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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tips for Success in your Home School Art Program

Successful experiences in art require organization and thoughtful planning. With a few simple tricks, you can banish stress and ensure your child will have a great experience.

Dry erase boards are a wonderful addition to a home school classroom and are useful art tools. Ours are well used and can become stained after repeated use. In order to restore the boards back to white, I clean them once a month with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. These workhorses can even remove stubborn permanent marker stains.

One of the biggest challenges I have with art supplies is trying to keep the scissors together. A cheap and easy solution to this is to make a scissor holder. Using a gallon milk container, punch holes in the sides and place scissors in the holes with the points to the inside. Styrofoam egg cartons flipped upside-down also make great scissor holders. Carefully cut slits into each mound and place scissors with points to the inside.

When we buy certain types of art supplies, we buy in bulk—and that can spell disaster when trying to organize later. I have found that, when using pipe cleaners, things can go from organized to chaos in a snap. A simple solution is to reuse old metal popcorn tins (popular around the holidays.) Fill the inside with paper towel tubes stacked vertically inside. Sort your pipe cleaners by color in the tubes. You will save time finding the right colors and be able to see when you are running low. You can also use the tubes to store slips of colored paper, posters, and older artwork.

Markers are expensive so when they dry out, I try my best to save them. Try this tip before heading to the garbage pail the next time you find a marker that seems like it is at the end of its life,. Pour ½ inch of nail polish remover into a paper cup and let the tip soak for 30 seconds. Let dry for at least 30 minutes before using. The acetone in the remover restores moisture without diluting the color and draws the ink down to the tip.

My kids are always on the hunt for paper. In order to keep their creativity from being put on hold while we hunt for it, (and to ease the cost of buying new packs of paper), we have created a two-box system and load them with scrap paper. One is for recycled white paper and the other is for recycled construction paper. Whenever we do a school project and produce scraps, they are placed into one of the boxes for use later.

We make a lot of homemade clay and if it is not properly stored, it will dry out and be useless. Airtight coffee containers and plastic food containers keep the clay moist and always ready for use.

I have made countless paint containers from things like muffin tins and Styrofoam egg containers, but my favorite containers come from yogurt cups. These work well both inside and out because they are sturdy and not easily tipped over. The yogurt cups with lids are ideal because when the artwork is finished, you can snap on the lid and store for later.

Cotton-ball painting is more fun (and neater) when you clip spring-type clothespins to the cotton balls. Children can use the clothespins like handles. Clothespin painting can also be done with a wadded up paper towels, small sponge pieces, and even fabric. 
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