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Cool Tools for Art

A  simple and fun art project for children of all ages. Using tempera paint, have the child choose the tools they will use to move the paint around. Any type of tools can be utilized. Have the children search the surroundings such as sticks, stones and leaves. The teacher of this lesson can also bring items like popsicle sticks, ribbons, cotton swabs, straws and any other cool things.

If you are working with toddlers and pre-school children (actually any age), it can get messy. So, be prepared with drop clothes, wipes and smocks.

This is a great example for the activity nature’s paintbrush used during Earth Day.

The finished product could be used for gift wrap if the art project is done on paper rolls or on a blank gift bag. Other times we have made home made cards. You can purchase the blank cards and envelopes at a craft store or just fold paper to fit an envelope. Either way, have your child or children paint and use their tools for a unique card to give for any occasion from Mother’s Day to a simple thank you.

Children will enjoy using some of their favorite things to collect from sticks to fallen leaves to make this creative masterpiece.

Make it Fun Wrapping Paper

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” -Mother Teresa

Children love to be involved in making things, especially useful items that will be appreciated.  Having art projects that can be used and given have double duty for me. I love to have art on our walls, but if I can share the wealth, I am happy! When your child loves art, this is an ideal ongoing project. The art time is given and then the art is used to wrap a gift and you still have some space on your walls.

This is super easy and the possibilities are endless. Butcher paper or rolls of paper are perfect for making your own wrapping paper. You can do one large project and store to use the wrapping paper when needed or it can be done to suit the person you are giving the gift to. Please note, this can also be done with plain gift bags.

In my example, I have used paint and a few sequins found in the cupboard. This was designed by a preschooler and it was great fun.

An example of a few decorating items could be glitter glue, paint, tissue paper glued on, stamps, photographs, water color, sequins, rhinestones and more.

If you are in a pinch, stickers could also work and then there is no worry about drying time. Another cute wrapping paper is when they use the paint dotters or sponges. Teaching the art of hospitality and joy of giving is a timeless and useful lesson. The simple act of putting love and time into a gift can show much more to our children than simply buying and doing it for them.

A Flag Worth Waving

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

There are many reasons in America to wave your flag. Here is a simple idea to show your pride and instill some tradition in your children. A dear friend of mine had us over for Fourth of July and gave us blank linen flags to take home and write words that we thought would show our feelings of the brave men and women on the

Fourth of July.

Blank Mini-Flag

When we returned home with our blank flags, we read Star Spangled Banner by Peter Spier and then wrote with Sharpie marker onto our mini-flags.

Each year on Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Memorial Day we display these in a glass jar with confetti, curling ribbon or whatever I have on hand.

This activity is ideal for classroom or homeschool children when learning about american symbols. It may be used for Flag Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Flag day is in June and falls during National Flag Week. Search your area for flag raising ceremonies and celebrations. The National Flag Day Foundation is focused on educating and organizing activities and events that honor the country.

Flag Facts:

-On June 14, 1777 the continental congress changed the symbols on the Grand union flag to a new design. The new flag had thirteen stars, one for each state at the time, in a circle on  a background of blue and also had thirteen red and white stripes.

-The United States flag is also called “Old Glory” and “Star Spangled Banner.”

-The modern flag has fifty stars, one for each state and thirteen red and white stripes for the original thirteen colonies.

-Flag Day is observed on June 14th.

Make a Sombrero for Cinco de Mayo

Looking for a cute decoration or craft for Cinco de Mayo? Making a sombrero is fun and creative for children. You can also make for your own fiesta!

First of all the pictures on this page show styrofoam, which I do not recommend for several reasons. The first and most important is that they are wasteful and do not decompose. Now, on the other hand, if you are recycling from a restaurant then I would say use them. They are not as easy to decorate, but worth it if you are reusing. But, you get the idea.

You will need a paper plate and paper cup and tape. You can choose small or normal, it is up to you.

Optional items include pom poms, paint, glitter glue and sequins.

Tape the paper cup to the paper plate (in the picture below, a hole was made to push the cup through.)

If you would like to make the cups look authentic, paint them a light brown or cream color. Let it dry and then decorate.

Otherwise, just decorate and you have a mini sombrero!

Other versions of this craft:

Using larger white and cardboard plates, with paper cups, decorate, add ribbon to the paper plates to tie on and wear. Place hole in the sides of the plate to add the ribbon. Also, to decorate add streamers to the ends of the plate. These sombreros would look great hanging from your ceiling for a fiesta or just for fun.

Have fun and let the children get creative. Plan a small party for a group of friends. Make mini sombreros, do the Mexican Hat Dance and have a piñata and you are all set for a fun celebration. Serve some simple food such as chips, guacamole and salsa. If your having children, serve up quesadillas as most kids will eat this!

Quesadillas

Ingredients

Tortillas (corn, if you are serving gluten free)

Grated cheese (cheddar or monterey jack)

Oil or butter

Optional items to include, avocado, onions, sliced olives, mushrooms, anything you want!

