Sharing the arts
It was a great summer, beautiful weather and we had lots of fun during our arts camps! Now, fall is here, school has begun and so has spending more time indoors. It can be hard to find differnt projects to do with the little ones, this is a great one and they may spend more time doing it than you think! I set this out for some 3 and 4 year olds and they were thouroughly entertained for just about 30 minutes!
This is a great, no mess project, where your little one can learn their colors and strengthen their fine motor skills. Simply use either toilet paper or paper towel tubes and cover them with construction paper using the rainbow of colors (ROY G BIV). Next you will want colored pom poms which you can get fairly cheaply at Joann Fabric Stores or the Dollar Store and some chopsticks. Personally I like the chopsticks made for children and Launching Success has them in all shapes and sizes. If your child likes dinosaurs, tractors or…they have them! Now, if you want an additional lesson, write the words for each color on the tube, this will help with word association. Next, hand over the chopsticks, dump out the pom poms and let your child try to match the correct color pom pom into the correct color tube. When all the pom poms are in the tubes let your child knock the tubes over and watch the pom poms fall out. I had little prizes, like erasers and note pads I purchased at the dollar store for birthday parties and handed those out when the game was complete. The students would stack the tubes back up and do it all over again.
Fabric is a touch and sight experience that we all adore. There are so many textures, weaves, densities and colors. Pull together old clothing you are no longer wearing and cut it apart.
Let your children follow the folds and pull threads to unravel scraps. Give them scissors, glue, and a board to mount small pieces of fabric while they feel soft velvets and scratchy burlaps. The tactile sensation offers a chance for little ones to renew something that would have been discarded.
Offer cotton balls, yarn and pieces of trim. They may be interested in accessorizing their stuffies (stuffed animals) or in making a crown and cape for themselves.
Help your child make a family flag by gluing tiny, colorful pieces of material on a three-inch rectangle strip of cloth, then staple it to the end of a drinking straw, now proudly wave your family colors.
Take a single glove that has lost its mate, cut the fingers off and make them into finger puppets by gluing on a tiny mouth, eyes, hair and clothing.
It really doesn’t take much more than imagination to entertain a child with fabric.
I do not sew, instead I rely heavily on glue so I recommend gluing a zipper between two pieces of fabric, put an interesting fabric behind so a child can zip and unzip the zipper. Add buttons and ties, these are useful skills for small children to learn on their own before they learn how to get themselves dressed.
Fabric is wonderful for making pillows and beds for other toys and this is a chance for children to practice cutting skills.
It’s never too early to allow your toddler the freedom of expression. (Disclaimer – the keyword is toddler. By all means let your infant explore too but in my opinion they should be able to sit or stand on their own.) There are many non-toxic crayons and paints you can purchase in case they end up going into mouths. I also have a wonderful food grade finger paint recipe that is so easy to make yourself, that way you do not need to worry if it gets eaten.
Finger Paint Recipe
3 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn starch
2 cups of water
Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan, heat and stir until it thickens. Cool and place into small cups. Add food coloring to create color then paint! Lots of fun!
Ok, back to our main topic…
One of the things I like to do is to take one crayon, peel all the paper off and put it on top of a piece of paper. Try mixing it up sometimes too, white paper, black crayon or black paper, white crayon. Leave it out on the table and allow them to come and go from it as they please. With toddlers their attention span isn’t that long, so it helps to just put the paper and crayon down and allow them to draw for a bit and them come back to it when they choose. This is a great first experience with drawing. Allow your child to experiment with the crayon and see what different marks they can make. I know it’s hard, but try your best to refrain from showing them how to draw something or asking them to draw something. Allowing them to make their marks and figure it out on their own is so beneficial to their growth. Allow your toddler plenty of time and regular, repeated opportunities for mark making with a range of different drawing mediums. Remember, it is not about them representing any particular idea, instead they are learning to co-ordinate their body, arms, hands and fingers, and exploring what is possible when they manipulate each drawing tool.
Finger-painting is a great sensory tool. I usually only put out the primary colors – red, blue and yellow – to allow for mixing and seeing what happens when you mix red with blue, blue with yellow and yellow with red. You can buy rolls of finger painting paper but at this age it’s all about expression and sensory, not final product. Instead of spending your money on disposable paper, my recommendation is to purchase a finger painting tray (Discount School Supply has them for a great price http://bit.ly/1bmKPZR).
