Time For Art: Flower Painting

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Toddlers and preschoolers are little scientists. They are constantly experimenting with objects around them, their own abilities, and their behavior. It’s almost like the question “What happens if I (insert behavior/action here)?” is on repeat in their heads.

“What happens if I put my hand in my cup full of water? What happens if I hit all the water that spilled onto the table with my hand?”

“What happens if I climb on the table? What happens if I jump off of the table?”

“What happens if I throw this ball? Now, what happens if I throw this block?”

“What happens if I stick this green bean up my nose?”

It’s true, toddlers and preschoolers come up with some terrible ideas, and while they aren’t actually thinking it through in the same language that I used up above, they are still curiously testing the world around them. It’s how they learn what works and what doesn’t.

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I like to bring together activities that allow toddlers and preschoolers to do things outside of the box. We want them to explore, we want them to have opportunities to test their independence and creativity. I like this activity because it combines a pretty typical art activity, painting, with new objects to experiment with and explore.

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So, set up just like you would for any other painting activity and then introduce your child to the concept of using the flowers and leaves you’ve collected to paint or stamp with them.

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Let’s talk about what other things are going on in this activity:

Creativity and Independence: Just like I talk about in other art activity, it’s all about the process, not about the end product. So, in the case of the flower painting our focus is letting them experiment with this new “paint brush” let them see what they like the best, what works best, let them pick the colors and have freedom in creating their own picture. I think it’s fun to paint alongside them and talk about what you are doing, and provide ideas for them to add to their repertoire.

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Fine motor: There are lot’s of opportunities in painting to use those tiny muscles in the forearm and hands which prepares them for future use, like writing and cutting!

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Communication: When we expand on these experiences with our kids their communication abilities explode. In your conversing, connect colors, objects, and actions to what they are doing in this activity. Remember, little ones understand what you are saying to them long before they can express it themselves!

Happy Playing!

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Time for Art: Paint the Ocean

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Today’s art activity was kind of momentous for us… almost six years ago I started putting together all of these activities in this planned, cohesive sort of way for my oldest when she was about 18 months old. And… today… I started doing the activities with my youngest, my third, and probably last, little guy.

How is this craziness possible?!?

Now, while we’re on this topic… can I just say that I knew kids grew up fast- I mean doesn’t every mom with older kids stop you and tell you how fast it goes? If I had a dime for all those times…

Well, I had enough well-intentioned, experienced, and wise moms tell me how fast it went, that I actually tried to take heed, I tried to learn from them! And, yet I’m constantly blown away by how fast the time flies. Maybe there is some sort of psychological block in our little brains that we literally can’t process how fast it goes. I don’t know… it’s something for someone out there to study some day!

Ok, I promise my wild mom hypothesizing is done for now!

Since I was distracted by my littlest one finger painting for the first time, I did a terrible job documenting the activity with photos! Full disclosure I ended up just taking different angle shots of the final product! Hey… REAL. meaningful. family. Right? Some days we’re just happy we got any activities done at all!

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I got the activity started by just squirting some dots of dark blue along the bottom third of the paper, light blue through the middle, and some dots of white along the top third. Then, when my little guy got going he smeared all of the colors together and it turned into a pretty cool variegated blue “ocean” swirl on the paper! Definitely frame worthy.

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I love this activity because it gives kids total freedom to do what they want. Classic finger painting is a great sensory activity (and for that reason some kids may want nothing to do with it… that’s OK just give them a brush instead!), it is a great fine motor activity, it’s a great natural way to talk about colors and what happens when colors blend, and it’s a great way for your child to just experiment with their creativity and independence! So, pull out these materials and have fun together! I even pulled out a brush and painted along, it was pretty fun!

Happy Painting!

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Time for Art: Golf Ball Painting

 

I love this activity for so many reasons… it’s easy and not too messy, it’s a ton of fun, and it gets the whole body moving and experiencing! You’ve got to try it!

