Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Finn's Photos

I've been introducing Finn to photography, and have been letting him explore his world through the lens. It's so lovely for me to see things from his perspective, and to see what he finds visually interesting.

This was one that he look today which I thought was really sweet.

Art in the Park

We spent a beautiful (almost) spring morning in the gorgeous Enchanted Forest Park where seed pods are aplenty. I sat down with Finn and Evie and we started creating some shapes with the seed pods they had collected. A few other children joined in, and we enjoyed watching the little creations that took shape. 

Creative moments can happen anywhere and anytime.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Super-indelible-never-come-off-till-you're-dead-and-maybe-even-later colouring markers

Finn and I have had fun reading a book called "Purple, Green and Yellow", by Robert Munsch and Helene Desputeaux, about a little girl who asks to draw with some permanent markers. I decided it was a great time to bring out my own set for Finn to experiment with.

The brand I have are 'texta', but the 'sharpie' brand in a variety of colours would be just as good. 

I gave Finn a couple of sheets of good quality card stock.

He created a whole gallery of portraits, he was on such a roll he drew on a paper bag when he ran out of the card stock.


This little character is a 'ballerina'. A collaboration between Evie and Finn. 

The lovely thing about using permanent markers is the lines are so sharp, and unlikely to fade like other water based markers. You can also work over the top with a ink wash without them bleeding. They are not so great for getting off furniture, walls etc, so keep them away from very little hands.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Working with the ink blot

Last wednesday the children revisited their dry ink blot paintings, and I asked them to think about what they might see in the different shapes, and what they could turn them into (encouraging imagination and creative thinking).  Some saw birds, others saw machines. I gave them a variety of drawing implements and they worked into their blots.

If they seemed stuck with their drawing, I gently suggested things they might want to add (e.g. What do you think the bird might eat, could you draw some food for her?).

Sometimes a blank sheet of paper can seem intimidating for children, so having a starting base is sometimes helpful to get ideas flowing.

ink blot prints

We had a great time doing some ink blot paintings with a group of 2- 4 year olds. I filled two clean tomato sauce bottles (excellent for storing and distributing paint) with a mixture of tempera paint powder, water and a splash of acrylic paint to make it thicker.

I then gave the children two sheets of blank paper, one to apply to paint to, and the other to put over the top to make a print.

I asked them to move their hands over the paper, then open it up carefully to see what prints they made.

They were delighted with the results. Simple printmaking!

I waited for the paintings to dry until we worked further into them..

drawing as a form of communication

I've mentioned before how drawing can be a very powerful form of communication for young children when their language skills are still developing. I was very excited to witness a perfect example of this the other day, when Finn was trying desperately to explain a playground we visited on a recent trip to Canberra. I couldn't understand which one he meant, so he asked for a pen and paper and drew it!  When he was explaining it along with the drawing, I understood exactly what he meant (for those who know Canberra, it was a drawing of the castle playground in Commonwealth park). It was really exciting for me to witness this from Finn.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rocket Ship Fire-Engine

We seem as a species to be driven by a desire to make meanings: above all, we are surely homo significans - meaning-makers (Chandler, 2002, p. 17).

Finn (3) draws everyday for pleasure. I see improvements every time he draws. The more children can recoginise objects and shapes in their drawings, the more encouraging it is for them to keep practicing.

My biggest advice for parents is to have blank paper and good drawing materials (permanent markers, good quality crayons, and pencils & textas) easily available and accessible for children.

I have an solid art table (we chopped the legs down to size) set up on the deck, with a big pad of paper, and drawing implements ready for him when ever inspiration strikes.

I also have a beautiful artist book (made by one of my dearest friends Sarah) with blank pages to store and treasure all of his drawings, on the dining room table. When I'm on the phone or busy in the kitchen- I hand him the book and off he goes.

Talk about your child's artwork-  talk about what shapes they are drawing, ask them questions, suggest what things may look like to you (e.g that looks a bit like a wheel, is it?). Encourage and praise them for any efforts. Finn loves it when I watch him draw, and he loves it when we discuss his drawings and the stories behind them.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Soap Scultpure

I've seen this activity before and had been meaning to try it at home. It was surprisingly easy and wonderfully satisfying for Finn.

I had some bars of hotel soap (left over from my days working as a Flight Attendant), but any translucent soap would work. 

I helped Finn cut the soap into small chunks of different shapes and sizes, and gave him some toothpicks to construct his masterpiece.

It was a good activity to help him learn more about object placement, balance and working in three dimensions.

I'd recommend this activity for over 3's as the toothpicks are quite sharp to work with.


