Large-Scale Painting

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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.

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

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Painting up and down, flexing those wrists.

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Did you notice that it was camo pant day?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.)

Book Review: Art For Baby

My grandfather used to tell me that babies needed to look at high-contrast images for their eyes to develop properly. Turns out that little bit of information is not entirely accurate. Babies prefer to look at high-contrast images because their eyes still haven’t developed fully, but they can see quite a bit and don’t really need to look at high-contrast images for their eyes to develop. If you’d like to read more, click here.

They still prefer to look at high-contrast images, and so for those of you who have an infant or know someone who is expecting, this book could be a good gift idea.

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This book has no words, just a bunch of high-contrast images from a few great contemporary artists. Some of the artists included are Keith Haring (Radiant Baby shown on the front cover), Julian Opie, Bridget Riley, and Josef Albers.

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The images were chosen wisely – there are faces, animals, (see the duck above), as well as some abstract images. Even my two-year-old had fun with this book. I especially enjoyed it because I felt like I was exposing him to a tiny bit of contemporary art, just on his level.

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:

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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.)

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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!

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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!

Bubble Wrap Prints

The other day a former colleague of mine came over with her adorable little girl and she and Little O had a good time painting. I thought it would be fun for them to paint on bubble wrap.

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Notice how I said I thought it would be fun for them to paint on bubble wrap? Little O was way more enthralled with making marks on the paint tray with his foam brush and q-tip, and Little M loved the water…she just wanted to stir and dip her brush over and over.

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ImageAfter a little encouragement and participation from the moms, we were able to get enough paint on the bubble wrap to pull a print. I think they turned out pretty well–the prints would make fun wrapping paper!

If you want to try this activity you will need:

  1. tempera paint in several colors
  2. bubble wrap
  3. medium weight paper (I used drawing paper)
  4. paintbrushes

Just tape a piece of bubble wrap down to the table and let the kids go crazy! I didn’t do this, but next time I think I might put some white paper down underneath the bubble wrap in order to make the paint a little more visible when it is applied to the wrap. (I have a plywood table topper and thought the paint was a bit hard to see. Perhaps that is why they were more interested in the paint trays and water?) When the kids are done, take a sheet of paper, press and smooth it over the top of the wrap, and carefully peel it back to reveal the print.

Have fun and happy printing!