Montessori-Inspired: Watercolors



Not too long ago, I attended open house at the boys’ school and was delighted to follow first Emil, then Milo and Oliver, through some of the work they do throughout the day. While Milo and Oliver chose math lessons to share with me (which blew my mind and made me wish I had been taught the way they are being taught), Emil chose three-part word cards (a beginning lesson on reading) and watercolors.

The watercolors were set up much like the above picture: paintbrushes, drying cloths, watercolors, paper, and watercolor pencils on a tray with a vessel for water. He has been coming home with so many paintings, I decided it was time to give him this option at home in a similar set-up.



Now that our boys are older and have shown more responsibility in caring for their things, I decided to invest in nicer art supplies. I bought some watercolor paper, some nicer watercolors, and a smaller set of these watercolor pencils at a local art store. The little tray was also sold there in the painting section. I love this brand of watercolor pencils because they are ergonomically shaped (triangular instead of round) for little hands to hold.

In using watercolor pencils, simply dip the tip into a glass of water like you would a paintbrush. Re-dip when needed.



I also cut up some old microfiber towels into fourths and keep them on the tray folded into squares for easy clean-up. Emil wiped with one, dried with another. He also dumps the water and replaces the small jar each time he is finished. All he has to do next time is refill the tiny jar with fresh water and he is ready to paint!


We keep the tray on the windowsill next to the little table alongside the watercolor paper so he can access it at any time. We also just recently added a little spice shelf to stack the tray on top and the paper underneath for easier, less cluttered storage. It’s definitely resulted in some extra painting at home, and his brothers are right there with him. Glad to make these supplies more easily accessible for the wintertime crafting we will be doing when the weather keeps us indoors. Happy painting! I can’t believe it’s already December!

5 thoughts on “Montessori-Inspired: Watercolors”
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  1. A quick stocking stuffer idea for your watercolorists is a bottle of masking fluid. I use Windsor Newton brand, and it can be found at Art Mart. You paint it on just like watercolors, and it dries almost instantly. Then you paint watercolors around it and once the paper is dry, you can roll the masking fluid off with your fingers, almost like thin rubber cement. It’s really fun to explore negative space in a painting, or to learn layering.

    Only two tips – it dries out, so you have to recap when not using, and you’ll want to use older / cheaper brushes for the masking fluid, because it does dry on the bristles like a glue would. You can easily wash them, but I wouldn’t use it on a finer, more expensive bristle brush.

    I thought I had some pictures of some of the girls’ paintings with it, but here are some I did last summer.

    We love to drip it on paper to create stars in the sky, and then watercolor a brilliant night sky on the paper. It’s awesome for wintery painting as well, like snowy scenes.

  2. I don’t know that I’ve ever commented on your blog, although I read it often! I admire the choices that you make for your family and that you do so with intention. We are planning for now to homeschool and I am inspired by you for so many things in our home. The Montessori school that your boys attend seems lovely! We have a three and one year old and will maybe add one more to the family. I started out with “too many” things and am now in the process of simplifying and culling SO MUCH. Anyway, thanks for sharing! I enjoy reading. (And I’m using some of the items from this post for not so subtle hints for Christmas gifts from grandparents!)

    1. Thank you, Sommer! I’m convinced that the calm environment, free from the overload of stuff, makes it easier for us to be present and really enjoy each other. I’m glad you’ve found inspiration here! Happy Holidays!

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