Sharing the arts
Here is a fun project for the little ones.
Give them a stencil and a ruler for drawing a circle and straight lines. Once children get the idea of assembling geometric shapes to make a character, they can go wild on paper. Read a few comic books watch a couple of animated movies.
Get them interested in movement and action while they are drawing characters. Help them learn the way a leg lifts up when the character walks, how the arm moves in the opposite direction and how the head tilts back when the body shifts.
While they are sketching, find out which characters they like the most, look up who the artist was. Find out what else they may have created. For example; Bob Clampet is the illustrator who created the character Tweety. He worked for Warner Brothers in the Loony Tunes department where he also created Porky Pig. What else can you find out about Tweety?
See if they can draw comics from a strip in the newspaper, notice how only a few movements placed with words can carry the story forward. Did you know that Blondie has been around since 1933? The curious part about Blondie is that this strip is really more about Dagwood than Blondie. Now mark out a grid with three or four panels.
Work on a few captions together. Create some bubbles to put them in.
When you finish your project together what have you learned? Developing a sense of humor is a delicate adventure, one that adults and kids can both enjoy.
For the first time congress has noticed the STEAM journal. STEAM is the acronym that adds art to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). There is hope that art will some day be recognized by government to be the imaginative source of learning that it is and once again become a larger part of our education system.
Presenting at the inaugural STEAM caucus in Washington D. C. were the Rhode Island School of Design, the New York Hall of Science, Adobe Software, U. S. Patent and Trade Office, and the National Endowment for the Arts
Sesame Street promotes STEAM with a focus on the incorporation of math and science concepts through “Elmo the Musical” using math concepts like geometric shapes, enumeration, relations and other problem solving techniques to teach learning through music.
An IBM 2010 Global CEO Study found that the ability to embody creative leadership is among the most sought-after attributes in modern business.
A Michigan State University study in 2011 concluded that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 25 times as likely as the average scientist to sing, dance, or act; 17 times as likely to be artists; 12 times more likely to write poetry and literature; and eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft.
Read a story to your child and ask them to draw what the story looks like. Help your child write a song about the story. Now make up a dance or movement that describes what has happened in the story, all of these learning devices are art based.
These are the tools that embed learning. And as my mother told me so long ago… A child who draws is never bored.
How can you spark enthusiasm in children who aren’t really interested in following the rules?
It’s tough being a kid sometimes, “Pick up your toys, go to bed, and eat your dinner.”
When do they get to do what they want to do? This phenomenon happens when you give them art. Art opens the imagination, transfers the senses and plays fiddle for the dancer.
Just add a little encouraging strategy when you request their obedience. Give them something to look forward to. After the toys are picked up, the sleep schedule has been met and eating nutritiously is accomplished, give your child support by finding artistic reference materials.
Show them how to draw a face. Using only a few strokes to get them started, let them complete the picture any way they want. After showing them your own art skills let them watch Ed Vere as he draws Mr. Big. Our Bellingham library carries several of his wonderful books.
And when your child wants to do more coloring, cutting, 3D kinds of tasks, you can print out an already drawn lion mask or paper doll drawn by illustrator Mini Grey, go to her site and explore the activities there.
Some of her lovely books are available at our library too.
See if you can put yourself into their tiny little shoes for just a little while, long enough to remember how tough it is to be small in a grown up world.
Lots of people run for health and recreation. Some don’t want to be seen, some don’t think they can, some can’t. Let’s have a running conversation that diverts energy from terrorism and honors the people who challenge themselves.
Running and movement stimulates creativity, if your kids are being rather active, take them outside. Let them off-leash for a while. Running helps you think, warms you up and stimulates energy into more passages within your body.
So what about those who cannot run? I have a friend who is wheelchair bound, I bet you know someone who cannot run as well. Sometimes I feel too tired or it is too cold or too hot or any number of excuses for not running. Then when I think about my friend, I put on my shoes and scoot out the door.
Once I am in motion the entire world looks different. Thinking comes naturally. My hands, feet and mind get more circulation. My lungs may be laboring at first but after a couple of blocks they fill with fresh air and it becomes all about a ride to overcome inactivity.
When I return, I am grateful that I can still run and I remember why children like to run so much. It’s a great way to settle down and get started on a serious art project.
