Bring the mirrors outdoors and enjoy this simple and rewarding activity! During the early years, children are enamored with their own reflections. Providing this opportunity to study themselves, and create art, encompasses many different skill sets for young children.


Infants: Infants will enjoy simply looking at themselves in a mirror. Offer a hand mirror on a blanket where they can gaze and practice tummy time!


Toddlers: Help toddlers label their own features in the mirror. Encourage them to explore different art materials without concern about the final product. Focus on correctly holding utensils (pencil between fore finger and thumb).


Older Toddlers: Encourage older toddlers to recognize simple shapes in their features and transcribe those shapes on their drawing. Encourage correct handling of utensils, and help children write their names.


Pre-K: Encourage children to write their names and label their features when finished with their portraits.


Have you tried self portraits in your program?  Have a fun activity?  Share it with us


Provide children with a large sheet of butcher paper and small trays or plates with paint to explore dipping and making marks with recycled materials such as toilet paper or paper towel tubes, containers of various shapes and sizes, materials with different textures, etc. This could be an activity that is available over several days that children can experiment with in a variety of ways.

Goal: Children will work collaboratively, use fine motor skills, and explore making marks with paint using a variety of recyclable materials.

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The arts offer children a vital way to express their ideas and feelings. As providers, we can encourage the arts by being intentional in how we present art materials and support children as they create. This Town Square research to practice resource outlines the benefits of the arts for young children and showcases ways to explore the arts.


RtoP The Benefits of Incorporating the Arts





Welcome Spring!

Let’s take full advantage of the warm weather and have some safe fun outside!

Incorporating arts into the outdoors is a great way to encourage creativity, exploration, self-expression, and mobility skills development, all while enjoying some sun!

Sharing a simple recipe for outdoor chalk paint!


Printer friendly – Chalk Paint



Explore choosing art materials and the art process in this virtual training for family child care providers. Develop an understanding of process art, explore various materials that support drawing, painting, and 3D art, and finally, identify your role in facilitating exploration.


Town Square Indiana modules can be found in Indiana Learning Paths. Please follow the link below to log into your I-lead account and click on “Start Your Indiana Learning Path”. Once in Indiana Learning Paths please search for:

Town Square – Art and Materials in Family Child Care


Explore your neighborhood or back yard if available and find leaf or petals, then once inside have fun with these 5 activities

  1. SORTING:  Ask the children to sort the leaves and petals any way they want and then explain to the other children what their sorting rule was. (For example, one child might sort by color while another sorts by shape).
  2. COUNTING:  Count the leaves and petals that each child has collected, or the number of leaves or petals in each category from the sorting activity above.
  3. RUBBING: Create leaf rubbing by placing paper on top of a leaf with the vein side up and using the side of a peeled crayon to rub over the leaf onto the paper and reveal the vein pattern.
  4. PRESSING: Have children arrange leaves and petals on a piece of waxed paper and place another sheet of waxed paper over the top.  A grown up can use an iron to press the waxed paper pieces together sealing the leaves inside.  (Clear contact paper could also be used).
  5. CREATING: Children can glue leaves and petals to paper in arrangements that look like insects, animals, birds, or whatever they imagine.  They can use markers to add details to their creation.


We had a morning that was high energy and bordering on craziness and it wasn’t even 8am.  The forecast was calling for rain and the weather change had the kids running around and acting silly.  I was trying to think of something to redirect their energy and opened the art cabinet.  I found some scraps of watercolor paper and pulled out the tray of watercolor paints and some brushes.

As soon as they got started the place calmed right down.  I asked them to think about what they wanted to paint before they got started and then reminded them about dipping the brush in the water first and then rubbing it on the watercolor cake to pick up the color.  One of the kids was unhappy with a color he had put on his paper and we tried wetting it with water and dabbing it with a paper towel and most of the color came right off.

They stayed with the painting for almost 40 minutes and it really changed the tone of the whole day!  It was a great reminder about how soothing and calming watercolor painting can be for children.

watercolor painting



Town Square Research to Practice Statements offer information from theory and research with examples and suggestions for what it means in your work with children.  This series of position statements includes topics such as the benefits of a home-like environment, the power of open-ended materials, and the benefits of incorporating the arts.

Town Square Research to Practice: The Benefits of Incorporating the Arts

I recently visited the Botanical Garden near Chicago with my children and also participated in a Nature Workshop, which has left me amazed at the calming and restorative power of being in nature.  It is something I know as a parent of two active young boys is of utmost importance as a part of our every day life.  And it is something that I think I just know, in my bones, from my childhood.  Nature is really powerful for uncluttering the mind.  Maybe it is the air, or the activating of the senses, or the feeling of sharing the experience of nature (even if you are alone) with humankind.

It also recently dawned on me that these nature experiences appeal to my senses in an aesthetic way and I feel a sense of inner calm with its beauty.  The grounds at the Chicago Botanic Gardens are almost overwhelmingly beautiful and the amount of care put into making them so healthy and vibrant and beautiful is also overwhelming.  The workshop was a science and nature workshop, but was equally an aesthetic experience, and placed in the more organic and natural forest setting of the North Park Village Nature Center.  It was a day of serenity and beauty that was restorative to my spirit and energy.

This is as true for young children as it is for adults. I love taking children outside and into nature areas. They immediately seem to slow down. They begin to look intently for insects and they make new discoveries. When I can finally convince them to leave they are calmer and more focused at the same time. For some, art can bring about the same experience of calm and focus. By combining the two we can tap into the inner calm of children and provide an escape from the sometimes overbearing, overwhelming, and demanding world around them.

We encourage everyone to get out and experience more nature with children and bring drawing materials. You will be amazed at the change in behavior, mood and focus that comes from experiencing art and nature together.