What do kids love more than making a huge, awesome mess? Nothing! Unfortunately, most kids aren’t allowed to dig in to paint, glitter, and glue at home on a regular basis. Thankfully, we have a library for that! With this in mind, I created a “Baby Rembrandts” art program for children ages 1-5 and their parents.
I set up everything in the room before kids and their parents began to arrive. The program lasted around one hour and had four art stations. I covered all the tables with plastic table cloth, pre-poured paint onto small plates, and placed all the materials on the tables. I kept all the paint on a high counter until we started to prevent eager artists from digging right in.
As parents and children arrived, I gave them a paper leaf to write their name on and tape to their shirt. This made it easier for me to address people I didn’t already know from storytime. After they made their leaves, everyone came to sit on the carpet and we read Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood.
After the story, I broke the group up into four smaller groups to go to the stations. I had 24 kids in attendance, and I kept friends and family members together. I told everyone at the start of the program that I would alert the group after 15 minutes had passed so that everyone could make it to every station, but nobody was forced to move if they weren’t finished. Then, I let them go to town!
The four stations I included were: Finger painted leaves and Indian corn (pictures of Indian corn and leaves on card stock) Pumpkin Sun Catchers (two pieces of contact paper with a pumpkin shaped outline and tissue paper pressed between) Movable Scarecrows (a scarecrow shape with arms and legs detached. They added arms and legs with paper fasteners so that they moved, and decorated) and a Library Mural (Large pieces of butcher paper taped to the table for everyone to collaborate on with paint. I changed this paper one time so that there was enough room for everyone to contribute.)
While I did alert the group every 15 minutes or so, most groups moved around at their own pace. I had baby wipes available to wipe off messy hands, and I had a bunch of oversized shirts that were available as smocks. Only a few kids wanted smocks, though, because I was sure to put in the program description that we would be getting messy. We also have a sink in our program room, which allowed little ones to wash their hands.
Overall, Baby Rembrandts was a huge success. This program had all fall themed crafts (it was held October 25) but it can easily be adapted for any season or no season at all. It was a great time, and I highly recommend it!
Our guest blogger today is Ellen Norton. Ellen is a children’s librarian at the White Oak Library District in Crest Hill, IL. When she’s not making messes with little ones, she likes going on outdoor adventures, cooking, and reading of course! Ellen can be reached at email@example.com
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.