I hear from alot of parents they “don’t allow messy projects” at their house. There is a time and a pace for all of it. On a beautiful summer day set your child up outside and after they have made a complete mess of themselves (and had a wonderful time doing it), hose them down and make it all a game. I promise you, they will be thankful you did!
Now go and explore with your child and see what wonderful marks they make!
We can come up with an infinite number of reasons, you may want to contribute some of your own.
A child who discovers art learns…
1. they never have to be bored
2. what is valued
3. to put away supplies
4. to collaborate with others
5. how to plan
6. to become self reliant
7. to work out problems
8. that small changes can make a big difference
9. a language that doesn’t involve talking
10. the many ways something can be interpreted
If your child is not really sure about their own skills, allow them to spend some time with a professional. There are many art camps and workshops going on during the summer that can provide children with the skills they need to grow up feeling that they can accomplish anything they want to with a good attitude, persistence and the training to get them there.
It all starts with art and the sooner the better. When a child learns to classify and organize their environment this is where a scientist comes from. When children grow up with art their imaginations learn to express something that doesn’t even exist, this is where technology come from. When children are exposed to art they learn to figure out height, width and volume, which is critical when becoming an engineer. Patterns in art teach children to connect one point to another while creating precise beautiful images this gives them a base in mathematics.
This is how STEM turns into STEAM. What have you noticed when your child produces art? Does it give them a sense of accomplishment? Can you see the direction they are taking? Take a moment and share your views with us.
Every piece of wood has a purpose. Garden art has gained in popularity and the kids will want to be part of it. Gather together some small scrap pieces of wood and let them make garden markers to show what is planted in each row. Put down a tarp, give them a good bristle brush and have plenty of water and a rag close by. This is not an independent project but can be lots of fun to accomplish together. Let them put on old clothes and use water base white primer so that the paint will stick well and be good for presenting rich color. While waiting for the primer to dry they can sketch what the plants look like.
Sit in the shade when you paint because it will dry very quickly in the sun. Use water base bright color acrylic paint for outdoor durability. and give them a tiny amount of paint in a small paper cup that can be refilled as needed for painting a picture of the vegetables or flowers that will some day appear or are already appearing.
When they are finished, drill two small holes in the back, attach some screw eyes and string wire from one screw to the other. Hang your art on the fence or a pole. Every time you look at it you will be reminded of the fine day you had creating art together outside and the bright colors will last longer than the bloom of the flowers.
Sculpture makes a great outdoor activity. You can get messy with paper måche´ and wires on surfaces that don’t need as much protection as indoor furniture.
Start with wire that a child can bend but is strong enough to hold up your subject once you have shaped it. Go for a solid base and help your child make something they will be proud of. Don’t worry too much about what it looks like, this is all about the process of making something.
Once you have a nice structure figured out, tape a little cardboard on wherever you need extra bulk. When you have a shape that is a little closer to what you are intending, begin wrapping it with paste-dipped newsprint. Gently squeeze a little as you go to shape your sculpture. After you have about three layers, smooth it as much as you can and take a break while your sculpture sits in the sun to dry.
After a few hours or overnight, paint your sculpture with regular house paint primer, Set it back in the sun to dry. After it dries let your child color it up with felt markers. The details are the really fun part.
If your child has made a sculpture you want to last for a long time you can seal it with water base polyurethane.
The new and exciting frontier of Lego land has appeared on the horizon being lead by creative, scientific robot possibilities. Now your child can create, destroy and rebuild with the added assistance of sensors, servo-motors and microprocessors.
What a wonderful blend of imagination and technology for the little ones. These sneaky educational toys can teach your child to plan, design, construct, disassemble and reconstruct before they realize they are thinking. This is all part of the “Maker Movement.”
Across the world school children belong to leagues and hold tournaments where teams are challenged to design, build and program a robot to complete specific tasks related to very real time challenges such as climate control and safe transportation.
Even the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now has a Lego chair as an endowed professorship at the college’s media lab. Dissertations are being written about the basic cardio-vascular mechanics being achieved through Lego modeling.
