Mini Monets and Mommies: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sunny Kids' Art: Mock Stained Glass

So, working with lead and real glass won’t cut it when it comes to crafting safety with your young child. That said, your young artist can still make a “stained glass” masterpiece of her own. There are two ways that I like to create this faux stained glass project: 1. Using clear acetate (or another clear sheet) and markers, and 2. Using plexi-glass, markers and paints. For simplicity’s sake, this time I’m going to describe how to make the acetate and markers version. Please check back in the (hopefully) near future to see how to do the more complex plexi version.

What You’ll Need

·         Clear acetate sheets- I recommend getting several (or an entire box), as the first attempt may be more of a practice round for your child. If you don’t want to splurge on the acetate, you can do what I did – use a clear, flexible plastic photo or file holder (the kind that went into your high school binder).

·         Markers- I know, no one wants to use permanent markers with little kids. After all, who really wants a Sharpie line drawn down the center of your kitchen table forever? But, as you will see, the acetate’s slick surface and washable markers don’t mix. You’re likely to get a smeary mess (but, that can be fun too!).

·         Poster board or card stock

·         Scissors

·         Clear tape

·         Clear drying school glue

What You’ll Need To Do:

1.      Choose a subject. Make it simple. Your child should be able to draw it only using outlines.

2.      If you’re using a photo/file holder (like I did), cut it in half on the fold.

3.      Have your child draw the outline of her design onto the clear plastic sheet with a black permanent marker.

4.      Using bright or bold colors, your child can fill in her design.

5.      Press another piece of acetate (or the other half of the file holder) on top of the drawing. This will protect it and help to keep the marker from smearing on the window.

6.      Tape the edges of the plastic together.

7.      Make a frame. Although I do believe that the kiddos should do all of their artwork themselves, they may need some help with this step. Place the faux stained glass art onto a poster-sized piece of card stock or poster board (makes sense if you’re going for poster-sized). Cut the board so that you have at least a two inch border on the bottom and sides. The top should be long enough to fold all of the way over the artwork and go to the bottom (it should look like a tent).

8.      Fold the poster board in half.

9.      Draw a window that is slightly smaller than the acetate/plastic stained glass art onto the front of the poster board tent. Cut this out (you will need to help your child do this step, as it involves poking the scissors through the board).

10.  Trace the window onto the other side of the poster board tent and cut it out.

11.  Place the “stained glass” into the middle of the frame, taping it in place.

12.  Tape or glue the frame together and display it on a window.

Your child can add on to this project by decorating the frame with markers, crayons, stickers, paints or anything else that she can think up. When you display the artwork on your window, be careful not to do anything that will destroy the glass. I used tape to hang this one up, but that may leave behind a sticky residue. You can also prop it up against the window sill.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Learning Letters: Make An Alphabet Sculpture

Are you trying to help your child to learn the alphabet? Is she getting oh-so-bored with tracing letters on a piece of paper or pointing to them in books? I’m not saying that these, and similar types of, activities don’t have their place in A-B-C learning, but sometimes you simply need to up the excitement factor.

Alphabet Crafts

When my son was in kindergarten his teacher really, really, really loved giving them tracing worksheets for alphabet practice. Every week he toted home a new letter that he had to sit and trace, and trace, and trace and then trace some more. Sure, he could identify and write the alphabet, but he was bored. While you don’t need to curtail writing or tracing exercises, you can add this super-sized letter sculpture project in to the mix.

I used regular round balloons (taped together) to create the letter form. My original plan was to use the long hot dog-like ones that the balloon guys use to make those amazingly intricate little doggies and hats at the school carnival, but I just couldn’t manage to blow up the ones that I bought. If you can find a brand that works for you, by all means try it as a substitution. I also used rolled plaster sheets for this project. If you don’t feel comfortable with the dust that plaster releases, or your child is especially sensitive, swap them out for a simple paper mache paste (you can buy a mix or make your own with white school glue and a touch of water) and construction paper strips.

