Tape Play

caution tape

This is what the breakfast table sometimes turns into in our home.

Pancakes, coffee, napkins, and, ahem…tape. Of course, yes, please pass the tape!

Tape has been a favorite medium since it arrived in our house a couple months ago, and it’s taken on all kinds of forms since. The colors are incredible, and full of tons of possibilities. You can find a set of ten colors here. Great stuff. Not only is it useful for adhering one thing to another, but kids catch on quick that it can be used to make lines, designs, and shapes. Sometimes on a large scale. And my 2.5 year old is really into cutting it right now. Something she’s working on, and by golly she’s determined to master the technique!

Nothing is safe when the tape comes out!

But why is tape fun for kids? It can be layered, twisted, and bent around the edges of paper (or objects!). It’s sticky! If you spend time around young kids, you’ve no doubt witnessed a near-universal adoration for stickers. And because the impact is immediate, it’s highly accessible. There are no questions about how bright the color will look (as there might be with paint), and the limitations of the medium give children a clear sense of what the material will do.

Children who haven’t mastered scissor skills shouldn’t be limited from exploring tape. I just peel off multiple strips and stick them to the edge of a bowl or table for my child to pull off at will.

Tape as an art medium has been gaining steam in recent years. Melbourne street artist Buff Diss makes large-scale tape installations (this is one of my favorites) and Philadelphia-based Mark Khaisman creates beautiful images with transparent brown packing tape. And that’s it…tape is their medium, and they’re really good at it. So, if you ever thought that your child isn’t artistic or creative because he or she doesn’t draw or paint, fear not! Creativity comes in many shapes and forms, and sometimes that form is masking, painters, or packing tape.

Tomorrow I’ll share another unexpected use for tape that came from one of my daughter’s current obsessions. Stay tuned!

Giving Thanks

Back Camera

I started writing these posts just six months ago, and can’t believe how far this site has come.

Thank you so very much to each and every one of you who reads this blog. Family, friends, new friends, loyal readers.  It means the world to me. And it delights me to no end when I read your comments about your own creative adventures, or visit you in your homes and see that you and your kids have been tinkering with some of our projects.  Your comments and ideas keep me going. Thank you!

Thank you to my girls. This site wouldn’t exist without you. (And thank you to the iPhone for giving me an outlet to the world, and entertaining my children in those dark moments when all hell breaks loose!)

And finally, I’m grateful a million times over for the love and support of my creative and kind husband. I can’t even imagine who I would be without you.

I’ll be signing off for a few days to enjoy some time with the family. Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving.

xo, Rachelle

Marbleized Paper

DSC_0837

This is Painting Project #3 from last week’s series of painting experiments (Drippy Gravity Painting and Aluminum Foil Painting were #1 and #2), when we dug into three totally different painting projects in one hour.  If you’ve been following me, you most likely know that my projects value process over product, but I can’t help but appreciate how freakin’ pretty these marbleized papers turned out.

Note: This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 

Materials:

  • Pan. I used an old cake pan, but something that’s not too shallow will work great
  • Small bowls or cups for mixing the paint
  • Paper, cut to fit inside the pan
  • Pipettes or eye droppers.
  • Forks or Popsicle sticks (or something similar) to stir the paint
  • Liquid watercolors or food coloring
  • Vegetable oil

Mix 1/2 tsp. of oil with 1 tsp. liquid watercolor in each bowl. Whisk them up really well until the paint and oil appear to be one.

Fill the bottom of the pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Not too much or your papers will sink to the bottom. Squeeze some paint into the droppers and drop dots of paint into the pan.

Place a piece paper on top of the water, and then fish it out once it’s picked up some color. Experiment. Try out different color combinations.

Have a paper-covered table ready to absorb these oily marbleized monsters. Aren’t they pretty? Or at least pretty cool? We ultimately made about 25 of these before running out of paint and steam. My 2.5 year old was done after about #18 (the process moves fairly fast once you’re set up), and I pulled the last few out.

