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Program Design, Development, and Quality

Messy Art & The Power of Sensory Play

messy art

There’s nothing like MESSY ART to kick off a powerful new year.

Most kids love to get messy and “let go” of their inhibition with colorful paints and clays. But let’s admit it, most kids can’t too messy at home. So it’s our job and our OPPORTUNITY to give them plenty of messy art experiences in afterschool enrichment. Where else will they experience the pleasure and power of visual art? Remember that art experiences have a proven positive impact on young people. Meaningful art experiences provide children with the freedom of choice, thought and feeling.

Help make this year a year of discovery and exploration by trying out some of my favorite messy art ideas:

First there’s *Printmaking with Biocolor on painted spaghetti.

Then Leaf Punching with giant paper punches:

leaf punching-messy-art

Mud Painting, with liquid watercolor added into the mud:

mud painting-messy art

And lastly, here’s a *Color Spray Mural, with liquid watercolor on a painting mat.

mural painting-messy art

Children learn best when hands-on, self-directed learning engages their senses.

As youth advocates and childcare providers, we need to understand what’s happening developmentally when children are at play. As professionals, we need to use words and vocabulary that express our understanding of enrichment activities. When you facilitate messy art and sensory play, you give children the opportunity to:

  • Enjoy sensory experiences.
  • Learn to think independently.
  • Express feelings through tactile manipulation such as rolling, squeezing, pounding, pushing and pulling.
  • Enjoy decision-making and the opportunity for choice.
  • Enjoy color experimentation.
  • Discover interesting new materials and art mediums.
  • Explore innovative ideas and to act on them.
  • Have opportunities for social experiences through group activities.
  • Increase vocabulary through use of new words.

For tips on art-making, check out my blog!

Today for breakfast I had Trader Joe’s whole milk plain yogurt with fresh blueberries and toasted pine nuts. It was delicious and I felt very indulged. The best combination! I also enjoyed a double shot of coffee from my Keurig.

anna reynerAuthor: Anna Reyner
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Registered Art Therapist
Director of Training & So Cal Acct Mgr, Discount School Supply
Los Angeles, CA

Anna Reyner’s name is synonymous with Art & Enrichment. She is a nationally recognized arts advocate who is dedicated to helping people get in touch with their own creativity. She has dedicated her life to community service as a Peace Corps volunteer, Director of Youth Prevention Programs, and currently as a volunteer for Battered Womens Shelters and combat Veterans with PTSD. She works for Discount School Supply as Training Director and Southern California Account Manager. She is the author of two award winning books, both filled with creative art lesson plans for children ages 4-12. They are Smart Art with Learning Outcomes, and Smart Art 2, both published by DSS. She also writes an Art & Creativity blog with free art ideas and handouts at Anna never tires of sharing new ways to inspire children and youth to get in touch with the empowering energy of their own creativity.

Anna has conducted over 500 national and international hands-on art workshops and is a registered art therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist. She holds a masters degree in expressive art therapy from the University of Louisville and a bachelor’s degree in art and psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University. Anna maintains an active art studio in her Los Angeles home where she lives with her husband, animals, and two children.

Editor’s Note: Visit the BOOST Resource Center and look under Discount School Supply for the lesson plans for these activities.  

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