hello initials!

We incorporate beginning reading skills into some of our lessons for younger kids.  Many of the children this age already recognize the special letter that starts their name – their initial.north jersey fine art kids childrens class

For our youngest students we offer an initial collage project.  This is part of our station play, a set of self-directed, open-ended activities. Each station is a sensory-rich learning environment that encourages exploration. Children are free to be decision makers; they decide which stations to explore, how to engage with each one, and how long to play.art class and party kids north new jersey

At our initial project station, we set up glue and collage materials. We have prepped the correct initial for each child by cutting it from oak tag and have it ready for when they come to this station.  With some guidance from the instructors and their caregivers, the 1.5 – 2.5 year olds in this class choose the objects to decorate their initial.  In this case, cut patterned paper is provided.

fine art class elementary school kids

For our older class of 2 ½ – 4 year olds, we do a watercolor painting project.  Again, we have prepped initials for all our young students ahead of time.  For this project we use sharpie to draw a large open initial on watercolor paper. When it is time to hand them out, the instructor holds up one letter at a time for the children to identify theirs. They all quietly and excitedly await their turn for their initial to be held up.

east hanover livingston nj art class for kids

After a lesson on watercolors and how to use them, the students go ahead and paint their initials.  We discuss interior and exterior space concepts as well as the logistics of using watercolors.


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Children of all ages love their “special letter” projects, proud to have decorated their initial just as they desire.

make your own goop!

goop kids art project kids fun

Goop is a perennial favorite at our messy table, but we recently came up with a way to make it even more exciting for our 3-5 year old students: let them make it themselves!  This project appeals to their sense of independence and provides them with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.  Plus, they get to take it with them – who doesn’t love taking a new toy home?

This is all part of our carefully designed lesson plan for each age: there is a lot of learning that goes on with this activity.   Kids learn to follow simple directions, and concepts such  as pouring and mixing.

We give the children a small cup and a small tube of white glue – we found these that are very easy to the kids to squeeze – great for developing fine finger control and hand strength.  And kids love to squeeze glue.

fine art class children new jersey glueWe ask them to fill the container about ½ way and they happily oblige.  Since the kids generally want to squeeze the whole bottle out, it is a good idea to only fill the glue bottle with enough glue so that it doesn’t over fill the cup.

Then we squeeze out a few drops of food coloring into the glue and have the child mix it in.

goop fine art class for kids nj


We advise the students to mix until the glue is all one color  (in this case, pink) not two – (red and white).  

goop best art class toddler elementary middle school kidsNext, we give the students another small cup, this one with a small amount of liquid laundry starch in it.  The general proportions of goop are 3 glue:1 starch  – you can eyeball it.  The glue will only absorb a certain amount of the starch and you can pour the rest off.

morris county art class party childrenWe let the kids pour the starch in themselves, and then mix some more.  Once the glue has thickened into “goop” they can take it out and play with it.

art class for kids nj best

When they are finished, we pop a lid labeled with their name onto it.  They can return to the messy table throughout class to play with their very own goop, and after class they can find theirs to take home with them.  Leaving it for them to pick up promotes letter and name recognition at this pre-reading stage.

goop art classes and parties north jerseyHave you turned a favorite sensory activity into a project?  We’d love to hear about it.  And here’s our goop recipe for making a larger amount.  🙂

goop recipe nj art studio for kids

Community Service Update

At The Messy Artist, we believe in giving back to the community. Our lives are touched in a positive way by every student and family that we meet, and we want to honor that by paying it forward to make a difference in the world.

We have two upcoming community service events that we are excited to announce: an art supply drive to benefit Goryeb Children’s Hospital, and a craft table we are hosting at the Garden State Good Cookies 4th Annual Family Fun Day.

messy artist cookies for kids crafts
Garden State Good Cookies
Goryeb Children's Hospital
Goryeb Children’s Hospital

We got the idea for the art supply drive when we contacted the Goryeb Children’s Hospital to see if they would like us to donate some of our kids artwork and cards for their walls. When they told us that most of their art was created by their patients, the idea for an art supply drive was born.  We know how important it is for children to express themselves through art, and this would be a perfect way to provide tools for the kids to make art while in the hospital.

