hello Summer!

Wow, have we ever been waiting for you!   Warm weather is finally (finally!) here, kids are out of school and family vacations are coming up.

Summer is the perfect time to take your art making outside.  There are many ways to have creative fun in your yard or the park; here are three of our favorites.

Shaving cream and a sprinkler.  The title pretty much says it all!    Shaving cream is a fantastic medium for kids to explore.  They love the squishy foamy consistency and it encourages investigation into texture.

You can spread it 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.

Here are some other blog posts for inspiration:

train up

from Train Up a Child

play create sha

from PlayCreateExplore

jeweled rose

from Growing A Jeweled Rose


from Birmingham Bargain Mom

Chalk, paintbrushes and water.  These relatively simple and ubiquitous tools can be used in a variety of ways.  Chalk on its own is lots of fun, but combined with water, it takes on additional depth and the colors are especially vivid.

  • Wet the area the kids are going to draw on first with a hose or by dumping buckets of water on it.  Then let them draw – the chalk glides easily and has an almost paint–like texture.
  • Create drawings out of chalk, then paint over them with water by using paintbrushes.  This can create whole new looks for the drawings and children enjoy experimenting with the effects of water on chalk.

filthy wizardry

from Filth Wizardry

  • Soak chalk in water.   Let the chalk sit in water for a few minutes to absorb water and then use them to draw.  The wet chalk creates a much thicker line and lays down more pigment.

play crete

 from PlayCreateExplore

  • Just plain water and paintbrushes can create interesting images on the sidewalk.  Try taking some brushes and buckets to the pool for your kids to paint on the pavement there.


from The Thrifty Couple

  • Create a racetrack out of chalk.  One of our instructors did this at home on a relatively small patio and for her children to race matchbox cars.  She also drew bigger “lanes” when her kids were older and they used tricycles, scooters or any wheeled device to drive around.   This can be taken to the park for much bigger courses.


from At Number 29

Also see posts from:

The Osborne Family

What’s Fun Today?

  • Spread out in a playground.  One of our teachers reminisces: “One dreadfully hot summer we would go out almost every evening after dinner and draw on the local barely-used basketball court.  We’d bring tons of chalk and do gigantic drawings, with different themes each night: circus, flowers, bugs, cars….   It was a great time spent together.”

chalk caterpillar

our chalk pics jpg

Melting crayons in the sun.  There are a few ways to do this but they all create random and bright works of art from drippy wax.

  • Decide if you want your crayons to be removed from the wrappers or not – either is fine.   Then hot glue gun crayons to the top of a canvas or use regular white (Elmer’s) glue – just make sure to keep the canvas flat until the glue is dried.
  • Next, lean it against a wall until the crayons melt and the way drips down. (Yes, you can use a hairdryer or heat gun if you want it to melt more quickly!)

from Instructables

Fun timelapse video of melting crayon art:


  • This is another method where you place broken pieces of crayon on a canvas and place it in the sun. Once they are melted, place the canvas on a bowl to be able to spin it, and you’ll get a giant crayon spin-art.   You can also use popsicle sticks or skewers to move the wax colors around, or even blow through a straw.

clumsy clumsy 2

from Clumsy Crafter

Have a fantastic, art-filled summer!

hello kids art!

Welcome to hello kids art, the blog of the Messy Artist.   We have lots to share about art and education, but wanted to start out first with our history and philosophy, as well as news about what we will be featuring in this blog.

Who are we?

The Messy Artist is a state of the art children’s art center in East Hanover, New Jersey.  We offer year-round art classes for children 18 months through adulthood.  In addition to art classes from September through June, we offer summer art camp and Drop-In and Play art activities for kids between our regular sessions.  Our bright, colorful studio is also popular for birthday parties.

MA sign jpg

MA blue rm jpg

MA entryway jpg

The Messy Artist was created and designed by Owner/Director Donna Bernstein, a professional educator and artist.   She conceived of a place like The Messy Artist in 1997 after having searched for toddler classes that would introduce her then-two-year-old son to the joys of creative art play. She didn’t find such a class. Undeterred, she started her own, combining her passion for art, love of children, and desire for a process-oriented art class for her son. The first classes were held in a church.  From there she moved on to dedicated quarters in South Orange – first on Scotland Road, then Valley Street — before creating the current 2,500-square-foot facility in East Hanover.

Donna Bernstein
Donna Bernstein

The curriculum is inspired and guided by Donna’s teaching experience and research in child development, as well as her passion for art.  The Messy Artist’s approach is rooted in the research of some of the greatest thinkers in child development, such as Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, and John Dewey.  We’ll be featuring information on them – as well as other inspirations – in future posts.

blog books 2

Our instructors all have backgrounds in fine art, education, or both.  You’ll be seeing posts from them here too, as well as artwork by their talented students.

What do we do?

We believe art is a platform for learning. The bean box, goop, homemade sensory dough, and painting with potato mashers are not only fun for the younger kids (up to age 5), but serve a specific purpose in promoting social, emotional, and intellectual growth.  They are learning as they play, from carefully selected activities and projects.

MA blog first post

For ages 6 and up, we offer fine art classes. Children learn the principles of art, color theory, art history, and advanced technical skills as they create beautiful, original works.  We are always impressed by our students’ creativity and insight.  We’ll be posting pictures of art and activities done by our students, as well as ideas for things you can do at home.

MA big kids jpg

At our studio, art is about the “process” rather than the end result.  Adults tend to think of art as artifacts to hang on the wall or display on a shelf.  If children are primarily concerned with what the completed object will look like, making art can become a chore, a task to be accomplished in a specific way.  It can also be frustrating when the final product does not match what the young artists picture in their heads.

The Messy Artist’s focus is on the act of creating art – the thinking, planning, and doing. We view art for children as a creative journey, rather than as a product.  Through the “process” children grow and flex their creative muscles.  They experiment with new materials and techniques, develop new skills, and feel the rush of creative joy.

Jim Dine

Thanks for reading; we’ll be back next with  summertime art ideas to enjoy with kids outdoors!

some of the photos used here are by mikifoto/Malika Malhotra: check out her work! http://www.mikifoto.com/