Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

5 Must Have Materials For A New Mini-Atelier A Reggio Inspired Program


A Learning Series on Reggio Inspired Mini-Atelier In Public School

These five materials were chosen because they are affordable and easy to acquire. Most of them have already been purchased by the school and can be found in the school art room.

Collage - I like to use the Beautiful Stuff program to create small collections. The children can be sort, organize and distribute the materials around the classroom including the artelier. This centre also uses plenty of repurposed materials including cardboard, nature's loose parts and thick paper. Last year we used a lot of cut-up cardboard, sticks, paper and re-purposed canvas frames. The custodians were our best customers.

Drawing - with a minimal investment of sharpies, variety of paper and repeated opportunities to draw this centre will quickly become a favourite. It will grow over time as you add drawing tools and different papers but initially a class set of black sharpies will do. Fortunately I was able to access a box of black sharpies from the office for free. I collected pencil crayons from the grade 7 students at the end of last year and used school supply funds for soy crayons, markers and pencils. I buy the best quality that I can afford and use them for multiple years. 

Paint - children love to paint and with some fun materials from nature or the recycling centre can become a creative centre including nature sticks,  painter sticks, pine cones, ... The children can paint, roll, stamp and press using paint. They will mix new colours add cornstarch, flour, soap and really expand this centre if given a little time and less traditional materials. If you have access to a paint easel lucky you, if not you can make mini table easels. Otherwise they can paint on the tables walls or floors or all 3! I use a drop clothe under the paint easel and on top of the table for easier clean-up.

Plastercine - this material is commonly found in the school art room and is perfect for sculpting. Add some nature loose parts like sticks, seeds, nuts, stones and leaves for decorating. I would also suggest wire or string from the recycling centre if they are not in your art room. This is a good stand-in for potters clay which will require some saving to build up tools and purchase clay but well worth it.

Weaving - again these materials can usually be found in the school art room or donated by families. A lot of my ribbon came from the Beautiful Stuff program. You will need twine or string to create the weave as yarn will stretch. Weaving can be done using many different types of frames; cardboard, thick paper plates or small branches. A collection of ribbons, strips of fabric, nature objects like thin branches, flowers, leaves can be woven through the frame. Last year we made an outdoor frame using twine and thinner branches, leaves and flowers.  We hung it in the forest to be enjoyed by our community. 

Tips
The first year can be expensive because you are stocking art supplies, re-purposing furniture, collecting small containers so it is important to use what is already available at little or no cost whenever possible. 

Prepare the atelier so that it is a well organized and independent centre so that the children can make their own decisions independent of an adult. Access at the beginning of the year should be limited. Only put out what the children know how to use and then gradually, as they are ready, add more resources.

Standard art tools like scissors, liquid glue, glue sticks, glue guns, paint brushes, pencils, crayons can be purchased your first year with the school supply monies collected from families.  Purchase the best quality that you can afford so that they have beautiful materials which will last over time.

Material storage is probably the cheapest acquisition. Initially I collected small recycled containers from family and friends and doubled them for strength, repurposed tin cans and glass jam/salmon jars which were easy for the children to carry. I also use muffin tins (donated) which are very practical and great for sorting the collage art materials. Rimmed cookie sheets are perfect for dumping and spreading out small materials like beads.

The Artelier has the potential to take up a lot of space in the classroom and often clean-up takes time. As you introduce new materials be explicit about clean up and expect to help.  Begin small and add introduce each centre slowly so the children are accustomed to using the materials and know how to clean up responsibly. If I had to guess I would say that 25% of my classroom space is the Mini-Artelier.

Next in this series 

5 Must Have Materials To Add To Your Mini-Artelier


If you missed other posts in this series please follow

 5 Steps To Setting Up A Mini-Atelier In Public School

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