High Chair Painting

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I’ve loved my first forays into making art with Veronika, and today I dared to give her real paint for the first time, meaning it wasn’t sealed up or homemade. The verdict? She did not eat any! In fact, there wasn’t much of a mess at all.

For this age, though, I do recommend strapping baby into a highchair before pulling out the paints, resulting in the safest, least messy location. You can cover the floor below with newspaper if desired, and tape down the paper to the high chair.

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I started this way, using a few blobs of store-bought finger paint. But this time I gave her paintbrushes, and showed her how to dab into the blobs and swish it around. She looked so proud to hold the brush!

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After a few strokes, though, she preferred to pick at the masking tape. Hmm…

Thinking quickly, I gave her a fresh sheet of paper with no tape, and just held onto it firmly.

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Now, Veronika loved it. The serious look on her face was her way of really processing how it worked to smoosh down the bristles and see new paint appear.

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She kept at it for quite some time.

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You’re an artist, Veronika!

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A proud first paintbrush painting!

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Paint-Popper Art

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If the kids aren’t in camp and need to get out some crazy summer energy, then this project is for you!

To make the popper, cut an empty toilet paper tube in half. Tie a knot in two balloons, and cut off the tops. Slip one balloon over each half of the empty tube and secure with tape. Bright and colorful tape isn’t necessary, but does add an element of fun.

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Because we knew we were going to make a mess, Travis and I headed outside for this one. I put an old sheet on the ground and covered it with thick craft paper. We filled each paint popper with a separate color and I showed Travis how to pull back on the knot of the balloon and splash the paint forward.

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Now this was fun!

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He loved selecting which color to use next, and sometimes just dripped the paint out of the popper for big thick blobs on his canvas.

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The one drawback is that the poppers didn’t last long. After a few colors, the tape and balloon came lose and the cardboard roll lost its shape.

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But it was more than enough time for him to produce fantastic splattery art.

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And get some sunshine in the process!

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Symmetrical Art

 

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Travis has done so many crafts at camp that it felt like a while since we’d sat down just to paint together. We amended that this morning with a craft intended to follow up on recent fun with symmetry.

First he folded a piece of paper in half, very importantly made a nice crease, and opened it back up again.

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I squirted out big blobs of paint near the center crease, according to his preference. “Red, and orange, and blue!” he instructed.

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He smeared them all together, noting the way the blobs ran together, made new colors (purple!), and got super smeary.

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Now we folded the paper over again, smooshing the paint inside. We opened it back up for a neat symmetrical reveal. “I made a footprint!” he said.

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He loved it so much that he immediately requested to use the second piece of paper I’d folded. This time he chose a different set of colors, including light blue, yellow, and black.

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Blob blob blob and smoosh smoosh smoosh and we opened it up again.

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He thought this one looked like Darth Vader’s mask – even cooler!

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Make Handprint Keepsakes

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It’s been a couple of months since I last captured the size of Veronika’s hands and feet – si clearly it was time to do so again!

Use a non-toxic and washable paint and brush it gently onto your little one’s palms and the soles of his or her feet. Press firmly onto watercolor paper. You’ll probably get a little wiggling around, but that’s ok! Make sure you have wipes ready to go for quick clean up. Why are there no pictures of this process? Because paint + eight month old = lots of wrangling!

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Once the prints dried, I used them in two ways. With the handprint, I made a framed keepsake. Cover the backing of a picture frame with decorative fabric, and secure the fabric in place with masking tape.

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Use double-sided tape to attach the handprint in the middle of the fabric. Slip back into the frame and display in the nursery – or give this as a gift to grandparents perhaps!

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The footprint simply went into her memory box which was a great trip down memory lane. There were a few mementos in there I had already forgotten about!

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As long as you don’t mind the mess of painting with a baby, this is a fun project with great keepsakes as a result.

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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!

Collagraph Prints

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Collagraphy (not to be confused with calligraphy!) is a print-making technique that uses textured elements applied to a rigid surface to make a picture. It’s a fun art process that will engage your preschooler with texture in new ways.

Before school, Travis and I glued various items from our craft bin onto a piece of cardboard. Sponges can be cut into smaller sizes and applied.

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We also added craft sticks, foam pieces, and buttons.

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Corrugated cardboard works especially well; try using the reverse side of a coffee cup sleeve for this!

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I asked Travis what kind of scene we should make, and he decided a spring garden. We glued down all our elements to make flowers, a tree, a fence, and “pebbles” on the ground (these were the buttons).

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By the time he was home from school, the glue was dry and it was time to paint! I set out cups with different colors. For the first round, we stayed true to nature: a yellow sun, green flower stems, red blossoms, etc.

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Press a piece of white paper over the print, making sure to press down hard on all your 3-D elements.

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We lifted up the paper for the big reveal. Travis was astonished and loved it!

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He immediately wanted to make a second version, but with different colors to see how it turned out.

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We’d run out of yellow for the sun and sky, so instead painted these parts black. As we lifted off the paper, I said it looked like a black rain cloud. But Travis said, “It’s a turtle with a smile!” Talk about glass half-full, what a wonderful answer!

