An artistic mind

. March 21, 2013.

The most sought after material in art teacher Tina Arndt’s classroom is the toilet paper tube. Her students at Central Trail Elementary School in Sylvania have the opportunity to make clay sculptures, weave textiles, tool copper and create installations in the hallways. But the simple toilet paper tube still plays a prominent role in many art projects.

“They ask for them all the time, and it’s amazing what kids can do with toilet paper tubes,” says Arndt. “But that’s
the best part of teaching art. The kids never cease to amaze me with what they can do.”

 Art has always been the teacher’s favorite subject, and her passion is imparting that enthusiasm to her students. Parents can reinforce the art history lessons learned at school and encourage creativity (and fine motor skills) by making projects without spending money or even going to a museum. According to Arndt, it’s easy to incorporate creativity into everyday life.

Favorite projects

Arndt says her student’s favorite projects tend to be three-dimensional projects like clay and paper mache, which they don’t normally make at home. However, she recommends that parents support their budding artists by simply giving them a place to work and a wide assortment of materials (think recyclable things like paper tubes, boxes and junk mail) to work with.

For genres or materials that parents aren’t familiar with, YouTube is a good resource for step-by-step instructions. For example, Arndt’s daughters have watched YouTube videos to learn how to draw anime and to fold origami shapes. Other websites that Arndt likes are The National Gallery of Art, Washington at for its interactive art zone, and for its kid zone activities and articles about creativity.

Toledo has many great art resources, too. Of course, the Toledo Museum of Art’s Family Center, which hosts free, drop-in themed art activities, is a favorite. Arndt has volunteered at the Heritage Center Museum’s summer art camp at the Sylvania Historical Village, which provides projects such as batik, wood sculpture and glass sand blasting that can’t be done at home or at school.

For Arndt, the discovery of art was early — she was only four years old when she announced to her mother that she wanted to be an artist. She started as an arts major at The University of Toledo, but switched to art education. She changed majors because she wanted to stay in Toledo and be involved in art without being a starving artist. She realized that as a teacher, she familiarizes students with art history, technique and creativity.

“I still get to be extremely creative by thinking of new ways and projects to inspire my young artists, “she said.

One of Arndt’s unique inspirational tools is the pin contest. Arndt has a coat covered with 372 art pins, and any student in second through fifth grade can compete to see who can identity the most pins by artist, genre or time period.

“Elementary-age students haven’t lost the love of art,” says Arndt. “They’re not worried about what other people say or what other people are making. They still take the risk.”