There’s no way around it: spring break will feel different this year. While traveling and gathering with family and friends is not advised, young minds still need a mid-semester break. Parents do, too, especially if they’ve taken on teaching roles. We all need to recognize the year’s stressors and push the refresh button.
Spring break doesn’t have to include a beach or an amusement park. The critical part is the break from your usual routine. One project to consider is creating an art-friendly space in your home. This can appeal to all ages, as well as be a stress-buster. It can also add a new focal point that could last beyond the break.
The Home Atelier
A small atelier, or studio, is a space for creating and expressing emotions through art. With your child as a co-architect, find a room in your home with lots of natural light and define the space using rugs, tables and furniture. It can be as small as a child’s table area or as large as a room.
Choose materials with an aesthetic appeal: natural stones, wood, glass, clay, textiles, paints, small building materials, corks, magnets, bottle tops, glues, papers and brushes. Strategically place art and architecture books nearby to inspire. Less is more in an atelier.
Use natural materials that delight the eye, skipping the bright plastics or commercially made items. Ideally, use open-ended materials instead of those that dead-end in a predictable craft. Children can help collect things from your home or nature.
Adults should give children the freedom to create unencumbered, monitoring mainly to add items that inspire new curiosities. Older children may want more sophisticated materials such as acrylic paints, papers, different kinds of clay and cutting utensils.
If the atelier is a hit with your family, it’s a good idea to rotate items in and out to keep children interested and appeal to all ages. Remember, parents need emotive spaces as well, so feel free to join the fun. The children’s interests should dictate new explorations, but some examples of extending creativity may include:
• A sewing machine and fabrics; even very young children can learn to sew with help.
• A potter’s wheel for those who are getting serious about creating with clay.
• A gardening atelier with seedlings started indoors, a large bin with earthworms or a household composting project.
• A woodshop can appeal to all ages. With some instruction, goggles and minimal supervision, young children can create things in a woodshop studio just as prolifically as they can with paints and brushes. Older children can learn to use electric tools. A family project like a doghouse or birdhouse can involve each family member, no matter how young.
Spring break can be an outside-of-the-box creation this year. Have fun and enjoy the break from the usual routine.
— Nola Enge, Ph.D., is director at The Hills School, 5524 E. Lafayette Blvd. For more: thehillsschool.org.