hello tape collages!

art  class for children new jerseyTape collages are a great project for a one day workshop, or in this case, mini-camp. These are no-mess, no-drying artworks that can go home the same day with the students. But don’t let the relative simplicity be deceiving; there is still a lot of learning, planning and adaptability for different ages packed into this project.

Click here for Tape Collage Lesson Plan.

Age Level: 3- 5 years


  • Fine motor skills
  • Planning artwork
  • Following directions

prep for tape collage projectMaterials:

  • Paper tape of many colors
  • White paper (6”x 9”)
  • Glue stick
  • Black paper (8” x 10”)
  • Labels

Teacher Preparation:

  • Rip off tape and place onto back of plastic containers. This makes it easy for the kids to grab – and we love how festive it looks. We prepared one for every two students to share.taple collage kids lesson plan
  • Also set up some extra ripped pieces of tape, maybe on the edge of a counter or on extra containers, so that you will have some readily available when you need more. Once the kids get going, they can quickly go through tape.
  • Write each student’s name on a label (to go on back of projects when complete).


Show the students an example of a finished project. Explain that they will be making their artwork today by ripping different colors of tape into smaller pieces, and then sticking them to their paper.

new jersey art class and partyWe discussed choosing between two different subject types for their project: representational (representing something in the real world, like a beach or flowers) and abstract (a picture that does not look like something, like a pattern).

Next, demonstrate to the students how to rip the tape: hold the piece with their two hands close together, and then move them in opposite directions.

Show the students how to use the tape to create their artworks. Our instructor made both a pattern for an abstract example and a flower for a representational example.

art lesson plan for childrenHand out the white papers and the containers with tape, and have the students get started. Encourage them to rip the larger pieces of tape into smaller ones.

Some of the younger children will need help with grasping the skill of ripping the tape.

best nj kids party art lesson plan for kidsWhen they have completed their artworks, have the students go to the supply table to pick up a glue stick. Hand out the black papers and have them them glue the tape projects onto them, creating a contrasting matt.

nj kids art classPut the name stickers on the back of the projects.

Our students were really proud of the collages they created!the messy artist fine art classes morris county art class for children art class party and camp


hello Violet – update

This Wednesday afternoon, Alidis Vicente came to our studios and read her latest book Violet to an enthralled group of children. Followed by an art project, this special event concluded with each family taking home a signed copy of the book.

the messy artist alidis vicenteViolet is a brightly illustrated tale featuring a young bird of the same name. Violet is the only Purple-Footed Booby, living on the Galapagos Islands with her parents. Her unique appearance creates dissension between the Blue-Footed Boobies of her father’s side and the Red-Footed Boobies of her mother’s side. Violet’s path to acceptance is an entertaining and thoughtful story of learning to see and embrace similarities rather than differences.

Violet at The Messy ArtistWe created templates using the Booby bird illustrations for the kids to paint. We encouraged them to name their birds and add an initial or design to the chests.

the messy artist art project for kids violet by alidis vicente art project the messy artistViolet is available through Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Violet-Alidis-Vicente/dp/0979214491

Alidis Vicente Messy Artist copyThanks to Alidis and all the families who joined us for this special event!

hello hearts!

process oriented art for childrenThis is a sweet and fun project for kids to do around Valentine’s Day. Every time we do this symmetry painting project, the kids get very excited as they unfold their hearts. They love discovering how the paint has transferred and mixed into a new design.

Click here to download a lesson plan of Heart Symmetry Painting Lesson Plan.

Age Level:  3-5 years


  • To learn about symmetry
  • To explore painting with unusual tools and methods (sticks instead of paintbrushes, and folding an rubbing to create painting)
  • To talk about Valentine’s Day and making things for people we love

the messy artist fine art classes for kidsMaterials:

  • Construction paper
  • Tempera paint in coordinating colors/shades (we used pink, purple and white)
  • Small plastic cups for paint
  • Small wooden craft sticks
  • Plastic tray (we use take out container lids) to keep the paint in place

valentine project for kidsTeacher Preparation:

  • Fold paper in half, then cut hearts out. We use a template to make sure all are the same.
  • Put paint into cups, one set per every two children
  • Put craft sticks out, one per color per child


Show the students an example of a finished project. Tell them briefly about Valentine’s Day (“we like to show the people we love that we care in special ways on this holiday”). Also explain that we will be painting not with brushes, not with our fingers, but with sticks and by rubbing today.

