ECA Blog

How do you color your world?

I have always enjoyed drawing and art in general.  When I was a child, my mom made sure that I had the opportunity to express my creativity through art experiences.  Whether it was creating masterpieces with crayons and paper or sculpting farm animals with play dough, art was always part of my childhood.


As a Kindergarten teacher, mom understood important benefits of art in early development.

  • By holding paintbrushes and learning how to control paint, crayons, scissors, and other art tools, children gain the fine muscle and eye-hand coordination skills necessary for later writing activities.
  • By using different sized shapes, mixing colors, and talking about their artwork, children can make connections to math, science, and language.

As a parent I want to share my love of art with my children, and in doing so, my four-year-old son has loved art experiences since he was a toddler.  When he was younger, we used pudding painting, bath crayons, large crayons, and no-mess markers.  Around the age of two he picked up a pair of kid-friendly scissors, and to this day one of his favorite activities is to “cut” scrap paper – old magazines, newspapers, junk mail, etc.  I truly believe that his early experiences with art gave him the fine motor skills necessary to help him to hold a pencil correctly and use scissors like a pro at preschool.   I will admit that I am comfortable having “messes” in my house and willing to allow young children to have scissors; however, I know that not all parents are.  I urge you to try it and let your child have these memorable moments.  Put a table cloth on the table for messy art time.  Give your child a pile of scrap paper and allow him to color, cut and create to his heart’s content.  You can set boundaries and still allow your child to have fun exploring art.

A couple of years ago, Hank’s grandparents gave him a plastic tub with paper, scissors, tape, rulers, and markers as a Christmas gift.  That was his favorite gift, which he continues to use on a regular basis, and now he has several designated boxes in his room just for his creative streak – – a scrap paper/cutting box, a sticker box, crayon box, marker box, and supply box with scissors and other accessories.   He also has a table and trashcan where he can create his projects.  This is his area where he is in charge of what he does and has the ability to express his independence in a safe way.

You too can create an art exploration box for your child with a plastic basket filled with all types of kid-friendly supplies, many that are available at the dollar store or around the house (such as empty paper towel tubes and old magazines). Have a designated space where your child can use the basket, and let her create whatever she wants, mess and all.

Have a Great Week!


What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

When I am dressing up or playing in the Dramatic Play Area, I try on various roles to help me process and understand my world. I am developing my social skills and ability to play with others, while using my imagination and being creative.    – Child Care Lounge


I remember playing “school” as a child and knowing that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  Then the next day I played “farm” and I knew I wanted to be a farmer.  The day after that it was an astronaut, etc.  Each day was an exciting new adventure and an opportunity to explore a new job to do when I grew up.  My imagination was my guide, and play was my tool.

“Play is the most important medium for development and learning for young children, aged birth to eight years.” – Ann Barbour, professor of early childhood education at California State University, LA

Play is how children learn to communicate with others and interact with the world around them.  A child can try new things through play in a safe way.  Play is the medium where children start exploring writing, reading, math, science, movement, and other skills that are essential in school readiness and success.  One tool that teachers and parents alike have used to enhance children’s play is the use of prop boxes.

Prop Boxes—plastic bins or cardboard boxes filled with materials and props related to one topic, such as math or writing. The boxes contain hands-on materials (books, toys, etc.) to explore, play, and learn about specific topics.

When I taught preschool I loved to use prop boxes.  It is a great way to organize materials by themes.  You can rotate the boxes in and out of the classroom so that you always have “new” materials for the children to explore.  Today, there are many child care providers that benefit from prop boxes that are available through the Early Childhood Alliance Lend.   Each month the providers get new books and materials to add variety to what they regularly use with kids.

You can make prop boxes too!  You just need a box to put materials in and a theme.  Prop boxes can be on any theme, such as camping, beach, post office, or farm; your imagination is your limit.  To help with materials to add to the prop box, check out this link to an article, Questions to Consider When Choosing Materials for Prop Boxes by Scholastic. .

The prop boxes are also a great way to link the dramatic play area in your child care program or home with other areas in the learning environment.  For instance, a bakery prop box might contain materials to set up a bakery in the dramatic play area, such as chef’s clothing, pots and pans;  books about baking for the reading area; a game about baking for the math area; art activities with food pieces for the art area, and a bakery truck and wooden bakery building block for the block area.

Looking for ideas to enhance your dramatic play area for children?  Here is a list of some Internet resources about prop boxes:


Have A Great Week!