If you need a cool and nontraditional gift to give this holiday season, or for a birthday, or the art supplies in your house have taken over and you want to reign it in, you need an Art Cart.
You are probably thinking one of the following:
That would never fly in my house.
The kids would destroy everything we hold dear.
She has girls, so this is invalid because [whatever incorrect gender stereotype here].
Fear not. With some rules and careful product selections, your kids can have art, too. And they will be better for it! You can always wheel it into a closet or locked space until needed, if all else fails.
Ikea sells these nifty little carts that are perfect for just about everything. On their website, Ikea has a picture of the cart decked out with art and party supplies. I'm not sure if that is where my friend first got her idea, but she is where I first got this idea from. She is very organized and I'm... not. I'm just not. This cart is one way I've been able to emulate a little Type A in a house that is decidedly Type B.
I purchased my little cart and took everything out of the various drawers, off countertops, and from under weird places where they were previously stored. A few of those lovely $1 Target buckets and we were in business.
This is the top of the art cart:
The supplies rotate, but generally feature crayons, markers, colored pencils, stampers, glue sticks, paint cakes, paper, scissors, coloring books, and stickers. Play dough supplies are there, but I do occasionally remove the actual dough. It depends on how feisty they've been in playing with it. Sometimes I just can't pick up one more dried clump from the dining room rug.
The wheels are key. I tuck this away in a corner in our dining room, and the kids can wheel it to the table or to the easel, where paint is allowed. There was a period of time this summer where the art cart was wheeled into the spare bedroom and removed from play. After having free access to scissors for over a year, my preschooler cut all her sister's hair off, to the scalp in places, before turning on her own hair, which she cut into a fairly decent bob.*
The art cart keeps the supplies at kid-level, is easily organized, and makes art always accessible, for better or worse. But it is 90% for the better, and most of the things we have on there are Crayola, for their high washability. (Ikea products make up the remainder, and the ones I've been given the privilege of scrubbing off stuff has been washable.) It keeps the kids from asking me if we have a piece of paper, if I can get them the crayons, if they can cut out shapes. They have control and independence when it comes to art and maybe, just maybe, that helps lessen tantrums when they aren't given free reign or open-ended choices in other parts of their day.
Art supplies just waiting for kids can seem like a terrifying disaster. Trust me, it will pay off, and trust your kids. Start with coloring books, paper, stickers and enforced rules before graduating to acrylic paint and micro glitter.
*Post coming. I think I'm ready, 3 months removed.