Art in the Park

Can you imagine my excitement when the folks at Elmer’s Glue asked if I’d like to participate as a blogger in their summer Kid’s Craft Camp promotion? Of course I was thrilled that they offered me a humongous crate of wonderful art supplies (featured in this post), but mostly I was thinking about how on earth I could pull off setting up an art “camp” with my three year old AND 10-month old. The crazy thing is that I’m actually a seasoned art camp teacher and spent many hot summers leading hundreds of kids in art activities at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena. But I’d never attempted this with my own kids…who nap and need diaper changes and whine. You get the picture. But I invited a handful of forgiving friends and it all turned out great! I survived, and if you have any thoughts about setting up your own “Art in the Park,” I’m happy to say that it can be done.

One more thing in case you missed the headline…this is also a BIG giveaway! Details below ๐Ÿ™‚

Project #1: Firework Book Bags

One of the materials that came in the crate were these ginormous double-sided permanent markers called Project Popperz.ย The children I invited were pretty young, and permanent markers are way far down on my list of desirable materials for this age. However, I recently saw this projectย on Mom’s Crafty Space and knew we had to try it. And I’m so glad we did — it was fun, a cool science experiment, and the results were stunning. **Note: This project includes permanent markers and rubbing alcohol and should be done with adult supervision.


  • Project Popperz permanent markers
  • Canvas Bag or other light colored fabric (a t-shirt a dress shirt would work nicely)
  • Board to put inside the bag to keep the markers from bleeding through. We used these Elmer’s Bi-fold boards and they worked perfectly.
  • Rubbing Alcohol 70%
  • Eye dropper

Step #1. Invite some friends to join you.

Step #2. Draw anything you like directly onto the bag. If you want yours to look like the fireworks you see up there, try making circles of dots like those that N is making.

Step #3. Once you have a design that you’re happy with, squeeze some rubbing alcohol into the eye dropper and then squeeze it out right in the middle of the circle. Watch the markers bleed and ooh and ahh at the results. Lovely.

Step #4. Admire your work! Our friend, E, not only made a firework, but she worked on her letters too. Oh, how I love children’s drawings.

Steve Spangler Science shares more about the science of how this works.

Project #2: Sand Paintings

While Elmer’s didn’t send me any of their famous school glue (why, I don’t know — isn’t that what they’re best known for?!), I really wanted to use this stuff. Kids love squeezing the bottles and I knew it would make them all so happy. And since we were at the park, I also wanted to include some sand in a project. At first I envisioned that the kids could just hunker down right in the sandbox to make these, but the artsy side of me opted to color the sand ahead of time. Here’s how we did it…


    • Colored Sand. Scoop some dry sand into a bowl and squeeze in a healthy amount of liquid watercolors or food coloring. Mix it up until the sand is covered and then spread it out on a paper plate to dry. I let ours dry overnight. Pour it back into the bowls.
    • White Elmer’s Washable School Glue in bottles
    • Colored Card Stockย orย Sulphite Construction Paperย (what we used here — I love this paper. The colors pop and the weight is like construction paper).

Step #1. Squeeze glue into a design on the paper. Encourage children to squeeze it thinly (rather than in one huge pile) to help it dry more quickly. If they just want to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, I say let them do that instead. It should be all about the process.

Step #2. Sprinkle a handful of colored sand on the glue. Repeat until done.
They all come out completely different, just like the kids who make them.



One lucky friend of TinkerLab will receive one adult and two kid craft kits, which amounts to a whole lot of art supplies! Kits include X-Acto scissors, Craft Gel pens, Painters pens, glue sticks, Craft Bond tape, Project Popperz, Bi-Fold Bords, etc. (Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of all the materials that will be included, but it’s more than what you see here!). Packaging will also differ.

To enter

  • Leave a comment here
  • Extra entry: Leave a comment on myย Facebook Page
  • Extra entry: Tweet about it. Tag me, tinkerlabtweets, so that I can see it ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Shipping address must be in the U.S. (sorry to all my International friends)
Submissions accepted until 5 pm PST on Friday, Sunday, July 31.ย Winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator.

Good luck!!



  1. Jeanne Labana says

    Great fun I see! This would be great for summer projects with the young children I work with!

  2. Shannon says

    I have so enjoyed your blog since I discovered in the early part of summer. So far the best thing my boys LOVED was the goop. Keep up the great ideas and FUN!!!

