When I was taking my Montessori training, I was surprised that the word “art” was not used for the preschool classroom, “handwork” was the proper expression. Handwork and art supplies in a Montessori preschool & kindergarten classroom usually consisted of plasticine clay, scissors, paper, glue, paint and brushes, large needles and embroidery floss .
During my first year teaching we used traditional Montessori art supplies we purchased from Nienhuis. The paper and
paints were beautiful, but very expensive. The next year we had a big budget cut so we had to rethink how we would provide art materials for our students.
As our budget diminished we started using “free” art supplies. I have to admit, it was much more fun to use what we had in a creative way. For example, while studying clouds we provided recycled cotton, clean grocery product trays and glue to make different types of clouds. Instead of plasticine, we made wonderful fun dough, peanut butter dough and paper mâché clay. Here are some of our favorite homemade art supplies.
We had so much fun making our own cardboard looms from stationary boxes and using packing foam for first sewing lessons. Thin foam works so much better than felt for stitching. Recycling what you have helps make handwork and art a true lesson in creativity.
I believe that art is one of the best types of free play for young children. Keep a variety of art materials available for academic and creative work. Art truly calms the soul.