As you begin your holiday shopping for your Little Artists this year, consider these gift suggestions that make learning fun while inspiring innovation and creativity!
Exploring Art & Design:
A fun way for little ones to begin to art exploration is with Ed Emberley’s Complete Funprint Drawing Book (paired with a colorful non-toxic ink pad). Using just fingerprints and a few simple lines, Ed Emberley shows aspiring young artists how to create a variety of cute animals, silly characters, fun vehicles and more. This step-by-step book is simple to follow and sparks creativity while providing hours of art-filled fun. This is a great introduction to developing early art skills for toddlers and preschoolers (with supervision, of course).
For preschoolers and elementary age children, Ed Emberley’s drawing book series uses simple shapes and lines to draw a variety of subjects. Each drawing is shown broken down into clear step-by-step instructions making this ideal for young artist to learn basic drawing techniques and gain confidence in their artistic ability. Books include the Drawing Book of Animals, the Drawing Book of Faces, and the Drawing Book of Trucks and Trains, plus many more.
For elementary age artists, upgrading the typical array of art supplies with a full, organized artist kit instantly provides a complete “studio” and keeps things (relatively) organized and compact. Price, quality and features vary greatly so there is something at every price point from the Value Art Set to the Deluxe Wood Art Set. Other sets include the Personalized Art Set, where the artist can “personalize the case” and the Trifold Easel Art Set, featuring a small pop-up easel within the case. A spiral bound sketch book is always a nice addition, too!
Beyond drawing, exploring three dimensional art sparks creativity while further developing fine motor and spacial skills. The Sculpey Clay Sampler paired with a step-by-step instructional booklet such as Modeling Clay Animals, provides an excellent introduction to sculpting with clay. Compared to air-dry clay, this clay stays relatively soft and workable until baked at a low temperature in the oven (by an adult, of course). For more advanced little sculptors, the Sculpey Clay Studio and Clay Charms Craft Kit provide hours of creative fun!
Knitting provides another approach to three dimensional art, without quite as much set-up or clean-up time. A wooden loom, is an easy introduction to the concept of knitting through weaving for preschoolers and young children. While relatively easy to do, weaving the yarn requires focus and fine motor coordination. For ages 8 and up, knitting kits, such as the French Kitting Owl Doll, include yarn and all required supplies to knit and complete a cute little stuffed animal.
Looking for a bit of artistic inspiration plus all the required art materials included? The book publishers, Klutz and Chicken Socks, have produced a variety of spiral bound books that include all the required art supplies ranging in topics from Fabulous Flowers and Petal People Fairies to Clothespin Cars and a Superhero Starter Kit!
Looking for a gift for a Little Artist that keeps on giving? How about a subscription to Doodle Crate? You can purchase a 3-month, 6-month or 12-month subscription where a new art project will be delivered to your little artist each month. Inspiration and all materials are provided to create a variety of artistic and innovative projects. This kit is best suited for ages 9 and up. For younger children, opt for the Koala Crate or Kiwi Crate (both mentioned in my Building & Tinkering post), blending art and science projects for ages 3 to 4, and 5-8 respectively.
There is no short supply of inspiring and clever art-themed books for children, both in fictional storybook format and reference guides. Here are a few of my personal favorites and recommendations for preschool through early elementary age students:
This boxed set features The Dot, Ish and Sky Color, three stories about the creative spirit and looking beyond the expected. All stress the importance of seeking self-expression rather than perfection in art – an encouraging message for young artists.
Not a Box starts with a cardboard box that transforms into so much more with the help of a vivid imagination. This fun story for young children can inspire creative play, especially if there is a cardboard box nearby!
In Dot, graphic design plays with perception, showing how we can see the same object (or dot) completely differently depending on surrounding composition and context.
In Perfect Square, a square is creatively transformed into a variety of beautiful images and scenes. Simple paper illustrations inspire thinking beyond the boundaries of the square and can provide inspiration for torn or cut paper art projects with preschool through elementary age children.
The Day the Crayons Quit is a humorous story about a set of crayons gone rogue. It is difficult to color when “Red is tired. Beige is bored. Black is misunderstood. Peach is naked!”
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! tells the poetic tale of a very creative kid who cannot resist painting his world with color, starting with the walls and ceiling, then moving on to painting himself.
Art & Max are friends who share an interest in painting. While Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. The beautiful illustrations take the reader through various artistic media as the two friends stumble through a series have unexpected and humorous artistic pitfalls.
13 Artists Children Should Know provides an excellent introduction for young readers to world-famous artists and their works. Each artist’s entry includes images of major art works and a concise biography presented in a way that appeals to young readers.
13 Art Techniques Children Should Know introduces young readers to a variety of art techniques, explained through some of the world’s most recognizable masterpieces. The book encourages young artists to incorporate these techniques in their own artwork.