Although it is still a bit cool there is plenty of movement outside, flies, mosquitoes, beetles, squirrels and birds in all kinds of shapes and colors.
What a delight to see Earth Day come into view with its ‘ready for summer’ livelihood. As we explore the depths of our yard let’s take a closer look at what we see. There are lots of wings flying about and plenty of legs for crawling around. Some bugs have huge eyes and long antenna. Don’t these creatures make just the most fantastic models for art?
Take a pair of scissors and cut out shapes of the main body and wings of some bugs. Let your child glue the parts down on another piece of paper continue by drawing legs and antenna. While you talk about the variety of wiggly, small creatures you can find in your own back yard, see how many different shapes they come in.
Notice the birds that stop by, put out some seeds to attract them and get a bird reference book or go online to see if you can identify them. Get those scissors out again, cut a head shape, body shape and let your child add the beak and feet.
Earth day is a unique holiday for learning and teaching, take a moment to enjoy and share it with youngsters.
Lately I’ve been craving doing a puppet project. Maybe it’s because my preschooler watches a bit of Sesame Street and it brings me back to my childhood of watching the Muppets, Fraggle Rock or any other wonderful, magical things Jim Henson could think up. He was always, and still is, such an idol of mine. So I went in search of how to build some puppets with the after school art group. I came across this wonderful video on Iowa Public Radio of Jim Henson demonstrating different types of puppets that can be made.
I took his wooden spoon puppet idea and made it my own and it was a super fun beginning puppet project!
My supply list consisted of:
Wooden spoons – from the dollar store
Pom poms in various sizes and colors
Yarn/Boas/Scraps of Fabric
Basically, what you can imagine you can create. We used all sorts of materials to ‘accessorize’ our puppets with. I found this interesting fur material at Michaels that we used as hair and some used as beards.
Fold the felt in half and cut a tiny slit in the middle. Slide the bottom of the spoon into the opening in the felt and take a rubber band and tie it around the hole in the felt to secure it to the spoon. (I took some boa material and covered the rubber band). Grab a tiny piece of material about where you want the hand to be and wrap another rubber band around that and do the same on the other side to make hands. You can then get creative and cut out little hand shapes or use these great foam stickers they have in hand shapes. Then decorate! Create a face by adding googly eyes, pom poms for a nose, draw in a mouth, add hair, the possibilities are limitless! Then take your puppet for a stroll or
At my little school we are all about recycling. When cleaning out various containers we always ask ourselves, “should we save this? Will it come in hand?” A perfect example is Elmer’s Glue containers, we had a whole bunch left over and they are just such a neat little bottle we cleaned them out and held on to them. Well, it turned out to be the perfect paint dispenser for a project we were doing with the preschoolers. See, you just never know and yes, I am an art material horder.
Not only can you use the containers for actual uses, they can be the perfect canvas for a multitude of projects. I took a recent trip to the Burke Museum in Seattle and they had an amazing (and somewhat disturbing) exhibit on plastics. It got me thinking. So, we brought in all our plastic recyclables and began an underwater adventure. The after school groups first project was to create squid, jellyfish and other underwater creatures using the plastic bottles, caps and garbage bags. The outcome: some very sea looking creatures that you could definitely meet in the deep!
The second project was to use more of the plastic bottles and create fish. We used cardboard to create fins, covered the whole thing in colorful tissue paper (using watered down mod podge) some fimo clay and googly eyes. Low and behold some beautiful fish from the deep to join our sea creatures. Both of which will be on display at Gabriel’s Art Kids for the Children’s Art Walk on Friday, May 3 from 6 – 9pm.
There are so many projects using recyclables. Art projects, garden projects, science projects, you name it I’m sure you can find it! Another super easy and tons of fun one, not just to make but to use over and over again – Bottle cap stampers! Take all those caps from your bottles and buy foam stickers from a craft store. Stick them to the caps and you have your very own stamps! From there you can have hours of fun of just stamping, you can use them for your scrap books, create your own wrapping paper, the possibilities are endless!
This is a great website that has recycle activities of all kinds (not just art) for preschool through elementary students http://www.education.com/slideshow/recycle-it/milk-carton-train/?cid=50.200
Now, go sift through the recyclables and see what you can make!