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Then he decided it would be silly to make an all-black print, very Rorschach test of him.

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In sum, this was a a fantastic art project and we would definitely do it again.

 

Homemade Body Paint

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Some kids love face paint the moment they see it, but it took Travis a long time to warm to the idea of having his face painted. A recent fascination with all things superhero and supervillain has gotten him past the hesitation, and I was so proud of him when he dared to have character paint at a recent party. To continue the fun, I suggested we make this  DIY paint at home to amplify his superhero play!

Cooking the paint is half the fun. First, we scooped 1 cup cornstarch into a pot.

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We added 4 cups water, 6 tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt.

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I cooked the mixture over medium heat, whisking frequently, until just before boiling – it will look like pudding. Travis loved watching from a little distance away.

Make sure you let the paint cool completely, at this point!

When it was cool, we divided among cups and added about 4 drops of food coloring to each cup. Travis new exactly which colors he needed for his game.

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He didn’t hesitate one whit before painting all up and down his arm. Is that a blue Spiderman I see?

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Mommy got to be Green Goblin.

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Travis was a bit disappointed that the paint didn’t dry, meaning he couldn’t keep it on an extended time period, but this was still great fun. Next time I think we’d do it right before bath, to fully enjoy a mess before a cleanup. The paint would also be great outside in warm summer weather!

Cookie Sheet Prints

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This is an old idea from Parents magazine that I’ve waited to trot out forever. It turns out there was so much for Travis to love about it, including the first fact that your art canvas will be a cookie sheet.

To set up, set out cups of tempera paint and a cup of water for your child, along with paintbrushes. Dip the brush in the water, followed by the paint, then apply to the back of the cookie sheet.

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Travis couldn’t believe he was able to paint on one of mommy’s dishes, a fact which got him over initial skepticism about the project. Pretty soon he was eagerly smearing gold paint all over, and adding highlights of other colors.

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Your child can just scribble, or make deliberate designs like circles or other shapes. When Travis was satisfied with his work, we pressed a piece of thick paper down (watercolor paper works well), and pressed firmly.

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Now for the big reveal! Travis loved peeling back the paper all by himself.

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You can make the resulting prints even neater by drawing deliberate lines in them, either with the back of the paintbrush, or with fingertips.

I showed Travis an example, writing in his requested word (in reference to the shiny gold paint).

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But he had way more fun just smearing everywhere with his fingertips. “Now whole hands!” I loved watching him.

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Needless to say, we needed to make lots of prints before he tired of the project. A great crafty idea for a cold winter’s day.

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Swirly Ornaments Crate

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Kiwi Company occasionally puts out special holiday-themed crates, and we’ve been holding on to this one since last December! Reading the title on the box, I imagined the final product would be ornaments with beautiful swirls. Little did we know the method to make the ornaments was swirly, too!

Travis was so excited seeing the three plastic globe ornaments, since we had just set up our tree. Add two of the provided watercolors (in primary colors) to each globe for a quick lesson in color mixing. You’ll be able to make one orange, one green, and one purple ornament. Next squirt in a drop of the glittery silver paint.

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Add a marble, and get swirling! As you swirl, the marble will help the paint coat the entire globe.

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As a parental aside, this was very precarious proposition with a four-year-old. Of all the Koala projects we’ve ever done, this was by far the messiest! It was quite hard for Travis to swirl enough to coat the inside of the ornament without also spilling paint, so step in if you need to.

He loved the drying method that came next though; upend the ornament over a provided paper cup. The marble and any excess paint will fall out.

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We set ours aside to dry for about an hour.

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Ideally, flip the ornaments at this point and allow to dry on the inside, too, overnight. Travis was too impatient though and wanted to pop in the provided corks and seal them up!

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To finish each ornament, we wrapped a sparkly pipe cleaner around the neck.

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Add a silver ribbon (a great chance to practice tying a bow), then thread a provided bell onto the pipe cleaner. Hook the end.

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Now it’s ready to hang on your tree!

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The kit also suggested gifting the ornaments (just slip on a gift tag and it’s ready to go)…

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…or attaching one to your stocking as a sparkly decoration.

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Let the holiday season begin!

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Paper Bag City

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Following our fun with Koala’s city-themed crate, we constructed our own city at home, using nothing but extra paper lunch bags!

First, paint the bags to resemble buildings, with one color on the bottom, and black (or another second color) on top for the roof. This turned out to be more of a puzzle for Travis than I imagined, since he just wanted to paint the bags any which way. Providing a guiding line for him helped…

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…But the point is never perfection!

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I let him decorate a few houses to his own taste, and made a few others to add to our city. Let the paint dry completely.

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If your child wants to paint on features (doors, windows), they can do so. Instead, I added those later with permanent marker.

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To finish your town, fill each bag with about 1 cup dried beans to weight it down. Fold the top edge over and tape into place.

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You can set the buildings up on a car playmat, or just on the floor. Bonus points for toy vehicles in your city!

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Since this particular city belonged to a four-year old boy, soon we had villains knocking down the houses… He sure does come up with games I never would imagine!

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What buildings will be in your town? Please share in the comments!