Friday, February 20, 2009

Art Project: Space Wash

These make beautiful, fun "washes" and this project is a great integration of discussing ideas (which also teaches brainstorming, turn taking), and getting them down on paper (a great pre-writing skill that will be used throughout life, of course)...

First, I like to do some sort of *active* or *real* activity that "gets them fired up" for whatever topic we're discussing/brainstorming.

Today, I had a big floor space puzzle. So we talked about some of the things that were on it - planets, stars, the Milky Way, etc. - you can keep it at that with toddlers, and/or put it together, discussing as you go along.

Then I told my three kiddos (2 are neighbor kiddos I babysit, ages 5 and 3) we were going to do an art project about space!

First, we sat down and talked about the things we saw in the puzzle and the things we'd be likely to see in space. As each kid offered a suggestion, I wrote it down and illustrated it with a little cartoon - I hung it up on my counter edge so they could see it as we worked.

Here's the materials we used for the Space Wash...

Crayola Oil Pastels (I think I got these at Michaels - they're like big fat waxy crayons)

Watercolor paper would be ideal, I only had white craft/construction paper.

Watercolor paints and largeish sized paintbrushes (bigger than the tiny brushes that come with the kits - like blush-brush sized would be perfect, so they can "wash" the color across the paper).

Water, of course, for the watercolor paints.

A few tbsp of salt - either regular or Kosher/Sea, doesn't matter - in a little bowl, for easy dispensing.


If you want to, read the directions first so you're familiar, and at the paint stage, do the project for them as a demonstration first. Then they'll have a good idea of what to do.

1. After kids have a good idea of things they might see in space, have them draw some of their favorites with the Oil Pastels. For planets, of course, just a big colorful circle-shape is perfect! And so on...doesn't matter if things "look" exactly right; as long as children are reflecting their thoughts on paper.

2. Use the white oil pastel yourself, and tell each kiddo you are going to draw a "secret picture" on their space picture (with their permission, of course ) and it will show up when they put the paint on. I drew stars, shooting stars, comets, etc.

3. Get out the watercolors (preparing them first, by adding a drop of water to each color, so they're ready to rock & roll) and discuss how space is really dark. Have them choose ONE preferrably dark color choice (or two - keep it simple - black, purple, navy blue, whatever) and tell them they are going to get the paintbrush really wet and dip it into the color. Have them "wash" the color over the paper with large strokes, so that the paper will get fully saturated in the paint color.

4. The waxy oil pastels should pop up against a dark paint color and the white "secret pictures" you made should be revealed!

5. While colored spots around the paper are still saturated-wet with paint, drizzle some salt over it. The salt will absorb the color, leaving white "stars" when dry. When the paper is completely dry you can brush the salt right away.

Neat, kinda sciencey, artsy and fun!

Monday, February 16, 2009

What To Do With Leftover Valentine's Candy Boxes

If you have a preschooler in the house, use those leftover V-Day candy boxes to make Valentine's Themed "Table Games". Its a good way to start any kind of structured day (if you have kids to babysit, any kind of structured learning time, homeschool older kids, that kind of thing).

In our case, I had kids to babysit, so I created these games last night, after dinner. Use your imagination, any on-hand materials (I had a VERY skimpy assortment of construction paper scraps that I used til I just couldn't use them anymore), and just keep in mind your preschooler's interests and skillset, and it's a snap to do!

Here's what I used:

Construction paper scraps
Elmer's glue
Sharpie marker
Regular markers
Valentines Boxes
The paper liner which came in our larger V-Day candy boxes that we haven't finished yet
Some on-hand "game markers" (well, I used these teeeeny tiny little manipulatives called "Pixel Blocks"). You could use bingo or "tiddlywinks" type chips, dried beans, or anything else you happen to have lying around. For color-specific games, such as one of those I created below, you'd probably want to use color-coordinating game markers of some kind (ie., color some dried lima beans with permanant markers to coordinate with your gameboard).

For color games, you could cut out coordinating color construction paper shapes and instruct your child to put his colored game pieces on the matching color on his gameboard. For the games I made out of the V-Day candy heart paper liners, I just drew medium sized circles and colored them in with regular markers (outlining with a Sharpie to make it stand out, and easier to delineate from the rest of the board). I wrote the name of the each color below it. Then I put a handful of those tiny pixel blocks in front of Charlie and suggested he find red ones to put on the red space; blue ones on the blue space, pink on the pink space, etc. etc.

For the money game, I just drew spaces of different sizes (to represent different coins and a bill) - smallest circle represented a dime, a brown circle to represent a penny, a rectangle to represent a dollar bill, etc. Then Charlie had a good time emptying his "money box" out on the table and matching up coins to coin-spaces and bills to bill-spaces.

And then you can pat yourself on the back for reducing, reusing and recycling!