Creative Schools: Putting the arts and creativity at the heart of children lives

Jane is currently working with a number of primary and secondary schools across the Cork/Kerry region as part of the Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools initiative.   Jane was nominated by Baboró International Arts Festival for Children as a Creative Associate for this project.

About Creative Schools

The Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools initiative aims to put the arts and creativity at the heart of children and young people’s lives.

Creative Schools is a flagship initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme to enable the creative potential of every child. Creative Schools is led by the Arts Council in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Creative Schools, formerly Arts Rich Schools/Arís, draws on the commitments set out in the Arts in Education Charter.

This pilot initiative will understand, develop and celebrate the arts and creativity in schools. It will establish a range of collaborative opportunities for schools and will develop and strengthen the relationships between schools and the broader cultural and community infrastructure within which they operate. The long term aim is for every school to be supported to fully embrace the arts and creativity, ensuring a positive experience and strong outcomes for children and young people.

Jane’s Schools

Scoil Barra Buachaillí/Beaumont Boys School, Cork; St Luke’s National School, Douglas, Co Cork; Cloghroe NS, Cloghroe, Co Cork. Glasheen Girls School, Glasheen Road, Co Cork; Faha NS, Faha, Killarney, Co Kerry; Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine, Kenmare, Co Kerry.

Learn more…

‘Play For Toddlers’: An Early Years Programme for the Hunt Museum

Parents and Toddlers Get Playful at The Hunt

In 2017 I was appointed by the Hunt Museum to develop and deliver a creative, multi-disciplinary and interactive early years programme that would make the Museum more friendly and relevant to the lives of young children and their parents.

‘Play for Toddlers’ aims to offer this important audience greater opportunities to discover, connect with and creatively respond to collections at the Hunt Museum through on site workshops and outreach sessions.

Pilot session at the Museum

The project saw me design play resources and an activities programme inspired by the Museum’s prehistoric collection and using the Aistear and Síolta frameworks, develop a lesson plan for the programme and train Museum Docents in its delivery through the use of pilot sessions with toddlers and their parents/carers. This included the creation of a multisensory playscape ‘Erik the Viking’.

The Play for Toddlers programme was established using funding accessed through the Department of Culture, heritage and Gaeltacht’s cooperation with Northern Ireland scheme. The Museum continues to offer ‘Play for Toddler’ Sessions including outreach sessions with groups in community venues.

Play For Toddlers - Hunt Museum
‘Play for Toddlers’ – The Hunt Museum, Limerick

Follow My Voyage….Baboró Early Year Arts Mentorship 2016: Part III

During my mentorship with the Baboró International Children’s Festival, I really began to appreciate the functional benefits of early years art, as well as the poetic that I discussed in my last article.  Early years art is an exceptional way to aid children’s development, and helps them to strengthen key skills along their developmental journey.

Gross motor skills

Get them moving….gross motor skills involve arms, legs, feet, and the entire body. Art projects that require young artists to stretch and move while creating are fantastic for developing this skill set. The large movements required for painting or drawing on a large surface such as on the floor or on the wall build coordination and strength.

Fine motor skills

Early Years Art Childrens Development Fine Motor SkillsThe smaller movements of fingers, hands, and wrists required to use a scissors, work with clay, peel and stick stickers, or draw on small surfaces develop fine motor dexterity and control.

Developmental milestones around age 3 usually include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Many preschool programmes emphasize the use of scissors because it develops the dexterity children will later need for writing.

Visual motor skills

Hand eye coordination or visual motor skill is the ability of the eyes to guide the hands in movements. This will go on to be very important when it comes to learning how to write for example.  So many elements of the art making process encourage improvements in the area of visual motor skills, such as cutting, threading, tracing and making patterns, and for the very young simple pouring and filling activities are a wonderful start.

Language and cognitive skills

Making art and talking through the process is an excellent opportunity to learn new words and apply meaning, especially when it comes to colours, shapes and actions. Take a simple activity such as crumpling up paper and calling it a “ball.”, children as young as 1 year old can learn in this way through making and repetition.

Oral motor skills Early Years Art Childrens Development Gross Motor Skills

Little kids need to strengthen and develop important lips, tongue, and jaw muscles,  which effect their progress with feeding and speech. Fun activities that involve blowing bubbles, or blowing paint are exceptional for improving oral motor skills, and great fun too!

Social and communication skills

Art is often about problem-solving and through art children can experience a healthy
sense of pride in their accomplishments. Making decisions about how to hold a paint brush, which color to use or how to thread a bead are important lessons that strengthen confidence and emotional maturity.

Working in a group on a art project involves important lessons on sharing, developing empathy for others, self regulation and taking instruction, all of which contribute to a positive learning environment.

According to UNESCO, “the encouragement of creativity from an early age is one of the best guarantees of growth in a healthy environment of self-esteem and mutual respect – critical ingredients for building a culture of peace.”

Follow me on Instagram for coverage of my experiences with the children and early years art.