Show the students a folded heart, then open it. Explain that it is symmetrical – the same on both sides. See if they can think of any other symmetrical things (our bodies, a square, an apple).

Next demonstrate dipping a stick into paint and then tap, tap, tapping it onto one side of the heart.   Put a few colors on and then fold the heart in half. Rub it and ask for some special magic words. (Kids usually come up with “Abracadabra” or “Shazam”. Sometimes someone says “Please”.)heart painting project for children

Open the heart to reveal how the paint is now on both sides, in a symmetrical pattern.

Have the children go pick out their paper hearts from a nearby supply table.

art class party and camp north jeerseyWhile they are doing this, place the paints on the table.

art class for toddlers new jersey fine art class for kids morris county nj the messy artist art class njWalk around encouraging the kids to tap their paint onto the hearts. The more paint they use, the more dramatic the reveal after they fold and rub.

The kids can add more paint and fold again and again if they wish.

north nj fine art class for tweensMake sure to unfold all hearts so that the paint will cry – otherwise they will stick together. As these usually take some time to dry, we send them home the next class session.

heart art project with symmetry for kidsHappy Valentine’s Day!



hello laundry starch!

After canceling classes and hunkering inside for a few days due to a “blizzard” (or at least it was predicted to be one) recently, we were thinking about art and craft projects that are perfect for a snow day. Our Director of Fine Arts Viviana pointed us in the direction of an interesting free download.

It’s put out by the company that makes Linit, the liquid laundry starch we use when making goop.linit_bottle

The only other necessary ingredient for goop is white glue (though we use liquid watercolor paints for fun colors too). Goop is always popular in our studios.

nj art class and party childrens art studio njChock full of activities for both adults and kids, this recipe book is a great resource to keep in mind for your next snow day.

(And don’t worry about the $2 price on the website – it is a free download)


We are eying the marbling project, and found the fabric walls idea intriguing. We’ll post back with our project results – let us know if you make anything!

hello yarnbombing!

We are excited about our latest upcoming public art project: yarnbombing the pole in front of our studios.the messy artist yarnbombing art class nj

What is yarnbombing? It’s a type of street art, using yarn to decorate fences, benches, poles – you name it! Knitters have been covering all sorts of objects with their artistry.imgres-1 images

Donna came up with the idea to decorate the pole in colorful crocheted circles, based on our logo’s colors: orange and blue, as well as purple.07-18-2012 final logo

However, this is a big project, and to do it, she drew inspiration from a local Friday night knitting/crocheting/spinning circle she has been involved with. Now she and Marie, the owner of the yarn store KnitKnack, have joined together to set up sessions for the yarnbombing: one for crochet instruction, two to crochet the circles, and one to bomb.  knitknack and the messy artist yarnbomb

We have room for a few more in these sessions, so if you want to join in these creative and collaborative art events, let us know! You can even teach yourself to crochet pretty easily if you don’t know how already – there are some great videos on youtube such as this or this to get you set up.

Here’s the schedule – RSVPs are necessary so we know how much yarn, pizza, wine etc to have on hand.  Please contact donna@themessyartist.com to reserve a space. These are all adult only events.

  • Instruction session: The Messy Artist. 356 Route 10 West, East Hanover. Tuesday February 3, 7 – 9pm.  (Sorry, this session is full.)
  • Crochet session: KnitKnack.  1914 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood. Sunday February 8, 2-4 pm.  Pizza will be served.
  • Crochet session: The Messy Artist. Sunday February 22. 6:30 – 8:30pm.  Pizza and wine will be served.
  • The final session – the bombing! The Messy Artist. March 8, 6:30 8:30 pm.  Pizza and wine will be served.