They’re really oily to begin with, but fully dry in about a day. I used 80 pound sulfite paper, which curled up on the edges. If you want to achieve a flatter final product, try using watercolor paper or something on the stiffer side.

Now to figure out what we can do with these. Holiday gift tags? Postcards?

Special thanks to Unplug Your Kids for this fun idea.

Aluminum Foil Painting

DSC_0820

Why stop with paper when you can paint on egg cartons, fabric, and wood? I love digging around my cabinets and recycling bin for substrates other than paper, and aluminum foil became the basis of yesterday’s second painting experiment. (The first was Drippy Gravity Painting).

Foil wrapped around a piece of cardboard.

And securely taped.

N chose blue and orange paint. She has a thing for blue, so that was no surprise. After mixing the two colors she exclaimed, “I made black!” Well, not exactly, but I saw her point and didn’t have the heart to set her straight. Don’t you love the shine of that foil? Who wouldn’t want to paint on that?

We used BioColor paint, which worked nicely on the foil.  If you’re using tempera, just add a little dish soap to it, which will help the paint adhere to the foil and keep it from cracking.

But the project didn’t end there. Oh no. Once the painting had run its course, she picked up a pencil, fascinated by how it etched into the surface of the foil.

Painting on foil was an valuable exercise in working with a new material, gaining the experience of pushing paint along a super-smooth surface, and engraving pencil marks into the soft and pliable foil. Next time the foil comes out, I think we could do some cool things with tissue paper collage. Can’t wait!

Do you have any other ideas for aluminum foil art experiments?

Drippy Gravity Painting

DSC_0788

Many of you have commented that attention spans at your art tables run short. Shorter than short. Maybe almost nonexistent. And I want to support you in two ways: one is to say that this is so normal for toddlers and preschoolers to give an art project their 4-minute all, and two is that I must be deceiving you into thinking that my daughter’s interest is sustained over many moons. Not always the case. Rarely the case. Maybe never the case.

But I keep on at it. Pulling rabbits out of my hat. Introducing the same materials over and over again to build familiarity. Introducing new materials to keep the interest high. It’s a fine, fast-moving dance between me, her, and the projects — definitely more whirling dervish than Nutcracker Suite.

Case in point: this afternoon, between 3:30 and 4:30, we ripped through three completely different painting projects. Three! I set it all up during nap time, and we tore through it all in less than an hour. Drip painting: 10 minutes. Tin Foil Painting: 15 minutes.  Marbleized Paper Painting: 15 minutes. Throw in another 20 for clean-up and you’ve got an hour. What a mess!

I’ll leave you with Painting Project #1 today…the rest will follow.

Drip Painting

I added extra water to my Salt and Flour Paint recipe, seen in those squeeze bottles, to make the paint nice and pourable. I thought N would enjoy squeezing paint on the cardboard — it’s a nice strong substrate –but didn’t anticipate just how runny the paint would be. What a fun surprise!  When N saw the pools of paint, she asked for pasta to stick in the puddles, and then added marker embellishments along the right side.

Once she figured out that gravity was at play, she moved the board back and forth then side to side. It’s all about the process, isn’t it. And it’s moments like this that I think I hit URL-gold with the name TinkerLab — toddler and preschool art is so much about tinkering, experimenting, playing, and surprises. We’ll be doing this again, for sure!

What kind of tinkering have you been been up to?

Body Tracing

DSC_0728

Can you hear the giggles? Put two little girls in the same house for three days and it’s bound to be a slapstick silly ol’ time (with a few tears thrown in for good measure). I’ve wanted to trace my daughter’s body for months now, and every time I bring it up she says “no.” But not this time. Maybe it’s the age? Or maybe she liked having a partner in silhouette crime? In any case, I tacked down some paper with my trusty blue painter’s tape and the kids couldn’t lie down on it fast enough.

