hello studio 356!

studio-356-logoWe are thrilled to announce the addition of Studio 356 to The Messy Artist studios. This expansion will allow us to offer a special program of fine art classes for older children and adults through Studio 356, while continuing our commitment to early childhood art education in The Messy Artist.Untitled-1-1024x525The Messy Artist was created by Donna Bernstein, an early childhood educator. She conceived of a place like The Messy Artist in 1999 after having searched for toddler classes that would introduce her son Corey (4), to the joys of creative art play. She didn’t find such a class. Undeterred, she started her own unique art classes, first held in a church, and from there to dedicated quarters in South Orange, where classes were geared for children 18 months – 6 years.

Donna Bernstein

Donna Bernstein

Over the years, families began requesting higher level fine art classes. As that demand grew, The Messy Artist realized the need for staffing with a fine art background. Viviana, who had been with The Messy Artist since 2006, took on her current position as director of fine arts right after their move to East Hanover in 2012.

Viviana, Director of the Fine Arts Program

Viviana, Director of the Fine Arts Program

After relocating and having room to expand, it was time for “the little kid” art studio to grow up a bit. To begin the metamorphosis, The Messy Artist brought Anthony and Jessica aboard. Both employees have a bachelor’s degree in art education.





Two years later, The Messy Artist is pleased to debut its new home for fine art, Studio 356. It is the culmination of all of our artistic and educational expertise. We are proud to expose young minds to the endless possibilities of fine art, and to assist them in refining their craft.

messy artist art class for children batiks best art classes and parties north jersey morris county nj messy artist art classes for kids summer art camp for kids new jersey ? and YugiStudio 356 offers the following for older children and adults in our East Hanover Studios.

5yrs-up-1024x111 adult-art-classes-1024x111 afi-1024x111 adult-workshops-1024x111 corporate-events-1024x111


Please visit our website or stop by our studios if you would like more information about Studio 356.


hello autumn leaf symmetry project!

art class camp and party new jerseyThis is a bright and fun project that never fails to intrigue the students. The children love the magic of the process, and we love that we can teach them about symmetry and color mixing in a memorable way. It also ties in the way the leaves around us are changing this time of year.  Click here to download a PDF of Autumn Leaf Symmetry Project

Age Level: 2 ½ – 4 years

To teach the kids about symmetry
To teach the kids about color mixing
To relate the project to what is happening in nature

Construction paper
Tempera paints
Small plastic (condiment size) cups
Plastic lids from takeout containers
Small wooden craft sticks
Small labels

Teacher Preparation:

  • Prepare construction paper for leaf shapes. First fold each piece in half, and then cut the leaf shape. It is important to do it in this order so that the leaves are symmetrical, with the sides of the leaf matching up when folding them. We use a template to ensure the same shape each time.
  • Place 3 colors of paints (that when mixed together will create brown) into small condiment cups. We use colors that make brown since the leaves are turning brown too. We used red, orange and green.
  • Arrange a set one of each color into a larger plastic container for ease of carrying and use by the students.process oriented art for children
  • Depending on the size of the class, we have one for every student or one for every two students.best art classes for kids north new jersey
  • Write children’s names on labels that will go on back of project.       Remember to prepare more than one if each child will be doing more than one leaf. You can also put the labels on the back of the papers beforehand and just make sure to distribute the leaf shapes to the appropriate child.the messy artist art studio for kids nj


  • Show the children an example of the project and explain that they will be making this kind of painting with sticks – and a special trick!
  • Demonstrate using the craft stick to get paint from the container and then tap, tap, tapping it onto the paper. Encourage the students to use a lot of paint: the more the better for blending the colors together.
  • Fold the paper in half. Rub the paper while saying “magic words” (abracadabra, shazam, etc) and then open it to reveal the symmetrical painting. Point out how some colors may have mixed together and how their leaf painting is symmetrical (the same on each side).autumn art project with children
  • Distribute leaf paper and sets of paint with sticks.
  • Remind children to use the sticks to tap paint onto their leaves.fall leaf art project
  • Caregivers may need to help with the rubbing and folding.fine art class new jersey
  • Students can add more paint and then refold and rub the leaves again.symmetry art project preschool

Do you have any favorite fall-themed projects? Please let us know!

hello tongs!