Goryeb Children's Hospital
Goryeb Children’s Hospital

To get the ball rolling, our students pitched in and decorated this box to collect the donations.  They loved decorating it so much that they painted over and over it – this box may have ten layers of paint!  It will be in our entryway to collect contributions.fine art class and parties kids art goryeb hospital art class nj children community serivce goryeb

Please join us in donating new, unused art supplies that we will deliver to the Hospital at the end of the drive.  Canvas, paint, model magic, and brushes are some of the things suggested – or anything you think of would be appreciated.  We will be donating art supplies, and hope you will too!

Children’s Art Supply Drive to benefit Goryeb Children’s Hospital
The Messy Artist
356 Route 10 West, East Hanover, NJ
March 15 – April 15

Continuing our commitment to helping kids, we are also partnering with Garden State Good Cookies by hosting a craft table on May 10 at their 4th Annual Family Fun Day.

Garden State Good Cookies Annual Family Fun Day
Garden State Good Cookies Annual Family Fun Day

Their events are lots of fun for a great cause, with many activities for kids and of course, lots of cookies. Featured at the free event will be face painting, djs, children’s entertainment and giveaways. We’ll have special Messy Artist crafts for kids to enjoy, so please stop by and say hello. All proceeds support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national charity, whose mission is to find more effective  and safer treatments for children with  cancer.  Garden State Good Cookies has raised over $30,000 in support of this charity.

Garden State Good Cookies Family Fun Day
Garden State Good Cookies Family Fun Day

4th Annual Family Fun Day
Saturday, May 10
10-2 pm; rain or shine
Bauer Community Center in Taylor Park, Millburn.
The event is open to the general public, and admission is free.
For more information: www.gardenstategoodcookies.com
Email: millburn.kidshelpingkids@gmail.com

Other recent community service events since we moved to our East Hanover location have been:

Children’s Book Drive in Conjunction with Bridge of Books

Blood Drive in Conjunction with the Red Cross

Smiles for Savannah, a Fundraiser for Nephcure


Artist Harvest update: March

Weʼve been focusing on three main pieces in our Artist Harvest Sculpture Project:
the Munch-Room (inspired by Edward Munch), Vincent Van Gogh Bananas
(inspired by Vincent Van Gogh) and and Salvador Straw-Dali (inspired by Salvador Dali).

At this stage of the construction, our Salvador Straw-Dali is mistaken for our Pear-casso (inspired by Pablo Picasso), especially when upside down.  It has been interesting to discuss the similarities between the shapes of the fruits with the students as we go through this process. Once this sculpture is painted, it’s true identity will be revealed!

Yes, this a Strawberry, just upside-down!
Yes, this a Strawberry, just upside-down!

We have enlisted the studentsʼ help in plastering these gigantic sculptures,
forming an assembly line. Because we have been using plaster strips, we have
to work quickly while the plaster is wet, which makes it ideal for a group project.

Artist Harvest Messy Artist #letsmove morris county kids art class

Students work cutting strips, dipping them into vats of water, and finally carefully
placing them on the sculptures and smoothing them out. The kids have a great
time with this, enjoying the teamwork and the physicality of creating the large-scale pieces.

Artist Harvest Messy Artist #letsmove art classes for kis new jersey

nj kids fine art Artist Harvest Messy Artist #letsmove

Artist Harvest Messy Artist #letsmove favrite art studio for kids nj

As these pieces grow, we are having to find creative storage places for them.  Weʼve set them on dollies, on chairs, on top of cabinets and even hoisted them to the ceiling!

art party and class nnj Artist Harvest Messy Artist #letsmove fine art classes for kids parties north jersey best art class for kids nj Artist Harvest Messy Artist #letsmoveSince we aim to inspire healthy eating in children through our Artist Harvest, we
are happy to join in supporting Michelle Obamaʼs Letʼs Move campaign.
Weʼre sharing some of these photos with the Lets Move program by posting
some pics with #letsmove to our facebook page – check it out!

We will be creating six sculptures in total, and all will be on display at the
Livingston Mall in New Jersey this spring. Weʼll keep you updated!

artist harvest video link messy artist #letsmove
Click to play video on facebook