Rogue has been in art and craft mode recently pretty much to the exclusion of all else! It's all good though, all that play dough squishing and paint brush wielding is great for hand strength, coordination, developing creativity and concentration.
I like to encourage independence in art and craft by having everything (yes even paint) accessible to the kids. I know that sounds mad and I agree that sometimes, fairly often really, it does lead to quite big messes, but it is so good for them to be able to act on that creative impulse that I think the benefits outweigh the cons.
Ways to cut down on the mess:
1. Have very small paint pots. We use tiny little pots to decant our paint into and on top of that I teach them to only fill them halfway. I think a big pot just invites the squeezing of the entire bottle of paint and that lovely squidgy mess of brown mixing that happens!
2. A place for everything. We used to have a box, one very big box with everything in it. Of course, whenever anything was needed the entire box would get dumped out to find it. Now we have things separated into small draws and jars and we can just get what we need out.
3. Make cleaning up fun. Ok, so I know this is going to sound really naff but sometimes the simplest things work the best. We have an old cloth and I have drawn a face on it, he likes to eat paint off the table and he eats really noisily (think Cookie Monster esq.). Yup, that's it... Rogue thinks it's really fun to be the paint eating monster cloth!
Well, I started writing that list thinking I would have lots to share but that's about it. Fact is I have a tiled floor and an old table and the kids don't often wear smart, valuable clothes so a bit of mess doesn't bother me that much.