Heat frying pan on medium high heat. Spread oil or butter. Place tortilla on pan, flip it a few times to warm it up. Sprinkle cheese and any other of your optional ingredients. Fold it in half, flip once to melt cheese. Cut into wedges and serve warm. You can always serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

The Mexican Hat Dance

This is a national folk dance that is also known as Jarabe Tapatio and was written in the 1800s during the revolution. Teaching children the dance with music is fun and is a great way to use their brand new mini sombreros! it can be done with a partner or whole group.

Make Your Own Puffy Paint

Puffy paint is always a big hit with children. It is fun and different. To save the cost of the small containers at the store, you can make your own puffy paint. The best thing about making your own, besides the lower cost, is the amount you can make for a large group of children like a classroom, girl scout troop or just having friends over to the house.  Start out by collecting bottles that can squeeze out paint, like mustard bottles or used paint bottles that are empty. You can also buy the bottles at the store that have not been used. For some strange reason my children have an aversion to mustard and I know they will not want to use paint from a used mustard bottle.  If you prefer to use a paintbrush to use the puffy paint that would work  also. This paint will dry super shiny and will rise. This will be a hit with the children.

You will need:

Flour

Water

Salt

Food coloring

Mix equal parts of all the materials except the food coloring.  Pour into separate cups. add the desired color of food coloring and mix well. You can then have the children paint with paintbrushes from the cup, or you can our the paint into separate squeezable containers.

This recipe is easy for the children to make their very own paint. Anytime children can make their own craft stuff to use is a great accomplishment.  Another advantage of this easy recipe is that little hands can help even if they stick their curious little fingers in their mouth.  The paint is non-toxic. I have not stored any of this paint, so I will have to update the post when I get the chance to see how well and long this puffy paint will store.  Please feel free to let me know if you figure it out!

Making A Tree With Meaning


As a teacher, there are many fun ways to send home art projects that capture the child’s age and size. This is a fun activity that may take some extra helping hands if you have more than one child or doing as a group. Looking at the picture you can see how messy the kiddos are going to get with paint up to their elbows. This art activity will take some preparation before the children enter the picture.

You will need:

Paint (red, green and brown)

Paper

Area with paper or plastic art covering to protect flooring

Start with the brown paint and place along child’s arm and thumb. Have them place their arm onto the paper. Make sure you help them lift the arm off of the paper. If not, it could lead to some messy prints. Have the child clean up. Next, use the green paint to put on child’s hands and fingers to make leaves. Again, clean up and place red paint on one thumb to create the apples on the tree. This would be a creative project for the end of the year gift to parents with a child’s poem written about growing like a tree. As always quotes add an inspirational moment to the gift. Younger students can write a sentence such as “Look at me, I am growing like an apple tree!”

If you wanted to include a math project for kindergarten and younger, you could have them make a certain number of apples in the tree. For example, have index cards with numbers written “ten” or numerically written “10,” then the child would make the amount that their card was labeled. It all depends on the child or children. They could have to make an even number of apples to practice the meaning of even and odd in mathematics. The mini-lesson possibilities in art and all day long are endless!

This art project would also relate to Arbor day, seasons, family tree and a beginning of the year art project for the wall. This applies to teachers, child care professionals, home school moms and scout leaders.

I always recommend finding a paint with no gluten in it, as some art supplies contain hidden gluten. This would be for classrooms or parents that have children with celiac disease.

How to Make a Nature Can


A perfect activity for families and classes to celebrate Earth Day! I found this on Plum Pudding and I am excited to try it out with the children this month. There little eyes find treasures everywhere. This nature box is a creative way to keep all of their loved rocks and treasures and also helps to keep the house organized. I find this activity to be perfect for our family. This would also be a cute gift box for wrapped food gifts. Click on the link below to get directions on making your own nature can.

Nature Can Activity by Plum Pudding

Simple Flower Science

This is s a simple experiment for children of all ages. The visual of how water travels through a plant is amazing and would go along well with any study of plants.

First, you need to gather the materials:

White flowers such as carnations or daisies

Flower vases, glasses or jars

Food coloring (any color you want)

Water

Science notebook if desired (see note below)

White Flowers (before)

Directions:

Fill the glass about one quarter full with water.

Add plenty of food coloring (try about 15 drops and see how dark it is, you may need more if your using larger jars.)

Have an adult trim the flowers at an angle.

Put a flower into each filled jar.

Observe, discuss and journal.

Questions:

What is happening? Do some colors seem to show more? What part of the flower do you see the color in?

Science Notebooks:

If you already have a science notebook for your classroom or children at home, utilize that book. Otherwise, take two pieces of plain white paper and fold it in half. Staple together to make a small booklet. Have the child design the cover and write name on it. the title could be “Flower Science” or “Colorful Flowers.” On the first page, write or draw what the flowers look like before the activity. the next few pages can be used for observation drawings, marking the hours, time or date. the final page can be for written results and explaining why the color can be seen.

