Art Workshop for Children | Simple Frame Paintings

What a privilege it is to share Barbara Rucci’s gorgeous book, Art Workshop for Children (affiliate), with you today. It’s hot off the press and making itself quite comfortable in our home. I handed it to my 8-year old who wanted to try just about every activity in this book (anyone who says process art is just for preschool children should be ignored!).

art workshop for children

For this first stop on Bar’s book tour, we wanted to share something simple that anyone could do at home (simple materials all the way — that’s my motto!), we chose the well-named “Simple Frame Paintings.” I hope this gives you a taste of what’s inside the pages of Barbara’s book, and maybe even inspires you to try it today.

What’s inside the book:

  • 25 process art experiences
  • beautifully written essays on children and art by Reggio-inspired educator Betsy McKenna
  • colorful photos that you’ve come to love from Bar’s popular blog, ArtBar Blog.
  • Tips for art making
  • Variations to try next time
  • Examples of what real children have said when they tried the activities
  • Also, the book is flexibound, which makes for an easy page-turning experience. Seems like a minor thing, but it makes a big difference.

If you go to Amazon, you can see the full table of contents and get a deep look inside the book.

And here’s a little peek inside…

Art workshop for children long

It’s beautiful, right? Okay, on to Workshop 1: Simple Frame Paintings…

Simple Frame Paintings


  • Watercolor Paper
  • Tape (painter or washi)
  • Watercolors
  • Water bowl or glass of water
  • Paper Towel
  • Paintbrushes
  • Piece of cardboard (optional)

Simple frame paper

Step one

Tape around the edge of the paper to create a white frame. This is such an easy step that makes the art look incredible in the end, and I’m kicking myself for never trying this quick framing tip before. Genius!

You can tape it to cardboard so your child can easily move the work around or tape it directly to the table. We tried both, and it certainly helps to have a glass table in moments like this!

Step two

Invite your child to paint.

That’s it! Easy, right?

Step three

When it’s dry, peel off the tape. This part was pure magic for the kids. I offered to help them, but they really wanted to do this themselves. Heads up: try to use low-tack/low-stick tape if you don’t want it to peel your paper off with it.

frame tape collage

My kids enjoyed seeing the “Variations for Next Time” ideas and pulled out a couple rulers to experiment with adding lines. Bar also suggests making radial designs and adding oil pastels or crayons for a wax/oil resist experience. That would also be lovely

Not only was the process fun (hey, my children couldn’t stop with just one — so that’s a great sign), but the paintings also look amazing on the wall.

simple frame paintings

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Order your copy of Art Workshop for Children today. You won’t be disappointed — I promise!

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art workshop

The Art Habit is Here!


Starts October 30, 2016

Your family’s art practice doesn’t have to take a back-burner for lack of time or organization.

The Art Habit is a 5-week Experience that will put more artistic intention, ease, and a boost of creativity into your family’s life.

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The Art Habit is a brand new TinkerLab Experience, and I’m looking for a handful of committed parents and teachers to join me on its beta launch.

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Would you like to…

  • have more time
  • get help setting up art projects for children of multiple ages
  • set up projects that are cost conscious
  • find more room for art or have a better organized space
  • learn how to set up activities without losing your mind
  • make more of your own art
  • support your child’s creative thinking and problem solving skills through art making
  • have a curated plan that took care of all the planning so you spend time doing the things you love?

If any of these sound like you, then The Art Habit has your back. I’d like to invite you to join me as a founding member of the beta release of this experience. Sign up here!

After going through this program, you will:

  • feel more connection with your child
  • support your child’s creative thinking and problem solving skills
  • connect with your own untapped creative genius
  • have more time to do the things you care about because The Art Habit provides you with a curated plan, saving you planning and research time.


Structure of The Art Habit

This is a 5-week art experience for families with young children who want to bring more art into their homes with grace, calm, and joy.

Week 1: Prepare, organize, shop for supplies

Weeks 2-5: Process-based art activities, conversations and feedback in closed Facebook group with access to Rachelle, journal reflections, sketchbook prompts for parents

We will take a week off for Thanksgiving, although I’ll share some light bonus activities for that week, essentially making this a 6-week experience.

art habit examples

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Read more about The Art Habit here.

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Claim your spot in The Art Habit here.

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Downloadable Chore Chart

Could you use a little extra boost to encourage your child to help out around the house?

I needed this, which is why I designed this chore chart.

My kids have had casual chores for a while and this is how it would always go: When I needed help setting the table, folding laundry, or sweeping floors, I’d ask them to pitch in. And most of them time they would willingly help. But sometimes these requests were met with cranky attitudes and maybe even a whiny, “Mooooom, I’m busy, do I haaaave to?” Right. Are you familiar with this?

On top of that, I was starting to sense an air of entitlement. So I started researching the importance of chores for kids and found that kids who actively participate in chores are more empathetic, have better relationships with family and friend, and have higher self-esteem to name a few. Read Why Chores are Good for Kids for more on the benefits of chores.

