Large-Scale Painting


This was such a simple activity, and so much fun! After seeing how much fun it was to paint large-scale with our feet, I decided to try painting large on the wall. Simply tape a large sheet of paper on the wall (in this case newsprint), and add some large brushes and rollers. N has a roller and was stretching and standing on his tippy-toes to get all the way to the top of the paper and on the wall! I really liked how the roller and 2-inch brushes got these boys practicing their gross-motor skills.


Here Little O is having a go with the roller. You can’t quite tell, but his little tongue is sticking out in concentration.


Painting up and down, flexing those wrists.


Did you notice that it was camo pant day?


The finished product. Overall I really loved this activity. The boys were up and moving around in their natural state of being, rather than constantly getting up and down when seated at a table. They got to stretch and reach and flex their arms and wrists while using the rollers and brushes, and as a bonus, there really was a very minimal mess!


Searching for a great finger-paint recipe: Part 2; and dance party painting!

Well, I realized that it has been ten months (!) since I tried a finger-paint recipe, and since the last post indicated that I was searching for a really good recipe, I thought I’d better try a new one. This recipe is really simple. Just two ingredients. Well, three if you count pigment. Flour, water, and food coloring are all you are going to need to whip up a batch of paint.

We decided to use this paint at a dance party session (Little O is in love with dance parties). We kicked it up a notch by adding paint.


I put the paint on wax paper which was taped to the floor at one end of the paper. You could also use a cookie sheet, aluminum foil, or any other large flat surface that you’ve got kicking around. You could even put it directly on the floor, but I was lazy and didn’t want to mop.


I liked this paint better than the cornstarch paint. It was a little thick, but it felt more like paint and didn’t get lumpy. The pigment was okay, but I wanted more staying power…it didn’t transfer to the paper like you’d really want, so the paint had to be very thick on the paper to be vibrant. Overall it was a good recipe, and I think the boys had fun stomping around in it. With the music and squishy paint on feet, I think it is a great sensory activity for toddlers.

I found the recipe over on TinkerLab, so head on over there if you want to make it, she’s got a great tutorial on how to make it.

Credit Cards, Easter Eggs, and Legos

Little O has two friends that he absolutely adores. He will ask for them repeatedly, and can’t stop saying their names once they’ve gone home. The other day their mom brought the two of them over for a play date. Little O was ecstatic. We decided to paint with some objects other than paint brushes. I love to see how the kids experiment with each object to figure out what kinds of marks can be made with them.


Here is C-man experimenting with a huge Duplo block. You can see a paint brush in this picture, I know, I know…it was produced to satisfy a request. Most of the time, I’d rather avoid a tantrum than stand my ground.


Here is Little O experimenting with a credit card from an old, closed account. I should have shredded it ages ago, but since I still had it I thought we’d put it to good use. You can also used exhausted gift cards, rewards cards that you never use, or the library card still in your wallet from three moves ago. Notice the halves of plastic Easter eggs nearby. We also used those with great success, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture. Little O mostly scraped them across the surface of the paper, but you can use them to make circles, too.

 20140210_110926 (1)20140210_125136

Here are the finished pieces. I especially love C-man’s choice to add black circles. I think they really pop. My apologies to Princess E. She was indeed part of the play date but I didn’t get a good picture of her or her work.

Cotton Swab Painting


While trolling Pinterest the other day, I ran across this blog post touting cotton swab painting as a good pre-writing activity. I’ve painted with cotton swabs before and haven’t ever thought of it as a good way to develop a pencil grip, but the determined look of the little boy in the post had me convinced we should try it.

Little O and I broke out some gouache paints and cotton swabs and watercolor paper. I gave him one cotton swab per color, but he like to keep one swab in each hand at all times, so the colors got pretty muddied by the end of the session.


Overall I was pretty pleased with the amount of experimentation Little O did while engaged in this activity. He drew all kinds of lines (straight, curvy, circles); tried out making dots with the end of the cotton swab; and pulled on the tip of the swab to elongate the cotton and then dragged that across the paper to see what kind of mark it would make.


This kept his attention for at least 30 minutes, perhaps longer. He went through 4 or 5 pieces of paper before he was satisfied. As far as developing a pencil grip, I didn’t really try to direct him in one way or another. I just enjoyed giving him the materials and watching what direction he went with it. Perhaps when he’s older we’ll try some directed activities that are more geared toward pre-writing. (Practicing specific kinds of lines, i.e. drawing circles and filling them in, slanting lines to the right or left, circles and waves clockwise, counter-clockwise, etc.)

Snow Painting

A friend of mine needed some last-minute babysitting. I wasn’t busy, so I said, “sure! bring them on over.” (Plus I owed her a favor as she had done some last-minute babysitting for me a few weeks earlier. My only dilemma was how to keep the kids happy while they were over at my house. Luckily we had some fresh snow, so I mixed up some spray bottles with water and food coloring, and let the kids go crazy in the back yard. It was a hit.


20140107_153115 (1)

I’ve seen people do this activity with eye-droppers or condiment bottles. These kids were perfectly thrilled with the spray bottles. We put them on the “stream” setting and tried to get them to go as far as we could. The littlest one had a bit of a hard time getting her fingers around the trigger, so I wished that I would have had a squeeze bottle for her. Alas, not one was to be found at my house. I’ll need to pick some up at the dollar store next time I go.

Next time we do this I think I’ll mix up the type of dispensers and have a spray bottle, a squeeze bottle, and maybe a watering can (Little O cannot get enough of the watering can.) If you do this, prepare yourself from the cold as the kids won’t want to come back inside, and make sure the kids are wearing coats with a synthetic material on the outside. That way if the colored water gets on their coat it will wipe right off.

Easy Keepsake Christmas Ornaments

I’m pretty sure I would feel like I’m depriving my son of a normal childhood if I never gave him the opportunity to make a Christmas ornament for the tree. He’s fascinated with the ornaments (though we don’t even have a real tree with lights–just a decorated potted plant!). He loves taking them off the tree and walking around the house with them. By the end of the day I’ve usually got a little pile of ornaments I’ve collected that need to be re-hung.

When I was choosing ornaments for the art play date to make, I wanted to choose things that were very easily done by a large group of kids at different ages and skill levels, and also I wanted them to be beautiful enough that mommies would want to save them for at least 30 years. Here’s what we did:


This is your typical hand print ornament, however instead of using salt dough or baking soda dough which can weigh down branches and are breakable when dry, we used Crayola’s Model Magic. Model Magic is a bit expensive, but you don’t need much for an ornament. It’s lightweight and won’t break easily. It stays kind of spongy even after it has dried, it’s paint-able, etc, etc. I thought it was the perfect medium for our little hands. I painted ours with gold acrylic paint and gold glitter once it had dried out well enough (the package says 3 days, but I’m pretty sure mine took a week before I was satisfied that it was dry enough to paint).

Here’s little Penny posing with our second project, a simple popsicle stick star. (You can see two more on her tree, just above the crook of her elbow.)


I hot-glued the sticks together before the kids got there, and they got to decorate them with markers, yarn, glittery pipe cleaners, and whatever else they could scrounge. This one was a hit with the kids.

The last project was my favorite, I loved how they looked and smelled: cinnamon ornaments!


These were really easy to make, but they are fragile, so hang them high on the tree! Once again, I went with gold acrylic paint and gold glitter paint for the decoration. They turned out just lovely, and they smell great. I used this recipe.

Merry Christmas!

Chalk Painting

2013-10-18 11.34.12

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.

2013-10-18 11.33.58

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.

2013-10-18 11.36.34 Finished and Dry

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!