childrens art new jerseySometimes we come across something that we think is so wonderful that we just want to share it, and can’t wait to incorporate it into our curriculum. These tongs are an example of this.

art studio for kids njWe love using tongs with our young students; they intrigue them, many having never encountered them before. Their size is just perfect for little hands, and the fun colors are appealing to the children. They also are sturdy, which is important. At one point we introduced a set of plastic tongs to use in class one day. However, the children discovered they were also fun to “snap”, and by the end of the day all our tongs were broken!

fine art class for toddlers tweens and teens njWe had been on the hunt for new tongs for a while, and Donna, our CEO was very excited when she found these at Home Goods. As she has learned through experience, it’s always best to buy many more than you need, for when things break or wear out. Often times it is impossible to find the same item again, so we try to get as many as possible and store them or future use. So yes, Donna purchased all the tongs available when she found these.

the messy artist art studio for kidsAs they work to master the tongs, the students are getting a great workout. They are using fine motor control with their hands, and also having to carefully figure out the amount of pressure to use. For example, when they are using tongs with gelatin, they must find the balance between enough pressure to pick up the gelatin and not too much, or else they will smash it.

tongs as art tool for kidsPicking up squishy balls in our sensory box is much easier for younger students, yet still offers a challenge. These students worked together for 45 minutes, showing great coordination and cooperation as they decided which color balls should go where, and how to do it. They used the tongs to move them to the desired areas, sometimes with an intermediary stop of a bucket.best art class for kids morris county nj sensory play for childrentongs in sensory play for children

Do you use tongs in your classroom? How about any other kitchen implements? Let us know!

hello new blanket! or, ode to an old blanket

In classes for our youngest students, we wind up each day’s session with a story, often thematically related to what we have done in class that day. The kids all sit on our story time blanket to listen, a happy spot to change gears after making art, and enjoy a picture book read to them by our staff. We also use the blanket in our Storybook Art class, where we read a book each week and then create art inspired by it.

story time for childrenLast week Donna, our CEO, bought a new colorful blanket. Our old blanket, though still clean and cheerful, was retired. We took a moment to reflect on our simple blanket that had been with us since our second South Orange studio, up the hill and behind a famous local deli.

For 7 years the blanket was with us every day, offering a cozy spot for all our students to sit while they listened, sometimes snuggling on a caregiver’s lap. Before the old blanket – a quilt really – we used to do story time on the ground.

At one point, Donna, our CEO and founder, started thinking about ways to make story time even better, and remembers, “Like everything we do, we think long and hard about just the right way to do things and the right materials to use. When I decided to use a blanket for story time, I wanted a quilt. It just seemed right.  It had to be just the right quilt, with bright fun colors, and also large enough to seat 10-14 children. Most quilts with a child’s design are for cribs or twin beds, and it was hard to find.” When she stumbled across our first quilt at Marshall’s, she knew immediately it was what she had been seeking.

the messy artist art studio for kids story
We have now been in our new studio in East Hanover for over 2 years. The trusty blanket made the move with us, a landing place for toddlers and other youngsters every day. Thousands of children have had countless joyful moments on our story time blanket. It is incredibly heartwarming to think back on people and things that have been with us for so long. So, thank you, old blanket, for being our loyal companion for so long, and inspiring us to remember what a wonderful journey we are on, teaching art and so much more to so many young students.

So now, it is time for a new blanket, just as comfy and bright as the old one. We look forward to all the new children to come along and grace our blanket with their open minds, big hearts and shining faces. The journey continues…..art classes and story time for children nj art class parties and camp story time for kids

hello autumn tree painting collage!

and….happy Halloween!

art class for toddler elementary school kids new jersey

This project lets the students put together skills they have been working on all session. It combines finger painting, cutting and gluing. This multi-step project works well with our class design; the children participate in station play for the first part of the class, where they complete the initial step of the project. Later, they all join together and finish the rest as a group. Click here for a PDF Autumn Tree Painting Collage.

Age level: 3-5 years


  • Following sequential directions.
  • Learning about color mixing and the color brown.
  • Developing cutting and gluing skills.


