Shapes inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

I love Andy Goldsworthy’s ephemeral sculptures. I feel like they are so in tune with the environment and that he has such an incredible understanding of his surroundings and its changing elements. I did a lesson on Andy Goldsworthy with high school students several years ago, and I’m not sure they were as impressed with him as I was. I decided to introduce him to our toddler group and see what they thought.

We started by watching a clip from the documentary Rivers and Tides, just to get them thinking about using leaves, sticks, and rocks to make art. Here is the clip:

We talked about the shapes that Andy made with his materials. The kids identified lines and circles and “pinecones.” They loved the hole in Andy created with the rowan leaves at the end of the video. Then we went outside to find some materials. I’ll admit that it was a little difficult to keep them on task–they wanted to turn on the hose, play in the sandbox, and generally just wander off instead of look for interesting things in the yard.

looking for material

When we had collected enough material, we found a shady spot on the driveway to make our arrangements. Since I was working with a group of children ages 2-4, I decided that completing a simple arrangement on the concrete would be challenging enough, and I was right. I first asked them if they could sort the materials by size. This (sort of) worked, with a couple of the kids catching on, and the younger ones crushing things or checking out the garbage can.

contemplating the material

After they had finished sorting, we talked about what shapes we could make. The first suggestion and successful attempt was a triangle, with Miss L making this:


The next discovery was that some rose petals were really shaped like hearts:

heart-shaped petals

And she decided to make them into a circle.

petal circle

C-man arranged his smooth leaves in an arch by size:

arranging leaves

Even though this project took a bit more coaching than I would have liked during the collecting phase and ended rather quickly once we actually started arranging materials, I still think it was a success. The kids really liked identifying the shapes and materials that Andy Goldsworthy used in the film, and they were proud of the shapes they made from their materials. Little O even requested to watch more of the “holes” movie later in the afternoon.

We’ll try this again when the kids are a bit older; I think it would go over very well with 6-8-year-olds.







Printmaking is something that I have always wanted to do; yet I’ve never taken the leap and signed up for a class. All of my knowledge about printmaking is self-taught, but I’ve discovered that some kinds of printing are pretty accessible. Monoprinting is especially easy, and this version will have you and your kids churning out prints in no time.

You probably have all of the items you need to do a monoprint in your cupboards right now. Here is what you need:

  • a piece of corrugated cardboard
  • aluminum foil
  • painter’s tape or masking tape
  • tempera paint (or any kid’s paint)
  • a paintbrush or foam brush
  • cotton swabs
  • paper for your print

Start by wrapping your piece of cardboard in aluminum foil. I didn’t measure our cardboard pieces, but they are around 8×10 inches. Make sure you keep the aluminum foil smooth as you wrap the cardboard. Next, tape out a smaller square or rectangle on your foil-wrapped board. Make the square smaller than the paper that you will be using for your print. Use the foam paintbrush to cover the square with paint. Wipe any excess paint from the tape if you want a nice clean edge on your print.

removing paint with swab

Now comes the fun part! Let your child draw in the painted area with a cotton swab. This will remove some of the paint. When your child is satisfied, press your paper over the top, pull, and admire your print.

pressing the print

After we did our “negative impression” prints, we wiped the boards clean with a cloth and let the kids draw on the boards with paint for a “positive impression” print.

You’ll find that your kids will want to experiment with this process…it’s easy to let them try out as many versions of the process as they can think up because the boards are really easy to clean and re-use.

negative and positive monoprints

Let’s Paint a Rainbow

Color Game

What kid doesn’t love a rainbow? After seeing this wonderful project on, I decided that we needed to work some rainbows into our art group. We did two activities. The first activity was a color recognition activity which included some gross-motor skills. I drew a bunch of chalk circles on the driveway and each child chose a circle. Then I called out colors, and they were supposed to jump or hop to the color that I called out. The goal was to make it to the rainbow on the wall, but the kids just had fun jumping around from circle to circle.

