Chalk Painting

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I’m not sure why, but I just love that Little O is tracing that crack in the wall with chalk paint. I guess it makes me think that he is thinking about where he is putting colors and actually has a plan for this outdoor exercise, and not randomly splatting paint on the wall, which I know is probably what is really going on in this picture.

It snowed again on our art play-date day, but this time it was pretty warm after the snow and we decided to go outside anyway. I’d been planning this activity for a while now, ever since I let Little O color with chalk on our back patio. I noticed that the colors were easier to see when the pavement was wet, so I thought we should try dissolving some chalk in water to make chalk paint and see if the paints were any more brilliant than plain old chalk.

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The colors were a bit more brilliant, but mostly the kids had a blast dripping the paint and seeing just how much of the wall they could cover. This activity encouraged more gross-motor skills than I thought it would, simply because their canvas was so large they had to reach on their tippy-toes to the top of the wall, squat to reach the bottom, and they even walked along the length of the wall, dragging their brushes along making very long horizontal lines.

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Here are pictures of the almost-finished product, and the dry wall the next day.  Next time we try this I might put the paint in squirt bottles for even more fun! Although don’t say I didn’t warn you; if you try that, expect to get squirted at some point as I’m sure it won’t take long for the kiddos to figure out it is fun to squirt each other as well as the wall!

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A Color of His Own

The other day at art play-group I was doing a lesson on color. All the kids at our group are 3 and under, so we were mostly working on color recognition. I recently learned that English-speaking kids learn colors at a later developmental stage than kids who speak some other languages, due to the way we use colors in our speech patterns. We tend to say “the red ball” rather than “the ball is red.” Apparently by using the descriptor before the noun, kids discount the information, but if you use the descriptor after the noun, you have narrowed their focus and they can identify “red” as an attribute of the ball. You can read more about that here.

Anyway, I wanted to find a book to go along with the lesson that used color words after the nouns they describe, and let me tell you, it is hard! Almost every book I found used the color words first. Then I found this oldie but goodie:

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A color of his own, by Leo Lionni.  The book is a charming exploration of a chameleon who is concerned that all the animals have a color of their own, but chameleons don’t have one constant color. In order to solve his problem and get a color of his own, he decides to climb on a leaf and stay there forever, and then he would always be green.

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I won’t spoil the story and tell you what happens, but you can probably guess! Eventually he finds another chameleon friend who joins him and they figure out a solution. I loved the simple illustrations in this book, the humor, and the fact that the color words are used after the nouns! I also thought using one object that changes color (the chameleon) was a great way to help kids connect the color words with the colors that they are seeing on the page. This book is a winner all around.

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Apple Prints

Today was the first day of our new Art Play Date. Little O and I decided that we needed to invite some friends over for art play dates on a regular basis, so twice a month we have a little art class. I really wanted to go outside and do some action painting, but the weather didn’t cooperate. Instead we stayed inside and did some printing with apples. I had to do some quick thinking to re-arrange my plan, and I knew that the Denver Art Museum had several on-line art lessons for pre-school age kids, so I tried one of those. It turned out pretty well, even if my audience was a bit younger than the lesson’s target age. You can find the lesson here.

20131004_110049Fair warning if you decide to do this lesson with kids younger than three: they will try to eat the painted apples! I anticipated that, but wasn’t quick enough when Little O took a big bite out of the painted apple.

Just be sure you are using non-toxic paint and stay close to your child so that you can catch them before they do it. Mom was too far away from Little O when the eating incident happened.

As you can see in the picture, the apples have a little star shape in the core if you cut them through the middle horizontally rather than vertically. It was hard to get that to show up because the apples weren’t sliced completely flat, and I think it would have helped if we used thicker paint. (We were using gouache). If you want the perfect look, just rock your apple back and forth so that the whole apple touches the paper.

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After clean-up, we all admired our paintings, had snacks (apples, of course), sang an apple song, and read a book about apples. Overall, a very fun first art play date! I can’t wait to see what else these kids will do.