6 Ways to Encourage Continued Interest in Your Childrens Easel

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The Childrens Easel - 6 Ways to Encourage Cointinued Interest in Your Childrens Easel

Thank you all for your ideas on my post about whether or not children’s easels are necessary!

The gist of your comments seemed to be that you need to shake things up a bit in order to keep the interest alive in an easel. If you leave an easel in one place with the same art materials all the time the children will start ignoring it (as Maia was doing with ours). Duh! This makes complete sense to me now. But I really thought I was doing the right thing by provided a “dedicated art space” in the form of the easel set up with basic art materials.

I’m still all for dedicated art spaces, but I understand now that dedicated does not mean static. I’ve tried many of the ideas you mentioned and am happy to say that they work! Here they are, with pics…

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1. Set up the childrens easel in a new location.

Our Melissa and Doug easel had been standing in the living room for over a year. I’ve since set up the easel in the kitchen, Maia’s room, and the backyard. I haven’t tried the studio yet, but that’s next up.

Childrens Easel 

2. Provide glue sticks and construction paper shapes so they can do a collage on the easel.

Maia found her easel set up with collage materials first thing in the morning and started gluing while still in her pajamas! Later, when art group kids came over, some of them continued with the collage making at the easel.

Childrens Easel 

3. Set up the chalkboard side of the easel with a cup of water and a paintbrush for water painting.

Maia loved this! She painted over the entire chalkboard surface, requested a cloth to dry it off, and then painted with water again.

Childrens easel

4. Create felt board scenes on the easel.

Attach a large piece of felt (or a felt board) to the easel with clips and provide a variety of felt shapes, animals, people, etc. to stick to the felt board. This is one that we picked up in desperation at a Cracker Barrel on a road trip. The felt is attached to a stiff board so is good for traveling, but I would like to try making my own one of these days.

Childrens easel 

5. Try a new art material on the easel.

I bought Maia a set of Rose Art squeezable glitter glue sticks because of her fascination with squeezing and with glitter. She enjoyed trying a new art material, but I wasn’t crazy about the sticks overall. I had a really hard time removing the stopper and re-screwing the tip back on. Maia was able to squeeze the sticks, but not without difficulty. Do any of you use a different brand of glitter glue stick that you’d recommend?

Childrens easel

6. And, last but not least, PAINT at the childrens easel!

Why didn’t I do this before?!! This is what easels are for, right? And Maia absolutely loved painting on it. She even surprised me by making deliberate shapes and naming them. From left to right (above): a grandma with a baby, a person, a girl, and an eye (I?). She also made a painting that she said was a stream, and several that she called “a grandma with her babies sleeping in a nest.”

Childrens easel

Maia really enjoyed painting with two colors simultaneously, mixing her colors directly on the paper.

Paintings from the easel on the art drying wall

And here, her paintings from the morning’s painting session (about 20 minutes total) on the drying wall.

So, as you can see, all I needed to do was shake things up a bit. I started my last post by saying I didn’t have any recent photos of Maia working at her easel, and now I have a bounty of them. Thank you again for all of your wonderful ideas! Please let me know if I missed any good ones…

UPDATE: We’ve had the same Melissa and Doug adjustable childrens easel for almost 8 years now and it’s still going strong! The kids continue to go through phases with it and I continue to change things up (sometimes) but it still gets regular use.

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  1. says

    great post. funny, i just did this with V’s play kitchen this morning – moved it from the playroom into the living room – totally renewed her interest.

  2. says

    FYI, I was just at IKEA this week, and I saw that they have a very affordable easel with a white board on one side, a chalkboard on the other, and a place to attach a roll of paper at the top (though I haven’t used it, so I can’t attest to its seaworthiness):
    I’d be interested to know how it measures up to the Melissa Doug one, if anyone can comment…
    Thanks, Erica

  3. says

    Just got home from work, tired, with two crabby kidlets. Knew that I needed to do something with them. Thank you for this post which saved me!! We did #3: I didn’t know how they’d respond but they are LOVING it (my girls are 2 and 3 y.o.). Thanks again!

  4. says

    We have the IKEA easel. It is basic, no-frills, and very affordable. I can honestly say it has gotten heavy use, by multiple children, both indoors and outdoors, and it’s still in good shape. And it’s very light, so it’s easy to move from place to place. You can see it in action here: http://www.thewritestart.typepad.com Well worth every penny!

  5. r8ermom says

    Jean, Thank you again for another inspiring post with so many ideas in one neat bundle. This is one post I’m bound to revisit.

  6. says

    Thanks for the great ideas! I put my son’s easel in the garage six months back because he ignored it and it was therefore just taking up valuable space. Duh Mom! Switch it up!

  7. says

    I, too, have IKEA easels and my kids like them though I do wish the white board side was magnetic. My friends’ kids now spend a lot of the time on those same easels practicing writing and what not with dry erase markers.
    I have a question: how do you like those non-spill paint jars and those color coded brushes? Are those the ones Susan Striker recommends?

