I love the idea of outdoor art and project making but after one too many spills and mishaps schlepping supplies from my kitchen to the backyard I decided there had to be a better way!
Enter the DIY Art Cart! This idea was inspired by one of my favorite blogger authors who advocates for kids to have access to self-serve materials. Check out her book below and how we used it to create our mobile art station.
Do you love print as much as online content, or maybe more? There once was a time when I spent weekend mornings curled up with a good design book in my lap and a cup of joe, that is, before I had kids. Well, today I want to tell you about a book that I actually managed to get some good ogling time in with before being called away by my littles, and the best part is that it was written by a blogging hero of mine: Rachelle Doorley of Tinkerlab.
Tinkerlab was THE blog that inspired me to become a blogger. Are you a fan as well? If you are, you no doubt know that Rachelle has written an amazing book based on her uber inspiring blog. If you haven’t been to Tinkerlab you are about to hit creative nirvana so do yourself a favor and get to know the blog and Rachelle starting with her book: Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors.
Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors, published by Roost Books, is worth buying just to have access to 55 awesome projects to keep your kids busy this summer; however, what makes this book truly unique is its dual focus on fostering creativity in children complete with essays and interviews of arts/child educators. I also love the clear instructions on how to create an art/tinkering space in your home, where to do it, what to include, and suggestions for how it can best be utilized by kids.
We have a whole section of our kitchen dedicated to messy creating, however most of the items require me to pull them out and place them on the table. After reading the section on self-serve art areas for kids I decided it was high time to make some of our materials self-serve. Better yet I decided to put this station on wheels since we have been doing a lot of creating outdoors now that it’s summer.
So here is our self-serve Mobile Indoor/Outdoor Art Cart inspired by Tinkerlab!
This post contains affiliate links.
Indoor/Outdoor Art Cart
- Wheeled Cart with bins/trays/drawers- we purchased ours at IKEA
- Design & Art Supplies as suggested in the book- See our suggestions below
- Discovery Supplies as suggested in the book- See our suggestions below
- Tinkering Supplies – See our suggestions below
Since our cart has four baskets I divided our supplies as follows, starting from the top:
- Shelf 1: Art Supplies Particularly ones that might be dangerous for my toddler to access (he usually follows his older siblings around hoping to get in on any art action). A few of the items we included were paper, markers, scissors, watercolors, and tape. I based these on a few of the suggestions for basic art supplies and add-ons from the book.
- Shelf 2: Sculpting Supplies These supplies I feel comfortable having within reach of my toddler. I dedicated a large section of the cart to sculpture because my daughter loves clay and playdough. It is hands down her favorite art material and I knew it would get lots of play. We included modeling clay, air cry clay, homemade playdough, Mexican pottery clay, and some plastic cutting tools amongst other items.
- Shelf 3: Recyclables & Treasures I can’t throw anything away because I always see the potential in recyclables for art projects. It kinda drives my family bananas. So I was happy to see recyclable and other treasures on the the suggested list of things to include in a self-serve art area. Now I can justify my inner hoarder to my family!
- Shelf 4: Discovery Items I love this idea from the book! Rachelle has a ton of ideas for what to include in a discovery area, I chose a few of the suggestions based on what I already had in our stash. I included some found natural objects, a magnifying glass, prism, and other “scientific” type tools. I can’t wait to see what the kids do with this!
Ready To Roll (literally)
Our art cart was NOT a huge investment. The only thing I purchased was the cart itself, everything else was assembled with items I already had on hand. You really don’t have to break the bank when setting up art spaces for kids, be inventive, often just collecting and presenting items in a special way will get them a second look. I bet you can guess where I got that tip! After assembling the art cart I rolled it outside and asked the kids to spend a little time with it. We have two low tables for use in projects so I placed the cart nearby and walked away. This is what I came back to find:
I can’t recommend this book enough folks. For all you parents who want ideas and support as you try and raise thoughtful, creative kids you will no doubt want Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors in your repertoire You.will.love.it.
Buy it here:
Meri cherry says
This post is so gorgeous Ana. I’ve never done an art cart. I think it could work really well for art camp. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to get this book too!
Ana Dziengel says
It would be awesome for art camp! And yes, get the book! It’s full ‘o inspiration!
Very cool! We were just talking about Art Carts and the best way to do them…LOVE THIS! As a mom of 3 little ones I love doing art with the kids but it always ends up being a huge mess and fiasco trying to find/get everything out each time!
Ana Dziengel says
I totally understand! I’ve been so happy to take the cart OUTSIDE where I feel much more comfortable making giant messes. I also understand not being able to find anything! Whenever I need something I can’t find it and when I don’t need it I can…..ce la vie! The art cart definitely helped me go through my stash and curate things.
Love this idea (and Tinkerlab, too!). We have a cart but it’s mostly full of both blank and blank-on-one-side paper (construction and otherwise). What do you do with all of your paper? We go through so much (and I have only one child!) we could plant a forest. Thank goodness for recylcling!
Ana Dziengel says
I’ve been thinking about that. I save some of the art but yes, a fair share ends up on the recycling bin. I was actually wondering what would happen if I put the cart out without paper and saw what the kids came up with. I’m going to try and curate the cart every so often, add new things, remove other things so they find new items to explore. Thanks for stopping by!