This time last year I would be teaching 25-50 elementary aged students in a public school setting. Everything was as accessible and easy as could it could be for a person to do art with large groups of young kids-I had two large sinks, big tables for them to sit at, and custodians to clean at night. Having an art playgroup is actually more work, but a ton of fun too!
1. Choose an age range. Decide what age range of kiddo you’re gearing this toward. Too wide of an age range would mean projects at different levels to please the kids, plus a similar age is nice for the kids to play together.
2. Send out an invite at least two weeks in advance. I do my invites via Facebook event and this way I can send out notifications to the moms leading up to the playgroup.
3. Decide how you want to pay for materials. Do moms give you a flat fee to attend? Do they bring their own materials? I run mine like a co-op. Everyone brings a treat and everyone brings a material to share.
4. Decide what activities you will do with the littles. I aim to do 3 art activities in 1 hour. Usually we do a messy project like pumpkin play dough, a paper craft, and a sensory project.
5. Set up all of your materials and projects before. Often I do all of the assembling prior to the playgroup so the group runs more smoothly. Sometimes Ben does his projects the weekend before.
6. Have snacks and drinks available. Applesauce packets are great to have on hand. Don’t forget some paper plates and cutlery!
7. Clean and set up your home. I put the dogs outside with water, clean the floor, kitchen and restroom. I make an easy dinner too, so it’s done and out of the way. Put away any toys or activities you don’t want kids to take out. I put away the Playdough and thin out the toy offering.
8. Set up a drying area for wet projects. I have a large kitchen counter that we use.
9. Have examples ready and show moms what to do as they arrive. Art is a visual language so it makes sense to visually present each project.
10. Tidy up a little as the group creates and plays. Ask a mom or two to help or stay after a little longer to help.
Most importantly have fun and watch your kid(s) have fun learning! Play is so important in childhood development. It teaches them social skills and creativity-they can’t get that sitting in front of a tv! I love using the play group as a chance to reconnect with my busy mom friends, get my boys busy, and share my passion. Have fun creating!