Category: arts and crafts

Classic Fall Trees

By , October 10, 2013 1:45 pm

This is not high tech.  It is not original and unique.  It requires only paint, paper, water, a sponge, and a brush.  But sometimes classic and easy is what makes a long-lasting impression.  My beloved early elementary art teacher Mrs. B did this fall project with us and I STILL remember it.  Of all the art projects from the 9 years that I had art classes in school, this one stands out and I was probably only 5 or 6 when I did it. Here it is:

Sponge painting fall trees!

Sounds kind of “ho hum” to those of us striving for complicated and original art forms, but I can guarantee that the results are usually amazing, even with really little ones.  Watch your children’s faces as they work.  There is something magical that happens when they realize they can paint beautifully with something other than a brush!

Supplies

  • Orange, red, yellow, and brown paint (I recommend a washable tempera)
  • White paper (ordinary copy paper is fine)
  • A wide brush and a small sponge (sea sponge is best, but any sponge is OK)
  • A bowl of water for rinsing the sponge between colors

Let each child draw a tree trunk on the paper with the wide brush and brown paint, beginning at the bottom and extending half-way up.  Then let them have at it with the sponge and the colors.

Be sure to teach them to lightly dip the sponge in the paint (really a tiny amount works much better) and to dab the sponge gently on and off the page.  Some will want to smear it like a paint brush.  Some will still smear it on the page like a paint brush despite the instructions, the results will still be satisfying and fine, but not as realistic.

Also, be sure to explain that before changing colors they should dip the sponge in the water to wash it off.  Demonstrate squeezing the sponge over and over to get the old paint out.  Also demonstrate how to squeeze it really hard over the bowl afterwards until it doesn’t drip anymore.  This is quite important, because some young children will be more fascinated with the whole sponge and water process and will wind up with a very wet artwork.

If you try this with a large group of young children, be prepared for a lengthy clean up in the art room, and the bathroom where they will wash their inevitably, very much paint-covered hands.

Also be prepared for huge interest (even from reluctant artists) and lots of smiles and pride in their accomplishment!

 

 

Watercolor and Rice Art

By , September 23, 2013 9:28 am

I LOVE WATERCOLOR PAINT!  I like being able to just pull out the cute little box and the teeny, tiny brush, grab a cup of water, a piece of paper, and voilà!  Ready to go!  Plus with watercolor, I don’t live in fear of the post-art session cleanup.

If you are bored with just having your child slap some watercolor paint on a piece of paper, check out some of the creative watercolor ideas out there, such as these from The Artful Parent, or those featured in a top ten list at KidsArt.

I decided to jazz up a recent 3 to 6 year-old art class watercolor session by trying this interesting idea from the Fairy Dust Teaching Blog that I can sum up in one word:  Rice.

The idea is to paint lots of water color on the page, sprinkle on dry rice, and let it sit while everything dries.  The rice should absorb some of the paint and produce a lovely, ethereal bubbly/frost-like effect.

I told the kids to paint whatever they wanted.  They could do one color across the whole page, a pattern, a picture or multiple random colors.  The trick, I said,  was to cover the whole page with color (this was a bit too much to ask of a few of the 3 year-olds, but that’s OK).

As they finished, I brought out the secret rice ingredient.  The kids loved sprinkling on the rice!  A few were so into it that they made big piles.

I was worried that since the children were taking so long to paint, the paper and paint might be drying out.  I resolved this by squirting each page with some water before the final step of rice application.

The results were mixed for us.  Each child produced a lovely watercolor painting to take home.  Only a few of those works really showed that rice had been present, and the effect was of rice outlines, very pretty and cool, but not what I had hoped for.

What I learned:

  • Sally of Fairy Dust Teaching used watercolor paper for her lovely effect.  I used what I had on hand, plain old copy paper (a risky move on my part!).
  • I think that the paint needs to be very richly applied and be very wet, not a technique that is natural for most little ones with watercolor.  However, this is probably much easier to achieve with watercolor paper that is more far more absorbent than what I used.
  • The effect can be cool on plain old copy paper too, but it was only obvious in the work of those children who really used a lot of paint.