  8. says

    I don’t remember which paint jars and brushes Susan Striker recommends. But yes, I like the non-spill paint jars and brushes. They’re great for working at the easel, especially. We had used them early on (starting at about a year) for painting at the table, but after a while put them away and just used bowls for the paint and later paper plates (when I got tired of washing out the bowls). But for painting at the easel I think they’re a good idea, especially if you’re painting inside and worried about a mess.
    I think ours are Melissa and Doug (or maybe Alex), but lots of companies make them. I just did a search on Amazon and came up with all these: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/104-5962418-5215946?url=search-alias%3Dapsfield-keywords=no+spill+paint+cups
    Also, a friend from the art group just told me about these Colorations Double Dip Paint Cups that each hold two colors: http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=7528

  9. growinginpeace says

    Are those RoseArt glitter glue sticks the same as the 3-D geleez glitter glue tubes? I know some of the other RoseArt glitter glue is obnoxious, but these kind usually hadn’t given my kids trouble – then again, my girls were a bit older, so they have more hand strength and they used them at a table and not upright at an easel. Maybe it’s something she can enjoy at a later time.
    That’s so disappointing that they aren’t working out. They seem to be a huge hit over here. Elmer’s makes a similar product too. They have a jumbo glitter paint pen. http://www.elmers.com/products/product/product_page.asp?pCode=E658
    But it’s probably going to be the same story.
    If you don’t mind really glitter paint, Alex makes a washable glitter poster paint. There’s a picture of what I’m talking about – http://www.playfairtoys.com/product/glitter-poster-paints. I don’t advise using this glitter paint on pumpkins though – we tried it last year and it peeled like crazy when it dried.

  10. threesneakybugs says

    Thanks for the tips! I am NOT a fan of glitter glue. For the price they just aren’t worth it. By the time you get half way through they start to become too difficult for the little ones to squeeze. Also you have to store them point side down so they are ready for use. On the other hand, maybe they work for older children who are more patient and have improved fine motor skills. Lastly, I have a how-to on my blog for making a felt board if your interested.

  11. Rachel says

    we just “painted w/water” outside w/our new colorations double dip paint cups… so fun! admittedly, the boys enjoyed painting for just a few minutes but then had a BALL pouring the “nonspill” (nonspill until actually poured!) water from cup to cup, drinking it, etc. water play is always fun and w/a new “canvas,” even better. first time we’ve ever had the easel outside- thx for the ideas!!

  12. Chandra says

    I found this great glitter glue in a jar where the cap had an attached paintbrush (like a nail polish bottle only bigger)…I think it was at JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels Crafts…it was before we moved from Minnesota to India and I bought a bunch of it at the time…it’s GREAT. NO squeezing and nice big pieces of glitter. Hope I can find it again when we go back for our visit! Maybe you can find it where you are… The label says “Kids Camp! For Busy Kids “Treasure Stone Sparkly Chunky Glitter Glue”. It’s a 2.5 ounce bottle.
    enjoying your blog a ton :-)
    Chandra Fischer
    expat mama to G (6) and O (4) in Bangalore, India

  13. Gloria says

    So I loved reading about this.. my daughter, now 15 months ( I start them early.. lol) has got a liking for scribbling with crayons and wanting to “color” everywhere!!! so, I bought a easel for her. she LOVES this thing, all her material are right there and since it’s a new buy, it’s still fairly popular… although, I’m sure once she gets a little older, she’ll start to get bored of it, so thank you so much for these tips!
    another thing I wanted to add: I too hate those stinking glitter pens, they are SO not worth your money.. and as an art teacher, I’m always looking for ways I can make new material for my kids to use.. this one’s fairly easy: just take regular tempera paint, and add glitter. no fuss. you can even mix the glitter colors to make a cool new funky glitter paint color. my kids in class LOVE the glitter paint, they get so worked up over it! lol.
    and you can measure out how much of it you need, instead of it going to waste.
    have you tried filling spray bottle painting?, (mini spray bottles), with colored water and letting her spray the easel? there’s also sponge painting, or nature painting (using leaves and branches acting as “brushes”),water balloon painting (taking a half water/half air filled balloon, you know , the ones that just jiggle around? and having her dip the balloon onto the paint, or brush it on, —this actually works better on a flat surface, not an easel.–and then letting her drop the balloon and “hit” it, watching it leave a trail of paint behind it…)
    anywho, thanks for the many easel tips!
    take care,

  14. says

    LOVE these tips. Been debating on getting an easel, wondering if it would get used enough…. Decision made – going to Ikea! Great Christmas present!

  15. Kate says

    For paint cups, we use the kids cups with lids that you get at restaurants (where you insert the straw, i cut the hole larger so the paint brush fits in). When we’re done, I just put a small piece of foil over the top so the extra paint doesnt dry out and go to waste. If you don’t have space to store the cups, you can rinse each time BUT to save time, you can insert a ziploc baggie first, then fill with paint. Super easy clean-up, take out baggie and toss in trash!