro
I was lucky to happen upon a going-out-of-business sale for a pharmacy store, and bought these commercial shelving units for $30. The top holds miscellaneous small items such as containers of google eyes, brass brads, paint chips, colored pencils, dried lavender & chamomile, eye droppers, oil pastels, paint brushes and toothbrushes for crafts. The bottom holds our larger papers, poster boards, craft mats, and acts as a drying rack for our larger projects.

Above it, our art posters are out of their monthly and thematic file folders and out for daily viewing. These are up using sticky tack, so they are easily taken down for observation or instructional purposes. This isn't all of them, as we go through our 3-year rotating curriculum, I come across them and put them up. Not all artists are represented on the wall, as we have our art books to reference as well.

In the back corner is another china hutch that I painted white and covered the back in fabric with spray adhesive. This one was salvaged during our city's large item pick up.

The top shelf is crammed with paint of every kind.

The middle shelf holds:

  • Craft Sticks: small and large, colored and plain [donated by Nancy Ringle]
  • Colored rice
  • Colored tube pasta
  • Raffia
  • Modeling Clay
  • Beans
  • Sand and Gravel collection
  • Feathers
  • Cookie Cutters: misc. and alphabet
  • Foam Trays
  • Pie Tins
  • Plastic Trays
In the drawers and cabinets below are fabrics, including plastic, vinyl, fur, satins, velvet, etc., a drawer of felt,

and the sewing machine, iron and sewing box.

On the side I have hooks that hold our fly swatters and my cutting mats.

Above the side table are our art books, and below are 3 large bins that hold large foam sheets, plastic lids of all sizes [mostly donated by Jen Beutel and Tracy Simons], and fuse beads. At that same commercial sale, I got this small fridge for $25 to hold our homemade play dough. The bin on the left holds our painting tools and the one on the right holds some of our play dough tools/toys.

Our large roll of butcher paper sits atop the mini-fridge, comes over the back of the table, and under a straight edge used for cutting it to length. The table usually holds our sensory bin.

Next to these is a small, moveable sewing table with my Cricut on it. Which I have yet to use. 

Under the craft table in the middle of the room, are two paper sorters. One I salvaged, again, from large-item-pick-up and the other I got at a thrift store for $10.

The first one holds a collection of sandpapers, cardboard scraps, cork flooring, flooring samples we use as textures for rubbings along with a piece of plastic light diffuser, paper grocery bags, and craft paper pieces.

The other side holds a collection of professional paint chip samples donated by Deidre, thin craft paper, misc. notebooks and old letterhead made of great quality paper with high cotton content we cut up and use.

Next to the entry way, I have melamine tray that I got on clearance at Walmart last fall that I use as a dry erase board for our art curriculum. Under that is a chalkboard donated by the Hunts. If the children finish early, they have the option of free drawing or using the chalkboard until the others finish.

And that's it...oh, wait, I forgot the closet...nevermind! [baby food jars, canvases, frames, cork, tiles & grout, salad spinner, heat guns...]  

The absolute BEST thing about this room, though, is that we can CLOSE THE DOOR and just LEAVE projects at any time to come back to later or to finish drying in place. No more shuffling around on table tops and counters when we try to do other things, or HAVING to put supplies away to clear for a meal or other activity.

It's one of the best uses of space I have ever made.

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Tags: art, craft, room, preschool, home child care, daycare, home, child care, pre-k, arts & crafts, toddler, children's, kid's, class, classroom
Little Stars Learning


  1. Absolutely amazing!! i am so inspired! It just fills my heart when I see people who truly "get it" when it comes to children, art, expression, and being messy!! thank you for creating that space for the children you work with. the experiences they have there will effect them forever <3

    1. Thank you so much, Danielle!! I really appreciate your kind words. Art speaks to the soul, especially for children. It enhances every learning concept, fine and gross motor skills and every emotion. I've been in child care/preschool settings where the children basically did what they were told to do, or the teacher "helped" them so they would either get it right or not get messy. It breaks my heart to see children so confined when art should be free and expressive. So thank you for your encouragement. I hope to get the message out that art should be a basic component of any early childhood setting, not a side activity or production pieces for presentation to mom and dad.