What You’ll Need:

·         Plaster strips (or paper mache paste and paper)

·         A plastic bowl or container

·         Water

·         Balloons

·         Tape

·         Tempera paints

·         A paintbrush

What You’ll Need to Do:

1.      Choose a letter. Go with your child’s first letter (for example, “L” is for Lisa) or pick a letter that you are currently working on learning.

2.      Blow up enough balloons to make your letter. I used five grapefruit-sized balloons to make the letter “L”.

3.      Tape the balloons together to form the letter.

Kids' activities
4.      Prep your work surface. Cover your table with a plastic garbage bag, tarp or something that won’t break apart when it gets wet (i.e., don’t use newspaper).

Plaster crafts
5.      Cut the plaster into strips.

6.      Fill a container with warm water.

7.      Dip the plaster strips (one at a time) into the water. If you are using paper mache, dip the paper into the paste.

8.      Cover the balloon letter with the plaster/paper mache strips. Make sure that your child completely covers all of the balloons. She can add an extra layer just in case. Even though this will take some time (probably overnight) to dry, you want a hard shell that will keep its form when the balloons eventually deflate inside.

Plaster art
9.      Let the plaster/paper mache completely dry.

10.  Paint the letter. Your child can choose one color or several for a rainbow pattern, polka dots or her own mix and match design. Have her paint one side, let it dry, and then flip the sculpture over to complete the other side.

Literacy letters
When the letter is done, make more. Create an entire over-sized alphabet or have your little one make her own name out of letter sculptures.

Are you looking for more alphabet art activities? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Model Magic: Colorful Clay Creations

Model Magic (Crayola makes it) is one of my favorite materials. Not just a favorite for kids, but I also enjoy playing with the easily moldable, stretchy stuff. As my 12-year-old son says, “It’s like soft as a marshmallow, but it like stays together!” Last week I posted on how to use this super artsy stuff to create a letter “M” artwork. I’m going to backtrack a bit and provide this simple how-to on create a rainbow of hues using the white version of the modeling compound. While you can buy the stuff in almost every color imaginable at your local arts and crafts store, your little artist can concoct her own uber-unique shades. She can also make marbleized patterns and multi-colored creations.

Clay letters

There are two basic ways to go: Color the model magic before your craft or wait until after. If you’re going the before route:

Children's crafts

·         Use markers. Yes, they are messy. And yes, they will get all over your child’s hands. But, isn’t a lot of fun worth a little mess! Smoot out the modeling compound, making a flat pizza dough-like sheet. Add color with the markers, covering the entire sheet in one shade or make stripes/blocks of different hues. Flip the “magic” over (use a piece of cardboard underneath to avoid smearing markers all over your table) and color the back. Twirl, swirl, blend and mash the colors together.

Colorful crafts
·         Use non-colorfast tissue paper. Aside from Model Magic, my second favorite art material is bleeding tissue paper. It has that “wow” factor when the color comes off and changes whatever is underneath it a new shade. Wet a dark or bold color of tissue (if it says color-fast, do not use it). Wrap the wet tissue around a ball of Model Magic, press down to transfer the color and then remove. As it dries the color will stick. You can also add a piece of dry tissue, and then place a wet paper towel on top to soak through.

Tissue Paper

·         Oil pastels: The oily nature of these drawing tools makes it easy to spread across the surface. Use it in a similar way to markers.

·         Food coloring. Work a drop or two of food coloring in to go from white to bold!

Rainbow colors
If you want to wait until after the crafting is over:

·         Again, use markers. This is super simple and easy to do. Just color on the Model Magic. This works well for adding facial features, spots or stripes or even drawing letters.

·         Paint the project. Use a thin paintbrush to add color on top, after the compound is dry, or while it’s still drying.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Impressionist Art Cupcakes: Cooking with Kids

So, I'm not the world's best baker. But, I love making cupcakes. Not just your run-of-the-mill frosted cakes. But, instead more cutesy desserts. Given my serious lack of cooking skills, I feel like I have to make up for being a kitchen klutz with at least some creativity.