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I borrowed two golf balls from my husbands golf bag… I don’t know if this would bother a golfer or not, I didn’t ask. I figure they get smashed across the golf course that a little rolling around in paint won’t hurt them.

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Then, I squirted a couple of blobs of paint onto the paper inside of my container. This time my little guy wanted just dark blue. It’s great though if they use more colors because then you get a fun mixing of colors on the paper.

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Once it was set I helped him get the idea of what to do, and he went to town rolling the balls around, creating his masterpiece!

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Like I said earlier I love this activity because it gets the body moving and experiencing what they are doing. This is engaging the brain in so many ways… here are my two favorites in a nutshell:

Art: A couple of things here with art and creativity. In this activity we are using a new instrument (the golf ball) to paint. So, kids are learning to be creative and think outside the box to create. It is also a chance to see how colors mix and make new colors. It’s up to us to talk a lot about what we see happening.

Movement: Active little ones will love engaging their whole body to do this art activity. Figuring out how to move their arms and torso to get the balls to move just so, is getting the brain engaged in so many ways!

Happy Playing! 

 

Time for Art: Build a Flower

This activity takes a little prep, but we have done it every year for the last 5 years and it is so fun to watch the transformation over the years as they become more and more aware of what they are doing.

To start you need to make 5-7 petals… in the color of your child’s choice of course, a stem, and a circle for the center of the flower… this is also what everything gets glued to so it needs to be fairly substantial. I go ahead and make a couple of colors that I know my kids will want to use.

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Several years ago I got smart and made myself a template for a large petal and a small petal to make it easier on myself and make my petals uniform. Take a piece of card stock (heavier paper will hold up over the years), fold it in half, and draw half of your petal shape- kind of like mine pictured on the left. Remember the old trick to get a symmetrical heart? This is the  same concept you’re just making a petal shape. Does that make sense? This is what I do for every shape that I need to be somewhat symmetrical. Now, while it’s still folded cut it out, and then open it. Voila! You have a symmetrical petal to replicate over and over for years to come!

Once everything is ready, go ahead and let your child put together their flower. With my younger kids I help with the glue, but I try to let them have as much freedom as possible. It’s more fun to end up with their own creation rather than what we want to make, anyway!

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Let’s talk about what’s going in this activity:

Fine motor: Gluing and putting the paper together are great ways to engage the small muscles of the hand and forearm. It takes a lot of control to gently place paper where you want it! And this is definitely a fun way to work on this area of development.

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Art/Creativity/Independence: Knowing what something will look like and planning ahead is not something that we are naturally born with. Getting to have freedom in activities like this allows our children to explore and learn about what they can do on their own when they are in control. Let your child explore, make mistakes, get messy, and problem solve on their own. It is in these activities that we have to remember it isn’t the outcome we are going for, but the experience!

Happy Playing!

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Time for Art: Painted Butterfly

I have a confession… sometimes I dread the weekly art projects. Not that I don’t like them or I don’t want to spend time with my kids, it’s more like how I dread my workout when I’m tired and unmotivated. Getting up for art projects that involve messy materials can be hard! Especially with little ones. But just like my daily workout, once I get into it I enjoy it and we have fun. When it’s done I’m so satisfied at the accomplishment. And so are my kids!

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So for that reason, sometimes our art projects get pushed back in the week when I feel more up to the task. Last week we made a cute caterpillar friend and so this week I love having the next activity be a butterfly friend. To see a list of materials and short instructions go here.

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And, it ended up not being too messy or stressful and my son loved it, he was so proud of his accomplishment!

We have discovered two ways to do this. For the first one paint dots, random blobs, and smears… basically just let your toddler or preschooler paint the coffee filter how they choose! IMG_3728

Wet the sponge to medium wetness- not too drippy and not too dry… and then let them squish the wet sponge on top of the coffee filter to squish all of the paint together.

