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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Making Art Together

Setting a Space for Inspiration: Materials Play

In planning for the Materials Play Program, we specifically design art experiences with our toddler guests, and their caregivers, in mind. In the past two quarterly sessions, I have been really interested in continuing our thoughts about setting a space for inspiration by re-imagining the back part of our Art Studio for whole body exploration. In other words, I wanted each art experience to be immersive, focusing on limited materials, and tailored to toddler interests. Below is a round-up of the past sessions, I hope it inspires you to re-imagine your spaces based upon your art-maker’s interests! 

One morning involved an appreciation of bubble wrap and its many qualities. Placed on a table next to stamp pads, we focused on the ability for it to be used as a stamp.

Taped on the window, we saw how the many different types of bubble wrap caught the light.

Despite bubble wrap having the potential to get loud when popped in large groups, guests had quiet moments gently popping individual bubbles against the glass window.

Taped to the floor, it provided an opportunity to jump and crawl across it, creating loud pops.

The next week, I was inspired to create a whole-body experience with tissue paper after seeing many toddler guests find great joy in tearing paper. I taped strips of tissue paper under two of our tables which created an inviting environment for guests to crawl under the tables and tear pieces off of the strips to use in a collage on contact paper.

After tearing the tissue papers, guests carefully placed their pieces onto the sticky material.

Two guests noticed that we had a display in the windows which was quite similar to their explorations, and were delighted to add their pieces to it.

The most recent Materials Play exploration focused on a favorite material in the Art Studio at the moment, watercolor pencils. Wanting to encourage collaboration and usage of the watercolor pencils on a large-scale, I transformed the back of the Art Studio into a waterscape, complete with a paper pond, waterfall, and rivers.

The paper was a re-use of the display wall background for the past two EAPs and I added new color diffusing paper onto one window to allow for the guests to add their own water marks down to the ground.

Guests delighted in adding their own aquatic creatures such as fish, and whales, but were equally excited to experiment with mixing colors with the special material.

I hope that this post inspires you to focus your art explorations on one material within your creative spaces!



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 


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