  3. jengd says

    It looks like you had a great time with the kit- I’d love to try it out with my son and some of his friends! Thanks for the chance!

  4. Julie says

    Cute ideas! I am a Kindergarten teacher and mother of a 2 yr. old and six year old, so I love seeing your projects. Thanks for taking the time to post all of your ideas.

    • rachelle says

      Thanks, Julie! It makes me happy to hear that you can find some inspiration for all your kids here ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Catherine says

    Holy McMoly, my boys would be in heaven! Thanks for the chance at all that wonderful crafty “loot”. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Melissa says

    I’m a mom to a nearly 3 year old who loves arts and crafts! Would love to win this and have some fun with her and some of her friends!

  7. Jenn says

    My girls, who are 3 and 3-quarters and 2 would LOVE this kit! And thanks to some of your recent outdoor art posts, I think I have some ideas for my daughter’s birthday party in a few weeks!

    • rachelle says

      Wonderful! Because of the potential mess, the outdoors really are the perfect place for art making. I’d love to hear about the project/s you decide to do!

  8. Allison S. says

    I love the fireworks with rubbing alcohol! What fun! I’ve been thinking of doing some sort of “art camp” with our play group, especially as the holidays near so the kids could make their presents! ๐Ÿ™‚ Your site is giving me tons of ideas to do at home with my youngster and with our playgroup- THANKS!

    • rachelle says

      A holiday art camp is a fabulous idea, Allison. I hosted our play group before the holidays last year, and everyone enjoyed going home with ornaments. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. Kathleen says

    I love all the ideas you share in your blog! I have a 2 year old and a 9 month old and was scared it would be too much to do so much arts and crafts – but you show how easy and fun it can be. Thank you!

    • rachelle says

      Aww, thanks Kathleen. This is exactly what I love to hear. I’m all about easy, low-threshold projects and I’m glad I can help make it all less daunting!

  10. Cheryl says

    Would love to win this package. My two year old and I could have some great fun! Love your website, always an inspiration. I send your links to my friends in early childhood development often. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. says

    What a GREAT idea to use rubbing alcohol! I am going to try this project this afternoon with my 4 year old little girl. She loves arts and crafts!
    Thanks for giving us a chance to win such a great prize!

  12. Kristen Engebretsen says

    Thanks, as always, for sharing such great ideas. During this heat wave, my daughter and I have hunkered down indoors, and your ideas have kept us happy and busy for hours on end!

    • rachelle says

      This is lovely to hear, Kristen! Thanks for the kind words, and hopefully the heat will lift soon!

  13. says

    Awesome post! My daughter LOVES to squeeze glue and sprinkle glitter. We just scored a bunch of Elmer’s School Glue for 40 cents each at Target’s “back to school” sale! It’s a great time to stock up now for fun art activities throughout the year. :o)

  14. Nikki says

    Love these ideas! This giveaway looks like it will help my kiddos explore their creative side!

  15. says

    I love the art camp idea! Maybe I can still fit it in this summer with my mom’s group. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas.

  16. Donna says

    Your creativity is astounding… as usual! What a fantastic giveaway. Would love the chance to have these tools and start our own art group!

  17. says

    I love the project with the markers and alcohol, it’s an interesting materials transformation that I can’t wait to share with my preschoolers.

  18. says

    You did an excellent job. I am so impressed. I love the sharpie idea. I remember doing that in high school. I am also amazed how you did this all with two small children. I am crossing my fingers I win. : )

    • rachelle says

      Thanks, Mercedes ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d never done this before, so it was a fun experiment for me too.

  19. Wendy Dixon says

    Love your website and your ideas. How cool Elmer’s is doing a give-away on your blog!!!!

  20. says

    YAY! We love trying out your experiments. I’ve got you in my reader and have pinned some of your projects on Pinterest. Here’s to you, Elmer’s, and the great giveaway!

  21. Jennifer says

    My daughter loves your projects! Thanks, Elmer’s, for the chance to win some great stuff!

  22. Mel says

    Love your site! Thank you for all the wonderful and totally fun, educational art projects. I have the grand kids doing lots of art activities this summer and appreciate your ideas and especially the photos.