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The second way to do this isn’t a ton different, and it borrows from the old sponge painting technique. Remember that? This time start with the wet sponge and paint the blobs and dots right onto the sponge… all over with all different colors. Once it’s covered in paint, squish it onto a coffee filter. Move it and squish again until all of the white is colored, or until your little artist is satisfied with their creation. The final product is similar, but it’s two fun ways to get this pretty painting technique onto the coffee filter.

The one on the left is the first technique (painting onto the coffee filter) the one on the right is painting with the sponge.

Once the paint is dry you can gather the middle together and twist a pipe cleaner around to keep it gathered with the painted wings on each side. Curl the ends of the pipe cleaner for the antennae and it’s all done! Such a cute, and easy craft! And it really wasn’t so bad right?

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A couple of tips for this activity:

  1. IMG_3727Kids love to learn what they can do on their own. We’ve got to make sure we find a balance between helping and doing it for them! Resign to the fact that it’ll get a little messy. Counters wash, clothes wash. Ultimately, they will gain a ton of satisfaction and pride when they can do as much on their own as possible. Know where your child is at, and know when to let them do it on their own and practice their independence and creativity.
  2. A lot of the fine motor experience comes from the painting and squishing of the sponge. So, again, even though it is tempting to want to step in and help, let them do it and get all of the benefits!
  3. Talking and describing are the ways our young children make new connections in their brains. Even if they don’t communicate back, take all of these opportunities to talk about what you see and ask questions! We might be doing an art project here, but it’s really building brain connections, communication, creativity, and tons of other stuff!

Happy Painting!

Time for Art: “Cut” and Paste Cross

I love these tearing gluing combo activities! My kids love them too because for some reason it seems like they always found paper to tear… usually a document or list that they weren’t supposed to destroy. So, with this activity they can tear apart paper to their hearts content. Check out this week’s plan with a full list of materials for this activity.

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We make a cut and paste cross every year, but you could easily make an Easter egg if you would rather. It is really as easy as it looks to set up this activity. Cut out your cross or egg, let your child choose a color, or several colors to fill in their object, and then let them get to work tearing a part the paper and gluing it on.

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When my kids are younger I squirt some glue out into a dish or onto some newspaper. It seems a little easier for them to dip their paper scraps into the paper and then stick it onto their cross. As they get older I start to let them experiment with the glue bottle.

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So, what’s happening in this activity?

Art: Even though it’s pretty simple, your child is still getting the chance to do whatever they want with their paper scraps. This is big for their independence and creativity. They need chances to be in control of something and make their own decisions. Those chances are very few and far between for our little ones. So, with this freedom they are learning what happens when they are in charge. It’s our job to talk about what we see them doing, encourage, and ask questions.

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Fine Motor: Obviously this activity is heavy on the fine motor movements. It takes quite a bit of strength to tear paper, so your child might need you to help them get started. They will still get a good little workout for their fingers and forearms.

Happy Playing!

 

 

 

Time for Art: Handprint Bunny

Anytime a holiday is coming up I always see these beautifully perfect arts and crafts activities and baking activities intended for kids. I always have to laugh because there’s no way a child actually did the craft. Mommy did the craft and shares it as a kids activity! It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine because that’s not fun for kids, nor is it developmentally appropriate. Now, if it’s a gift or something and you want to be more hands on, go for it, but learning happens best when kids can experiment and make their own creation… and it’s ok if it looks nothing like the intended outcome!

Here’s what it looks like when you let your 3 year old take over and do their own bunny, but still offer a little direction and help…

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He picked blue for his bunny because he is obsessed with dark blue. Not light blue, dark blue! I use a brush to cover the hand completely, and then I let him stamp his hand on the paper. This is where, especially with younger kids, you do have to be a little hands on, otherwise the paint will be everywhere but the paper! I usually help them stamp their hand, trying to keep the pinky and ring finger together and the pointer and middle finger together to make the ears. Then, we let it dry.