We’ll post more photos as the project evolves.

Hello triangle collages!

art class camp and party north njAs we focus on shapes in our winter session, we lead the students in open-ended art projects emphasizing each one. We never use pre-made materials or kits; thus no two finished projects are alike. Each projectʼs look is decided by the young artists themselves, and we encourage caregivers to let the children make the decisions and do the project all on their own.

For triangle week, we create large shiny triangles and let the students collage smaller multi textured and colored triangles onto them.  Click here to download a PDF of  Triangle Collages lesson plan.

Age Level: 2.5 – 4


  • To learn about triangles: 3 sides and 3 corners
  • To work on glue stick skills


  • Cardstock
  • Foil
  • Glue sticks (one per child)
  • Trays
  • Masking or clear tape
  • a large variety of materials: construction paper, ribbon, fabric, bubble wrap, etc.
  • Trays to hold cut trianglescollage project for kids

Teacher Preparation:

  • Cut cardstock into large triangles (ours are about 12” on the longest side)
  • Wrap in foil and tape down on back
  • Write each studentʼs name on back
  • Write the word “Triangle” on front in large letters
  • Cut materials into triangles of different sizes and place in trays

Procedures:new jersey art class and pary

  • Show students an example of a finished project and explain that they will be working with triangles today. All triangles have 3 sides and 3 corners.
  • Demonstrate putting a lot of glue onto the foil triangle and then placing a smaller triangle onto it. “Tap, tap, tap it” (kids love this repetition) to put it into place and to get it to stick.
  • Have the children pick up a glue stick from a nearby supply table, and hand out the triangles back at the work table while they are doing so.young kids triangle art project
  • Give them a few minutes to get some glue onto the triangles before handing out the trays with the collage supplies.the messy artist classes for kids
  • Encourage the students to leave a little space between their triangles if they want the silver to shine through.the messy artist new jersey best art class for kids morris county nj
  • This project can be taken home at the end of the class period as it dries quickly.process oriented art new jersey

Shaving cream: four fun sensory rich play ideas

nj fine art classes The Messy ArtistAs one of our favorite sensory activities, shaving cream is always in heavy rotation at The Messy Artist. Kids love the squishy foamy consistency and it encourages investigation into texture.

Besides its fantastic texture, shaving cream has the added advantages of being easy to set up and easy to clean up. It also brings out a playful and silly side in most of our students and parents, which we love.shaving cream bday party

Here are 4 ways to enjoy sensory exploration with shaving cream:

1. Tray play: We spray it onto a tray to keep the shaving cream contained, and add liquid watercolor paint. This lets the kids experiment with mixing the colorful paint and the white shaving cream together, priming them for color mixing in other lessons. We like to use watercolor paints instead of food coloring as that can stain little hands.

As with all activities at our messy table, we include wooden craft sticks so that children who are tentative about getting their hands dirty can still experience it. Very often, these kids will progress quickly into covering their hands (and arms, too) with it.sensory play with shaving cream

For added interest, cups, animals and other small objects are added to the mix. Children love covering and uncovering the animals with the shaving cream and drawing in it with their fingers.The Messy Artist shaving cream sensory play

2. Mirror magic: Use non-breakable mirrors instead of trays for a base for the shaving cream. You can then add all the toys and paint like we do on the plastic tray.four shaving cream fun ideas

3. Take home art: After the shaving cream is nice and marbled with the watercolor paint, we have the kids spread it on absorbent paper. After letting the shaving cream and paint mixture soak in for a few minutes, we scrape it off with a wooden craft stick. Once dry, the students can take it home.art party class and camp morris county new jersey process oriented art the messy artist

4. Take it outside: On warm days, you can spread shaving cream on a slip and slide, spray it on tummies and legs, fill a bucket for the kids to scoop, cover a sliding board – there is no limit to the fun you can have! And when you are done, just grab a hose to wash it all away.

How do you like to enjoy sensory play with shaving cream? Let us know!best art class party and camp north jersey