Sunday, November 25, 2012

Overhead Projector

A couple of months ago we picked up an overhead projector from the tip shop for $30. What fun it has been!

The children can draw directly onto it using transparencies and see their images on a huge scale, they can also experiement with light and shadows (you will often find OHP's used regularly in Reggio Emilia inspired schools).

Today Finn pulled out his Halloween trinkets and put on a spooky show for Evie who sat in the front row, entranced.


Darling little Evie. At 2 and a half, she is a quiet contented player. I love observing her in her solo imaginary play, and I love that she is breathing new life into Finn's duplo.


The past few weeks have had a real pirate focus for our household. Finn was invited to his preschool friends 'pirate' party so there has been a lot of excitement, inquiry and preparation building up to the big event.

 I was so thrilled to see Finn closely studying an illustration of a pirate hide-out and replicating into his sketch-book, adding an amazing amount of detail.

He is really looking when he draws now- and it has real meaning to him.

He has been dressing up and roll playing..

and drawing endless pages of pirates and ships.

The party lived up to all of his expectations.

How cute are these cupcakes?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Block Work

Evie has long given up her daysleeps, so the days that she does nod off is very precious time to me. So an activity that Finn can become absorbed in for hours is block construction. I put on an audio book (Roald Dahl) My children lead such busy, social and noisy lives- it is so nice for them to have quiet, uninterrupted time on their own creating and thinking.

Mud Pie Kitchen

In a secret part of our garden- daily there is a lot of learning, experimenting and merrymaking going on.  
Recently we set up a mud pie kitchen for the kids (sourcing secondhand a TV cabinet, old pots, pans, metal teapots and spoons). They are usually happy playing with sand, dirt and a bucket of water. But today I added food colouring and cornflour to the fix. They had a lovely time creating slime pies. 

Circus Oz

Over the weekend, we took the children to see Circus Oz  which was an amazing show (we had front row seats which made it even more fantastic). Finn was lucky enough to be plucked from the audience to be part of the show. 

Since the show there has been a lot of circus tricks being practiced and a lot of dressing up. 

Fruit Kebabs

Fruit seems so much more fun on a stick..


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oil Pastels

We use these Micador Oil Pastels at the Steiner School I work at, and I also love using them for the kids at home. The colour range is huge and they don't seem to break while drawing like other oil pastels and the colours glide on beautifully smooth and strong. 

They work very well when using an ink wash over the top, creating a resist painting, or using on top a black/dark coloured paper (to create a space or night scene). 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Photographing Children

I have been so inspired by this gorgeous blog of an engaged mother documenting daily simple joys in her children's lives by taking beautiful photographs.

Amber generously showed me how to move my DSLR (Cannon EOS) off auto mode, to have more creative control over the photos. Although this isn't the most amazing photo, and I still have a lot to learn, there is going back now..

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cardboard Arcade

So inspiring!

Perfect Pancakes

A slow saturday morning at home is the perfect time for pancakes/pikelets.

My favourite recipe works perfectly every-time (from David Herbert's The Perfect Cookbook).

For Piklets I just substitute plain flour for Self-Raising Flour, or add baking soda to the flour.

1 Cup of (all-purpose) Flour 
Pinch of salt
2 Eggs (free-range of course), lightly beaten
1 Cup of Milk
30 g of Butter, melted

Sift the flour and pinch of salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre

In Separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, milk and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until a smooth batter forms.

Grease a small non-stick frying pan and preheat over moderate heat for 1 minute.

Ladle the batter into the pan and cook for about 1 minute, or until bubbles appear on the pancake and the underside is golden. Using a spatula, flip the pancake and cook for a further 45-60 seconds before turning out.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I had not used clay as an art material with the children for quite a while- and was inspired by Kate at the Reggio Emilia inspired playgroup we attend. 

After leaving the children with a few balls of recycled clay on the art table in the garden-
this is what I came back to..

It look Finn a little while to get used to the different texture of clay and at first wasn't sure what to do it with (which is why he pressed sticks and leaves into it). I modeled myself making a little creature using a pinch pot technique, adding limbs, ears and tails.

The lovely thing about clay is if you seal it properly back in the bag at the end of every clay session it will last for years.

hotel transylvania

 Inspired from watching the trailer for Hotel Transylvania, this was Finn's interpretation of the hotel, complete with sign and staircase.

I found these little coloured matchsticks, and blocks in a 'hot dollar' shop.  As an educational tool you can discuss colours, shapes and patterns.  We used PVA glue underneath and stuck them on to card stock. Adding a touch of food colouring to the glue helps to show the children where they have applied it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Art vs Craft

I get so frustrated with prescribed art and craft activities for children. Recently at a local group the children were presented with photocopied ladybirds, and each child was given four black dots, two googly eyes and two antenes. This kind of activity seems pointless to me- really it's just busy work.  The leader was confronted when Finn declared he didn't want to make a ladybird but wanted to make a lion, but I was beaming at him with pride.

