I kept seeing notices on Facebook about the Fall Creek Public Library Art Cart, making special appearances at the library this summer. I had to get the whole scoop from Jenna, the youth services librarian, and here it is. Thanks Jenna!
The Art Cart is only available when I am in the Library and I tell every child who comes in about and make sure they know the rules 1. Use whatever you want in the cart. 2. Be creative. 3. Have fun. 4. Clean up after yourself. These rules are taped on the top and sides of The Art Cart, as well as being posted on our bulletin board advertising The Art Cart.
I have not had any major messes and the kids really seem to enjoy it. Often they just goof around and make random "stuff" out of the "stuff" provided. Sometimes it gets thrown away, sometimes the kids take it home. I hear lots of great cooperative and positive conversations as the kids use it.
I have the "basics" available at all times: paper scraps of various sizes and colors and textures, a glue bottle, glue sticks, scissors, a roll of tape, something to color/write with, rulers, and stencils each in their own little containers inside the cart. Almost always these items return to the right containers. Every two weeks I switch out the "extras" which have included yarn, large pieces of paper, felt, string, stapler, egg cartons, paint brushes (no paint, which confuses some and excites others), stampers, squirt bottles, discarded holiday cards and wrapping paper, bubble wrap, paper towel rolls, pipe cleaners, feathers, pom poms, books we have taken out of the system due to rips or coloring in them, packaging tape, duct tape....
The Art Cart hangs out in the back on our linoleum floor (near our children's and juvenile DVDs that EVERYONE goes to)--there are a couple of small tables nearby. I have noticed that it is bringing adults and children together more in the Children's Area. We have had a few "problem parents" that spend all their time on the computer while their children tear up the children's area and run around. These parents are spending more time back there, creating with their children and/or supervising. (I think the idea of scissors and glues scares a few parents into supervision - hahaha) I have also noticed a few families that rarely came in when I am here have started coming more often on days that I am here, just to use The Art Cart, which has slowly led to more and closer relationships with these families. They see me more often and are more comfortable asking for help, or giving suggestions, or just talking. The Art Cart has also been nice in keeping adult laptop users away from the children's area... you know the ones... they set themselves up the Children's Area and then complain about the noise. Yeah, now they regulate themselves to the "adult area." Don't get me wrong: I'm all about adults exploring the children's area, but only if they respect the rules of childhood: sometimes life gets loud, messy, and disorganized ;)
It is a super simple thing, this Art Cart, but boy has it been wonderful!