Thursday, December 9, 2010

A People Factory

I am a firm believer in the Montessori and Steiner philosophy of child-motivated learning and play. Finn has a great interest in pipes, electricity, machines and factories which leads a lot of his questions and learning. The pages below are some of Finn's favourite pages from books which we used as inspiration for making our paper mache factory. 

The Lorax- Dr Suess

Michael Bird Boy- Tomie-de Paola

Materials: Tissue boxes, cardboard tubes, masking tape, wallpaper paste, paint, decorations (pom-poms, buttons, paddle-pop sticks). 

We made this factory out of cut up cardboard rolls and a tissue box, using masking tape to keep the pipes in place, then covering with ripped up newspaper and wallpaper paste. 

Once the paper mache dried, we used a white undercoat, then top coat. 

Finn then decorated his heart out (buttons, pom-poms, paddle-pop sticks and glitter glue). 

We used cotton wool to represent the factory smoke. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Family of Four

I found a site which clearly explains children's stages of drawing development: 

Ask your child to draw family portraits regularly to keep a record of their artistic development. Always name and date them, and encourage your child to tell a story along with the drawing. 

Here are Finn's family portraits aged 2 years 8 months (in a wild mood). 

Evie (baby sister). 

This is a drawing of Evie with other baby Evie's inside her tummy. She is wearing a nappy.

 Me (mum)

Ashe (dad)

Finn (self)

Wax Resist Christmas Stars

I found these little wooden stars in a craft shop (but even better would be to ask your child to draw their own stars, or you make them for them out of thick card). 

We used Wax Resist painting techniques- when you draw use wax crayon, then paint over the top with a water based paint. The paint is repelled by the wax creating interesting effects. This effect isn't obvious on the wooden base we used, but they look pretty non the less. 

We crudely attached masking tape and string to the back to hang them on the tree. 

Rock Sculpture

Lately I have been reading a lot about 'nature deficit disorder' which is a term which describes  children who spend too much time indoors, removed from direct experience with nature. The following are some activities to get your child outdoors, exploring and working with natural objects. 

Rocks are a great source of entertainment in our house-hold. Once collected on a walk (or pinching them from the neighbours driveways in our case), activities can involve cleaning with a bowl of soapy water, then sorting into sizes, shapes and colours. 

You can ask your child to experiment with rocks- to rub them on a hard surface (concrete), drawing into the dirt with them, making patterns in the earth, or try carving into a soft piece of wood with it. You can also encourage your child to make a fairy house in the back-yard, or create an entire stone village.  

Rocks collected on a walk (or driveway in our case)
PVA glue
Small plank of wood

For this project Finn used PVA glue and a small paintbrush to create his rock sculpture. He spent a long time painting the glue to the rocks and deciding on placement. Once dried your child can or add feathers, shells other natural materials, or can even paint it with acrylic paints (adding a new dimension, as rocks have many sides and surfaces and no two are the same). 

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Materials: Cardboard tube, masking tape, paddle-pop sticks, coloured paper, PVA glue, buttons, pipe cleaners. 

Finn spent the morning playing with some toy frogs in a pond we made (we used blue quilts and towels, and pillows for lilly-pads). I suggested we make some insects for the frogs to eat, so Finn made this little creature. Usually I help him cut shapes, but this time I encouraged him to tear his own shapes which gave him more control over the whole process. He used pipe-cleaners for the antennae, and buttons for eyes.

He promptly took his insect over to the pond to continue playing. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Play Dough

I was reading about the importance of  play dough in a fantastic book called "Rapunzel's Supermarket', by Ursula Kolbe. 

On page 22: " Give children ample time to get the feel of dough and clay without cookie cutters or rolling pins. Toddlers love to make forms they can squeeze, roll, bend, twist and flatten. If they are not distracted by tools, they quickly acquire skills- a language of hands". 

A good reminder for me, as I tend to let finn go crazy with his box of play dough tools. 

This is the recipe I use for play dough which works every time. If you use 'cream of tartar' it helps preserve the dough for up to 6 months. 

Dough can be used for many children's activities. We borrowed this idea from Play School the other day, and made a little garden using the dough as the ground (on Play school they made a fragrant garden with cinnamon sticks, and herbs like rosemary). For our interpretation Finn added sticks, leaves and rocks that he found on a walk. 

We have also had fun making bridges across two dough islands, and adding little plastic animals to make jungles, and paddle pop sticks to make animal zoos.  


