Hello Artists Everywhere!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about careers in art, mainly because the curriculum of our AFI IV class centers around learning the practical applications of art. I hear a lot from people that their conception of art is more of the finer arts. When they think about it (imagine clouds of thought bubbles emerging from people’s faces please), they see galleries, museums, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and maybe even the stereotypical artist with the beret painting landscapes on the rue de la blah blah blah. Very few people truly see all the areas that art seeps into. Sometimes, I think those thoughts are imparted onto kids as well, and they don’t always see that the possibilities truly are endless. They have to learn to see non-traditional artists (chefs, plastic surgeons, architects, civil engineers, tattoo artists, interior designers, special effects artists, photographers, party planners, marketing consultants… dude, the list continues, and we’d all be reading for the next few years if I listed them all) as real artists too.

So far, my AFI kids have already delved into the world of architecture. They built these fabulous treehouse models based off of some sketches and floor plans. They even worked with special effects makeup for Halloween to apply realistic gashes and wounds (we already blogged about it and the creations came out amazing). One of our more recent projects is one in which the students were asked to create a logo for a fictitious business that they have, and then use the pen tool in adobe illustrator to draw their logos.

We’re about 4 classes into this project, maybe even more, because sometimes the days all swirl together, but they’ve already come out with some astounding material. I’m really impressed with all of their work, and even more taken aback by how quickly they grasped the concepts. I didn’t even know what illustrator was until I was maybe 21, and it took me a while to get a firm grasp on its functionality. The students are creating images, switching colors, making gradients, and moving anchor points with ease, and only after 4 (or so) classes! Seriously, WHAT?!

I’ve included some images below, and there will be some more to follow (some of the artwork is on my laptop at home), so you can all stand beside me and see for yourself. I hope you enjoy, and I encourage you all to think about the wealth of art that is around you every day. Mayhaps (thanks b for granting me permission to use this word) you’ll list some more types of artists below!

Hello Fruit Prints!

The thing I love about working at TMA is how amazing our projects are. We pride ourselves in the fact that all activities are open ended, and that everyone can scale the project up or down to their level and feel successful. Some of the projects are so stellar, that it makes me want to try them!  When all the artists here find ourselves wishing we could do the projects, we know TMA is doing something right.

One of my favorite projects here is the circle paintings we do with the Monet classes. Instead of being super traditional and painting with paintbrushes, we paint with fruit! Yea, you heard me. FRUIT! (Should I say that louder? And they’re clementines to be exact). I’ve been told that other schools do similar projects, and I experience this project every year, but I don’t care. It never gets old, and I’m constantly amazed. I always look at the finished projects like I’ve never seen it or heard about it before in my life. My already large eyes widen like I’m staring into the magical world of Narnia.

Like I said, the best part of the project is that anyone can do it, and it looks great. I watch the little munchkins do the projects and they feel so proud that they’re creating this mini masterpiece with something so unique and different. The project can even translate into our adult years, and we can indulge in the fun too! Whether you’re reading this to discover a fun project for your child, or you secretly really want to do this yourself, you’ll be happy to know this project is low maintenance. All you need is fruit (or veggies), a knife to slice and dice (for adult use only please!), paper, paint, and paper plates.

We spread thin layers of paint onto paper plates (the paper plate helps to absorb some moisture, and hey, you can throw it away, so get excited, less cleanup for you!), and dip the cut fruit (flat side down of course) into the paint. Then we press firmly onto a piece of paper, in a new place every time. It’s really that simple. Older children or even adults can kick it up a notch. Try super bright neon colors, or keep the palette neutral. Maybe try creating new shapes and patterns using the shape of the prints. Practice writing skills, cursive, and even other languages by labeling the fruit with a thin marker when it’s dry. You could even color in the white spaces around and/or inside the fruit with sharpies when dry (homemade coloring book anyone?) And of course, it’s okay to snack on the fruit while you print. Just avoid the painted fruit, it’s gross.

All of the prints, no matter the artist, would look clean and inviting in a white frame in your kitchen or other dining area. I don’t know about you, but after writing this, I’m super psyched to try this at home. And I’m also hungry. As always, don’t be shy to share thoughts and ideas with me!

images courtesy of TMA and the wonderful world of Google

Hello winter cards!

Kids and parents alike love this project, created by stamping with sliver and white paint and using lots of glitter. These festive cards are perfect for someone special this winter.

winter card projectThis project goes hand-in-hand with last week’s project, stamped boxes. Winter themed cards can be used in conjunction with the box to give a gift to for the December holidays or to send New Year’s greetings.   When we make these cards, there is glitter everywhere in the studios and everything is festive!