    • rachelle says

      You’re welcome, Mel! And thanks for the lovely feedback. The photos are one of the funnest parts for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. says

    would LOVE the chance to win this! check out my blog to see some of the crafts we have tried inspired by your page (which is a very valuable resource, thank you for that!!)

  24. Heather says

    Wow! What a generous giveaway… we would be more than a little excited to win this! Thanks for the chance.

  25. Connie Z. says

    So fun! I’m a High School Art Teacher and in a month I’ll be a mommy, so I think I could put these supplies to good use!

    • rachelle says

      Congratulations, Connie!! Yes, you’d have lots of outlets for these materials ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Gigi S says

    we love Elmer’s glue. my son and I took glue and mixed it with glitter, then took playdough shapes and filled them with glue. Let them dry and had some awesome bugs to play with.

  27. MeaganW says

    HI! I just found your site and love it! Thanks for all of the great ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. says

    Just realized I never followed your new Twitter username…duh. Where have I been? LOL. Tweet it and tagged you in it.

  29. Christina Todd says

    What wonderful art ideas. I work with kids in a child care facility and these would be wonderful to use. And the supplies would be handy, thanks for sharing.

  30. Claudette Lindquist says

    Can’t wait to try the firework’s effect! Summer if finally arriving in the Pacific Northwest, so Game On! Love your blog, you have inspired me to start a blog myself, hope to have it up and running by September.

    • rachelle says

      Oh my goodness, I’m super flattered! Please send me a link once it’s up and running!

  31. Kim Niehans says

    Happy in San Diego with paint under our nails and in our hair ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  32. Deborah Trierweiler says

    I so want to start an art in the park camp for children in Ionia Michigan. These items would be a huge jumpstart to the project.

  33. Erica says

    Great post. I love the colored sand drawings – we have a bunch here. And, I’m always up for a giveaway:)

  34. Julie says

    What fun ideas. Hope to be able to do something artsy outside before school starts!

  35. says

    thanks for including us in your “art in the park” day and for the sweet shout out on this blog entry. we are so blessed to have you as neighbors and friends.

  36. Chelsea says

    So bummed we missed this playdate, but we were just getting in from a long plane ride. Can’t wait to win all these art supplies! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • rachelle says

      You too! We’ll have to recreate it for another day. Now that I know it can be done…

  37. Tasha says

    I’m planning to do something like an art/craft camp with my son when I get back from a long business trip รขโ‚ฌโ€ this would be great!

  38. Becca Willard says

    What a great opportunity for hours and hours of art, Love it! Thanks for the chance to win!

  39. Roxanne says

    I hope I win….can never have enough art supplies (for both me and my 3yo daughter!)

  40. Annette says

    We just moved back to the US from Europe and I have realized we’re a little thin on art supplies. These look wonderful!

  41. Angie says

    I just stumbled across your blog. Yup, I was blog hopping. I bookmarked yours, so I could come back and pour over all your great ideas. I have two four year olds with special needs. For my son, anything art related goes straight into his mouth or gets thrown across the room (can you tell he has sensory issues!). I am thankful for my screened in porch that has become our art room! I can’t wait to try some new projects!

  42. says

    I just found your blog and am very excited to look around! I lost my job 2 weeks ago and am looking forward to spending lots more time with my 2 yr old, so thanks for all te great ideas!

  43. Christy Nicolaysen says

    I agree sometimes it is easier to work with 100 other children than two of your own. But I am determined to conquer FUN summer crafts with my own two. Thanks for the great ideas!

  44. Peggy English says

    What a fun box of goodies! Would love to have that arrive in the mail! : )

  45. Sam Cunningham says

    What a fun idea for a summer craft- I love the bag idea- Then they can carry around their art supplies in style!!!

    • rachelle says

      thanks for the comment, sam ๐Ÿ™‚ we just made another bag with my youngest — it’s such a fun project.

  46. says

    Terrific projects. I love the shredded paper. And, really not such a difficult cleanup. Tote bag project is a great idea of any time of year. This is a great program for us close to the holidays when we are having children make gifts.

  47. K-leidoscope says

    Finding Tinkerlab this summer is perfect timing– we’re creating a makerspace in my elementary school library. Your ideas are so helpful in planning, and any materials we gain are very much appreciated. Thanks so much for sharing with educators!

  48. Barbara Chester says

    This is a great idea! I have so many canvas tote bags that I’ve saved from giveaways that would be great canvases for the firework art for my 3 year old!