Improvised Caution Tape

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My daughter is FASCINATED by caution tape. It all started about a month ago when we walked past a building that was surround with the stuff, and I was barraged with questions like: Why is there caution tape there? Who can go over there? What happened? How did the fire truck get in the building? Why is that man behind the caution tape? Why can’t I go behind the caution tape? And so on. And ever since, her radar is attuned to caution tape like mine is attuned to drive-through coffee shacks (which are way too few and far between!)

So, one fine Sunday morning, she and my husband decked out our house with their version of caution tape. While I bought this tape with more traditional art projects in mind, I’m impressed with how they interpreted it as a medium for blocking off areas of our home. When this all got underway I was thankfully on the right side of the tape, as I was told that the other side was only for “workers only” and I wasn’t permitted to pass. Toddlers and their rules!!

In case you’re wondering, this is what she was stockpiling on the other side of the tape.

This simple play-acting game kept her entertained for close to an hour, which I attribute to paying attention to her interests, one of the first posts I wrote about back in May. While we could have purchased a head-to-toe construction worker kit like this, she got into the spirit of it all with simple yellow tape and orange paper repurposed into caution tape and cones, and it didn’t cost us a dime. Kids are awesome like that. And who needs a yellow safety vest when you can wear a pink tutu? (Bet you didn’t realize you bought her a construction outfit, Auntie Danielle!)

With rainy (and maybe where you are, snowy!) days ahead, I plan to look for opportunities to support my child’s interests using materials that we already have on hand. Or none at all. This afternoon we laughed through an improvised outing to a friend’s house to pick up stickers, using nothing but our bodies and voices. What a great way to pass an otherwise dreary afternoon!

How have you supported a child’s interests with a creative use of materials? What improvisational games have you found yourself playing?

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.

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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?

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

Stringing Beads

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“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?

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

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!

If you’re looking for a smooth paint (like tempera from the art store), this paint may be disappointing. Because of the salt, it will have a grainy texture to it, which makes it great for squeezing and not so good for painting with a brush.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

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

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?

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

 

Sticky Autumn Collage

DSC_0741

California has been hit by a heat wave, so staying inside our hot cave of a house is barely an option. Yesterday was full of swimming, a sprinkler run, a trip to the neighbor’s lemonade stand, and hitting a pinata at another neighbor’s house. So cute! Despite the heat, there’s a lot of fall madness in the air — you can’t miss the mountain of gourds and pumpkins piled up at the markets, leaves are turning colors, and my favorite…spiced pumpkin lattes in the coffee shops. Mmmmm…

So, somewhere between the pumpkins and the lemonade stand, we landed on this fall project that involves spending time outside.

We began by pulling out some clear contact paper. I encouraged my daughter to feel its tackiness, and then we discussed the process of collecting leaves and sticking them to the paper. We found an Easter basket and then took a walk around the neighborhood in search of leaves and other flat-ish treasures. This, by the way, is how we landed on the lemonade stand. It pays to get out of the house!

After collecting (and naming!) the leaves, N stuck them on half a sheet of contact paper.

Hey goofball, where did that come from?

She filled in most of the spaces…good for understanding spatial relationships!

And then we smooshed the other half of the contact paper on top of the leaves. This was followed by two more walks around the neighborhood and two more collages. In our books, this activity was a hit.

When we finally came inside, contact collaging continued with magazine cut-outs, post-its, and googley eyes.

Resources

Identification guide for  kids: New England leaves

Nature Detective Leaf Identification Sheet: UK

Leaf Identification Activities

Why do leaves change color?

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