Age Level: 2.5 years and up


  • Work on stamping skills
  • Fine motor control, especially in sprinkling glitter


  • Black construction paper (8.5 x 10”)
  • Silver and white paint (gold and/or blue can also be used)
  • Cookie cutters in snowflake shapes, various sizes, one per child
  • Small sponge pouncers (sometimes called “spouncers”), or q tips if you can’t find them, one per child1257559861635_RL1636-1
  • Condiment cups
  • Paper plates
  • labels

Teacher Preparation:

  • Fold paper in half to make cards
  • Place thin layer of paint on paper plates, one per every two students. A thin layer works best for successful stamping – too much paint will result in blobby stamps.
  • Arrange cookie cutters and round paintbrushes on trays
  • Put glitter in condiment sized cups, again one per every two students. Use a small amount – a little goes a long way, and you can always refill them if needed.
  • Write each student’s name on a label so you can easily label their artwork during class time.
  • Make sample project.


Show students a sample card and explain they will be making winter themed cards by stamping snowflakes onto black paper. (We often have a stamping station with ink and stampers during the earlier part of the class so the children get the concept of stamping and some practice before we start this project.) Demonstrate dipping a cookie cutter into the silver paint and pressing it onto the paper to create a shape. Also show them how to use a pouncer to create a circle print on their card. Finally demonstrate sprinkling glitter onto the card, and how it sticks to the wet paint.the messy artist

Place the trays with the cookie cutter and pouncers on the supply table, and direct the students to walk over and select one of each.art class for kids nj

While they are doing this, hand out the black paper cards (unfolded and placed so that the children will be stamping on the outside). Then deliver the palettes to the table, placing one between every two children.

nj kids art class kids winter card projectHave them start stamping, walking around and helping if needed. This is usually done in one of our caregiver and me classes, so the students can get help from them as well if needed.

Once some children have completed stamping, hand out the cups of glitter and remind them to sprinkle it over the wet paint.

new jersey art classes for kidsWhile the students are working, place a nametag on their project.

gift project for kids to makeThese cards take time to dry. When dry, fold, and save to give back during the next class session. The kids and parents alike love these projects!toddler art project fun cards for kids to make

Hello stamped boxes!

Check out this project that allows kids to learn about stamping and cooperation while creating a box able to be used to gift-giving.

art studio for kids njThis project is great to do near the holiday season: parents love to use these to package their gifts with a handmade flair.

Age Level: 2.5 and up


  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Introduction to stamping
  • Cooperation and sharing

holiday project for kids nj art classes for kidsMaterials:

  • Tempera paint
  • Objects to use for stamping: we used two types of potato mashers and lego type blocks
  • Paper plates to use as palettes
  • Cardboard boxes: ours are 4” x 6” when folded, approx 18 x 24 when opened flat
  • Extra paper in case kids want to keep stamping
  • Stickers to be used as name tags

Teacher Preparation:

  • Place two or three coordinating colors on a paper plate, one plate per every two children. Having two children share one palette encourages sharing and cooperation. We used teal, silver, and gold paints: the metallic color adds a festive touch.
  • Create a name tag on the stickers for each student to put on their project. We do this so we don’t have to worry about writing the student’s name on the project and potentially smearing it. This way, we can pass by and quickly add a sticker to the project without interrupting the artist at work.
  • Place stamping objects on tray.
  • Create a sample projects.


the messy artistShow the students a completed sample project. Explain that they will be stamping onto an unfolded box that they can then use to give a gift to someone special when it is dry.   Show them how the box will start out flat, and then will be folded into a box.

Demonstrate dipping an object into paint and stamping onto the box.   Show them that they can create different patterns by using different objects. Before stamping with the lego, ask them what shape they think it will make. Stamp with it and then show them the result so they can see if their guess was correct.

Have the class assistant place the tray with stamping objects on the supply table and have the children walk over to select one tool to start with.art classes parties and camps new jersey toddler art project

While the children are doing this, place the boxes and paper plate palettes on the table. When they return, they can start stamping. Tell them they can stand up if that is easier – often times that allows them greater success in stamping.festive boxes project for kids

After the children have made a few stamps, encourage them to trade tools with their neighbor so they can try making some new patterns on their boxes.new jersey art class for children

kids stamping projectWhen the children have finished, place the boxes to dry, and if time allows, provide paper for the children to keep stamping if they wish.

These take a little while to dry and can go home the next class session.best art class nj holiday gift giving project for kids


How art can get your child to eat vegetables!

the messy artistWe had something happen in class recently that, although unusual for an art class, had all parents thrilled: their children demanded to eat broccoli!

As we do each session, our classes (even for the youngest students) follow a theme. In a recent session, our focus was on colors, and one week we featured green. Our classroom was full of examples of different materials using the color green: green play dough, green paint at the easels, green slime at the messy table. The project table had a special green project: green broccoli dipped in green paint to stamp on green paper.

We like to incorporate a vegetable or fruit stamping project into our curriculum most seasons for our youngest students. This is a fun way for students to create some art out of unusual objects, and the broccoli was perfect for this.

Not only did the students enjoy stamping with the broccoli, they were curious about its taste.   We provided some clean, non-paint covered broccoli and they all tried it. Even better, most of them liked it and wanted more! Since it proved to be so popular, we did it with all sections of our Monet class, and have now added it to the lesson plan.

We love how the children were inspired to try broccoli after using it to create art. It perfectly ties into our Artist Harvest sculpture project’s mission: using art to stimulate a love of healthy eating in children.printing with vegetables nj kids art