Under the Bed Kid Curated Art


Elaborate Lego imaginative play made by my daughter.

I have been reading a fascinating book called, How Children Make Art: Lessons in Creativity from Home to School by George Szekely. There is a fascinating section in the book about pre-service teachers making home visits to document and discuss their students’ collections in their bedrooms, as a way to help future teachers balance the study of adult and child art.

The author points out that all young children start off as artists and collectors, and that their bedrooms are the home to rich and varied, yet carefully curated collections. The author argues that children lose this passion and love of art when they come to school and find no connections between their home art and school art. So, as art educators, what do we do to encourage the connections? How do we as adults honor their playful and un-adult eye for design?

I started by looking at my own two children’s rooms for ideas on what I can do to encourage their collections.


Objects from my childhood treasures.

This book has been a timely read, as I recently helped to take apart a childhood collection site of my own – a glass case shelf where many priceless treasures were stored.  I did not photograph this lovingly curated shelf, before taking it apart.  Items had been in certain locations for so long that I can still close my eyes and see the arrangements.

My children sat with me, in absolute amazement, picking up each object one by one, treating each thing as sacred and precious.  They asked question after question, cataloging my responses as insights to my own childhood experiences, making connections that their adult mother was once just as imaginative as they are are now.  Revelations to my little humans!

My 8-year old daughter has a more elaborate system of set-ups, comprised of animal figurines, dolls, dollhouses linked together, scarves, washi tape, rocks, glass beads, shells, wrappers, and prize bin items. There are constantly items all over the floor, which at first appearance may seem random and messy, but upon closer inspection, they are set up in a deliberate and playful manner. She HATES the weekly floor clean up, in order to avoid her precious collection from being vacuumed up.


My son’s collections are housed in old cigar boxes.

My 5-year old son, on the other hand, likes to keep his collections stored in a series of boxes, which are then in turn put inside his nightstand drawers and on his book shelf. If given the opportunity, he will pass on letting friends play in his room, because he likes the floor clean and free of items.

Enter a solution that comes from my hybrid roles of mother and art teacher – under bed platforms for each child’s room.  They can hold train tracks, cars, Legos, fairies, ponies, dolls, furniture, or whatever is being curated at the time.

We just so happened to have two nice pieces of plywood in the garage, casters in the basement, and kids who wanted to help in this process.

Eric had both kids help him to measure, mark, and screw in caster wheels to the bottom.  We left the wood natural, knowing that at some point they may paint them, tape paper on, or layer their own playful surfaces.  Now their curated collections can be safely stowed away to be returned to again and again.


Two recent thank you notes made by my children.

This book has been an on-going source of ah-has for me and has helped me to honor the creative ideas and art making of my own two children.  My next step is to find more authentic ways to bridge the home art and school art of my students.

Tee Shirt Pillows


Two of my toddler’s favorite shirts were Christmas presents last year from grandparents.  The formerly two polka dot shirts, above, adorned my daughter in numerous photographs.  It was to both of our dismay when they very recently became 3/4 length sleeve shirts due to her rapidly growing limbs.  Seriously, it happened overnight.  Santa brought new shoes thinking they would fit in the spring – nope, she is wearing them already!  So, with the favorite shirts no longer in heavy rotation, I decided to immortalize them into pillows for her dolls or her bed.


Originally, I was planning on repurposing three of her critter shirts.  The top kitty shirt was spared because my sweet daughter said to me, “Thank you for the pillows, Mommy, but I was going to give the shirts to Dylan.”  Dylan is her youngest cousin.  I just about melted – I should have been smarter and asked her before cutting up these beloved shirts – of course she would want to share them! So, the My Kitty Loves Hugs shirt was pardoned from pillowization.  (Sidenote: Please excuse my youngest’s leg cameo).


This was an easy sewing project that even children could complete themselves as an introduction to sewing.  Knit fabric is forgiving and can take on interesting shapes.  I was not interested in making perfectly geometric shapes, instead going for a more tilted stylized look.  Next time I cut up old shirts they will be mine or I was ask permission first.  Lesson learned!


Finished Toddler Room

I can’t believe is has been a year since we moved to Des Moines from Greensboro.  What a year it has been too!  Things are finally beginning to settle for us as a family.  It is also beginning to really feel like we live in this house as the rooms come together one by one.  I hope to share a few more of these projects before baby #2 arrives.  First up is the new big girl room, AKA the purple room, according to my almost three year old.

It was only recently that my daughter’s big girl room was ready for her to move in.  She had been in another bedroom, but that room is to become the nursery for baby #2.  My toddler loves yellow and purple.  We already used a lovely pale shade of yellow, Pastel yellow, in the playroom.  I opted for her other color of choice, purple, but in a pastel shade.  I am not usually one to go for pastels, especially lavender, but this color is just wow on the walls!

Greta picked out that artwork at the recent Des Moines Pedal Art Show.  The doll crib was one that my sister and I played with when we were little girls.

The original color of this room was an odd, faded rosy pink color.  I was happy to see it updated and made more striking.  Eric painted this room while I was in Minneapolis for my sister’s baby shower and enlisted the help of a friend.  I was truly worried that he would freak out about the color and stop part way through.  I was happy to receive text messages with updates on how much he liked the color.

When I discovered that Pantone interior paint was available at Lowe’s, I knew our entire house would be done in these lovely colors.  We found perfect shades for almost every room of this house.  I still have yet to paint the upstairs bathroom and decide on a color.  Pantone is pretty fantastic – you can find a wide array of Pantone items out there!

Most of the furnishings in the room came from Ikea.  The bed, bench, rug, and button wall decor all came from Ikea in this photo.  So far, the room is sparse, which is fine by me and Greta.  She likes to put her things away and keep her room tidy – the IKEA MOLGER Bench
helps her organize books and stuffed animals.  The playroom also helps us to keep her room free of clutter, which I always am thankful for when I have to make a trip into her room in the dark.

The dresser and silver lamp are also Ikea.  Her gold framed mirror was a thrift store find and the quilt was a gift from a friend when she was born.  I’m still feeling so grateful that the floors in our upstairs were in as good of condition as they are.

The butterfly and owl watercolors work well with the violet fog color.  My mom made Greta the elephant artwork (left) with a technique called quilling.

Her collection of favorite stuffed animals, doll clothing, and favorite bedtime books are all housed in bins and crates on this bench.  It can also double as a nightstand when she eventually understands that concept.