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

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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.

More Art Projects for Toddlers

12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers | TinkerLab.com
For more toddler art projects, you may enjoy the easy-to-set-up activities that use mainly everyday materials in 12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers.

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.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Aluminum Foil Painting

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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

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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

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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

How the Body Works

Diagram of the Circulatory System

Diagram of Digestive System

More Art Projects for Toddlers

12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers | TinkerLab.com
For more toddler art projects, you may enjoy the easy-to-set-up activities that use mainly everyday materials in 12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers.

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.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

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!

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.


Spaghetti Art? Fail!

Back Camera

A friend recently told me that as much as she loves my site (thanks, D!), she wasn’t having too much success getting her child on board with our activities. This of course saddened me, but then it occurred to me that not every activity is a success story around here either. Take “Sticky Spaghetti Art,” for example. I borrowed this idea, which involves placing sticky pasta on a sheet of paper, from a play-based activity newsletter that I subscribe to. With a newborn in the house, I’m presently attracted to all things easy, and a simple bowl of pasta fit the bill.

This is what the project looked like when I set it up: two sheets of paper for some side-by-side art making and a bowl of starchy spaghetti.

Despite my prompts, super-cheerful excitement about spaghetti art, and encouragement, N requested a fork and knife in order to cut the noodles into smaller pieces. Okay, that’s cool, we could use some cutting practice. Just let me know when you’re ready to slap some of those noodles down on the blank paper!

Ohhhh, so you’re hungry!  How about some peaches or cheese? No? You want to keep eating? You know, we’re having dinner in about an hour…

You must have really enjoyed that pasta! And now, you’re moving on to glue and rice. Sigh.

I guess I just wanted to clear up any misconceptions that our art projects all turn out the way I have planned. And the “I” in that sentence is key here, because it’s important to remind myself that these projects aren’t for me at all. They’re for my daughter. And if she wants to eat the art materials (paint and glue, not so much), so be it.  Every time a project fails, I learn something new…in this case, introducing food-art right before dinner is probably not the best use of my graduate degree.

What failures have you had (with or without your kids), and what did you learn from them?

 

Sunprints

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I’m in love with the fall season, and now that I have little ones, it’s somehow more fun to break into the pumpkin-pie-goblin-turkey spirit. We “Boo-ed” our neighbors last night, something I’d recommend to anyone interested in generating some old-fashioned community spirit, and my daughter got a kick out of ringing doorbells and running down the street! Ay-ya-yay.

Yesterday we tore into a new bag of sunprint fabric squares that I’ve been hoarding for just the right time, and I can attest that this project is easy, rewarding, and toddler-approved.  On the creativity side of things, this activity presents good opportunities to explore nature, experiment with composition, and discuss the process of developing photographs (a far-off concept for today’s digitally saturated world). Sunprints are technically cyanotypes, a type of photograph made without a camera. The sunprint fabric is light sensitive and produces a negative image when exposed to sunlight or very intense artificial light.

And now that we’ve entered the highly addictive land-of-sunprints, I can see all kinds of potential for printing small toys, fridge letter magnets, stickers, flowers, and other little knick-knacks. I bought the sunprint fabric from Discount School Supply. They come in packs of 25, which made me think how fun this would be for a school group or a big sunprint quilt.

Start with a batch of leaves. We collected ours on a walk the other day, and I’m proud to report that my 2-year old can recognize a maple leaf! She trumps her urban mama in her nature-knowledge every time.

Get your fall spirit on. Note: ambient candle and pinecones :) Open pack of sunprint fabric, being sure to keep all unused pieces in the dark, dark package.

Place leaves on the fabric and set it out in the bright sun for about 15 minutes.

This is an excellent way to reinforce the value of patience!

Rinse in cool water…

…and voila!

Now that the piece is done, it could be stitched onto a bag, t-shirt, quilt, etc. N decided that she wants hers attached to a bag, and I’ll update you on our progress.

What fall projects or traditions are you working on?

This post was is part of the 30 minute challenge. Check out the Moms’ 30-Minute Blog Challenge for more 1800 second posts.

Craft Foam in the Tub

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Here’s a clean creativity-booster that doesn’t involve scrubbing paint out of clothes or scanning the rug for bits of smooshy play dough. It’s also fabulous for folks with limited art-making space. I wish I could claim this idea as my very own, but when I saw this on Filth Wizardry (Leslie over there is so creative), I knew it was something my pocketbook would adore and my daughter would get hours of creative fun from. And now, you should feel free to steal it from me (via Leslie)…immediately…and not feel an ounce of guilt about it.

Start with some foam sheets. I picked these up at JoAnne Fabrics for .69/sheet. Good deal!

Cut the foam into desired shapes. I kept mine pretty simple (rectangles, triangles, circles, half circles, hearts, etc.) so that the process of playing with them could be open-ended.

And then cut some more shapes. Use pinking shears to make shapes with zig-zag or curly edges, or use cookie cutters or a die-cutter to create more elaborate shapes.

Find a suitable container

Let your kids play! Just dip the foam in water and watch it stick to tiles, glass, or porcelain…pretty much anything slick. The first night we played with these, the joy came from getting all of the pieces up on the wall.

The second night we busted these out, it turned into a color sorting game. And then on the third night (nursing baby and supervising bath…sorry no pictures!), we started building symmetrical patterns. I can already see how this activity will grow as my daughters grow. There are endless possibilities for learning shapes, colors, telling stories, and designing monsters or cities…to name a few.

Ideas for guiding discovery:

1. Ask your child to find all of the red (or purple, green, etc.) pieces, and then all the blue pieces…

2. Ask your child to find a circle, square, star, etc.

3. Encourage your child to build a path in one color.

4. Suggest that your child build monsters or animals with the pieces.

5. If you have older children like Lindsey, give them some foam sheets and safety scissors…in the tub…so they can invent the shapes they want as they go.

Off the Grid

isla

We’re off the grid in the land of coconuts for a few days, but we’ll be back with more creativity-boosting ideas by the end of the week.  Check back soon!