Setting up the center gives them the freedom they need and is always available. I chose a spot that I could monitor easily too. So far they are doing great. We laid some ground rules before we started: No coloring on self, walls,ect or taking anything from the station. All items are to remain at the art station, and no other items are to enter. Any mess you make (cutting tiny pieces of paper ect) is to be cleaned up before you leave, and everything goes in the right spot.
The best part is I spent $0 to set this up. I used only things that we had. I put a wall file hanger up for scrap paper and construction paper for their access. The table was in Andre’s room and never used. The lamp was an extra lamp not being used. The folding chairs are my mother-in-laws which she rarely uses. Yarn, thumb tacs and clothes pins made up our art display. The organization bins were some extras I had bought a while ago (3/$1 at Walmart) stocked the area with “safer” art supplies. Crayons, stickers, note books, stensils, scissors, glue sticks, pencils, colored pencils, chalk/boards, tracing paper, regular paper (from things I printed and didn’t need mostly–scraps) some pre-folded construction paper (for cards) and unfolded construction paper. I just put out whatever I thought Olivia couldn’t ruien the house with. No bottles of glue, markers, glitter, or clay. Those items are still “ask for” materials :)
That’s it! It took about 30 minutes. They are happy and Liv hasn’t even tried to take things into another room which is a BIG deal. I thought that would happen contantly.