Eraser Stamped Sheep

We recently re-read a favorite picture book, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, which had us thinking about other ways to make art from just dots. This sweet craft is easy enough for toddlers to follow along, and felt just right for springtime and baby lamb season!

To start, I set out a plate of white paint, along with a few sheets of construction paper and pencils. I handed Veronika one of the pencils and showed her how to dip just the eraser end in the paint, then dot on the paper.

White dots!

Veronika had fun simply experimenting at first, but then I showed her that if she clustered a few of those white dots together, it began to look like a woolly sheep. She loved seeing the little animals take form.

Of course she couldn’t control her dots exactly, which I wouldn’t have expected from a two year old. Anywhere that gaps needed filling, I added a few extra dots to make the sheep. That meant sometimes we had big mommy sheep, and sometimes baby lambs.

Once the glue dries, just add an eye and four legs for each sheep with black marker.

We loved the ways these looked once we cut them out in individual circles, resulting in a whole little flock.

Rainbow Sensory Bags

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Mixing paint is such a great way to teach kids about the difference between primary and secondary colors (namely, that you achieve one of the latter by mixing two of the former), and I’m always looking for ways to make the lesson hands on. These hair gel bags make it easy to mix the colors together in a fun and squishy way!

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To start, squirt a little clear hair gel into each of three sandwich-sized zip-top bags. Add the primary colors on either side of the gel, so you have one bag that contains red + yellow, a second that contains yellow+ blue, and a third that contains blue + red.

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Seal tightly and add a strip of duct tape at the top of each for security. Now invite your toddler to squish and mush!

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Veronika was particularly pleased when the red and blue combined to make her favorite color (purple).

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We simply made this about the squishy sensory play today, but see my previous post on primary color storytime for reading suggestions that can go along with it.

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If you have enough paint, you might consider making one bag that contains just red paint + hair gel, one with yellow paint + hair gel, and one with blue paint + hair gel, in which case you’ll wind up with the full rainbow lineup at the end.

Cookie Plate for Santa

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Leaving out treats for Santa is one of Christmas Eve’s biggest highlights in our house, that thrill of the idea that he’ll really come in and take a nibble! This year we decided to make a special plate that can be just for Santa, this year and years to come.

Any plain white plate will work for this project; I purchased one cheaply at the store, but you can use an old white plate if you have one on hand. I set it down in front of Veronika, along with red, yellow, and green acrylic paints.

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My original intention was to trace a star-shaped cookie cutter at the top and paint it yellow, then to have Veronika fill in around it. But she quickly had other plans!

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She painted the star red before I had even finished tracing! Then the various colors of paint were all smeared together and making a glorious mess. But I loved that the plate was authentically her own creation for Santa Claus.

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After it dried, I added in a message around the rim, writing ‘To Santa’ and ‘Christmas 2020’ in red and green sharpies.

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If your kids want to have a laugh during the creation of the plate, watch a read-aloud of Father Christmas Needs a Wee. Because Santa will be drinking lots of (almond!) milk alongside all those cookies!

No Mess Paper Plate Snowflakes

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Last week, Veronika painted snowflakes with q-tips, a great toddler method with very little mess. Today’s version meant even easier clean-up, since all the paint was inside a zip-top plastic bag!

To start, I cut out snowflakes from paper plates. I folded each plate in half, then in half again, and snipped out triangles, ovals, and heart shapes. Open back up to reveal the “snowflake” to your child.

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In retrospect, I would have scalloped the edges, too, for a prettier result. Veronika sure thought this was neat, though, and loved sitting beside me with her own pair of safety scissors!

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Place each plate in a large zip-top bag and add a little bit of silver and blue paint. You can also add a little glitter to each bag, but since we happened to have glitter paint, everything went in all at once! I sealed the bags and showed Veronika how to mush the paint around with her hands until the plate was painted.

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She was so surprised when she first reached down and realized she could touch the paint but not get messy. And then she just really enjoyed it! I helped a little to spread the paint to the edges of the plates.

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It took a little trial and error to figure out the right amount of paint to use. Too much and the plate was so saturated that it ripped upon removal from the bag. Too little and you won’t be able to spread the paint far enough. So my recommendation is to start with less than you think you need and work your way up.

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Next time, I would use a little white paint, too, since the blue dominated over the silver. Still, they turned out pretty!

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Let the plates dry completely, then hang the snowflakes around the house for a winter snowstorm.

Feather Printing

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Not to be confused with feather painting, the idea with this craft wasn’t to paint with a feather but to make images of feathers on paper. The resulting craft makes a great piece of Thanksgiving artwork!

I cut small sponges into shapes roughly resembling feathers (although I confess some looked more like leaves). Our sponges had handles, which makes it easy for Veronika to grasp them, but regular kitchen sponges would work, too.

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Next I set out plates of paint in harvest colors, and showed Veronika how to dip in the paint and then press onto paper.

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She loved the little images that appeared. She was so proud when she could make the sponge as flat as possible for a clear print.

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As a variation, we then painted directly on a few craft feathers.

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These made fun prints when pressed down onto the paper, too!

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“Look what I made!” she proudly said when we were done, and narrated back all the paint colors.

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I love seeing her take pride in her artwork.

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Balloon Art

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We’ve painted with a balloon before, but today Veronika had a chance to paint on a balloon. She absolutely adored this simple art project.

I covered the floor with scrap paper to catch any mess and then set out uninflated balloons and little cups of paint. Veronika always asks for yellow, and this time wanted to add dark blue and light blue!

