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Developing a Creative Arts Program that Helps Children Grow
By Anna Reyner, MA

How do you develop a good program? How can you improve an already-creative program? Here are 10 simple steps to get your arts program off the ground and flying high.


1.       Offer lots of variety. Different materials teach different skills. Offer a wide range of materials including paints, clays, collage, crafts, woodwork, and any and all art materials you can find or purchase. Change the types of materials often. Offer both art projects and craft projects. Separate ARTS from CRAFTS and know the difference.


2.       Develop an Enrichment Vocabulary and Use It. When parents comment on the arts and crafts their children make with you, speak to the parents about what their child LEARNED while making the craft. Use words that show you know about the educational value of arts and crafts – and help parents learn these concepts, too.


3.       Fix Up Your Art Area. Make the room or area look creative and inspiring.


4.       Call Your Art Area Something “Jazzy.” A name with PIZAZZ and SPIRIT will let children and parents know how fun and educational arts and crafts can be. “Arts and crafts” sounds static, not dynamic or exciting. Create a new “image” for your facility’s art program by inventing a new name for your art area. Put up a big sign with lots of wild colors and imagination to it—and promote your new “image” by having fun with it. Here are some starter ideas for names:


·        Creation Station

·        The Creativity Zone

·        Imagination Arts

·        “Make-It-Fun” Activity Center

·        Center for Arts & Discovery

·        Imagination Exploration Zone


5.       Train Your Staff on the Value of Arts and Crafts. And give them handouts. Make creativity handouts required reading. Encourage staff to select a creative arts activity, which they either invent or select from a resource book—and present that craft to others at the staff meeting. Discuss arts and crafts when you interview recreation leaders or child care staff.


6.       Show Off the Children's Work. Display kids art on the walls, in display cases, or anywhere you can.


7.       Dedicate a Bulletin Board to Creativity. Collect magazine articles on creative arts and crafts ideas—and the value of creativity—and post them near your art area for kids, parents, and staff to see. Encourage everyone to add new articles to this board.


8.       Do a Regular Inventory of Your Arts and Crafts Supplies. Have this on someone’s job description. Restock arts and crafts supplies monthly or quarterly. Plan ahead. Order lost of variety in your supplies.


9.       Let Staff Know that Arts and Crafts are a Vital Part of Their Job. Encourage staff to put active energy into craft sessions and take an active approach to working with kids. Let them know it’s an important part of their job to inspire creativity in the art room. Stay organized. Plan art projects ahead of time. Keep a file on ideas that worked well. Find a creative way to reward staff for their creativity.


10.    Share Your Own Enthusiasm in the Art Room. Put on music, sing, create, and work with art supplies along with the children. Have fun. Be a role model, and you’ll spark creativity in others.


Anna Reyner, M.A., is a dynamic creative arts instructor who is known for motivating people to get excited about their own creativity. She has presented workshops and keynotes on art therapy and imagination arts at more than 200 state, national, and international conferences.