Follow My Voyage….Baboró Early Year Arts Mentorship 2016: Part II

If you sat down to make art with your children could you stop yourself from asking; “so, what is it”? Would you fight the understandable urge to apply the “rules”? Could you let go and just for a moment …. suspend your disbelief?

As my mentor this week, Orla Kelly from Early Childhood Creativity said to me;

“Early years art is about focusing on the poetic, and young children naturally understand the poetic”.

early-years-art-jane-hayes-2She gave the beautiful example of her young godson who on seeing a Chinese lantern floating in the sky for the first time asked what it was. The name Chinese lantern meant nothing to him, where as the explanation that it transported the wishes of people was something that made perfect sense in his world.

From working with all the amazing groups this week at the Baboró International Ats Festival For Children it’s even clearer to me that when permitted, children have no problem suspending their disbelief. If they are given permission and the appropriate environment imagination and creativity knows no bounds. As artists it is our responsibility to bring children through the world with poetics, and even more importantly it seems, to help adults to “unlearn” the rules and rediscover the poetic too.

Deirdre Rodgers from Recreate Ireland, who is also my mentor this week points out that children make meaning through exploration, but unfortunately this exploration is often hampered by the systems and structures within society.

“Life has taken over and things are becoming more structured, even play is structured these days.”

In the ‘Creative Lab’ at NUI Galway this week, we provide the environment and support so that children, and indeed adults know its OK to let your imagination go wild, to colour outside the lines, or even get rid of the lines altogether! You don’t need special materials, to “know about art”, or even to be of a certain age to be creative.  Art is, and must be for everyone, even from the early years.

Now, check out Baboro’s incredible programme of events, and follow me on Instagram for fly-on-the-wall coverage of our experiences with the children and adult audiences all this week.




The Essential Art & Craft Supply List For Kids

Kids-Art-SuppliesSo you’re a great parent who wants to encourage creativity at home, or a new teacher who doesn’t know where to begin…..let’s talk essential craft supplies for kids.  I’m an artist and teacher and am here to tell you exactly what you do and don’t need….and stop you from breaking the bank!

Below you’ll find a excellent list that is genuinely based on my own personal experience and preferences from working with children.   You can also download & print my super smart Kids Art and Craft Supply Checklist to help you get on track right now!

* The asterisked items are my “can’t live withouts”!

Mark Making
  • Pencils *
  • Colouring pencils *
  • Paint markers such as  Uni-posca Paint Markers
  • Regular colouring markers
  • Chalk
  • Rubbers/ erasers *
  • Toppers/ sharpeners  *
  • Rulers
Cutting & Sticking
  • Kids scissors *
  • Sellotape/ sticky tape
  • Masking tape
  • Stapler
  • Paper glue stick, like my all-time favourite Pritt Stick  *
  • PVA glue
  • Multi-use glue
  • Paint brushes *
  • Liquid watercolour
  • Tempera/ poster paint *
  • Acrylic paint
  • Clean yogurt cartons for paint pots *
  • Old glass jars for water
  • Old plates for pallets
 Paper & Card
  • White printer paper *
  • Coloured paper/ construction paper
  • Coloured card *
  • Old magazines
  • Old cardboard
  • Toilet roll inserts
  • Wool *
  • Coloured felt sheets *
  • Coloured foam sheets
  • String
  • Needles & thread
  • Ribbons
  • Googly eyes
  • Beads
  • Glitter
  • Sequence

Print my Kids Art and Craft Supply Checklist  PDF now to help you get organised

Jane’s Top Tips

Essential Art and craft supplies for kids. What materials you need at home     Essential Art and craft supplies for kids. What materials you need at home

  • Rubbers/ erasers: Although they are essential, I try to encourage kids to embrace their mistakes.
  • Rulers: I discourage kids from worrying about straight lines but sometimes rulers are very useful.
  • Paint brushes: Round-head, medium thickness paint brushes, with a pointed tip cover a multitude.
  • Paint markers – such as  Uni-posca Paint Markers : These cost more than regular markers but are so versatile. They work on so many surfaces, and produce strong, vibrant colours even on a coloured background – I wish they had these when I was a kid!
  • Crayons: Crayons are my go-to option for younger kids, but they are also fantastic for special projects such as water resist technique. White crayons are a must!
  • Multi-use glue: Adult supervision is need with this as it is toxic, and very strong, but an excellent option for fabric, felt, plastic and wood.
  • Acrylic paint: Although it is not on my essentials list acrylic is my favourite paint because the colours are so strong, vibrant and smooth. But it is not easy to wash from clothes, are is more expensive than the other more kid-friendly options.
  • A3 paper & card: I always buy A3 paper and card because if you need smaller you simply cut it to size.

Jane’s ultimate Top 3 MUST HAVE items for unlimited creativity…..