To make it stop and bring more sanity to my life and theirs, I worked out a chore chart that’s now magnetized to our fridge. We print it out weekly, the kids write their names at the top, and we fill in the chores for the week. These usually stay the same, but there’s flexibility to delete those that aren’t working out and add jobs that need tackling.

Downloadable Chore Chart

If you’d like to download our fill-in-the-chore chart plus chore ideas for kids ages 3-18, you can download it here. And please let me know how this works for you!

Read more about Chores for Kids

Why Chores are Good for Kids

Chore Ideas for Kids

Chore Ideas for Kids Organized by Age

Chore Ideas by Age

When children are involved in household chores, they’re more empathetic, less self-centered, and research shows that they will become more successful adults. Read this article, the first in this series, on why chores are important: Why Chores are Good for Kids.

You’re probably here because you already know that chores are important and you’d love a list of ideas to put on a chore chart.

Chore Ideas by Age

The following chores are merely a guideline based on general developmental abilities and attention spans. You know your child and family needs best, so feel free to move these chores up or down into different age categories as you like. Pick and choose the chores that you would like your child to work on and add them to your weekly chore chart.

Some things to keep in mind when choosing chores:

  1. Children will be more invested if they choose their own chores
  2. Chosen chores should help the entire family, not just the child
  3. Be encouraging, yet limit praise around chores
  4. Limit the number of chores so children feel success and accomplishment

chore ideas for kids

Little Kids/Preschool/2-5

Pick up toys

Put laundry in the hamper

Color sort laundry

Bring in the mail

Help prepare dinner (salad tossing in the photo above)

Feed pet/s

Make bed

Wipe dining table


Help carry in light groceries

Set part or all of the table

Big Kids/Elementary/6-11

Make bed

Set the table

Simple food prep or help

Clear breakfast table

Wash dishes

Fold laundry

Put clothes away


Sweep Floors

Take out garbage

Make breakfast

Make school lunch

Load/Unload dishwasher/drying rack

Wash the car

Put groceries away

Rake leaves

Bigger Kids/Middle and High School/12-18

Iron clothes

Clean bathroom

Cook a meal

Yard work

Babysit younger siblings

Get the customizable Chore Chart Here. The chart is part of a 5-page downloadable PDF that includes the list of chore ideas.

chore chart and ideas

Chore Chart Template

You might also like to read this article: Why Chores are good for kids:

Why chores are good for kids




Why Chores are Good for Kids

We all know that helping out around the house is important. But did you know research shows that children who participate in family chores, starting at ages 3-4, are more successful in their 20’s.(Marty Rossmann, University of Minnesota, 2002). There is still hope for those of us with older kids, but it does get harder as children get older.

According to Rossmann’s research, the later you start, the harder it is to catch up. If children are introduced to chores at a later age, there’s a greater chance that they will be more self-centered and will not see the value of pitching into help the greater good of the entire family.

Why chores are good for kids

My girls are 6 and 8, and while we have always included some chores in their weekly diet, my awareness of this research is prompting me to step my game up. Big time. No more “can you please help mommy by putting your toys away?” or “please put your plate in the sink after dinner.” These are nice, respectful questions, but they also make me the keeper of housework and household accountability. We’ve been playing with chore charts for a few weeks and I love how my girls know exactly what’s expected of them. They can do it at their own pace and all I have to do is remind them to check the chart.

Aside from falling off the bandwagon a few times: a birthday, grandparents visiting, and an overnight camping trip, the chart has been a success and my fingers are crossed that my kids will continue building toward some of the many benefits and values that come from doing chores.

Why chores are good for kids

Benefits of chores

Children will:

  • be more empathetic
  • have better relationships with family and friends
  • have higher self-esteem
  • be better at delaying gratification (read up on Stanford’s Famous Marshmallow Experiment for more on that)
  • be more responsible
  • be better prepared to get through difficult or uncomfortable life events
  • be less self-centered
  • learn the value of hard work
  • be held accountable
  • practice discipline

This article, Why Children Need Chores, is a fun read.

Some things to keep in mind when choosing chores:

  1. Children will be more invested if they choose their own chores
  2. Chosen chores should help the entire family, not just the child
  3. Be encouraging and limit praise around chores
  4. Limit the number of chores so children feel success and accomplishment

If you’re looking for chore ideas, I put together this full list of 32 Chore Ideas for Kids, organized by age.

chore ideas for kids

We’re tried all sorts of tools for encouraging our children (now ages 6 and 8) to help out around the house: gentle nagging, not-so-gentle nagging, laminated cards with chores on them, and simple hand-written charts. I finally gave up and created a printable chore chart that we can print off at the beginning of each week. It’s working for us so I made one for you to use.

Get a Customizable Chore Chart

If you’d like to grab your own ready-to-go, customizable chore chart, click here.

free chore chart

  1. Print it out weekly
  2. This chore chart includes blank spaces that you can write chores into. This keeps it flexible so you can change chores each week.
  3. There’s room at the top for your child to write his or her name. Use stickers, markers, colored pencils. Have fun personalizing it.
  4. Your child can x, check, or draw pictures in the boxes
  5. Some of the chores on my list are daily and others like “clean the hamster cage” are weekly. For non-daily chores, you could leave blank or pre-fill the boxes with color or checks.
  6. You can print this in color or black and white.
  7. Bonus: This PDF also includes a complete list of chore ideas for children ages 2-18.

chore chart and ideas

Art Experiment | Glue Art on Paper


Glue Art on Paper is a process-based art activity that will lead to surprising discoveries and build creative confidence in kids.