I think the appeal in all of this falls into three categories: scale, personal attention, and filling in the blanks. The scale is BIG, and that’s super-fun for little kids. Children are naturally egotistical, so if you’re focussing all of your attention on them to trace around their bodies, they’re captivated. And then once they’ve been traced, they’re challenged to devise a plan for filling in all of that beautiful body-space. Fun all around.

These are both my daughter; one traced by me and the other by my husband. Mine has the squashed asymmetrical head on the left. Hmmm, I think my dear husband has been working on his sketching skills while I’ve been catching up on sleep. After he finished tracing my daughter’s body, she jumped up to look at his handiwork and exclaimed, “Curly!!!” Love that.

Body Tracing and Human Body Resources:

Painting in the body: The Artful Parent

Drawing in arteries: The Artful Parent

How the Body Works

Diagram of the Circulatory System

Diagram of Digestive System

The Artful Parent

Jean photo

I had a fun exchange with Jean Van’t Hul on The Artful Parent today. If you haven’t seen Jean’s site before, it’s high time to check it out! She’s also a mom of two girls, and chronicles her artistic adventures with her children. Her projects are process-based and she has a keen sense for instilling her children’s learning experiences with joy and imagination. Not to be missed!

Sensory play for Babies

looking at mobile

It’s exciting to see a baby emerge from the shell of sleepiness and into the world of awareness; a transition that becomes more obvious as she mimics a smile, tracks movement above her head, or is surprised by sounds.

One of our family’s favorite activities for tactile awareness is to gently billow and twirl a colorful scarf above and over the baby’s head, bringing huge waves of joy to her face that we can only interpret as awe. I like silk scarves for their translucent flowing quality, but lightweight cotton works nicely too.

This stuffed bee, with its plush body and crinkly wings, is the first object my older daughter grasped independently. Gaining knowledge through the sense of touch. Soft and squeeky. Tension and texture. I noticed she was especially fascinated by the crinkly wings, which led to this next experiment…

Exploring the sounds and textures of a plastic bag. I know, I know, plastic bags are absolutely not toys, and she was closely supervised throughout! If you try this at home, please use your best judgement. While she was captivated by this bag, even I could see that it was an inappropriate make-the-baby-happy-toy, and I stitched up one of these:

It’s a little plastic bag pillow: two pieces of fabric stitched over and around two pieces of heavy, crinkly plastic. Cute, safe, and noisy!

I found a noisy, crinkly bag. Chip, cracker, and baby wipes bags are usually really good for this sort of thing. Test different bags to find a sound you like, or make a few of these to play with different sounds.

Hand it to your child and see what they think of it. In reality, my daughter was more captivated by the plastic bag, but this still got a lot of use. An easy no-sew alternative is to wrap a bandana or square of fabric around a ball of wax paper or plastic, and tie it off with a yarn. Cut loose ends short, and keep an eye on your child at all times. If you’re up for sewing, you could also follow this ball/wax paper method, and then stitch it off for a more permanent toy. Related baby bonding activities can be found here.

What sensory activities does/did your baby enjoy?

Vote for TinkerLab!!

50-badge-2010

Hooray…TinkerLab was nominated for Babble’s Top 50 Mom Blogs. One of my favorite blogs, The Artful Parent, is near the top. Yay, Jean…you got my vote! But we’re not soooo far behind. And it turns out you can vote for more than one blog.  So, if you’re a TinkerLab fan, cast your vote and watch as TinkerLab moves up toward the top! Just click here and scroll down until you find us. And while you’re at it, check out some of the other blogs for tons of good reading.


Stringing Beads

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like child stringing beads in kindergarten, – happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.”~Brenda Ueland

This is a handy little fine motor project to keep around for a rainy day. I’ve also been know to stash a little sack of beading stuff into my diaper bag for those inevitable restless restaurant moments. I don’t know about you, but my child has no interest in cafe crayons. None. We recently had lunch at a restaurant that gave out Wikki Stix intead of crayons, and those well-loved Wikkis are still floating around the back of my car. Kid-friendly restaurants, take note!!

