Maria Montessori believed that art was a natural creation universal to the human species — each culture developed its own art as a means of expression. Because art serves as a way of expressing oneself, Montessori developed a method for teaching it that would not get in the way of the child’s expressive tendencies. She taught the means for expression step by step, but encouraged children to combine them by themselves in order to express themselves.
In the Montessori classroom, art materials teach each skill separately so that the child can combine them on her own: line drawing with markers, filling in outlines with colored chalk, painting, gluing paper, etc. All of these skills will be mastered independently and then combined at the child’s discretion in some grand piece of artwork. You can see some examples of Montessori art trays HERE and HERE.
In our Montessori homeschool preschool room, we have art trays with each skill isolated so the girls can practice them. In our main living space, we have this little art corner complete with an art cart full of supplies that the girls can use to put together their OWN art trays — because this is the space where the child is given the opportunity to combine the media and technique she has learned in the classroom to express herself in a new way.
When I posted this photo on Instagram, EVERYONE wanted to know what’s in our art cart! Here are the details — but I do want to note that all of these materials are ones with which the girls are already very familiar. They know the correct way to use them, and they rarely “misuse” them [coloring on things that are not supposed to be colored on, or cutting things that are not supposed to be cut]. When they do misuse them, it is mostly done out of a need for attention rather than because they just don’t know how to use the materials. This art cart will work for children 2.5+ who have already had experience with the materials. I would not put this art cart out as-is for children younger than that or those who have never been permitted the freedom to explore with these materials.
Desk: LINNMON / ADILS table from IKEA
Chairs: INGOLF junior chairs from IKEA
Lamp: Touch-On Desk Lamp
Art Cart: RÅSKOG utility cart from IKEA
Paper Trays: 3-Drawer Organizer
Paper: MÅLA paper from IKEA
Trays [for messy materials]: the lids of the KUGGIS storage boxes from IKEA
Containers: similar Pencil Cups
Paints: MÅLA Fluorescent/glitter paint from IKEA
Palettes: Plastic Paint Palettes
Ramikins [for watercolor water]: similar set
Scissors: children’s scissors
Squiggly Scissors: MÅLA Scissors from IKEA
String: Crochet Thread
Crayons: Twistable Crayons
Markers: Crayola Washable Markers
Stampers: MÅLA Stamp pen from IKEA
Watercolors: MÅLA Watercolor box from IKEA
Paper: Watercolor Paper
Beads: similar Glass Beads
Bead container: similar Organizer
Beads: PYSSLA Beads from IKEA
Bead Templates: PYSSLA Bead shape set of 4 from IKEA
Chalkboard Mats: Handmade Chalkboard Mat
Playdoh: Play-Doh Noodle Makin Mania Set
And that’s our Montessori-Inspired Art Corner!