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She immediately started painting the paper, but I showed her how to paint on one of the balloons instead. She loved it! She narrated all her color choices to me as she worked. “A little pink. Now let’s add a little blue…” It was like watching a miniature Bob Ross.

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At first we only worked on light-colored balloons (whites and yellows) but she spotted a black one in our pack and wanted to paint on that. The color contrast looked quite neat!

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When she seemed close to tiring of the craft, I inflated one of the balloons. (Note: Be careful that there is no wet paint at the rim before you blow it up). I wanted to show her how the smears of paint would now spread and thin out.

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For the best contrast, make a few of the uninflated balloons with only small dots which will become more like blotches once inflated.

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I thought she might want to switch to using the balloon like a paintbrush once it was blown up, but now she wanted to paint on this big bubbly canvas.

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The colors started mixing now that she’d dipped her brush in all the cups several times, and she took such delight in it. “I have yellow. I have blue… I have green!” An early lesson on color mixing!

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Again, she narrated her painting to me and kept it up for quite some time.

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If your child wants to play with the balloons, set them aside on paper plates to dry completely first, and then it’s time for a round of painty balloon tennis!

Rock Painting

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Veronika has enjoyed painting methods in the past that involve closing a box lid, rattling something around, and seeing the messy artwork that results (think a toddler Jackson Pollock).

She also loves rocks, so this craft combined the two perfectly! She loves to collect pebbles, and considers the most mundane little ones her “treasure.” Today I asked if she wanted to paint with one of her rocks.

I cut a square of watercolor paper to fit inside a small shoebox, then set out a few colors of paint on paper plates. I next showed her how to dip a rock in the paint. “Can you dip yours?” Yes!

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“Should we put it in the box?” Yes!

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Close the lid and help your toddler shake the box around.

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When you open it up, the rock will have splattered paint in neat designs. We quickly repeated with a second color.

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I loved watching Veronika put her own spin on the project, too. After a few rounds of shaking the box, she actually preferred to dip the rock in one of the paint colors and then dot it onto the paper. A rock paintbrush!

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After that she discovered that she could be her own canvas. So this project turned into not just rock painting, but Veronika painting. Bath time!

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Either way, the resulting craft makes such pretty little postcard-sized works of art that perhaps we’ll use them for thank you notes!

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Halloween Countdown Day 19: No Mess Pumpkin Art

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Here’s a quick seasonal spin for a toddler to paint in a zip-top bag. This time, instead of plain paper inside the bag, I inserted a template of a pumpkin.

You can squirt in orange paint, but where’s the fun in that? Add a little blob of red and a little blob of yellow and it will become a lesson on color mixing, too! Now simply seal tightly and hand across.

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Veronika was so surprised when she touched the red paint and realized her hand wasn’t messy.

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Same thing with the yellow!

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Now she was doubly intrigued. She either used the flat of her palm for squishing the paint, or sometimes scratched at it, too.

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As soon as our red and yellow started to mix, I pointed out that she was making orange. In retrospect, I should have added more yellow, as the red was definitely dominant. But we achieved a neat tri-color effect on the pumpkin.

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Note: Your piece of paper will be so saturated with paint that likely it will tear if you try and remove it from the bag. So this project isn’t a keeper, but it is fun in the moment!

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Galactic Art

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Travis isn’t as interested in simple arts and crafts as when he was younger. So I love when I can still find ways to pique his interest, and I thought this quick craft might fit the bill. It involved a novel tool to paint billions of stars in a made-up galaxy: an old toothbrush!

I showed him how to dip the toothbrush in a plate filled with white paint, then scrape his finger along the bristles so little speckles of white jet out.

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Pretty soon we had a whole Milky Way!

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Next we needed to add planets to our galaxy. We definitely weren’t going for an exact replica of the Solar System here, but did have fun rounding up a pile of items that were circular to trace, aiming for a variety of different size circles.

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One of those items happened to be a glitter jar, so then Travis insisted our galaxy needed glitter! Once the planets had all been glued down, we made a thick stream of white glue and sprinkled the glitter over this. Tap off any excess into the trash.

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The glitter sort of eclipsed those original speckles of white “stars” we’d made with the toothbrush. But oh well, Travis was so engaged and happy with the process that I was happy, too.

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String Painting

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We’ve used string to help spread paint lately, but for this craft, yarn actually becomes the bristles of a brush. These long wobbly “paintbrushes” are sure to delight any toddler. Just one note of caution: there is a high probability that paint is going to splatter! In other words, it’s an activity best done in an old t-shirt and diaper.

To make the brushes, I cut about 5 strands of yarn per brush, and taped them securely to the end of a craft stick. Your yarn can be all one color, but I have a multi-hued ball of yarn that gave us some fun rainbow pop.

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Place out a big sheet of craft paper and paints (Veronika requested yellow) and you’re ready to go!

At first Veronika was going to dip the handle end of her craft stick in the paint, but I quickly showed her how to dip in the strands of yarn instead.

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She loved it! The yarn creates beautiful stringy lines, and she enjoyed seeing the results of her work.

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As you paint, the yarn will start to clump together. This means you’ll get thicker lines, plus color mixing if you have more than one color of paint set out in front of your child.

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As with a recent pumpkin painting activity, Veronika sat in the middle of the paper while she worked, so I loved watching the string marks appear all around her.

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Needless to say, the yarn was fun for her to splat down on the paper, which sends drops of paint flying. But again, plan ahead, dress for the mess, and the messiness becomes half the fun!

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