Drawing on the Floor

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Usually both my kids love to color in pages that we print from the internet, but with our printer out of ink, I had two kids clamoring for an alternative! This art project saved the day, and can apply to either a toddler or an older child, depending how you tailor it. Either way, half the fun is the novelty of drawing on the floor!

First, I taped a long sheet of craft paper down to the floor. At intervals, I added some fabric prints we have of Van Gogh paintings, like Starry Night.

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For younger kids, these pictures can simply serve as visual stimulation; I had no expectation that Veronika would do anything other than scribble, but hopefully she was inspired by the beautiful artwork around her.

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Certainly she loves to talk about colors these days (“Yellow!” Purple!”) as she draws, and I could point out examples of them in the artwork.

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For older kids, encourage them to try and copy what they see in the famous paintings. Or, simply let the artwork act as a catalyst, and see where it takes them. Travis didn’t exactly copy Starry Night, but he did make big swirls of color in imitation.

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You could even use the project as a jumping-off point for deeper exploration into a certain artist or particular piece of art, as many museums are offering free tours these days. 

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Even if it just turns into messy scribbling on the floor, your kids will have had fun.

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Look at Photos and Paintings

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There’s no need to go to a fancy art gallery to expose your children to artwork (although you certainly can!). For the easiest art lesson of all, look to your own walls. Chances are you have something hanging up, whether an old poster, a family photo, or a painted work of art. Today, Veronika and I took a “gallery” tour of our walls!

There was so much opportunity here for language development. As we paused before each painting, I talked about the objects she could see, like cars or trees.

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We talked about what shapes we saw in this one…

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…the colors of a dark, brooding piece…

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…and even her cultural heritage!

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The frames themselves might delight your little one, too. Veronika loved feeling the texture.

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One piece of art in our home was even painted by a family member, an opportunity to talk about relatives.

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Even more fun, we sat down together to look through old photo albums. Veronika loved turning the pages.

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And seemed so surprised every time she recognized her brother!

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Again, focus on language development here as you name items in each picture, or the shapes and colors you see. What a lovely “museum” tour this was!

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Pudding Painting

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Veronika is almost old enough to start making her first works of art, but there’s one problem with this girl: everything goes in her mouth! The solution, if your baby is the same, is edible paint.

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Today, I whipped up a batch of vanilla pudding (Whole Foods 365 is vegan). Let the pudding chill in the fridge, then add food coloring for “paint” colors.

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I gave Veronika a paint brush, which instantly made her look so proud; she’s seen big brother paint, and now it was her turn.

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Turn a little of the pudding paint out onto a highchair tray (or tape down paper, if you prefer) and let your little artist go to town.

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First she just made a few smears. Then she wanted to focus more on the paintbrush. Once the tip of it got in her mouth and she discovered the pudding was yummy…

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…her smile was priceless. Then she really got her hands into the mix.

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I showed her how to make circles and squares, plus a few letters.

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Soon we had green, where or blue and yellow “paints” had mixed.

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This was a fantastic foray into the world of art, as she nears 10 months old!


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DIY Star Wars Sun Prints

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Travis has been obsessed with Star Wars lately, so we used a favorite summer art activity (sun prints) to make DIY room decor!

Print out templates of your child’s favorite characters heads. Favorites around here include Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, but many of the character’s heads or helmets will make iconic shadows.

Cut out the templates and place on colored construction paper. Set in the sun for at least a few hours – the longer the better!

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Travis loved the shadowy images we achieved and proudly hung them in his room.

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Don’t forget you can play this game with plenty of other objects, too. Cookie cutters make cute decor for Veronika’s side of the room.

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Squishy Art Play

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Today was Veronika’s first art project!

What’s the safest art for a seven month old? Covered up! Because Veronika puts everything in her mouth, there is currently no way to safely give her markers, crayons, or paint – even all-natural or non-toxic stuff – unless it is safely sealed up. But art inside a plastic bag is the solution you’re looking for.

Place a piece of thick paper (like watercolor paper) inside a gallon zip-top bag; for the best fit, I folded our paper in half. Add a few splotches of color, and seal tightly.

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I placed this bag on Veronika’s high chair tray, and encouraged her to squish it around.

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She was a little confused at first, and more so when she realized she couldn’t actually the paint on her fingers, as she can with food on her tray. I talked about the squishy blobs she was feeling, and helped her press her hands into the piles of paint under the plastic.

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Soon she had the idea!

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Truth be told, she was a little frustrated that she couldn’t lift the whole art project up and try it for dinner. But she still had fun exploring!

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When she tired of the game, I removed the paper – her first work of art!

Squishy Art (7)Because the fingerpaint was smeared on quite thick, I folded it over the other (blank) half of the paper, resulting in a cool symmetrical painting.

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Overall, this was a great first art project for a baby, and it encapsulated all that I love about watching kids make art: that the process is a lot more important than the final product; that our role as grown-ups is to facilitate and make sure a little one is using materials safely, but to let them be the “artist”; and that after serving as a model or guide, the most fun can be had when you step back and watch your child create!