It is so easy to give children a variety of materials in different colours and textures and from there, the children can decide where their project goes. Even choosing what materials from they use from the selection is a creative process in itself.

At two Evie loves declaring- "I made it all by myself", rather than someone telling her what she has to do, and how she has to do it. Children should be able to let their projects take them to where-ever their imaginations want them to go. They should be able to tell a story, dream, design or just experiment with textures, colours, glue, tape, clay, pencils and paint.

Not everything has to look like something that adults recognise, sometimes it's just fun to play and create.

Wood Work

Inspired by a lovely book called Beautiful stuff, I thought it was about time I do some woodworking with my children. We do lots of wooden block building, and lego construction at home, but by using a hammer, nails and glue the children could plan and build a more permanent three dimensional objects with wood. Finn decided on making Batman's house with a secret bookshelf that reveals his Bat Cave.

We found some scraps and offcuts of wood and I bought them a little 'tack hammer' from a hardware shop (light enough for small hands to use) and some PVA wood glue.

I gave Finn a selection of nails, and thumb tacks so he could practice using the hammer.

He then pasted on the glue and left in the sun to dry.  In the next few days he may want to come back and put some more nails into the construction to make it more sturdy and I will give him access to paint if he wants to add detail or colour.

I also had some rubber bands available in a box and Finn enjoyed creating points on his blocks with nails for the rubber bands to stretch across.

In 'Beautiful Stuff' they extend woodwork projects by guiding the children to do observational drawings of their models.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Eyebrows, Ears and Eyes

I have decided not to fight it anymore.. and have let Finn experience the Ben 10 cartoon series like the rest of his preschool buddies. So, there is not so much talk about Robots in our house anymore, but more about superheros and Aliens. With his new keen interest... I took this opportunity to do some guided drawing with him while he was drawing Ben 10 from his pencil case. First he selected all the colours he needed for the image, then set about replicating what he was looking at. Towards the end of his drawing, I prompted him to look and draw smaller details (such as looking closely at the whole eye including the whites, iris and pupil, eyebrows, ears). Children often miss these details when they are first learning to draw, and it is helpful to prompt them to look at all body parts and facial features.

I just love this drawing. The energy and freedom in his lines, and of course the gorgeous expression. We quickly framed it and now it proudly sits on his bedroom wall.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My little Inventor

Finn has for a long time been talking about being an inventor when he is a 'big man'. I bought him his own inventions sketch book so he can jot down any ideas and look back on it  (and possibly invent) when he is older. He has spent hours and hours in this book over the past week busily working on his machines, robots and factories. He has also been taking it everywhere with him which has been great if I need to keep him occupied while at a cafe or waiting room. 

What I have to do now is go through his sketches and jot down what they are, otherwise we will both forget what they are meant to do! 

Box Construction

We do a lot of work at the kitchen bench! Today the children wanted to construct three dimensional flying objects. I often forget about artistic construction for them, but they love it, and it's so easy to grab some boxes out of the recycling bin and give them some sticky tape. Evie usually wants to make the same as Finn with some slight variations, and that is fine. Finn has a really clear image of what he wants to create and I allow him access to the resources he needs. 

I try not to interfere in what they are doing (unless they need help with the tape or scissors). I think it is important that they engage in the problem solving and creative process in their own way. 

A Perfect Circle

Evie (who just turned two) is mastering her 'circles'. Currently her pages of drawings and paintings are filled with circles, and circles within circles. A beautiful little milestone to watch, and she does it with such concentration and patience. 

I have posted this link about children's drawing developmental before, but it's interesting for me to read again.

Coloured baths

For the past few weeks the children have been insisting on having food dye in their baths. I am finding that is really helping with them understanding colour mixing/blending. 

I get two clean juice or empty milk bottles and fill one with one primary colour (for example yellow), and the other with another primary colour (for example blue) and I ask each child to wait their turn to empty their bottle in the bath (ta-da, green water). The children find it pretty spectacular and somewhat magical. It doesn't seem to stain their skin or the bath, so everyone is happy and they are learning while they play.   

Friday, June 1, 2012

Drawing Flowers

 Finn is so fascinated by robots and machines it is his main focus when it comes to drawing. We have sketchbooks full of elaborate robots and machinery which come with lots of descriptions and stories.
Today at preschool he was asked to draw a flower, and it was difficult for him to draw a flower as it was (without adding wheels and cogs). So we set about this afternoon focusing on drawing flowers, in it's true form, looking at the details and shapes.
So here we are- a beautiful flower with not a button or wheel in sight. A breakthrough in our little household.

Working from home..

Trying to work from home is never easy with two small children, but I've been trying to get them involved in my illustration project by giving them their own drawings to work on, and allowing them access to my watercolour paints and pencils.

It's a lovely feeling all working quietly and being creative together.