  • Finger paint (orange and blue)
  • Trays
  • Texture tools
  • Cardstock
  • 18” x 24” paper or cardstock
  • white glue in squeeze bottles
  • patterned paper
  • scissorsbest art class for children north nj

Teacher Prep:

  • Cut out tree shapes from cardstock, one per child
  • Cut patterned paper into ½” strips
  • Write each child’s name on a sticker that will go on the back of the cardstock tree

Cutting skills:  This class is often our 3-5 year olds’ first experiences with using scissors, a difficult skill to master, especially for this age group.  We do a few things to make this introduction successful for children who otherwise would not be ready for it.

  • We have two different types of easy to use scissors.  One set has a simple loop instead of finger holes; the others are the traditional type.  We start out giving the kids the traditional style, then offer the loop style if they are having difficulty.images-1
  • We prepare the paper for them to cut by creating ½ “ strips. This offers them a very small area to cut, much simpler than a larger area.
  • We offer lots of instruction to the caregivers who are helping out, giving them ways to aid the students.   For this project, we remind them “thumbs up” while holding the scissors, and encourage the adults to hold the paper strips for the children to give them one less thing to coordinate.

Note: It is helpful to have a co-teacher or assistant for this project as there is one step that adults do for the children


First phase:

  1. We usually do this during free-range station play, and put out trays with orange and blue finger paint.
  2. We encourage the children to mix the colors together with their hands until they get brown.the messy artist fine art classes for kids
  3. At that point, we give them the pre-cut tree trunk cut from cardstock and a texture tool. They finger paint the tree and can add texture with the tool – or their fingers – if they like.autumn kids art project
  4. Make sure to add their name sticker to the back so you know whose painting is whose.

Phase 2:

  1. Set the trees aside to dry; it doesn’t take very long.
  2. Have an adult glue each dried tree trunk onto an 18” x 24” piece of paper or cardstock with white glue.
  3. Write child’s name on front of paper.collage for kids art project 3 year old

Phase 3:

  1. The instructor should go over a brief cutting lesson as they demonstrate cutting the patterned strips into small pieces.
    1. We like to say “thumbs up” to remind the children which way to put their fingers into the holes.
  2. Pass out the scissors and the patterned paper strips.
  3. Asking the caregivers to hold the strips for the children can make it easier for them.morris county new jersey kids art classes art classes party and camp for children new jersey
  4. Once the children have cut up a few strips and have a pile of smaller pieces, hand out their trees and a glue bottle.
  5. Show them how to dab on a dot of glue and then place a square into it.the messy artist and art studio for kids
  6. It’s good to have some extra squares on hand in case a child is having difficulty cutting enough squares in the time allotted. They can the use some of these when it is time to glue.
  7. Let them add the squares to their project so that they look like leaves falling from their tree.new jersey best kids art class
  8. You may want to turn the paper around for the kids to reach more easily.
  9. These take some time to dry and go home the next class session.cutting project for 3-5 year olds

What are your favorite fall projects? We’d love to hear about them!





hello October events!

We’ve got lots of events coming up that we want to share with you. So fasten your seatbelts, here we go!

  • Book Drive. For the second year in a row we are partnering with Bridge of Books to collect new and gently used children’s books. Our book drive started at the beginning of October and is going until the end of the month.  Please come on by and drop off any donations in our lobby. Last year we were able to deliver over 400 books thanks to your generosity and we hope to do the same this year!
Student helpers who volunteered to help us sort books last year

Student helpers who volunteered to help us sort books last year

the messy artist art classes for kids

  • Pumpkin Carving at Field Station: Dinosaurs in Secaucus.   field station logoThis Saturday and Sunday (October 25 and 26), we are bringing one of our favorite activities – pumpkin carving – to a super fun place: Field Station: Dinosaurs. Staff from The Messy Artist will be on hand in a special event to help visitors unleash their creativity at Field Station: Dinosaurs from 11am-3pm each day. The carving workshop is free with admission to Field Station: Dinosaurs.Pumpkin Carvingpumkin carving art class for kids

You can bring you own pumpkin, or buy one there from Field Station: Dinosaurs.

And we have a special treat (no tricks!): 20% off your admission either day! Click this link to get the coupon to print out or show on your phone to get the discount: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/20–off-admission–Pumpkin-Carving-at-Field-Station–Dinosaurs-with-The-Messy-Artist-.html?soid=1116109131156&aid=wTDDkV8utIg


  • Halloween Bash!halloween party for kids nj

Join us for Messy Artist Fun with a Halloween Twist! We’ll decorate a trick-or-treat bag, play with slimy spaghetti, paint with fall colors – and more – at our Halloween Bashes on Halloween weekend. Great for siblings.

