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How to Create an Outdoor Art Studio

How to Create an Outdoor Art Studio

Children love to create art, and art provides wonderful learning experiences for children by giving them opportunities to explore color, texture, symmetry, and other design elements. Many art activities are done in traditional classroom settings, but art is a great subject to take outdoors and use in outdoor learning. Creating an outdoor art studio for the children in your care can open up a variety of additional learning opportunities and experiences. There are several factors you need to consider when creating an outdoor art studio, but here are a few steps that can help you get started:

  1. Decide on the location and permanency of your outdoor art studio.
    One of the first things you need to figure out when creating an outdoor art studio is if your school or center has enough space to create a permanent outdoor art studio for just your class to use. If it does, then you can decide on the best location for the studio. If your school or center doesn't have the space, you'll have to talk to school administrators about creating a permanent art studio for everyone to use or come up with a plan for a temporary outdoor art studio that you can set up when needed.

    Cost will also play a role in the type of outdoor art studio you create. If you're working with a budget or want an outdoor art studio that is just for your class, a temporary art station will likely work best. If you have the necessary funding and want to create an outdoor art studio that the whole school or center can use, a permanent outdoor art studio would be best.

    When choosing a location for your permanent or temporary outdoor art studio, look for an area that has grass but is close to the sidewalk or pavement. You may need to put easels on the sidewalk for stability or use the sidewalk as a canvas for chalk art. If you plan on creating a temporary outdoor art studio, you also have the option of moving to different locations around the school each time you set up the studio.
  2. Create a paint station for children to utilize and enjoy.
    The type of paint station you create will depend on whether the outdoor art studio is permanent or temporary:
    • In-ground art easels would work well for a permanent outdoor art studio since they're washable, have multiple sides, and come in various designs. In-ground art easels also allow multiple children to paint at the same time.
    • For a temporary outdoor art studio, fence easels or portable easels that can be used indoors or outdoors would work best. Using portable easels will allow you to save money by using the same easels in both the classroom and the outdoor art studio.
    • If you want to incorporate more large-scale projects in your outdoor art studio (permanent or temporary), try adding large trays. Children will have fun using various rollers and wheelie painters to create large pieces of art.
  3. Designate an area for children to create chalk designs.
    Your outdoor art studio needs to include an area where children can draw and create art with chalk. The easiest way to incorporate this element of your outdoor art studio is to try and locate your outdoor art studio near a sidewalk or brick wall or to use easels that have a chalkboard. You could also include large rocks or cement blocks/stepping stones in your outdoor art studio for children to draw on with chalk.
  4. Choose the other types of art activities you want to feature in the studio.
    There are various types of art activities you can include in your outdoor art studio. For example, you could add a small table and have children create structures out of modeling clay. You could also add various crafts or incorporate photography as another type of art. For more ideas on art activities that you can do indoors or outdoors, check out our selection of art resource books.
  5. Select paints, brushes, and other art materials for children to use in the studio.
    Paints, paint cups, brushes, sponges, crayons, colored pencils, markers, chalk, paper, and aprons are all must-haves for your outdoor art studio. The type and amount of art supplies you provide will depend on the activities you have planned, the size of the studio, the number of children using the studio, the number of easels/canvases available, and the location and permanency of the studio. Keep in mind that many of the supplies you use for art in traditional classroom settings can also be used in your outdoor art studio. Make sure all of the supplies and materials you provide are developmentally appropriate for the children using the studio.

Being outside and using an outdoor art studio can give children inspiration and help them create fun pieces of art that both you and their parents will enjoy. Be sure to take pictures of children using the outdoor art studio and of their finished outdoor artwork. Pictures taken at the outdoor art studio would make great additions to children's portfolios or as family engagement materials. Browse our selection of art supplies for ideas on items and materials you can include in your outdoor art studio.

Additional Resources

Selecting Paint Brushes for Your Classroom
Tempera Paint vs. Finger Paint
How to Set Up Your Preschool Art Learning Center
Developing and Implementing an Outdoor Classroom


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