  1. Coloured card
  2. Paint markers – Uni-posca Paint Markers
  3. Paper glue stick, like my all-time favorite Pritt Stick

What are your personal favourites when it comes to kids supplies?  I’d love to see which of mine are and are not on your list.  Please leave me a comment below!

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Sports Fans!

Let’s cheer on our favorite sports teams with this super cool foam hand DIY. Be it football, GAA or basketball that you love, you can show your support! They are so easy to make, especially with the help of my free printable, to guide you with the hand shape. A4 is a great size “giant” hand for little ones up to 5 or 6 years old, but why not go crazy and scale them up to A3 size for big kids, and adults too!

Now all you have to decide is which team you’re shouting for…..ART//CRAFT//CREATE

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Football Fans! Kids craft step by step. Jane Hayes Creative

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Football Fans! Kids craft step by step. Jane Hayes Creative

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Football Fans! Kids craft step by step. Jane Hayes Creative


  • Free printable hand template
  • 3 pieces of A4, thin foam sheets in your team’s colours: 2 in one colour, 1 in another  (or card will do fine too)
  • Scissors
  • Ball-point pen
  • Craft glue/ glue gun for hot glue (parent super vision needed)


  1. Print your free printable hand template and cut it out
  2. Place the template on one of the pieces of foam, ‘x’ facing up, and trace around it using the pen
  3. Place the template on a 2nd piece of foam, ‘x’ facing down, and trace around it
  4. Now cut both shapes out carefully
  5. To hide any pen marks, prepare to stick them back to back with pen-marked sides facing in, towards each other
  6. Using craft glue or a hot-glue gun, run a line of glue around the edge of one of the hands (on the pen-marked side), as close to the edge as possible. DO NOT put glue along the bottom edge where the wrist is
  7. Carefully line the two hands up and press them together until they are stuck completely
  8. Cut out extra symbols or letters from the 2nd colour foam, and stick it to the front of the hand for extra decoration
  9. Now wear your giant hand with pride, and shout for your team!!

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Football Fans! Kids craft step by step. Jane Hayes Creative

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Football Fans! Kids craft step by step. Jane Hayes Creative

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Football Fans! Kids craft step by step. Jane Hayes Creative

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Football Fans! Kids craft step by step. Jane Hayes Creative

Giant Foam Hands for Mini Football Fans! Kids craft step by step. Jane Hayes Creative

Why not upload a photo of your creation to Facebook or Instagram with #janehayescreative I’d love to see your work!

Want backstage access to free material and printables? JOIN MY MAILING LIST right now!

Emoticon FUN: Amazing Emoji Optical Illusion DIY

Emojis rock! These bright little yellow faces are so much fun, super on-trend, and loved by kids and big kids! Great as a fun craft activity, as party favours, or how about as a cute little addition to a birthday gift? Bring a smile to someone’s face, and a very happy grin to your own with this amazing DIY. Please share this post with your friends (Kiss Face)…


Amazing Emoji Optical Illusion DIY. Make this fun party favour or gift, full step by step at

Amazing Emoji Optical Illusion DIY. Make this fun party favour or gift, full step by step at

Amazing Emoji Optical Illusion DIY. Make this fun party favour or gift, full step by step at

Amazing Emoji Optical Illusion DIY. Make this fun party favour or gift, full step by step at

Amazing Emoji Optical Illusion DIY. Make this fun party favour or gift, full step by step at



  • White scrap paper to practice
  • Yellow paper
  • Pencil
  • Paint markers, Uni-posca Paint Markers come out brilliantly even on coloured backgrounds
  • Scissors
  • Wooden kebab sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Paper glue stick, like my all time favorite Pritt Stick


  1. Choose your favorite Emoji and practice drawing it on scrap paper.
  2. Draw two circles on yellow paper. Cut them out using a scissors. Tip:  Achieve perfect circles by drawing around the base or top of a glass.
  3. Divide the facial features (eyes, smile, hearts, etc) of your emoji, and using a pencil draw some on one circle, and the rest on the other.Tip: Draw them as you want them to appear – for example; the left eye on the left of one circle, and the right eye on the right of the other circle. Tip: To ensure that all the features align correctly, once the first circle is done cover it with the second circle, and place them against the window. You should be able to see the features on the first and used them as a guide while drawing on the second.
  4. Now, go over the feature in marker and colour them in.
  5. Place a wooden kebab stick in the center of the back of one of the circles, point up.
  6. Stick it to the paper using masking tape. Tip: To keep the wooden stick secure place the tape along the length of the stick, and add an extra piece at the top to form a ‘T’ shape.
  7. Put paper glue on the back of the other circle, and stick it back to back with the first one, making sure that the features are aligned properly.
  8. Finally, twirl the stick by putting it between your palms and moving them back and forward, and see your Emoji appear before your eyes2016-05-29_21_45_44


Amazing Emoji Optical Illusion DIY. Make this fun party favour or gift, full step by step at

I’d love you to share this post pretty please….(hearts in my eyes)



Want backstage access to free material and printables? JOIN MY MAILING LIST right now!