Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Free Art Play: Construction Paper Tree

Do you ever let your children just explore with materials without an intended outcome? I hope so. Even as an Elementary Art teacher I would give my students free roam of the "scrap box" and let them create what they wanted....boy did they love that!  Often we are pressured as Art Teachers (and Bloggers) to always have a beautifully finished product to showcase.  Tell me the truth.  As readers,  don't you expect a project in my posts?

In this post I did not have a project for C to do.  I just caught her in the act of creating her own little project.  She always has access to construction paper, tape, markers, crayons, glue, and who knows what else.  Here is her amazing Tree that she created with construction paper, tape, scissors, and markers. What do you think?

Here are the simple supplies she was using.  I absolutely LOVE construction paper.  My Mom always had a huge stack of it around and even as an Art Teacher I couldn't get enough of it.  It was so difficult for me to throw away any scraps too.

C in action.

She must have been occupied for at least 45 minutes or more.

The tree once again.  She told me there was a bird on top and on each side too.

Not too long after the tree C was on a roll creating these panda bears.  She had taught herself how to draw a panda from a drawing book and decided to create them in construction paper.  I love them.

I sure hope that you encourage your children to create independently.  This is where children truly get creative.  I have found when you keep presenting children with so called "projects" some children lose interest.  Even my daughter from time to time will tell me she is not interested in doing what I'm presenting her.  I want to present beautiful ideas on my blog and sometimes I need to remind myself of the value of free play with art materials too.  I hope I have convinced you of that too.

What Independent Art Projects Have Your Children Been Working On? (Please Share)

Would You Like To See More Ideas Like This On The Blog?

My absolute favorite construction paper : Tru-Ray Sulphite Construction Paper Why: it keeps it color longer, doesn't tear so easily and has vibrant colors.


  1. I like the free form art ideas! And I just put that construction paper in my cart at Amazon!

  2. I love the pandas, so creative! My 4 year old is big time into drawing right now, I love seeing the different things she comes up with :)

    1. Thanks Aleacia. Your 4 year old has had some really amazing work.

  3. It's such a great idea to let kids just go with their materials unsupervised. Not just for the kids, but for the parents, too. I love having my alone time and I know my daughter loves having her alone time, too. She's probably glad I'm not hovering :-) Here's one day when I set her free with some pom poms, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and paper: http://theoutlawmom.com/2011/10/13/toddler-thursday-free-play-fun/

    1. Thanks for sharing Chrissy. So true, unstructured time gives parents and teachers a break, but it is such valuable time to develop a child's creativity too!

  4. I love this post, and I think your daughter's free form art projects are beautiful! Do you have suggestions for how to encourage your kids to be creative like that? My daughter is 3 1/2, and she always wants me to show her what to do. Even when I lay materials out and leave her alone, she tends to imitate projects we've done in the past rather than come up with something new. Oh, and are there kind of tape that are easier for little ones to use themselves? (She can't get scotch tape off the roll herself yet.)

    1. Thanks Marcie. You could always begin a project with her and just leave her alone to see what she will come with. Little by little leave her alone and then she will become more confident to do something on her own. Show her a few different outcomes of the same project to illustrate something doesn't have to be done one way. You can always just show techniques os painting/sculpture/and so on and tell her that you want her to use some of these ideas to create something.

      If she just imitates what you do that is okay and let her keep repeating that and maybe she will come up with her own ideas. It takes practice to be creative. Just like practicing writing, dancing, swimming we learn the skills first and then we can be more creative when we feel more comfortable. She may be more creative with blocks, legos, playing with dolls, etc and that can develop her creativity too.

      Also, for the tape buy a standing tape dispenser like this and it will makes things much easier:

  5. Melissa,
    I love Cassie's tree - it is wonderfully creative.
    Those pandas definitely look like pandas - although more colourful! :)
    We have been developing an art room, and since then our children are creating lots of interesting art and 3D structures with toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, and small plastic yogourt drink containers, and glue and LOTS of tape.And sometimes it might not look like much to an adult, but they are experiencing lots of fun and pride in their work.
    Of course we'll still do art projects as well - we did do spin art using a salad spinner, today and I think their favourite part was spinning the handle.
    I enjoy seeing what ever you choose to post here - it's always interesting.

  6. I love seeing free form creations like this that reflect a child personality and style. Anna has access to art materials just like C, but rarely she has enough motivation to whip them up, at least not at home. She does bring a lot of stick puppets, drawings and occasional collages from her afterschool program, and I am always amused to see what she creates there.