Mini Monets and Mommies: November 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

10 Holiday Gift Must-Have's for Artsy Kids

Who loves making art? Your child does! The holidays are quickly approaching, and you need gifts, gifts and more gifts. After all, there are eight nights of Hanukkah and the Christmas tree has enough room to fit a sleigh-full of presents under it. So, what’s the answer? Kids’ holiday gifts that focus on art-making.

Holiday ideas

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There are what seems like an endless supply of kids’ art materials out there. It can be almost unnerving to walk into a craft store and try to pick out a handful of supplies. In my years teaching children’s art classes I was lucky enough to have a wall of closets stocked high with almost every artsy item that a kid could want. Seriously. If only I could have that at home. But, I can’t (and I know most of us can’t). So, we need to pick and choose.

Holiday gifts

Yeah, the kiddos are going to ask Santa (or you) for video games, smartphones and all kinds of other stuff that they really don’t need—and that you really aren’t into buying. If you’ve got a crafty kid or just want to add some artsy ideas to their already lengthy list of holiday presents, these are some of my top picks. Along with gifting these to your child, you can also pack some away into a gift basket for others. Last year we put together an art-themed gift basket for a silent auction at my son’s karate school’s holiday party. It went over very well.

So, what are my favorite kids’ art supplies to give as holiday gifts?

1. Paint: Really, a nice tempera will do when it comes to process paint explorations or as a finger painting medium. I’m a fan of Crayola’s. The texture is easy for kids to work with, it isn’t too watery (I can’t stand watery tempera, it’s just way too runny for little hands) and it doesn’t get that weird smell after a few uses (when I worked in a preschool the paint closet always smelled like old tempera). I also like that you can choose small sized bottles (they come in multi-color packs) or larger sizes.
Crayola paint

2. Oil pastels: I love, love, love oil pastels. Yes, kids like regular ol’ crayons. But, when you take out the oil pastels, they really get creatively crazy. They’re slightly less of a mess than paints, but the kids can still blend the colors together. This 50-piece assortment of Cray-Pas gives your child all the shades and hues she’ll need.
Oil pastels

3. Modeling clay: Building and sculpting are fine motor favorites. But, I also like using modeling clay to paint. What? How? Follow this tutorial to see how (it’s such as less-mess version of finger painting). Crayola has my favorite kind of clay for artsy play. While you’re looking, their Model Magic (which is a totally different type of compound) also makes a creative kids’ holiday present too.
Modeling clay

4. Glitter: What child doesn’t want to play with the sparkly stuff? ALEX Toys Artist Studio24 Glitter Shakers gives your child so many sparkle-filled options to choose from.
Glitter art
5. Hole punches: I know, I know—hole punches? Right? These shaped punches are perfect for so many crafts. Really, I used to use them all of the time when I taught art classes. Let the kiddos punch a bag of shapes, then use them anytime to collage or add to a craft project.
Hole punches

6. Canvases: Ready-to-use canvases are an ideal alternative to plain construction paper. Your child is probably pretty used to painting on paper (or maybe poster board). A pack of canvases gives her a new option, making her feel like a “real” artist.
Art canvas

7. Craft foam shapes: These are super-easy to use. You can get adhesive back ones (they’re basically like puffy stickers) or plain ones to glue on. In either case, gifting your child with an assortment means hours of crafting fun. You can pick a theme that interests your child or go with something educational (such as letters and numbers).
Foam shapes

8. Craft foam sheets: While we’re on the subject of craft foam, adding in a few paper-sized sheets makes for even more artsy good times. Your child can cut these apart and add craft foam shapes to DIY her own bookmarks, fold them in half to make books or use her imagination and create whatever she wants to.
Craft foam

9. Watercolor crayons: As if watercolors weren’t fun enough as is, try this art item out with the kiddos and see what happens. They can draw (like they’re using crayons) and then brush on water for a paint effect.
Watercolor crayons

10. Paper mache art paste: Oh, this is my all-time top paper mache pick. Sure, you can make your own using school glue, water and flour. But, I adore Elmer’s version. It’s a powder that dissolves into water, giving the kids tons of ooey, gooey artsy sculpture-time play.

 Art paste


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Kids' Craft Stick Puppet Art Activity

The kids want to make their own puppets. But, you’re not terribly crafty. When you hear the word “puppet” you see visions of dancing marionettes or over-sized plush play toys. Now you’re thinking, “How could I help my kiddo to make one of these?” Well, don’t worry. This kids’ puppet craft is super simple—and still totally creative too!

Puppet-making craft

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Set your child’s imagination lose. Right now. You don’t need fancy art materials or crazy processes for the kids to make their own playful puppet friends. With a craft stick and a few basic art materials your child can create her own imaginary creature. And, she can dress it up in some DIY crafty clothes.

Not only does this activity help your child to explore art (gluing, painting, cutting), but it also helps her to build fine motor skills. After she’s done with the art-making, your child can also get in some dramatic play. She can use her imagination to create a character for her puppet and act out story (either one that she makes up or one from a favorite book).

