Sunday, March 27, 2011

Puff the Magic Dragon

After listening to a reading of the song book 'Puff The Magic Dragon' at his Music Class, Finn was inspired to draw magic dragons for the next day or so.  

I had a packet of 140 'self adhesive colour label' (found in variety shop for only $1 a packet), and suggested he could incorporate some spots into his art work (as scales, or patterns). 

He had a wonderful time creating patterns, shapes and layers. At one stage the spots became smoke, and in on of this drawings he decided that his creation was actually a fire-fly which he used a pen to add wings to (the top example). 

There is some great information on Jennifer McCormack's lavendilly site: 

Which discusses positive ways to talk to children about their artwork, and encourage them to think about the process they are engaged in. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." 
Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nature Table

Finn has a Nature Table on our paved outdoor area (a nature table is really meant to be set up inside as a way of bringing nature indoors, but we lack space in our house, and his table is pretty large and messy!). Every time we go on walks he collects new things to add to his collection- feathers, rocks, sticks, seed pods etc. 

Today I thought we needed to add some people to the table so he could create some natural scenes, and I decided to use a gorgeous family of wooden peg dolls I bought recently on Etsy which I had been meaning to do something with. 

I made them to represent our little family, so I glued (using PVA) some felt for our clothes (Finn choose the colours he thought were our favourites), I tied a small bit of string around the middle, attached a bit of woolen hair (I used some unspun Alpaca fleece, but anything would do), and drew on some simple faces with a fine permanent marker. 

Then we created an island setting for them using rocks, sand, bark and sticks,  

and a seed pod worked well as a raft.. 

If you don't have wooden peg dolls to use, sticks can make really sweet gnomes as demonstrated on this site:

Water Play

The simplest of activities can sometimes provide the most joy for children. My 10 month old loves supervised splashing with a large tub of water on the deck. Pouring, sprinkling, floating, splashing and mixing. 

For older children I set out a few containers (empty clear juice bottles are good) of water with drops of food colouring in each, and watch them mix the colours together to create new ones. 

Small plastic sea animals or boats are also fun to scoop and play with in tubs. 

Mixing Colours

Finn wanted to paint with sponges and small rollers today (you can buy in packets from most places that sell art & craft supplies). 

I started off by only giving him blue paint, then after a few minutes I washed his brush and roller, and gave him a container of yellow paint.  As he was applying the yellow paint, we talked about how when the yellow paint meets up with the blue paint- it creates green. 

Watery ink paints (watercolours or water mixed with food colouring) are the best for demonstrating this. There are many poems about colour mixing you can share with children. 
Here is one example:  

by Ilo Orleans

When I put YELLOW
Paint on RED,
The colors change
To ORANGE instead.
And, mixing BLUE
And RED, I get
A pretty shade

Another trick
That I have seen:
Turn into GREEN.

There's magic when
My colors mix. 
It's fun to watch them
doing tricks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

coloured ice

We filled up an ice tray with water adding one drop of food colouring in each segment and put in freezer overnight. 

Once frozen, we put the ice cubes into a clear tub of water and the children watched and played with the melting ice, and watched the colours blend and swirl. 

You could use two colours at a time to see what happens when they are blended (e.g. Blue and yellow- turns the water green). Ask the children to explain what is happening to the ice, ask them to use words to describe what it feels like to touch, and notice whether the ice is sinking or floating in the water. 

A variation of this activity is to freeze children's acrylic paint with a bit of water in ice-trays and children will enjoy drawing and painting with the melting cubes on white paper. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clowning Around

We put this clown costume together this afternoon, by sewing some large coloured buttons on an old striped shirt (found in a second hand shop), cutting off the bottoms of some old work pants of Ashe's and sewing some colourful patches on them. 

I found the braces from a store on ebay, and the wig for $10 from Mr Toys World. Finn had a a great time getting into character. 

Cable Car

I was inspired by the reading Finn the book 'The Lighthouse Keeper's lunch' by Ronda Armitage, which features an impressive basket on a cable which the lighthouse keeper gets his lunch delivered in. Finn and I decided to make our own cable car (although you can buy cute ones by Kraul). 

We found two little pulleys from a hardware shop (for around $3 each), and some washing line rope from the supermarket (4 mm thick), and attached each pulley to opposite sides of the deck via a small carabiner, and used a basket big enough to hold some favourite toys. 

I gave Finn a 'lift operator' outfit to wear (anything will do), and gave him some raffle tickets and a stamp so he could give his toys a pass on boarding. 

There is a book called 'Earth, Water, Fire and Air' - by Walter Kraul, which has more details on how to make cable cars, and other scientific toys like windmills & hot-air balloons.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ink Drops

For this activity we used some thin paint from few drops of food colouring mixed with water and an eye-dropper. 

I gave Finn some watercolour paper although thick porous paper could also be used.

He experimented with colours running into others, and enjoyed the splattering effect the ink dropper made.

We used the same paints but used cotton tips to apply the paint. Cotton Tips made great painting implements for children, as they create fine lines, and are easy for them to control. 

Allow the finished paintings to dry flat in the sun. Once dry you could ask your child if they would like to work into the paintings with a felt tip pen. They may find monsters and interesting shapes and patterns which they could work further with. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

map making

Today I asked Finn (3 years) to paint me a map of our suburb. Paint didn't allow him to add much detail, so when the paint was dry, he worked into his map adding details (with a fine texta) such as our house, some favourite cafes, his family daycare, and some of his friends houses. 

You could also suggest children add trees, traffic lights, rivers, parks and shops. 

You could show children some real street maps of their street (or from google earth), so they can see their suburb from a different perspective and get an idea of distance between places. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fun with Flakes

This is a great way to spend an afternoon with restless toddler. The tactile activity came from 'The Australian Woman Weekly Art & Craft for Kids' book, and helps to stimulate children's imagination and natural curiosity. 

In a bucket I mixed 1 cup of Lux soap flakes (bought from the supermarket), with about 3 litres of warm water. I gave Finn a whisk and helped him whip the soap flakes into a thick, foamy consistency. 


Then I gave him things I found in the kitchen for scooping, straining and pouring. 

He also enjoyed adding a few drops of food colouring into the mixture. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Felt Crown

To encourage imaginative play - I made a couple of simple felt crowns. 

I used a bit of filling inside for the crown to add dimension, and used hat elastic at the back. I glued a few small felt shapes to the front as jewels. Each one took about 10 minutes to make, and has created hours of enjoyment. 

Below is a link to a more detailed tutorial on how to make a felt crown:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Set your child up with a sheet of blank paper (or you could make up a simple document like the sheet below), and a mirror. I think a felt tip pen works best for this project as the lines are sharp and good for capturing finer detail. 

Ask them to look closely at themselves and draw what they see. It is a good lesson in observational drawing, and makes a lovely keepsake. 

Once they have finished, ask them to describe the drawing and a talk a bit about themselves for you to write down. 

I worked on this project last year with a group of 4 year olds last year, and this was one of my favourites.