Thursday, August 25, 2016

Materials Management

Let's start with some basic facts:

I am not an arts-and-crafts person. 

DIY is not my thing. 

And I hate mess. 

Got it? 
Ok good, 
now onto the back story. 

My saintly cousin Hannah came down to help unpack, 
and whenever I see her, 
I love to pick her brain on childhood development things. 
She works in toddler special education, 
so basically she's a goldmine of really smart toddler ideas. 

This particular visit, we were talking about toddler skills 
and other sort of things, 
and she mentioned "materials management." 
(I'm going to butcher this so, Hannah, please jump in here) 

Materials management allows Aaron to take ideas in his head, 
and put them down on paper. 
It helps him to learn to handle things like glue sticks and scissors. 
Allowing him to use his imagination but then put it into a visible form. 
It's basically the science behind an "art station." 
A place where Aaron can go create and do whatever he wants. 

I was like: 
"Oh I have coloring books and can bring them out when he wants it." 

And she was like: 
"No, he needs a place he can just go whenever to create. 
And let it be his place. 
Whatever, just lying around."


This sounds MESSY. 

I hemmed and hawed and finally 
made a deal with myself to give it a shot. 
I took an old IKEA side table 
and stuck it in the corner of the dining room 
along with his toddler camping chair. 

I then spread out some plain white paper, 
a few coloring books, 
printed coloring pages (online)
glue sticks, 
water paints, 
toddler scissors (those dull, blunt, barely-work plastic things) 
and just left it there. 

Wouldn't you know, 
Aaron LOVES IT. 
He'll periodically just sit down and creates whatever his little mind wants.
Our fridge is covered in his little artwork 
ranging from stickers collages, 
to painted pictures. 

The ONLY thing he has to ask me for is water for the water paints. 
Because we have real wood floors, I don't want to risk the water sitting out all the time. 
(And yes, this is a form of my control freak shining through.  Let it be.) 

I've also found him randomly cutting things with his little stickers. 
So excited that "Mommy look what I did!" 
as he butchers up a picture of Darth Vader with his scissors. 

I'm sure some people reading this think: 
"Duh Emily. Isn't a craft station just part of childhood?" 

And you know why? 
Because this: 


Hannah assured me that I did not need to include markers in this station. 
(They incorrectly teach kids not to press down) 
so I was relieved to hear that I could avoid such tragedies as the picture above. 

So far, the worst I have to deal with is this: 

Messy, but not total mayhem just yet. 

Anyway, the point of this is that, 
I didn't want to have an art station. 
And I still don't. 
So I call it Aaron's "materials management station." 
But he needs one. 
Because it is an essential part of development. 
And he freakin' loves it. 


  1. Is it sad that the main takeaway from this for me is that I don't have to feel bad about not letting the twins play with markers...? Ha!

  2. That is so great! We have baskets that slide out with all our 'materials' in it, but I'm wondering if that makes it hard for Drew to get to it or realize it's at her disposal???