Dean Kamen (creator of the Segway) holds a competition every spring in four robotics divisions spanning ages six through 16. This year in St Louis, 650 teams vied for robotic superiority to win $16 million in scholarships to 140 colleges.
Design thinking means that everything can be made better and that there is no right or wrong answer, just an infinite number of possibilities. This is the essence of art. It’s about access to hands on projects that result in tangible design.
Another interesting note is that nearly half of Lego’s fan-base are adults. Lego fans have grown up with these toys and continue to enjoy open source activity through Mindstorm’s mission to foster inquiry and ingenuity.
The ability to play with technology is often confused with the ability to understand it. This is where art shines. The more inventive toys you put in front of your child, the more tools they will have throughout life. Go ahead give them a toy they can use to create, destroy and rebuild.
When starting a plant from seed we like to pick the biggest, healthiest looking seeds and plant a few at a time in case some do not germinate. As these seeds grow, we water, feed and keep them at ideal temperatures. When transplanting we pick the best soil and the most ideal location. Managing the environment can do wonders for our little starts but we are still hoping that we picked the right seed. Influence is fabulous but it doesn’t take the place of attitude.
What is it that affects this seed we have worked so hard to raise? Could it be the encouragement of imagination? Developing a smart mind is accomplished by stimulation and research. If we allow our children to keep asking questions it may drive us nuts right now but later in life they may become the ones with the answers that we have questions for.
Thousands of children leave school having never set foot in an art gallery, watched a performance in a theatre, or listened to an orchestra play.
Take your children to the museums, art galleries and theatres. Let them enjoy beauty and splendor as depicted by great artists. Give them the gift of creation by enrolling them in an art class, not because you need time away but because they will be stimulated in a way they have not yet known with resources they do not get in school or at home.
Even if they do not grow up to be great artists they will have been given a tool that will last them a lifetime. Not everyone gets exposed to this kind of instruction let your children be the ones who do.
Not everyone has a father they can call daddy biologically, however everyone can have a role model.
I heard a story about a man who had difficulties going through life as a man so he decided to become a woman. This man was married to a woman and had two sons. It was a difficult decision and a real adjustment for the entire family. His wife decided he was still the individual she fell in love with so they stayed together. The two sons are growing up with two mothers and there are no secrets about his past. But what do they call him/her? One of the sons came up with the word maddy, a combination of moma and daddy. Yes they have their challenges just like any other family but they face them creatively and that is what matters most.
Relationships are full of creative expression. Programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters offer a one on one relationship in a match that transcends your biological family giving an adult and child a unique companionship.
It really does take a village to raise a child. The creative experience is part of that collaboration. Sometimes we have to think outside the family. I know a teacher who has been teaching for 38 years, he has had the opportunity to teach his student’s children and has had babies named after him that aren’t related.
How does this relate to art? When people use their imagination it grows into other aspects of life. Art is one of those connectors that can be shared by all ages. Children put adults back in touch with their changing world through art and it is generally a meditative process that is both productive and soothing.
Do something special for your daddy, he may be related or he may just be chosen. Give him a piece of art that only you can make.
Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles! Who doesn’t love bubbles? In this activity we combined two of our favorite activities, bubbles and watercolors, and we got to do it outside. This is a great summer time art activity.
I took regular bubbles and added liquid watercolor, my favorite is the Colorations liquid watercolor and you can purchase it at Michael’s but any liquid watercolor will work. Mix it in until the bubble water is the color of the paint. Use a regular bubble wand that comes with the bubbles and get close to the paper and blow. I filled each bubble container with different colors, usually I like to only do the primary colors – red, yellow and blue, so when they mix the children can see what new colors they make. Sometimes, blowing bubbles can be challenging and when you are trying to aim for the paper, it can even be more challenging, especially outside. We had to think about where to blow, how hard to blow, and even how fast to blow so the bubbles would come out and land on our paper.
Sometimes we even took the buuble wand and just flicked it at the paper to see the bubble watercolor splat. It was super fun when a bubble would land on our paper and not pop, then we got to pop it with our finger!
We would pass the bubble containers around so each child got to try a new color. The children that stayed with it and took their time to really get bubbles on the paper ended up with very colorful paper. It’s even something you can leave out and allow them to go away from and come back to at their leisure.
I have to admit, I had a lot of fun with this project too.