Do you have a concept of which artist you admire most? Do you have a guide that you would like your child to emulate? Take a look at the techniques of other artists. See how they do their work, what materials they use and how much input they receive from the world around them.
When you see a children’s book with artwork that captures your imagination, learn a little more about this artist by looking up their name online. Some book artists have a website that shows their process.
Children who study art and artists learn to express themselves in a unique way, making the most of emotional perception, intuition and originality. The arts remind them that there is more than one answer to a problem and by generating different ideas they learn skills that assist them in many areas throughout their lives.
Children learn through the arts that mistakes happen, that they can be worked through and be made the most of to create a treasured piece of art that somehow would not have been nearly as nice if it had not gone through the transformation.
How about the potential of your own children, do you see great color combinations? How about expressive story telling? Their artwork will change and develop over the years. Some will stay interested in their creativity through encouragement and bountiful resources. These are the children who will design out future.
For more on the benefit of the arts on children see
A great example of story boarding from published artist/author David Wiesner
I bet you thought in order for your child to paint you had to pull out a set of paints and a brush and water and go through this elaborate set up. Well guess again! There are a multitude of ways your young one can paint to experience the painting process. Here are just a few to get your creative juices flowing.
Our new found favorite way to paint, especially once summer comes. Mix a little washable tempera paint with some water and pour into ice cube trays. Cut popsicle sticks in half and place half a stick in each paint cube. Then freeze. When you are ready to paint pull out the paintsicles, wait about 5 minutes for them to begin to thaw and paint away!
2. Q-Tip Painting
This is a favorite, just be careful since most little ones want to stick them in their ears. Let them know that today these are our painting utensils. Simply put out some paint, one color at a time is fine, I prefer the primary colors; red, yellow and blue and a few Q-Tips and let them paint away! Watch what they do, they may dab it, slide it, mush it and eventually end up with their fingers in it.
3. Feather Painting
I know, not conventional, that’s the point! You can purchase some feathers fairly inexpensively at Joann Fabrics or Michael’s. They come in various sizes and colors. Put a few out along with some paint and away they go! They can use any part of the feather to paint with, the experimenting is part of the fun. Try to resist it yourself, it’s hard!
Use a small cup for the paint and place a marble in it. Again, I like to put out the primary colors, so there are 3 cups with a marble in each. Use a spoon to pull the marble out. Use either a tray or a shallow cardboard box, place the paper inside then the marble of their choice. Pick up the box or tray and move the marble all around, the marble will leave paint trails as it rolls around the tray. When it’s out of paint put it back in the cup and start all over.
This is so much fun even I had to do it! I watered down the tempera paint so it would work in droppers. You may have to help your child fill the dropper with paint then let them squeeze out a few drops onto their paper to create a small puddle. Take a straw and blow the paint around the paper. Watch how the colors blend with each other and the paint get’s whisked around the paper. This project is more about the process than the product. In my experience the paint was so watered down and puddled that it took forever to dry. The children didn’t mind though, they kept adding more paint and blowing it around the paper.
And a bonus..
Place a long string or thick rope in the paint (sometimes I’ll tie a bead at the bottom to give a little weight to the string). Pick the string up and drop it along the paper, watch how it falls and the shapes it makes as it does it. I love the outcome, very Jackson Pollack-esque!
Happy unconventional painting!
When times are tough it is good to have an outlet. Ugly as it is, bullying is a part of our society, when you can’t seem to do anything about someone picking on you there is a way to diffuse that harm.
Draw a picture. Go ahead make it as mean and nasty as you can, then when you begin to relax, make it humorous. Laughing at problems can be a good way to solve them.
Art can get your point across to others in a way that talking doesn’t come close to. When you are finished you can destroy it if you like or if you want support you can share it. Art is a passive way to strike back when you are hurt. It’s like having another sense of reality that only you can express. Show your individual thoughts outright without being interrupted. Draw or paint something that makes people think outside of the box.
There is a really good show currently at the Vancouver Art Gallery by a cartoon artist, Art Spiegelman.
He knows how to express his thoughts this way and make readers pay attention. Having lived through some really rough times enabled him to escape into his art which brought him fame and a career.
The next time you are feeling blue, get out a blue pen and see what it does, I think you’ll be surprised.