Claude Monet

 A few years ago -- after watching one too many Food Network shows -- I decided that I could in fact make artistically awesome cupcakes. Of course, I couldn’t. But, what I did discover is that those little cakes sure do make a cool canvas for edible artistic creations. This is ideal for tiny tots who enjoy putting everything in their mouths. Why run the risk that your toddler will accidentally ingest all of the tempera paint, when he can “paint” with frosting?

On to the art – creating Impressionist inspired cupcakes. You can use it to help your child learn about famous artists. Go see a Monet at an art museum and then go home to recreate his “Water Lilies” on your cupcake canvas. If you aren't going to a museum soon, look at a picture online, get a reproduction poster or check out a picture in a book about the artist.

What You’ll Need:

·         Cupcake batter mix: If you’re even a step above my baking skills, certainly feel free to make your own from scratch. I wanted to focus more on the artsy aspect than the baking part, and chose to use a boxed mix. In either case, chose a vanilla or white batter (chocolate is too dark for this activity).

·         Frosting: Again, I bought the ready-made kind, but you can make your favorite recipe f you want. And again, chose a vanilla or white frosting.

·         Food coloring: The primaries (red, blue and yellow). You can make the rest by mixing those.

·         Baking paintbrush (do not use your child’s paintbrushes)

·         Pearlescent sugar: If you’re not a baker, and have no clue what this is – you can find it with the sprinkles in the baking section of your local grocery store (it looks like shiny, colored sugar crystals).

·         Bowls

·         Spoons

·         Measuring cup

·         Cupcake pan and liners

What You’ll Need To Do:

1.      Mix your batter (either from your own recipe or the box). Even if you use the boxed mix, this is still an excellent opportunity for your child to play with science and math concepts for real. Let him measure the water and oil. Have him mix the batter in a bowl, watching how the ingredients blend together.

Rainbow colors
2.      Separate the batter into three or four smaller bowls. Add one to two drops of food coloring into each bowl. Take a look at a Monet painting first, and notice how the colors are more light than vivid. Mix up bowls of pastel colors. For example, a drop of red will make a light pink. Have your child mix together two of the primary colors to make a secondary, such as red and blue to create purple.

3.      Place the liners into the pan. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners. Spoon a few different colors into each cupcake liner. Create layers of color, similar to the Impressionists’ brush strokes.

4.      Bake the cupcakes.

5.      Let the cupcakes fully cool.

Cake art
6.      While the cupcakes are cooling you can mix up batches of colored frosting in bowls. Like the batter, create pastel or light hues.

7.      Use the mini cakes as a painter’s canvas. If you have a thin baker’s brush, your child can brush on the frosting, creating a pond with lily pads, an outdoor garden or another similar scene. The Impressionists painted outdoors (or en plein air), focusing on naturally scenes, the season and the lighting at that specific time of day. If possible, take your cupcakes outdoors to re-create your backyard (sit at a table to work) or look out the window. Your child can also use his freshly washed fingers to layer on the frosting colors for a more abstract look.

Monet Recipe
8.      Add an extra sparkle by brushing on the sugar. Create a glistening pond or reflection in a cupcake stream with the colorful crystals.

Famous Artists

Have fun with the cupcake art-making. Don’t stress if your little one’s cakes don’t look like Monet’s masterpieces. With younger children it’s often easier to pick one aspect, or goal, that you want them to get. For example, look at an Impressionist artwork with your child and ask him if he can see the brushstrokes (he can). Then, have him recreate a noticeable brush-stroke look on his cupcakes. And don’t forget, it’s your day so calories don’t count. Ok, so they really do.

Are you looking for more cupcakes? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas galore.
Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Cupcakes! Yum! on Pinterest.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rainy Day Play: Make a Tissue Paper Print

It’s raining and the kids are stuck inside, right? Wrong. Instead of keeping the artsy entertainment indoors, take the artsy activities outside and use the rain to your advantage. Non-colorfast tissue paper is one of my favorite materials – for the very fact that it is non-colorfast. When it gets wet the color releases, leaving behind a whimsical watercolor-like effect. With that in mind, you can use this type of tissue to make rain water prints in the great outdoors on a not-so-nice day.
Tissue Paper

What You’ll Need:

·         White paper- I used card stock. It’s thick enough not to tear when it gets wet (I’d stay away from construction or printer paper).