  • Spook-tacular Halloween Bash!
  • Friday October 31 and Saturday November 1, 2013
  • 10 am – 12 noon
  • 1.5 – 6 year olds with caregiver
  • $35 per child/$30 per sibling
  • (no costumes needed– we’re getting messy!)halloween MA logo


  • Mini camp for NJ Teacher Conference Days: Thursday Nov 6 and Friday November 7.october art events
  •  Thursday 11/6 and Friday 11/7
  • 9:30 – 11:30 am
  • $40 per child/$35 per sibling or additional day
  • (additional lunch add-on available for $10 (11:30 – 12:30)
  • 3-5 years/1st-2nd grade
  • drop off
  • Registration required.
  • https://www.formstack.com/forms/themessyartist-minicamp

For our 3 – 5 year old mini-camp, we’ll start out with some exploratory station play. Children are free to roam from station to station whenever they wish. The sensory box, easels, play dough, and a messy activity will all be available for your child to sample throughout the first part of the day. We’ll break for a light snack and a story, and then continue on with a spectacular fine art project. Teachers will give a short lesson, and then guide the children in creating a work of art they’ll be proud to bring home.

art camp for kids north jerseyFor our 1st – 2nd grade mini camp, students will immerse themselves in a multi-step, teacher directed project. We’ll discuss an artist, an art concept, or explore a new medium, all while working hard to create a one-of-a-kind mini masterpiece. We’ll also pause midway to have a snack.

Kids in both age groups are welcome to sign up for an add-on lunch option either or both days.

We hope to see you at one of our Fall events!

Hello tissue paper on foil collages!

the messy artist art classes for kidsWe like to do this multi-step layered project with our 4-5 year old students. Glue wash, foil and many colors of tissue paper allow students to create a graphic piece of art that they are always proud of.  Click here for The Messy Artist Tissue Paper Collages on Foil Lesson Plan.

Age Group:
4-5 year olds

Aluminum Foil
Black Sharpies
White Glue
Various colors of tissue paper, cut into squares or rectangles. (It can be interesting to have a visual theme: all warm colors, all cool colors, complimentary colors. etc. )
Brushes for glue wash.
Cups for glue wash.
Containers for tissue paper – one per every two childrenart class parties and cmap for children Morris County NJ

To learn about layering.
To think about graphic elements and colors.
To learn about gluing with glue wash.

Teacher Prep:
Cut cardboard into 8” x 8” squares
Cover cardboard squares in foil and tape to back.
Add child’s name to back of square,
Cut tissue paper into squares or rectangles.
Put cut tissue into containers for kids to access (one per every two children)
Make glue wash (½ glue and ½ water)
Put wash into small cups

Note: a different lesson that we like to do is with all circles (instead of squares or rectangles). We discuss big and small circles, overlapping circles, circles inside of circles and circles falling off the page.


  1. Show the children an example of the project and go over the steps with them.
  2. Pass out foil covered squares and black sharpies, one of each per child.
  3. Encourage the students to create designs and draw on the foil, filling the whole area but not covering the entire foil with black.  We like to talk about different types of lines for our different projects, and introduce children to the terminology. In this project, we do this by discussing:  horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, as well as dashed lines and zig zag lines. Patterns can also be incorporated with the lines in the project.
    tissue paper glue art project for children
  4. Collect the sharpies and hand our glue wash and bushes. Have the kids start covering their squares with the glue wash.
  5. Tell the students to cover the entire square so they will be able to stick tissue over the whole square.north new jersey fine art class for kids
  6. Distribute containers with tissue squares and have the kids start sticking the squares onto the foil.art studio for kids east hanover nj
  7. Show them that they can layer the tissue by painting glue on top of an already placed square and sticking another one on top.tissue paper collage project
  8. When finished, we like to place these on a tray to dry so they do not stick to the tables, counter, etc. These will take some time to dry (depending on how much glue is used) and will be ready to go home with the students in a few days.best art classes for kids north jersey

foil for blog