It's a go on the art pen pal idea!
Just in asking if there was a general interest in some sort of art pen pal program, I already have over a hundred kids signed up, ranging in age from almost two to eleven (so far!). Woohoo!
I love the idea that envelopes filled with little bits of colorful childhood art will be flying through the air back and forth across the country and the world. That kids will receive fun, artful mail from other kiddos and communicate via drawings, paintings, and COLOR. And I'm sure there will be words involved as well, at least sometimes, whether in the form of full on three-page letters, a caption for a drawing, a bit of info about the artist, or just practicing the alphabet. (Maia likes to sit down and right down all the letters she knows -- and not in any particular order.)
So, if you are interested in participating and haven't already, please send me an e-mail (email@example.com) with "art pen pal" in the subject line and include your children's names, ages, and your mailing address. Also, maybe mention if they have a gender preference. I will try to match each child up with another child of similar age from a different state or country. Over the next week, I will e-mail each of you back with the name and contact info of your children's art pen pals. If you don't hear from me within a week, send me another e-mail or leave me a comment on my blog. I have a hyperactive spam filter!
So, a suggestion to start off. Take it or leave it.
When you send your first artwork to your pen pal, include at least a brief introduction along with the art. You know -- My name is Sam. I am five years old. I live in Wyoming. I like frogs and chocolate ice cream. That sort of thing. Or not. Whatever.
Depending on the child's age, ability, and inclination, they can write this themselves or they can dictate the words to you. Maia's letters to friends and family are mostly dictated to me (usually faster than I can write!) although more and more she wants to write at least part of it herself and asks me how to write whatever it is.
By the way, I love the book Kids Have all the Write Stuff by Sharon Edwards. It's an older one (1992), but still wonderful and relevant. In it she talks about ways to encourage the writer in everyone and suggests putting together "writing boxes" to hold a child's very own writing materials. I read it ages ago, long before having kids, and re-read it when Maia was little. I think I'm due for another re-read.
Her book is the inspiration behind Maia's writing table, which I keep stocked with paper, envelopes, stickers, stamps (1 and 2 cent stamps -- cheaper than stickers but very grown up!), tape, scissors, a glue stick, markers, colored pencils, a pencil sharpener. We had a writing box for a while but ended up with a writing table. Her table often gets used for art, too, of course -- there's so much overlap right now. Most of Maia's letters are a natural combo of writing and art. I'd like to revisit the idea of a writing box though, partly for the portability -- you can take it in the car for example, or room to room.
Anyway, I'm getting way off course here. This is about art, not writing. Back to topic...
So, if your children are interested in having an art pen pal, send me an e-mail. I will get back to you with your art pen pal's name and contact info and you can go from there. This is so exciting! I wish I could be there when each child opens their mail! I'd love to see what the kids are sending each other. So fun!
Let's get as much art flying around the world as possible...