Hosting art play dates for kids is one of my favorite things to do. I literally can get high from watching kids create. I guess that’s why I’m an art teacher. Anyway, art play dates can be intimidating for some and rightfully so. Questions like what are we going to make? Who’s going to clean up the mess? Do I have the right materials? The right space? all come up. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be all that complicated. In fact, the most successful art play dates keep it simple and let the kids lead the way.
Just look at these little faces. They’re not so hard to please. Yeah right. If you want a full proof art activity that engages kids of all ages, I recommend making a coffee table mural. Coffee tables are the perfect height for kids to sit or stand around. (If you don’t have a kid friendly coffee table, a bench works really well too.) Cover the coffee table in entirety with butcher paper. You can get some here at Discount School Supply. Spread it across the table and tape the edges underneath. Masking tape will hold really well and come off the table easily. Place a container of art supplies on the table and you’re pretty much good to go.
It’s really nice to put out some interesting art materials along with the regulars, like crayons and markers. Paint dots are a favorite in our house, along with Kid Made Modern crazy crayons. If you want to go the extra mile you can also put out some washi tape, glue sticks and bits of tissue paper. We kept it simple and just used dots, crayons, markers and colored pencils. I like to choose materials that aren’t a big deal to clean up. If you are working outside, then you might want to use paint or Elmers glitter glue, but inside, I keep it simple and tidy. (I don’t think I’ve ever used the word tidy before. Nice.)
We had four girls over, ranging from age 14 months to 6 years old. Everyone was able to participate in creating. There was interaction, communication, problem solving, sharing, taking turns and lots of giggles. The girls had a blast.
I surprised the girls by turning their art into a garland, where everyone could take a piece home. This was really nice, especially for the eldest. I made sure to carefully cut out her important drawings and include them on the bit she took home. The garland was super easy to make. For real. I cut out triangles from the butcher paper while the girls were eating lunch. With scotch tape, I taped them on the back side to a ribbon. Done. No fuss. I hung it up while the girls were playing in the other room and they were delighted to come back and see their work hanging on the wall. They even agreed to do some modeling for me to show off their work.
In addition to the art table I also set up an invitation to play in one of my daughter’s rooms with magna tiles and a light table. It’s okay for everything not to be art related and it’s fun to mix things up and get the kids moving from space to space. You could set up blocks, puzzles, a fort making area, whatever seems fun for the group and is open ended. Remember, keep it simple and everyone will have a great time!