My favorite painting is the one at the top of the post.  Personally, I think the copy paper effect looks a bit like a microscopic image of bacteria.  I see a science tie-in here somehow!

Sunday Recycling Fun

By , October 30, 2011 4:20 pm

Just had to post these boats.  They turned the bathtub into an ocean (think shells, rocks, plastic fish) and created boats out of saved trash:

Mt favorite thing has to be the Jolly Roger that my 5 year-old drew all by herself for her boat!

Fireworks in a Dish

By , March 6, 2011 4:35 pm

If you have milk, food coloring and dish washing soap on hand…

you can have impressive rainy-day science fun!

Pour some milk into a plate:

Wait a minute for any motion in the milk to settle down, then add four drops of different colors of food coloring.  Place the drops next to each other near the center of the plate.

 

Wait a minute or so until the colors get a bit blotchy-looking:

 

Take a clean cotton swab and gently place it on the colors.  What do you think will happen?

(SPOILER ALERT:  Absolutely nothing.)

Now put a drop of dish soap onto the other, clean and dry end of your swab.

What will happen when you put the soapy swab gently onto the colors?  Look!

It even continues impressively swirling and churning after you have lifted the swab out of the milk!

Try putting your swab in different areas of the plate to see what new patterns form.

NOTE:  It is very important not to stir, just hold your swab still in the milk.

Make sure you have plenty of milk and food coloring on hand for this because your kids won’t want to do it just one time.  This kept my 5 year-old entertained for at least an hour!

Many thanks to Steve Spangler’s Science Experiments for this really fun idea! Steve Spangler has a good explanation of the science behind this colorful display. You can read it here.

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This is my contribution to this month’s Unplugged Project theme of soap.  Can you come up with a soap-themed project?  If so, please join in and add a link or comment to the original project post.  You can read more about the Unplugged Project here!

Magazine Page Valentine Pockets (“Page” Unplugged Project)

By , February 10, 2011 12:20 pm

Recycle your magazine pages into colorful valentines with this fun and very easy project!

At this time of year, there are lots of interesting pink, red, and valentines-themed pages in magazines.  First choose a pretty page and tear it out.

You’ll need a square section of the page for this, so fold up a corner of the magazine and cut around it.

Unfold and you have a square.

I used these origami heart instructions to make my hearts:  Origami Heart Instructions.  (Note, be exact with all your folds and your heart will turn out better.)

First fold the square precisely along the diagonal and press the fold with your fingernail to make a sharp crease. Unfold and refold along the other diagonal.  Trim any excess edges if necessary to get a perfect square.

Lie the square flat with the unwanted side facing up. There will be an “X” of creases on the square.

Fold the top corner down so the tip touches the intersection of the “X.”

Fold the bottom corner up until the tip touches the top edge of the page.

Next fold each side of your paper in so that the edge meets flush with the fold.

You should now see the heart start to form.  Flip it over so the “bad” side is facing up.

Finish off the heart by folding the side points in until they are halfway to the visible crease.

Then fold the top points down until the tips touch the top of the “good” side.

Turn over and you have a heart!

The hearts look best if you squash them flat overnight with a heavy book.  You can use them as decorations or as surprise pockets for love notes or messages, candy hearts, glitter, flower petals…

If you want to fill them with anything that could spill out, just tape together the two heart front flaps using a small piece of scotch tape applied to the inside of the pocket (so it won’t show).

By the way, this really is easy folding.  My 5 year-old learned it quickly and became obsessed with making hearts for her classmates out of origami paper squares. Here is a funky photo of her at work just ignore the dirty, inky hands :-) …

She made these all by herself!

[NOTE: If I confused you, be sure to go to the great description and photo-tutorial here at Origami-Instructions.com!]

Have you come up with a page-themed Unplugged Project this month?  If so, feel free to share it.  For more on how the Unplugged Project works, please read more here.

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