The art part of this activity was a direct borrow from two-daloo. I love finding great ideas online. I found a $2 board at the “last chance” section at IKEA and used that to make the “rainbow.” The kids loved painting on it and crawling through the tunnel.

painting the rainbow

crawling through the rainbow

They loved this so much we may have to break it out again soon.

Sweet Father’s Day Silhouettes


Every Father’s Day I struggle to figure out what gifts to give to my husband, father, and father-in-law. I think the men in my life are difficult to shop for, but part of that reason is because they don’t really have a desire to add more “stuff” into their lives. For that, I am blessed. Father’s Day gifts typically consist of a sentimental note, an inexpensive gift of favorite candy, and most recently, mementos of Little O’s handiwork.

This year I decided that a silhouette would be a sweet gift to honor the fathers in my life. My husband will adore this, I think, and Little O’s grandfathers desperately need one of these for their office desks.

pink silhouette

These silhouettes are more that the typical black and white; we incorporated a piece of the child’s artwork as the silhouette itself. I love them so much! Little brushstrokes and fingerprints adorn the surface of the child’s form. I think they capture each child’s energy and personality and give the silhouette a little bit more of the child’s essence.

To make them, begin with a painting that you are willing to cut up. If you don’t have one, let your child do one with finger paints, tempera paints, or watercolor paints. Be sure to paint on a sheet of watercolor paper or other heavyweight paper.

Next, take a profile photo of your child. Print an 8×10, cropping in your computer’s photo editing software to enlarge the child’s outline if necessary. Cut out the profile image. Place the image on top of your child’s artwork, and trace around the image.

cutting image

Cut out the artwork profile following your traced line. Next, glue the artwork profile onto a black or dark blue piece of 8×10 card stock. Frame, wrap, and give to your favorite father!

green silhouette

They are so sweet, don’t you think?


Backyard Water Play

If you are a parent, you know that kids love playing in water. At least my kid does. In an attempt to keep three toddlers busy (I was babysitting for a friend), I shooed them outside and gave them a few containers filled with water. Then I gave each kid a measuring cup.

drinking water

I didn’t have to wait one second before they were scooping the water and watering the flowers, watering the grass, watering the sand, watering the concrete, and watering themselves. They filled the large watering can with rocks and then started dipping the water out.

watering sand

As it turns out, toddlers are learning quite a bit when they play with water. They learn about volume, problem solving, they are learning about the world around them through observation. They learn new vocabulary (if you are playing with them and telling them about funnels, scoops, pouring, dripping, etc.), they practice physical skills. I could go on, but I’ll just send you here if you want to read more about all the things toddlers will learn from water play.

scooping water

To set up an easy water play station outside, all you need are a few large (plastic) containers – we used a bucket from a no-longer working ice-cream maker, a large watering can, and a plastic tub. Add a few measuring cups for dipping and pouring, but you can add funnels, slotted spoons, sieves, turkey basters, sponges, etc. Anything that can hold or pour or squirt water.


Painted Nightstand

Every once in a while I like to browse the furniture section of our local thrift store. The selection there usually isn’t great, and I think it is overpriced. I can generally find better deals on Craig’s List or at garage sales. However, I do find some gems once in a while. I found this little night stand for $8.00, and I snapped it up.

nightstand before

I especially love the little spindle legs and the knob. In its original state, however, it was a little bit sad. I decided to paint it for Little O’s room. Turquoise, orange, and green are the dominate colors in his room and I decided to stick with those colors. I found a swatch of fabric with coordinating colors that I liked, and decided to glue that onto the back of the nightstand. The rest was a pretty easy paint job, sanding first, of course.

Here is the finished result.

nightstand finished

So much cuter! And it only cost me $6.00 in paint…those sample colors at Home Depot will go a long way, I’m glad I discovered them.

Here it is in the context of Little O’s room.

room view