Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: Art Lab For Little Kids by Susan Schwake

 Art Lab for Little Kids by Susan Schwake is a great resource for home schooling parents who are looking for art book they can use to explore age appropriate art techniques for their preschool aged children.

·      The 52 Labs from Art Lab for Little Kids (Lab Series) are created to stand-alone and are accessible by readers of all ages who work with young children.  This is a technique-based book that offers 52 opportunities to learn different techniques using a variety of materials. Because of this, parents don’t have to worry about their children being exposed to age inappropriate material or nudity. If you go to Amazon, you can see the table of contents for this book.

    Also, even if you don’t have an art background this book is great for parents who want to encourage their young children to explores different areas in art like: collage, drawing, mixed media, painting, paper art, pastels, and even print making.   The book has great photos of what the finished projects might look like (see above), the emphasis being on each child creating their own masterpiece rather than reproducing the author’s work.  Since the author wants to inspire creativity, there are enough step-by-step photo to get an idea of the process without going to the extreme like you might find other craft books.  Each lab gives some background information on the artist who inspired the lab. 

    This is a wonderful way to inspire creativity in young children and encourage them to express themselves through art. Once the lab is mastered, you can work beyond it. 
        It is also a wonderful way to incorporate recycling with kid friendly crafting projects.  My daughter wanted to find a way to use up some of the brown paper bags we get when we go the farmers market.  The bags vary in size but they are all blank. She also wanted to create a project she could do with a four year old she babysits.  
        We took ideas and inspirations from Lab 44 (Torn paper collage) and combined it with Lab 43 (Sewing Cards) and Lab 32 (Fabric Collage) to create a "Father's Day" gift bag from a recycled brown bag.  These labs gave her inspiration to combine color, lines, patterns and squares for her project. Then she reviewed some of the basic techniques for coloring so she could come up with her project using the materials she had on hand which were markers. 
        The book helped her figure out how to create the project and how to teach it to a young child.  The author makes it easy to importance of keeping projects simple and manageable when working with young children.

   Recycled Brown Bag Father's Day Gift Bag project:
   Supplies needed:
   Brown Bag (we used bags from the Farmers Market)
   Paint or markers
   Hole Punch
I  Iron
    Step 1: Iron out the brown bag to remove creases.
    Step 2: Plan out your design and color it in with paints or markers. She choose to add some patterning on top of the colors to make it look more interesting for the 4 year old.

    Step 4: Help the child write "Dad" or personalize it with a name. I find teaching round letters is easier for little ones to learn.  Don't be tempted to personalize it for them.  Let them practice their writing skills.
    Step 5: Punch holes into the top of the bag so there are holes to weave in the ribbon. Once the gift is in the bag, just help the child weave the ribbon into the bag.  Depending on the age of the child, you may want tie it off with a decoration or take this opportunity to practice tying a simple bow.

    This book has a large selection of ideas and projects that are easy to follow. It also offers an accessible list of materials that are easy to find and affordable.  The author provides hints on how to make it easier for parents to be more organized when doing art projects and minimize potential accidents.  I like the fact that the author does not talk down to the reader, like other books do. She also offers some great additional ideas for the parent to try beyond the projects in the book. 


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