If you’re finding yourself here, chances are that you have a young child and/or see the benefits of experimenting with art materials. Process-based art is a meaningful way for young children to grow as makers and for adults to take an well-needed art break that’s good for the soul.

There are so many benefits to playing and experimenting with art supplies — for both kids and adults:

  1. It’s relaxing
  2. Taking time to create can be meditative
  3. New discoveries come through experiments
  4. It builds confidence and knowledge of tools and materials

This project can be done with children as young as three.


I link to the best priced/highest quality art supplies on Amazon. These are affiliate links.



The Set-up

  1. Squeeze liquid watercolors into your ice cube tray or separate bowls. We used 4 colors. A variety of colors is useful for this project as it encourages color experiments.
  2. You can use one pipette or different pipettes for each color. We chose to used two. This led to colors mixing, which we didn’t mind.
  3. Set up one sheet of watercolor paper, glue bottle, pipette (on top of the ice cube tray), and a skewer.
  4. Squeeze glue circles onto the paper.
  5. With the pipette, squeeze a few drops of liquid watercolor on the glue circles
  6. Invite your child move the paint through the glue in whatever way he or she likes.
  7. Older children can practice fine motor skills by squeezing their own glue and drops of liquid watercolors on the glue.

Take it further

Once you have this preliminary test under your belt, ask yourself or your child, “what else can we do with these materials?” Be open to new experiments and ideas. You may be surprised where it takes you. Some ideas:

  1. Add small pieces of paper to make collages.
  2. Press stickers onto paper and make glue designs on top of them. Will you be able to see the stickers when the glue dries?
  3. Play with glue and watercolors on top of wax paper. When it dries, can you peel the designs off the paper?

For more activities like this, along with tools for setting up a home space that supports creative growth, the Family Art Guide is designed just for you.

Abstract Art | My Kid Could Paint That!

Abstract Art My kid could paint that

Today I’m joined by my friend, Lynda Nicolay and her adorable, artsy son Grayson. This is the first article in the “My Kid Could Paint That!” series, inspired by this crafty duo. Lynda is going to show us how she set Grayson up with a canvas and some simple materials to make an abstract canvas that looks incredible in their new home.

I love Lynda’s creative use of a recycled apple container, her tip for finding inexpensive art supplies, and how brave she is to set this up over carpet. Friends, it can be done!

If you’d like to submit an idea for “My Kid Could Paint That,” please fill out this form.

Scroll to the end for the full supply list.

Here’s Lynda…

Abstract Art Sponge Painting

So this painting was done by my 5 year old.  It was super easy and fairly inexpensive.  Michaels always has sales so we picked up what would have been a 100.00 canvas for 35.00.  Acrylics were also on sale so in this case I picked out the color palette since I knew I was going to hang it up in a specific area.

We used the plastic containers that Costco uses to sell apples.  I always save those for a variety of things, but this was great for paint.

plastic apple container store ornaments

Instead of brushes we used sea sponges and I just ripped them in half so I only had to purchase a few.

sea sponge painting

I started squeezing a color into each compartment, but Grayson decided to mix and I really think thats how the painting came out so interested.  He would make different mixes and just went to town.

child sponge painting

children art abstract painting

child painting abstract canvas     

I would say he worked on this and finished it in a few hours.
I love it because he can just splash paint wherever, and it looks good.  He would even go over areas that were already painted to add more texture.
As you can see it started out as dots and then turned into something completely different.


Amazon affiliate links

Canvas (36″ x 36″)

Acrylic Paint (8 oz. tubes are a good size)

Sea Sponges

Canvas Drop Cloth

Lynda NicolayAbout Lynda

I’ve had a passion for the arts and for image making starting in my teens.  I was a dancer throughout high school until I was about 21.  I then spent the next 6 years studying film, specifically Cinematography and Photography at Columbia College in Chicago and then at The American Film institute in Los Angeles.

After my education I worked in the film industry for several years in the camera department and would spend my summers or off time in Rockport Maine teaching lighting/camera and general filmmaking at The Workshops.

In 2011 my husband Matt and I had our son Grayson who is now  5.  We currently live in Johns Creek, GA.  Grayson also loves to tinker and create so we are always trolling Pinterest or TinkerLab for some interesting ideas.

Spring Activities for Kids

I’ve mined the TinkerLab archives for some of our very favorite spring activities for kids. These projects, crafts, and activities will help get children outside and into the fresh air, while celebrating the earth through a variety of lenses.


So many great ideas! Spring activities for kids.

Indoor (or outdoor) Crafts

Outdoor Games

Get outside! Spring Activities for Kids.

Outdoor Arts and Crafts