Z688.A7 → Developing Art Programs for Children - An Annotated List of Awesome Resources

Since the success of my Matisse collage program over March Break, I have been asked to plan and organize a similar series of art programs for the upcoming summer months. And so now a lot of my time - well, at least some of the time not spent providing toddlers with storytime - has been devoted to dreaming up theme ideas.

I've been scouring the internet and the library's own well-populated bookshelves for helpful resources in my quest. One thing I know for sure: there is a lot of stuff out there, and I've only scratched the surface of quality resources. Obviously, your mileage may vary in terms of the usefulness of these resources, but I've found them incredibly helpful in order to further my own ideas and plans regarding an art program for kids.


An eye for art: focusing on great artists and their work. This book focused a lot on the artists themselves - I found it helpful when needing a bit of background information or when determining what works of art to use as examples to show the children. It's also good for considering what kind of questions to ask about an artist's work - for example, focusing on what the observer feels when looking at a J.M.W. Turner piece.

Forman, Deborah. Paint lab. This book had some spectacular ideas on how to use paint to create specialized projects. While some ideas are a little out of range for a library program, there were certainly more than a few that inspired further thoughts of adaptations.

Pitamic, Maja. Art in action. This book, like others in this list, provides many different project ideas that children of varying ages can complete. What I liked about this resource was its relation of the projects back to art history - specific artists or movements, or even materials and techniques. I appreciated the little bits of background information that was presented here that spelled out such connections, so children can learn about the history of why or how something was done a particular way.

Schwake, Susan. Art lab for kids. This book is in the same series as Forman's above, though this is specifically targeted at children and aims to use a multitude of media. As was the case with Paint Lab, the projects in this book weren't always do-able for library resource reasons (though your mileage may, of course, vary). Adaptations are a must, and I'm already contemplating how to incorporate string painting into a Jackson Pollock themed art session.


Art Choo! This has been such a wonderful discovery, and is probably my favourite resource on this list. Jeanette Nyberg is a mother and general art lover with a background in art. I love the sheer variety of ideas provided on this blog - and I particularly appreciate the organization into the intended age group for each project. While some of these projects can't be accomplished at the library due to available resources (see her Chihuly cups needing an oven. Drat!), I do love just looking to get ideas. Her Importance of Art Education post is a must-read.

Art for Small Hands. This was an interesting find for me - while the projects are great to see, the main reason I'm linking is for the "foundational principles" found on the right sidebar for adults teaching children art. I only somewhat regret not adhering to principle #2 ("never start with a pre-cut shape") for my own art project. A small note: the blog hasn't been updated since September 2013, but the archives are still fun to explore.

Deep Space Sparkle. This website is run by a public elementary school teacher, and provides a combination of free and premium (i.e. paid) content for lesson plans. This was fine for me, as I wasn't purchasing anything but rather just using the posts for inspiration on how to tackle, say, a specific artist's work. For example, while the lesson plan is available paid-only, I still found this post on van Gogh's Starry Night multi-media project helpful as it's helped sparked my own project ideas.

Incredible Art. This is a great teaching resource - it provides great categorization of subject matter, so you can search art lessons by age group, time period, medium, subject matter, and more.

Kinder Art. Similar to Incredible Art, this site allows for searching by audience age, art disciplines, and other categories.

So, what kind of resources do you go to when you're looking for art program inspiration?

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