If your child care environment is anything like mine, you have a ton of extra art stored in piles all over the room. We would display some of the really nice pieces of art on the walls and try and send the rest of it home. But we still ended up with a plethora of children’s paintings and drawings with no home. Wanting to show my respect to this hard and creative work of the child and not wanting to waste all of this paper, I came up with other ways to display and use this extra art.
First and foremost, make sure the art you are using is not of significance for the child. You never want to cut up or maim a child’s masterpiece no matter what you think of their product. Whenever a child is done with their work (and it’s not something I want to display in the classroom) I ask them if they want to send it home. If they don’t, it gets placed in my pile of art to use for other projects. I also save those large scale group painting projects for other uses too.
One way to use all those paintings is to create a wall hanging or mobile. I will take heavily painted “project art,” cut it up in strips and hang them from a branch, creating a lovely mobile that brings an aesthetically pleasing depth to your childcare environment.
Another similar idea is to take bits and pieces of art, cutting them up in tile like shapes and creating a backdrop for a cozy corner. You can dress up any area of your child care environment with these group art projects by the way, however, I prefer to showcase and rotate selections of great art in frames first and then use these “project art” pieces.
You can also cut up “project art” into tiny scraps and reuse them for new art projects, like group gluing and sculpture. Or lay out a large piece of clear contact paper, sticky side up, taping the edges down to the working surface and put out a bowl of these art scraps and let your children practice their fine motor skills by creating a collage. Here are a few we displayed on windows of our classroom.
I will use the large group butcher paper art as backdrops for documentation as well. This gives my simple documentation some extra ooompf as well as respectfully gives the children’s art a purpose.
And finally, a great way to use all the extra art is for wrapping parent gifts. I started doing this a couple years ago for holiday presents. It’s sentimental, economical and once again recognizes the importance of art in an indirect manner.
These are just a few examples of what you can do with the extra art taking up room in your classroom. As a teacher, I always felt like we were using up so many resources and with so many children in our care, tended to be wasteful with materials. It’s very hard when you have so many children in one space, but I felt like if doing these little things like reusing art made a small difference in the environment, then why not?
**Pictures are posted with permission from Summer Langille.