Finn and I love playing the drawing game Squiggles. It is a great activity to keep little people busy when waiting at the doctors, on a plane trip or in a cafe. All you need is paper and a pen. 
Draw some shapes, zig-zags, or swirls on a page, and the child does the rest. Joining them up, or creating their own drawing from the base shapes. 

I always carry a Bic 4 Colour Pen with me so Finn and I can each use a different colour. You can also reverse the roles (let your child do the squiggles you and you create the rest). 


These drawings were done by two pre-school aged girls. I showed them a page out of a simple drawing book called 'Draw Aussie Animals', which demonstrates that it helps to break the subject into simple shapes, then add detail. An older child may also like to add their own background or environment. 

I love the different, but equally wonderful interpretations. 

Elisabeth: Aged 4 

Isabel: Aged 4

Here is the page we used from the book 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eye Monster

I got this idea from 'The Preschooler's Busy Book' by Trish Kuffner. A fantastic recourse full of imaginative ideas for any parent/carer of young children. I refer to it almost daily. 

Looking through old magazines, Finn and I chose a variety of facial features from faces (eyes, noses, mouths, eyebrows etc) and Finn arranged them on the page the way he decided. Then with a pen drew a face around the glued features. Your child could also add facial hair, ears, or any thing else to finish their creation. 

Materials: Cartridge paper, glue, pens, magazines with faces. 


For this project I cut pieces of coloured paper of various shapes and sizes. Finn decided to create a robot for this one (naturally), so he asked me to cut out grabby claws and buttons. He had full control over where the shapes were placed and we were both delighted that he was able to create recognisable images. Children love glue and Finn is no exception. Try to encourage children to wipe the excess glue off the brush, and try not to rush their work. 

Materials needed: Watered down PVA glue, cut out shapes of coloured paper of different sizes, textures. Your child may ask for extra shapes once the image is emerging. 

Robot with Buttons

Rocket Ship with Space Junk

warm and cool

Today we experimented with warm and cool colours. 

Warm colors are based on yellows, oranges, browns and reds

Cool colors are based on blues, greens, and purples. 

We talked about how certain colours make you feel, and how they are used to describe things. E.g. Red is a hot colour, found in fire, the sun, fire engines or can describe someone feeling angry.
Blue is a cool colour, like the ocean, and can make you feel calm, or used to describe someone who is sad. 

We looked around and found warm and cool colours around the house and garden. Here are some of his paintings using the different colour palettes

Cool Colours 

Warm Colours

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Paper Mache Robot

After Finn watched a bit of Wall-E, we thought it would be fun to make his own Robot using Paper Mache. 

Materials needed: Various sized boxes and cardboard tubes (e.g sultana box, toilet roll etc)
Masking tape, wallpaper paste, PVA glue, container for mixing, old newspaper, paddle pop sticks, and items for decorating (buttons, stickers, pom-poms, pipe cleaner etc).

Step 1: After deciding on a theme, join together boxes with masking tape. Mix together the wallpaper paste powder with water and add a bit of PVA glue. Let it stand for a few minutes. 

Step 2: Prepare the surface to work in (cover the floor with newspaper or cardboard box- it can get messy). Rip up some newspaper into small pieces, and cover the boxes. Encourage your child to use their hands to experience texture, and help them create a tight layer especially over the joins. Let dry in sun. 

Step 3: Once dry- paint with a white coat to cover newspaper print, and create flat surface. Let dry. 

Step 4: When undercoat is dry, paint and decorate using a variety of materials. 

oh christmas tree..

We set up the christmas tree at home, so decided on a christmas theme for our art project today. 

I asked Finn to draw a christmas tree, then we looked through some junk mail and cut out some christmas decorations to place on his tree. They would make sweet cards for family and friends. 


I encourage my 2.5 year old Finn to draw every day. I invite him to use a variety of drawing implements (ball-point pens, textas, chalk, pencils, and charcol) and on different surfaces (chalk board, cartridge paper, coloured paper, brown paper bags and cardboard boxes). 

Through the act of drawing, children develop a multitude of cognitive abilites including problem-solving strategies, symbolic representation, spatial intelligence and literacy skills. Drawing enables children to learn through active engagement, fostering connectivity and providing real meaning to learning.

In the early years of schooling, often children’s language skills are not highly developed making visual arts a powerful educational tool.  Children are more likely to understand and express abstract concepts such as emotions more readily through the use of images rather than through words.

Finn is very interested in machines, so this is a common theme for him. I encourage him to talk about him drawings and explain how his machines work. 

A Robot machine: it makes Robots 

A milking machine.