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Category Archives: Art

Art in the Park

We had a great time making art in the park with all of you last night, and we captured some great photos! Please mark your calendars for our upcoming events, we hope to see you there!

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Chalk It Up!

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There are SO many ideas for chalk these days other than just drawing with sidewalk chalk.  You may need to think outside the box and bit or search the internet, Pinterest is my favorite way to do this!  Inside projects can be done with chalk paint to make chalk walls, boards or even turn old board books into mini chalk board books.  You can always practice writing or just draw with chalk on dark construction paper too.DSCN0444

We decided to take some chalk ideas outside and see what happened.  Not all the ideas worked quite like I thought, but the girls had a great time exploring anyway.  Here are a few ideas we tried:

– Paint Chalk: just crush broken chalk pieces and add water (lots of chalk and not too much water or it softens the colors)

– Playing Games with sidewalk chalk

-Drawing on objects other than sidewalk such as rocks, tree bark, etc

– Spray chalk: combine flour, color and warm water in a squirt bottle ( I recommend using liquid watercolors or a lot of food coloring.  We used neon with about 10 drops, but it was not as bright as we hoped.)

– Exploding Chalk Bags: combine cornstarch, vinegar and color in Ziplock bag.  Once outside add a paper towel folded up with baking soda inside the bag and close.  Stand back and watch!  (our first attempt leaked through tiny hole and didn’t pop bag)DSCN0459

It’s good to get messy!

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Many people shy away from attempting art with infants for a number of different reasons. The excuses offered most frequently are that an infant will eat the paint, and that it will make too big of a mess.

i won’t argue with the fact that it will probably get messy, but I’m sure that you can tell by now that we believe that you can learn a lot from making a mess. Today I want to tackle that other excuse. Just because infants and toddlers are known for eating nearly everything that they come in to contact with ( age appropriate exploration of their surroundings), does not mean that they need to be kept from certain forms of artistic expression. 

There is a large variety of non-toxic paint available, that is perfectly safe for infants and toddler to use, and while ingesting it will never be recommended, it certainly will not harm the child. However,I have always been an advocate for DIY solutions, and many of the following ideas may help you feel more comfortable with the idea that infants explore and learn using all of their senses, even taste.

There are a ton of recipes available for edible paint, look it up on Pinterest, but you don’t need a recipe to help the youngest children explore art and their senses safely, just take a look in your pantry. Any food items that you can add food coloring to can realistically be used as paint. Here are some of our favorites:

Water (think water colors)

cool whip 

frosting

pudding

Corn syrup

baking soda and water or cornstarch and water mixtures

sweetened condensed milk

these are just a few ideas that are perfectly safe for little ones to paint with, and each provides its own, very different sensory experience for their fingers as well. While we encourage you to try out some of these ideas yourself, please remember that food coloring, when used in high concentrations, will stain. We suggest using as little pigment as possible to color your paints, and painting in an area that is okay to get messy, like a high chair or kids table on the patio.

A trip to the museum

Everyone looks for quick trips to take with children in the summer, but most people quickly pass over the idea of taking the kids to an art museum.  An art museum is a great trip for even the youngest children, and there are art museums virtually everywhere, many of which allow children to visit for free or reduced rates.

Here are a few tips for making the most out of a trip to the museum:

Infants: Believe it or not, even the youngest infant will benefit from a trip to the museum. Viewing the colors, contrast, and lines will encourage brain stimulation and foster brain development.  It is also important to talk to infants while showing them paintings and sculptures.  Expose them to art vocabulary, just as you would expose them to any other vocabulary. This does not mean that you have to know anything about art, talk about the colors you see, what is happening in the paintings, how shiny or smooth the sculpture is.  A trip to the museum with an infant is about building your relationship with the infant, as much as it is about the art. Look into the programming that your local museum offers, some even have programs specifically for infants and their parents, where you can experience the art with other infants and parents.

Toddlers: The tips for listed above for infants also apply for toddlers, but toddlers are mobile and they love to touch everything.  This is how they experience their world, but not always acceptable at an art museum.  You want to make sure that you have prepared your child for this experience.  This is something that you can practice at home.  Have your child help you create simple drawings and hang them on the walls, then model how your child can walk up close and look, but remind them not to touch. Practice more than once, make it a fun game.  This way, when you do go to the museum your child will understand that they are not supposed to touch, and you will enjoy the experience without worry.

Preschoolers: A preschooler with be able to have appreciation for the art that you see at the museum.  Encourage them to talk about how the art makes them feel – is it a happy piece? Why do they think it is happy? What do they think the artist was thinking about when he or she was creating this piece? Their answers might surprise you.  A preschooler is also likely to be inspired to create their own art after a trip to the museum.  Make sure to stock up on art supplies before your trip so that you can come home and create with your child. Their creations may not be directly related to the pieces that they saw at the museum, but you can still talk about the process, and consider choosing a piece that they have created to frame and hang in their room, to help them understand that their art is important and valued too.

If possible, try to visit the museum in the morning, and follow it up with a trip to the park. After walking quietly through the museum the children will have some energy to use up!Image

Found object wind chime

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I fully believe that art is not only a means of self-expressions, but that art should focus on the creative process, as opposed to the outcome of the project.  This is especially important when working with young children, as long as they enjoy making art, it should never matter what it looks like when they are finished.  This makes creating a freeing experience, with no judgment attached.

My favorite materials to use for art are found objects, so I am constantly picking up random stuff.  Earlier today I found some canning jar rings that were taking up space in my cupboard – at my house we use the jars as glasses, so the rings rarely get used. I really wanted to do a project that could be hung outside, as that is where most of us spend our time in the summer, so I pulled out my giant box of assorted yarn (I told you that I had all kinds of random stuff).

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There is no right way to do a project like this, which makes it the perfect project for little ones.  They get to practice wrapping and tying, really working those fine motor skills.  Everyone’s piece will look different when finished.

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This would even be a great project for a large group to do together – it could be an awesome community-building project to do with the class at the beginning of the year, and you could hang it in the classroom.  Or you could make it a family project, with each member of the family connecting a couple of rings, and when everyone is finished, tie them all together. Or you could use it as a Baby Shower activity, and the finished mobile could hang in the baby’s room.  The possibilities are endless!

Art can be science too

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Exploring natural materials in artistic  ways is a key component of Reggio Emilia principles.  This activity encourages children to explore tree bark as they paint on it, inspiring them not only to be creative, but also to recognize the color, texture, and natural elements of the bark.

The bark that we used for this activity was found on one of our numerous walks. Before painting began, the children were able to examine the bark closely. We talked about the texture, and compared the tree bark to other objects that the children were familiar with.

When the paint was introduced, we discussed whether painting on tree bark would be the same as painting on paper.  The children were encouraged to paint with both their hands and a paint brush, so that they can experience the texture both ways.

Children learn through their senses, meaning the more hands-on experiences that they are exposed to, the more connections they are able to create between all of these experiences. It is important to have discussion with the children as you do these kinds of activities, even if the children are not yet verbal. conversations not only help to grow a child’s vocabulary, but the more conversations that are modeled for a child, the more competent children will be when they are able to begin forming their own conversations.

We use natural objects for a number of different content domains, not just science. Explore placing these types of materials in different areas of the classroom to see how the children utilize them. Some objects that you might use include:

  • sticks and twigs
  • stones (large enough that they do not pose a choking hazard)
  • seashells
  • leaves
  • pieces of bark
  • small tree branches or limbs

The possibilities are endless, let the children do what they do best, use their imaginations to explore their world.