What Exactly Happens?

For Younger Kiddos:

Plants, flowers and trees drink water from the ground through their roots, kind of like a straw. The water moves up the stem and travels into the leaves and flowers. The plant will use this water to make food for itself. Explain that the roots are no longer on cut flowers, although it would be good to show a picture of a flower with roots.

Older Children:

The food coloring and water goes through the sap tubes that produce the required capillary force. Capillary action carries water from the beakers to the petals of the white flower, which causes it to change color. It is the same thing that causes water to rise up in plants and trees. It goes through the roots, trunk or stem and then on to the flowers and leaves.

Transpiration-It is the loss of water vapor from the leaves, stems, flowers and roots. It is part of the water cycle.

Two Colored Flowers:

Another version of this activity is to split the stem and use two colors on one white flower. You would fill two glasses with water and use two different colors of dye, one in each glass. Split the stem in half. place one half in each glass. Check it out in a couple of hours.

This is also just a fun decoration for any holiday or celebration. St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, Christmas, President’s Day and birthdays would all be great times to make colorful flowers either as decoration or as gifts!

Valentine’s Day Ideas

Valentine's Day Ideas

Valentine’s Day is such a fun day to celebrate family and love. It is also another opportunity to create or maintain some traditions within your family. Families can start a new tradition to pass on to your children, grandchildren and future children. Trying to keep family values and quality time together gets more challenging with all of the crazy schedules and activities that creep into our lives. Setting aside precious time for the family to bond and grow is so important. Here are a few easy Valentine’s ideas to get you started.

First, have your goal for the day or week. Have you been wanting to instill a giving and serving attitude in your family? If so, maybe this week can be about “serving others.” Choose a family or person in need and spend a day making food such as cookies, muffins or cupcakes. The idea of making a gift from scratch, wrapping it nicely and delivering is a simple yet strong way to serve and show love in your own neighborhood. Older children may be able to serve at an actual shelter within your city. I think that making Valentine’s Day a serving week is unique and not as crowded as Christmas and Thanksgiving time.

Another goal can be quality family time. I have chosen this as our theme at this point in our lives. With young children in school, our time is limited and I still want it to be special. We have typically made the night a fancy night. We make a great dessert and have fondue on Valentine’s night. I love the creativeness of children, we decorate and they take over. I ask for place mats and they can decorate how they want. If you have issues of being perfect then you may want to have crafts planned or to buy Valentine themed decorations!

When the children were younger I had more of a friend themed day. I would organize crafts and the children would decorate cookies and then have some time for play. These play dates were fun. I am hoping when the children are older to have a fun night together, maybe a dinner and movie. Maybe those of you with older kiddos are laughing at me, don’t spoil my dream yet. But if you have suggestions for teenagers, please fill us dreamers in!

Here is a cute and fun craft that was done at the home of another super cool mom I know. You can buy or make a die cut of a heart, glue on the fun glitter pom poms or any kind. It takes a while to dry. Smear the glue on the cut out and then add the pom poms or other decorations. The sparkly hearts look super cute hanging on the wall for Valentine’s Day.

Glittery Pom Poms

Valentine's Day Craft

Wishing you and your family a day full of loving hearts and great time spent together.

All You Need is a Box

Running out of ideas for those long summer days or on a rainy day? All parents have witnessed the child who loves to play in the box and use their imagination. Well, how about those small shoe boxes or whatever size you happen to have in the house. I gave both children a box and pulled out all the little things that we have around the house that I should have thrown away.  I just knew they would be used and come in handy! It is good to re-use and recycle.

You will also need some glue, tape, scissors and markers to get started.  Next, your child may just take off and not need any help to get started . For the others, ask questions about what they like to play….dolls, cars etc. This may help them to make a choice to make a house for their little animals, design a car for characters etc. My son was into gadgets and rockets. Below you can see his control box that has been used for many missions to the moon.

For this project he wrapped white paper around the box, I cut the slit for him to put his sliding piece of cardboard in, a bolt served as his on and off switch and the plastic squares were around the home as counting squares and last a mosaic piece filled in as the last button.  Any tiny craft things would work including buttons, pom poms and stickers. My son was about six years old when he created this “thing” and I am thinking we need to do this again and see what he comes up with this time.  I do not have my four year old’s version pictured and I am sorry I do not have it because it was quite hilarious as she made a control box as well.  I love how different each child is and you can really see it when you let them have free reign of their projects and crafts.

Creativity is the key!

“Creativity is a great motivator because because it makes people interested in what they are doing.  Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea.  Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”   Edward de Bono

*Edward de Bono wrote and studied about the brain and creativity. He was the author of The Mechanism of Mind and introduced the term “lateral thinking.”

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