Anyhoo, we started by stringing oversized beads when my daughter was 1 1/2, and around age 2 she was able to handle the smaller stuff. These little pieces are obviously not for kids who mouth small objects, but they work for us. Use your best judgement!

You need a bunch of beads and some plastic lacing, also called Gimp. If you were ever a Girl Scout or made lanyards, you know what I’m talking about. I found some fun sparkly stuff, along with the beads, at JoAnne Fabrics in the kids craft area. Make sure that your lacing will fit through the hole of your beads.

Tie a knot at one end of the lacing to stop the beads from sliding off, and then show your child how to poke the beads onto the lacing.

Once N got the hang of it, we extended this by stringing all beads of one color or one object. We also made a Fall Necklace line, which was completely scrapped before it ever made its way to the runway. After our trip to Mexico this summer, N got really into sea turtles. So, for two days she would ONLY string sea turtles and fish on the lacing, regardless of my gentle prompts. Now there’s a kid who knows her mind!

What have you and your kids made with beads?

Homemade Paint | Salt and Flour Paint

salty paint product

Making your own homemade paint with kids is a rewarding process that helps children understand that store-bought is not the only way! Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

How we made homemade paint

My toddler is at that stage where she loves squeezing paint out of the bottles. I gave into this to give her the chance to explore this phenomena, but after using an inordinate amount of paint in the process, I thought it might be more frugal to make a batch of homemade salt and flour paint for more economical squeeze painting. This homemade paint recipe is simple, non-toxic, and it costs next to nothing to make. Not to mention it’s pretty rewarding to make your own art materials. I made these while my daughter was napping, but next time I’ll include her in the process. The following recipe makes enough paint to fill 3 Nancy Bottles. Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

Recipe for Homemade Salt and Flour Paint

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Blend 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 cup of salt. Add 1/2 cup of water… Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever! and mix until smooth. Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever! Divide it up into three sandwich bags and add a few drops of liquid watercolor or food coloring to each bag. Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever! Squish them up until the “paint” is well blended. Use Ziplock bags if small children are helping with this step. Add more water if you’d like a thinner paint. Cut a corner off the baggie and squeeze the paint mixture into your squeeze bottle. Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever! This homemade paint came out pretty thick, and was a little hard to squeeze. Next time we’ll dilute it with a bit more water. The good news is that the paint dries quickly. The squeeze paintings we made with regular tempera paint (2 days ago) are still wet, while these are already completely dry! And they have a nice puffy, sparkly texture too! Homemade Paint | Salt + Flour + Water | Easiest Paint Recipe Ever!

A question for you:

What’s your favorite kind of paint and/or painting process?

More homemade paint recipes

Is this your first time here? Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter here.

Squeezing Paint

Back Camera

I set N up with some paint pots and a large sheet of paper — our favorite way to paint big as of late. After smearing some paint around and taking a few stabs at mixing colors, she asked me for more purple paint. The paint pot wasn’t empty, and the real story ended up being that she wanted to SQUEEZE more paint into the paint pot. Of course she did! Toddlers adore squeezing, as we’ve noted with glue bottles, water bottles, and glitter glue. So I handed her the bottle, and the following drip and splatter-fest took place.

At a later point I encouraged her to walk through the paint to make footprints, which unfortunately led to a messy paint disaster that included falling into a big slippery puddle of paint. This led to laughing and commotion, but since my hands were then full with towels and buckets of water, I’ll spare you the image and leave the result to your imagination.

The timing was perfect because I just ordered a set of Nancy Paint Bottles, and they arrived late in yesterday’s mail. After N went to bed I filled them with paint, ready for morning squeezing experiments!

Wow! It makes green!

The splatters that came out of the almost empty bottles were rewarding in their own way. This isn’t the most economical way to use paint with a squeeze-happy toddler, but as she gets older I’m sure she’ll become more judicious with the paint pouring. I also envision other squeeze bottle experiments with glue, flour mixtures, and liquid watercolors.

What kind of squeeze bottle experiments have you had in your home or school?

Do you have any other ideas for materials that could be squeezed?