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Craft felt (choose a variety of different colors—you can use 8x10-inch sheets or scraps left over from other projects)

·        Scissors

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        Wide craft sticks

·        Googley eyes

·        Tempera paint

·        A paintbrush or a sponge (instead of painting, your child can sponge the paint on—creating textures)

·        Pipe cleaners

·        Modeling clay

·        Optional: Craft feathers

Here’s What to Do:

1. Glue the googley eyes on to the top of the stick.
Kids' art

2. Ball a small piece of clay up to make a nose.

3. Cut out felt clothes. Your child can cut simple shapes (such as triangles). Cut smaller shapes to add on to the clothes as decoration. Glue the felt together.
Children's crafts

4. Twist a pipe cleaner to make “hair.” Your child can also add craft feathers to the pipe cleaners.

Your child can glue the clothes on now, or she can keep the art-making going and paint the craft stick.
Kids' art

5. Paint the craft sticks. Pour a few different colors onto a palette (or use wax paper as an inexpensive barrier). Your child can use a brush or a sponge. Cover the top side, let the paint dry and then flip it over to paint the other side.

6. Now, glue the felt clothes onto the DIY puppets.
Kids' crafts

When the puppets are dry, your child is ready to play, create stories and act out her favorite tales!


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pattern Play: Kids' Math and Art Activity

For many kids, math isn’t fun. I know, I know. Math skills are totally important for children. But, that doesn’t mean they want to sit at a desk and complete worksheet after worksheet after worksheet. I know my child certainly didn’t. So, when it comes to learning about patterns (a basic math concept) I’m not going to go with the dull approach. I mean, why would I?

Pattern play

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For many us, math equals dull lessons, doing equations and holding a pencil until our fingers feel like breaking. Okay, so years ago (when many of us were in school) math was a paper and pencil only subject. There was no creativity in it. Well, things have changed. Now our kiddos get the chance to explore and experiment with math concepts in many different ways. And, what an awesomely amazing advancement that is!

Think about it, what would your child rather do—play or toil over worksheets? Um, I’m pretty sure I know the answer. That’s why I really do enjoy taking basic skills (such as recognizing and using patterns) and mixing them into other areas—namely art. This isn’t to say that visual art is the only way to extend math education. Not by far. Plenty of educators add it to music, movement, science, history or any other subject that it fits into.

This kids’ math activity takes patterns off of the printed page and puts them into your child’s hands. She can explore the painting process, play with felt shapes (bringing in geometry too!) and get abstract in an absolutely artsy way! In other words—she’s learning while having fun too. Your child is also getting the chance to explore the science of coloring mixing, discover through her senses, build fine motor skills and get creative.
Math activity

We’re going to cover three separate art activities here. That said, you can also combine them into one pattern play math-art activity. Let your child take the lead. After she feels comfortable with the concept of patterning, encourage her to make a multi-media masterpiece! She can add the felt to the painting (collaging it on with glue), paint on the felt or come up with her own imaginative idea. As long as she’s still playing with patterns (which is the central concept here), take all other “lesson” constraints off of your child. This lets her creative side loose. You might just be completely surprised (in a good way) at what you see!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Craft felt

·        Scissors

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        Card stock paper

·        Tempera paint

·        Optional: Paintbrushes (or your child can use her hands)

Here’s What to Do:

Felt Pattern Play

1. Cut at least two different colors of craft felt into shapes. Assign one shape to each color, or make them all the same shape. Your child can draw the shapes on with a marker or try this freehand.

2. Arrange the felt shapes in a pattern. Your child might choose to make an alternating color pattern or alternate the shapes (if you are using at least two different shapes). As your child gets the hang of this, try adding in more colors. For example, she might make a red, green, blue, yellow, red, green, blue, yellow pattern.
Pattern art

Pattern Finger Print Paint

1. Pour at least two (or you can use more) colors of tempera paint onto a palette, paper plate or piece of wax paper.

2. Dip one of your child’s fingers into one paint color. Have her make a print on the paper.

3. Repeat the paint printing step with another color.
Finger paint

4. Continue, making a pattern with the colors. Your child can also add one color of paint to each of her four fingers (this is excluding her thumb). She can press her fingers down on the paper, add more paint to them and repeat to create a pattern.
Finger paint

Abstract Art

1. Use the paint that you’ve already poured to make a more sophisticated or complex pattern. Your child can start with her painted fingerprints and move from there or create an entirely new painting.
Painting activity

2. Finger paint (or use brushes) make alternating patterns with squiggles, polka dots, zig zags or anything else your child wants. She can create patterns through the colors or shapes that she paints. Your child can also add extra colors. Invite her to mix the colors that you've given her. She can take three colors, and turn them into a rainbow of hues.
Art activity

Combine all of the options or keep them separate as their own art and math activities. It’s up to your child!