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Once it’s dry it’s time to add a lighter color between the pinky and ring finger and the middle and pointer finger. This is the inside of the ears. He picked a lighter color of blue for this. This is where chaos may start to ensue… and that’s ok! Your child might want to embellish their bunny with lots of colors.

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Now all our bunny needs is a face. This is where things got interesting for us! Two eyes and a smile, that’s all he wanted to paint on.

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And that brown smile, I think this little blue bunny has been stealing vegetables from the garden!

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This activity offers a lot of various types of fine motor movements, sensory experience with the paint, your child gets to use their hands and a paint brush, plus the chance to experiment and try out their own creativity. This is really the trial and error experience that leads to a lot of learning!

Happy Painting!

 

Time for Art: Make a Lamb

This week we are getting into some Easter activities! I love doing activities that reflect the season and upcoming holidays. It keeps things fresh and offers some great decor for the season! So today we are making a lamb with a paper plate, cotton balls, a few construction paper cut outs, and some craft eyes. You could easily make a bunny if you prefer, just change up your construction paper cut outs. You can go here to see the full instructions and materials list.

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This might seem like a super simple activity, but it as a ton of great developmental concepts going for it. You’ve got the arts and crafts creativity of getting to experiment with the craft materials, fine motor of picking up the cotton balls and pressing them on, and the sensory experience of feeling those fluffy cotton balls.

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You know your child best, so it’s your job to assist and direct as much as you think they need you to. Whatever you do, try your hardest to not take over. Encourage, give ideas, ask questions, maybe even make your own along side your child. I like doing crafts with my kids sometimes because they get new ideas from my own, and it adds to their experimentation.

Sometimes I put glue into a container to dip the cotton balls instead of squeezing the glue onto the plate. It works well and just offers a little bit different dimension. 

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These craft activities are all about trying it out, not getting something that looks just like a lamb (or a bunny if you choose). Have fun and enjoy your time together!

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Time For Art: Heart Feet

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Start out by getting prepped first! Paint, brushes, paper, wet clean up cloths nearby and maybe even set up on top of newspapers on the floor if you want. Trust me, you don’t want to get your child’s foot covered in paint and then realize the paper is on the other side of the room!

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When you are set start with one foot. Paint the bottom of the first foot with your child’s selected color of paint. Help him, or let him, stamp his foot on the paper. Clean the first foot off, and then paint the second foot. To make a heart have a child stamp the second foot on top of heel of their first footprint to create the pointed bottom of the heart and toes create the two rounded tops.

Your child can add more paint and decorations to their hearts if they would like.

Time for Art: Tear & Paste Glitter Star

 

Get the fine motor juices flowing with this Christmas art project today! For a list of materials and a brief description of what to do go to this week’s activity plan, here.

Each season I like to include an activity like this. Tearing paper is fun (although difficult for younger children, so keep that in mind!) It uses so many fine muscle movements, it’s fun to watch the shape fill in with color, it uses creativity… it’s just a good activity! For a more in depth breakdown of the benefits of this kind of activity, check out Time for Art: Torn Paper Apple!

Start by cutting out your shape. This is a star, but you could make a tree, an ornament, a snowman, a football… Whatever you think your child would enjoy. Then, let them tear apart paper that will eventually be glued to their shape. For younger kids you can get them started and demonstrate what to do.

Once you have several tiny pieces your child can start gluing…

More gluing and sticking on paper. If your child gets overwhelmed by the amount of space to fill in help them focus on one ray of the star at a time. I remember several years ago I was helping my 2-year old niece color in a hand turkey that we were working on. I said ok now you can color it in, and she replied “I can’t!” I realized it was too overwhelming, and when we focused on one “feather” at a time she was able to do it just fine! So, keep that in mind.

To finish off we pulled out the rarely used glitter. The star has to twinkle, right?! We just brushed glue over the top of the yellow pieces and then sprinkled on the glitter, removed the excess, and then let it dry. Glitter by the way is totally optional!

 

Such a great Christmas decoration in the tree or on the fridge!

Have fun and happy playing!