This weekend Finn has been busy with his Post Office. First we started by creating some mail, by using a stack of envelopes, some stickers and a date stamp (with ink pad). Finn folded up drawings and paintings and some hand written letters.

Finn wore a little felt hat which looked like a postman's, and I cut down and stitched a canvas shoulder bag and so it was a good size for little hands to reach in to distribute the mail.

We then made a Post Box out of a cardboard box with a hole cut in the front.

A delivery van (little car or bike) is also useful for this activity. Finn spent most of the afternoon delivering, sorting and creating his mail, and his little sister also enjoyed being involved in the posting frenzy.

This is a fun activity with opportunities for language development through role play and enhancing literacy (reading and writing) skills.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Giraffe and Finny and Me

I've been reading Finn (3) The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me  by Roald Dahl for the last few nights, and today as I was putting Evie to sleep Finn comes tapping at the window proudly displaying his wonderful Giraffe drawing. I found one of Evie's squeaky Giraffe toys for Finn to compare his own drawing against.

I pointed out that Giraffes have ears and horns, and large spots. He set about refining his drawing.

I set him up at the easel with some watercolour paints (limited to browns, white and greens) and he painted the Giraffe, some trees and some insects.


At the end he proudly announced "I'm an artist, like Nono" (his grandmother). I think he might be right.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

business cards

Finn and I were playing around with some business card ideas today. After giving Finn a design brief (I asked him to do a drawing around my name stamp) he played around with some ideas. Once he had done we were both happy with, he set about replicating his original drawing.

I was so proud of my little side kick- he worked like a little machine reproducing his dog monster onto several cards. I certainly couldn't have done better myself! Children have a natural flair for aesthetics that fascinates me. I made it known how impressed I was with him (lots of 'wow Finny')- he was beaming.

I love every one, and don't think I'll be able to part with them. This activity is good a exercise for children to practice drawing on different scales and paper shapes.

highlighter faces

Finn was working with a chiseled highlighter pen today on some thick cardboard. Although it's hard to see in the photos, he really enjoyed working with the pen as create thin and thick lines.
I sometimes find when occasionally limiting the amount of colours and materials, children can really focus on the task of actually drawing.


I love the wonderfully cute little faces peering out.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

monkey machine

I was trying Finn out with some observational drawing recently (using a soft toy- in hindsight too complicated for a three year old). 


He started off drawing the monkey for a minute or so, but was quickly becoming frustrated that it wasn't looking like the object he was trying to draw, so he went off on his own little drawing adventure.

I try not to structure his drawing too much and keep it all very fun and light. Sometimes an object for observational drawing is good for a starting point if the child isn't sure what to draw. Any kind of drawing and mark making is a very good thing.

Pressed Flowers

A few months ago we collected some flowers from around the neighbourhood and pressed them in a simple flower press (can be done between sheets of blank A4 paper inside a heavy book).
We had forgotten about them for a few months, so they were well and truly ready we pulled them out yesterday.

I gave Finn some clear contact sheets and he arranged his flowers on the sticky side of the contact. We then pressed the contact onto a sheet of paper, and cut the squares so he could then turn them into cards or bookmarks.

I also asked him to place one flower he chose onto a piece of paper, and work into it with a pen using the flower as a starting point to his drawing (you could attach the flower with a bit of glue first or sticky tape to hold it in place). I then sealed his drawing and and the flower with a sheet on contact on top.

There is cute book called Leaf Man which could be used as inspiration for creating other collages with dried leaves and flowers.

A garden of their own

After being inspired by the wonderful community garden down the road, the kids and I spent a weekend in our own veggie patch. Planting, weeding, looking for worms and making 'compost soup'.

Finn had a great idea to make a scarecrow, so I found some fallen branches, an old work uniform and some winter gloves to make the body for our scarecrow. If I had stockings around the house I would have used that for making the head, but instead I cut and machine stitched a head shape out of skin coloured fabric, stuffed it with polyfil and drew a face on it.  The whole scarecrow making process took about 15 minutes, and Finn is very proud of his new garden friend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

dot stickers

This was a quiet, low-fuss activity I did with a group of 6 children (aged 2.5 - 4.5). I gave them access to some sheets of stationary dot stickers in various colours and sizes, and some cut up sheets of translucent coloured contact (self sticking plastic). 

I gave them some coloured cardboard to work on and some drawing implements to work into their artwork if they wanted. Every child had their own way of working with the stickers- some overlapping, some very ordered, some random. 

Two boys made 'laptop computers' by folding the cardboard in half and using the dots as keyboard and the contact as the computer screen. They then played  'games' with their laptops set up on a table.