Outside Art Adventures Spark Summertime Learning

Take creativity outdoors to build critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills!

Make the most of summertime by bringing art outdoors. An outdoor art center during the warm months offers a variety of developmental opportunities. Plus, it’s an easy way to change up creativity time – simply take art supplies into the sunshine or use nature itself as a material!

A mobile art center makes outdoor creativity easy for you!

Make your art center mobile by loading a wagon with art materials your children can move to different areas of their outdoor play space. They will find many inspirations in all the different areas of the playground. Think about what materials you can leave outdoors for self-selected activities. Crayons, paints, paintbrushes, and paper of all varieties can be left outdoors in a plastic tub with a snug fit lid.

Activate the great outdoors for process-focused art experiences.

We know that process-focused art creation helps learners make plans, explore techniques, see cause and effect, and make intriguing art pieces – and outside time is a perfect time to create intentional, developmental art experiences. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Transform a fence into an easel: Tape up large sheets of paper to a fence or simply paint with water! Provide a variety of sizes of paintbrushes to explore size. Brooms are surprisingly excellent paintbrushes and build large muscles as children make big strokes.
  • Explore texture with tree trunks and concrete patios: Use peeled crayons and paper to create a variety of texture rubbings using these outdoor surfaces. Hang paper on tree trunks for rubbing and lay paper on the patio for rubbing. Work with children to identify other surfaces to create highly textured art.
  • Introduce new materials with sandpaper and wood blocks: Draw with crayons on different grades of sandpaper. Describe the differences in the texture and look of the art. Then, use the colored sandpaper to sand a block of wood. Then, invite children to reflect on their work: “How did the picture change on the sand paper after you sanded the board?” and “Describe to me what happened to the color as you sanded the wood.”
  • Mix up water and chalk on a concrete patio: Have children create chalk art. Then give them spray bottles to add water to their images. Help them think about cause and effect by asking, “How did the picture change?” and “Why did the picture change?”
  • Change their point of view with magnifying glasses: Add this science tool to explore art subjects and artwork. Invite them to look closely at grass, plants, bugs and more to get the best details to share in their work. You can also use magnifying glasses to look closely at artwork!
Talk about art & display children’s observations in an art gallery!

Like all learning activities, chatting with children about their art provide great reflection opportunities. Looking at art gives you a chance to interview the tiny artists with some simple prompts and questions. When you ask your young artists about their art work, they can expand their vocabulary and language skills as they describe their process to you. Some useful conversation-starters include: “Tell me about the color you chose for your painting,” “What did you use to make those designs?” and “How do you want to display your work to share with your family and friends?” Record the questions and the artists’ responses on index cards. Make their insights available for family and friends by displaying the work and their reflections in an art gallery.

Art learning boosts skills they will use in school and life!

Here are some ways creativity supports development for success in school:

  • Critical thinking skills: By analyzing objects in a variety of ways children learn to see things from many perspectives. They begin to realize there are multiple opportunities to use materials in various ways.
  • Problem solving skills: Children can develop plans to answer questions they have about all the things they experience and see around them. Developing and imagining a plan and staying engaged to follow through is an important skill needed for school success.
  • Communication skills: Young children need opportunities to master the skill of communicating ideas and explain their thinking. Building off other’s ideas and elaborate on their own ideas and finding ways to communicate to others is the beginning of working collaboratively to achieve a common goal.