Planning a Successful Art Center in Child Care

Art center materials

In order for children to create art, they need an inspiring space. The art center should look like an artist’s studio, filled with children’s art as well as that of well-known artists. The art center should allow children to feel creative as they explore materials to express themselves. The art center also allows children to make their own discoveries, either independently or together, and to feel confident in the choices they make.

Setting Up an Art Center in Your Classroom

The Art Center in Child Care


Girl using tempera paint

Art Supports Children’s Development

Painting, coloring, sculpting, drawing, and other forms of creative art are an important part of the child care curriculum. Creating art supports young children’s development across several different domains. Using art tools helps children develop small muscle coordination and control. Children can practice thinking skills by experimenting with color, texture, and design. Art gives children an opportunity to express their ideas and feelings, relieves tension, and provides limits for self-discipline. Art allows children to achieve and …

Ways Child Care Providers Can Encourage Children Who Don't Like Art

Crayon tips

Art is a favorite activity for most children in child care. However, a few children may be little hesitant to join in the fun. Some children don’t like the mess and don’t want to get dirty. Others may watch from the sidelines or avoid art altogether. Observing children closely will help you understand their reluctance to explore and experiment with art. The following ideas may be helpful as you work with children.

Children Who Avoid the Art Area

If given …

Ways Child Care Providers Can Support Children Who Have Trouble Getting Started with Creative Art

Child finger painting

Sometimes children in child care settings can have problems getting started in creative art experiences. They may not know what to make, want an adult to do a project for them, or copy another child’s work. Here are some suggestions to handle those situations.

Children Who Do Not Know What to Make

  • Situation: A child asks, “Teacher, what should I make?” You wonder how to respond.
  • Suggestion: Respond with, “Ray, that’s a good question. What should you make?” If the

The Development of Creative Art Abilities in 0- to 3-Year-Olds

Toddler art

During the first three years, young children develop their artistic skills by having fun experimenting and learning all the wonderful things they can do. Child care providers need to understand how children’s art abilities develop in order to plan effective art experiences for the child care program.

Art for 0 and 1 Year Olds

When babies engage in creative art, it is a whole body experience. They often are as interested in grasping, chewing, pounding and squishing as they are …

Praise Effort Instead of Product When Discussing Children's Art

Child's hand with paint brush

When young children are creating art, it’s important for child care providers to remember to praise effort instead of product. Praising the product is very tempting. It’s easy to say, “I love your beautiful painting!” without really thinking about the words. Unfortunately, there are several ways that your well-meaning praise can go wrong.

How Can Praise Be Negative?

Child care providers may praise children’s artwork to help increase their self-esteem. Unfortunately, children sometimes misinterpret teachers’ praise. Here are some common …

Making Creative Art Available to All Children in a Child Care Program

Art center materials

Creative art is an important part of the child care curriculum that helps children explore their feelings, practice creativity and problem solving, and develop fine motor skills. Creating art can foster a child’s feelings of self-esteem and success. Art is a great way for young children to improve motor skills and strengthen pathways of connections in the brain, which can help them succeed at academic skills later.

Child care providers need to be sure to make art available to all …

Ways Child Care Providers Can Support Children Who Are Critical of Their Own or Another’s Art

Crayon tips

A common dilemma child care providers face is children who are critical of their own or another child’s art. These children may dislike their own art, have unreasonable expectations or standards or criticize another child’s art. Children of all ages may be critical of their art, but older children are more interested in drawing realistically and may be most critical when their artwork does not turn out as planned. Here are some suggestions you might try when children criticize their …

Ways Child Care Providers Can Support Children Who Run into Problems Doing Art

Child's artwork

Children in child care settings can sometimes run into problems while they are doing creative art activities. They may finish early or want to work longer on their projects, they may get stuck in an artistic rut, or get frustrated because the activity is too simple or difficult for them. As a child care provider, here are some suggestions you might try if you run into this dilemma.

Children Who Finish Early or Late

  • Situation: Some children finish early while

Creative Art Helps Children Develop across Many Domains

Hand covered with colorful paint

Creative art activities can help children in all areas of development. Child care providers should plan creative activities with the child’s overall development in mind. Here are some ways that art activities can support young children’s development.

Physical Development

When child care providers offer art activities, they are supporting children’s large and small muscle development, as well as their eye-hand coordination. Using crayons, markers, and paintbrushes helps children practice the fine motor control they will need for writing later on.…