This one, however, checks into every type of age, from toddler to adolescent.
A special one for toddlers and above
Wonder Art Workshop: Creative Child-Led Experiences for Nurturing Imagination, Curiosity, and a Love of Learning by Sally Haughey
Sally Haughey has produced a really passionate book. By reflecting first and above on what interests, sparks curiosity and engages children, she has a fascinating proposal for small groups of children. I say this, because the stunning images and beautiful presentation are more appropriate for home based activities, or art workshops. I feel a bit intimidated by this type of experiences on a wider set like a school environment. It may just be me, though.
The 25 activities reflect on several experiences, including Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Montessori. The most important reflection, though, is not about the art, but about the experience: collecting materials, preparing a space, and nurturing the process while allowing children to make independent choices.
Sensory based activities are the norm: unscented homemade play dough, mortar pestles to mix paint, bits and odds from nature, mechanical parts; everything can be channeled into an experience of wonderment and discovery.
I think open-ended play is something we feel we have lost. Potion trays, mud, nature discovery… do kids these days have really forgotten about this? Is really electronic time with tablets and videogames more alluring? There is another book we covered on the site, Mud Kitchen in a Day, that explores the same feeling we have as parents.
The ability to experiment, to mix colors, to make stuff fizz and to imagine and create their own characters, structures, and landscapes… Sally Haughey has really thought hard about this.
Also, I really want to get a hold on non-toxic heavy matte gel medium, it seems the possibilities are endless.
She is the founder and CEO of Fairy Dust Teaching, her aim is to help teachers through professional development with a focus on child-centered education. The Wonder-Based Teaching Start-Up Guide is another great book of hers. She just hosted her Winter Conference this February 15th.
Format: Paperback / softback, 160 Pages
A Craft Book for Boys ages 6 and up
Boycraft: Loads of Things to Make for and With Boys (and Girls) by Sara Duchars and Sarah Marks
This book is specifically aimed at a necessity most mothers of boys will understand: several craft books out there are covered in pink and glitter. This depicting of art and craft as girls’ territory instantly put some kids off making stuff with their hands. In this sense, the 50 projects and the kids portrayed on the book, having a blast, are really inspirational.
The ideas are pretty cool; I specially loved the Egyptian mummies made out of recycled bottles. The knitting and stitching of sock monkeys, funny hats and beards, the creation of small cars, and all the Halloween monstrous crafts are really spot on.
The only think I felt this book was missing was correct cutout templates. Most of the directions are hand drawn, and some are easier to follow than others.
The authors have funded a UK based website, Buttonbag, that offers craft kits of different nature, such as jewelry, peg dolls and re-crafts.
Format: Paperback / softback, 128 Pages
A book for tweens and up
Paint Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Painting and Mixed Media for Budding Artists of All Ages by Stephanie Corfee
This is a very good resource book. If you have a bit of experience exploring diverse methods of painting, like watercolor resist or water soluble drawing tools, the first part will seem pretty straight forward.
However, the ideas based labs, color based labs, mixed-media labs and inspirational labs will grow gradually more complex. That is interesting because you can choose each of the 52 proposed labs based on either your ability; desire to explore an idea and availability of resources.
There are two more sections on each lab, one depicting an inspirational artist who practices a technique similar to the one proposed in the lab, and a suggestion for “stepping down” the project and thus incorporate the younger members of the family into the play.
As this is a Paint Lab Book, be prepared for messiness. Of course, many families do not want to engage in painting activities because of this fear. Luckily, a few basic ideas to maintain your surfaces clean are available at the beginning of the book, and they are not necessarily fancy. A plastic mat, some newspapers and an old T-shirt will work wonders.
I also agree with Stephanie on the emphasis given on cleaning and caring for your tools, once you teach a child how to rinse, store and protect their materials, they will last a very long time.
Stephanie also offers tutorials, downloads, and online workshops on her website/blog.
Format: Paperback / softback, 144 Pages
Illustrations: 200 color photos
A book for the teenage artists in your home
Anywhere, Anytime Art: Gouache. An artist’s guide to painting with gouache on the go! by Agathe Singer
Gouache is also known as poster paint. It is a bit more sophisticated than tempera paint, and a bit less shiny as acrylic paint. However, it’s much more forgiving. I’ve been intending to give it a try since last summer, when I took an online art workshop provided by Deep Space Sparkle.
There, Britt Curley showed us that gouache can be reconstituted with a bit of water, unlike acrylic. It’s a bit more opaque and can receive various shades of color, therefore, it’s easier to “fix”. And believe me when I tell you every teenager is a budding perfectionist.
Singer is a very confident artist. She doesn’t present a single photo for her proposed projects. She has drawn all the materials and subjects herself. From the tools and materials, to the techniques, and color theory, her style is utterly visual.
As for the proposed subjects, they are available almost anywhere, including plants, flowers, cats, and various patterns.
For the artist that is willing to begin an artistic journal and try out a new medium, this book is ideal.
Agathe Singer is a freelance illustrator based in Paris, France. Working in gouache and watercolor, she paints flora and fauna full of color, imprinting them all with her unique style. She has a website full of magnificent illustrations.
Format: Paperback / softback, 128 Pages
Disclosure: These books where provided to me for review purposes, but all opinions remain my own.