Invisible Graffiti

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Let’s face it: Kids are sometimes drawn to things that are taboo, and sometimes it’s good to have an outlet for that naughtiness…but without the consequences!

That’s where this adorable game fits in, allowing kids to have the thrill of painting “graffiti,” but without any visible evidence.

First, I cut an artist’s palette for Travis out of cardboard.

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Paint on circles of color (ideally in as many colors of the rainbow as you can) using nail polish. This will make the “paint” look shiny even once it dries.

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I let Travis have a second piece of cardboard and permission to paint with the nail polish, because this was an added element of fun.

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(Note: I love the shades from the No Miss brand, which are free of all the yucky stuff like formaldehyde and also cruelty-free.

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Now it was time to set my graffiti artist loose! We headed out in the morning sunshine to make trouble. Here he is heading over to paint the fence.

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Travis “painted” all over the bushes, and the patio.

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Can’t you just see the glee?

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He loved finding places to add his graffiti.

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Uh oh, littering!

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In sum, he had a blast getting his naughtiness out with this game. And the best part is that there is no mess left over.


Early Explorers Art

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Travis’s latest package from Early Explorers was, in a word, fantastic. Based on art around the world, this month’s kit was so full of ways to craft, create, explore, and learn. As always, he was excited about the usual finds like stickers for his map, flash cards, the activity booklet, and a new tag for his suitcase.

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He especially loved coloring in images of Australian rock paintings and filling in the shapes on a Native American dream catcher.

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Art Craft:

We couldn’t wait to try the booklet’s first activity: Paint Like Pollock. Wow did this make a splash, pun intended, of course. At first Travis seemed skeptical when he saw that I’d layered nearly the entire living room floor with newspapers. But when I told him we’d be splattering paint, he was intrigued.

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Lay a large piece of poster board in the center of your newspapers, and set out plates with at least 2 or 3 colors of paint. A wide paintbrush will work best. Dip the brush in one color, and show your child how to flick their wrist so the paint splatters.

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After a moment of smearing paint on normally, Travis understood, and was delighted. “Again!” he insisted, dipping in another color. We tried a few Pollock-esque tricks, like flicking the paint in a circle, seeing what happened if we flicked with more or less paint on the brush, and moving around the canvas.

The most fun though was getting up high!

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Travis climbed our step ladder, and I handed him the paint brush. Splat! He did almost the entire painting from up here.

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Messy but so worth it!

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Art Science:

For wont of an actual “science” this month, I’m using this section for the suggested sculpture project. I simply set Travis loose with a bunch of air-dry clay, a few sculpting tools, and his imagination. Soon we were etching baleen onto clay whales.

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Then: “Look mom, a three-legged turtle!” he declared, leaving this present for me on our counter.

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Art Keepsake:

This was actually what we did first, since Travis couldn’t wait to find out what his present was from “Max and Mia”. The included canvas, mini watercolor palette, and mini paintbrush did not disappoint. Instantly he became my little Monet, painting in the three landmarks depicted on the canvas.

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He loved learning a few new color combos to mix, like blue + brown = black. When the canvas was finished, he didn’t stop there.

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He immediately painted another picture which he decided was a gift for a friend, and a third which became a map. I loved that he was off and running with art, no doubt exactly the kind of play Early Explorers hopes to inspire with their kits.

Art Field Trip:

Head to your nearest museum or art gallery, of course. This doesn’t need to be anywhere big or fancy, but do challenge your child to find their three favorite pieces in the museum.

We were just in time for an exhibit featuring the best of local youth art, mostly by 11th and 12th graders. Travis enjoyed seeking out the one that had won first prize.

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And we couldn’t believe this one was done with yarn!

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Art Further Activities:

Unlike last month’s topic on food, which felt a touch one-note, this topic lent itself easily to so many activities! First, we did an imitation of French “pointillism.” After looking at paintings by Seurat, we set out to make dot pictures. Inflate a balloon just slightly, and set out a paper plate with a few colors of paint.

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Dip the balloon in the paint, then dab on the paper. I showed Travis how to make small dots by pressing the balloon on lightly, but he liked pressing hard for big dots. A very cool result! If you don’t have balloons, you could always just illustrate pointillism with some dot markers.

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Next, we became photographers! I set Travis loose with the instant camera, and challenged him to find interesting scenes or to get right up close to patterns in the apartment, like those on the carpet or fabrics.

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Then we glued them all down in a collage!

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Next up, he played with the art Constructibles set from Little Passport’s online shop.

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Travis immediately began slotting them together (each is based upon a specific textile pattern, for those interested in the designs), and soon he was building detailed creations.

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These could be buildings, animals, sculptures – whatever your child thinks they are!

You can expand the fun with research online. We followed a link from Little Passport’s blog to the Google Art Project. I was so impressed when Travis immediately recognized a painting from a magnet on our fridge!

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This is a great way to learn in depth about a specific artwork, theme, or artist.

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The library had ample offerings on art to further our learning, almost too many. We particularly liked the projects in a book about Impressionism.

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Surprisingly, the booklet said nothing about origami, which surely merits a place in any discussion of art around the world. So we thought we’d round out the lesson with some origami fun, and this origami easter basket from the blog was timely and cute.

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