·         Non-colorfast tissue paper – If it says it doesn’t bleed, don’t use it.

·         Crayons or oil pastels

·         Kids’ safety scissors

What You’ll Need to Do:

1.      Your young artist can either make a free-form abstract print or draw “something” first. Use waxy crayons or oil pastels to draw an outline first (if she is drawing an object). Avoid washable markers, as they’ll run along with the tissue paper.
Kids' crafts

2.      Cut or tear pieces of tissue paper to add color or create a design. Choose bright, bold or dark colors. Pastels or light colors such as pink may look pretty, but the color won’t bled through well. I found that teal, dark blue, deep purple and green worked the best.

3.      Place the pieces of tissue on the paper (or drawing). Don’t let your little one worry about pressing them flat. The wrinkles will make a textured pattern.
Kids crafts

4.      Carefully carry the paper outside (you’ll need to readjust it once you get outdoors). Put the paper on a flat surface.

Children's artKids' art

5.      Let the rain do its magic! You may need to have your child press down the tissue to make sure that it has direct contact with the paper’s surface.

Kids' printing
6.      After the paper is thoroughly wet, bring it inside. Carefully peel off the tissue paper. If it won’t come off, use a paper towel to gently roll of the remaining tissue.

Child art

Craft kids

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Paper Flower Art

Paper flowers? Sure, why not? Read on to find out how you and your child can make these crafty creations.

It’s spring! Or, it’s still chilly outside, but you’re wishfully imagining the birds singing and flowers blooming. Regardless of the weather outside, isn’t a bouquet better when it comes from your little love’s creative hands than from the overly-expensive florist in town? I mean, you can chop down your freshly sprung garden – but do you really want to look at ragged stems all summer? A few years ago I started making teeny tiny paper flowers. They were so sweetly delicate and made the perfect adornment to baby shower gift wrap or just about anything else that I could glue them on. Over-sizing the flowers (taking up a standard-sized piece of printer paper) makes for an easy kids’ craft that your child can turn into a Mother’s Day present or simply make just for art’s sake.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·         Thin paper: You can use regular printer paper or opt for a patterned origami version.

·         Kids safety scissors

·         Markers

·         Crayons, oil pastels or tempera paints (with or without a brush)

·         Clear drying school glue

·         Clear tape

Here’s What To Do:

1.      Draw a spiral onto a sheet of paper with a marker. Instead of making perfectly curved lines, encourage your child to make them wavy or squiggled. This will: 1. Show her that art doesn’t have to be “perfect” and, 2. Make her flower come out more natural looking. The width between the lines should be at least two inches. I’d give you an easy-to-use printable for your child to just cut out, but what fun is that? Your child (even a preschooler) is perfectly capable of drawing a swirling spiral, and if she thinks that she can’t – be a cheerleader and help her to try.

2.      Starting at the outside, have your child cut the spiral out. Don’t worry is she doesn’t cut exactly on the lines. Go outside and look at a real flower – they aren’t exactly perfect either.

3.      If you’re not using a colorful or patterned paper, have your child decorate both sides of the spiral. She can use markers, crayons or oil pastels. You can also opt for tempera paints (with a brush or by finger paint). Let one side dry before she paints the other.

4.      To make a tulip type of flower: Start at the most inside point, and have your child begin rolling the paper (it should start looking like a full mini toilet paper roll). When she gets to the outer edge, she can loosen her grip and let the flower “bloom”. Secure the outer edge to the bottom with either a piece of tape or a dab of glue (you’ll have to hold it tight until the glue dries).

5.      To make a rose type of flower: Start at the outside, rolling the paper up towards the inside. Again, have her let the paper go loose to make a blooming flower. Secure the flower tight with tape or glue. When she's done, you can glue them onto other artwork (such as a hand-made paper picture frame), use them to make a garden collage or bunch them into a basket bouquet.