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Hanukkah Dreidel Necklaces and the Top 5 Reasons Why Sculpey Makes the Best Holiday Gift for Kids

14 Nov

Sculpey Hanukkah Dreidel NecklacesI know I’ve mentioned my sculpey art enrichment class before and how awesome it is, but I don’t think I’ve explained why I think the kids in my class love it so much.  With the holidays coming up, I thought it would be a good time for an Ode to Sculpey post.  Here are the top 5 reasons sculpey class totally rocks.

Sculpey - Best Holiday Gift for Kids Ages 5 and Up1.  Sculpey play is successful for kids at any skill level.  I mean, you really can’t go wrong with this stuff.  Some kids are able to create intricate, detailed sculptures that require advance fine motor skills, while other kids can roll sculpey into long skinny worms and poof, they have a rainbow.  In all the years I’ve taught sculpey, which I think is about 7 now, I’ve never once heard a kid say “I can’t do sculpey.”

Sculpey Hanukah Dreidel Necklace2.  Sculpey play is open ended.  This is perhaps the most exciting thing about sculpey.  Anything goes.  Each class I come prepared with a project that the kids can choose to learn, like this Dreidel necklace for Hanukah pictured above, or kids can do free choice with the sculpey.  Some do a little of both.  Often, the project I teach leads to other, more elaborate or creative ideas.  Other times, the kid’s ideas become the driving force of the class.  Right now we have a layer cake sensation going on and I didn’t even teach layer cakes this session.  The kids from previous years taught the news kids and now they can’t get enough of these cakes.  Each class they are coming up with new ways to decorate the cakes and make the insides more interesting.  Go kids go.

Sculpey - Best Holiday Gift for Kids Ages 5 and Up3.  Sculpey colors are totally inspiring.  Polyform Sculpey basically comes in every color under the sun, which is just so much fun for kids…and adults.  You can mix the colors, swirl them, layer them, cut them, cane them, build a full blown basketball court with them.  The possibilities are endless.  Whenever I bring out a new pack of sculpey the ewws and ahhs are fantastic.

Sculpey - Best Holiday Gift for Kids Ages 5 and Up4.  Sculpey is an amazing form of self expression and creativity.  I mean, just look at this baseball field! How cool is that fence?

Sculpey - Best Holiday Gift for Kids Ages 5 and Up5.  Sculpey is great for building muscle strength and fine motor development.  Some colors are harder than others for some reason and kneading the clay until it is ready to be worked with is a great activity for kids.  In fact, as a teacher, I often recommend sculpey to parents with children who need a little fine motor strengthening.

Sculpey - Best Holiday Gift for Kids Ages 5 and UpSculpey isn’t  cheap, which is a bummer, but it does last a while, especially if you get the value pack, which I recommend.  You can also use a Michael’s coupon for 50% off and then it’s not bad at all.  There are a bunch of places to order in online for slightly less expensive if you don’t have a Michael’s near you or a coupon.

So there you have it folks, the Top 5 reasons why sculpey totally rocks and will make a fantastic holiday gift for the kids in your life.  Oh, I forgot one more thing.  It keeps kids busy for HOURS.  So, it’s a gift for you too.  Happy holidays!

Hanukkah Sculpey Dreidel Fun


Art Adventures – Reggio Inspired Self Portrait Shadow Boxes

7 Nov

Reggio Inspired Self Portrait BoxesThere are so many things I love about this project I’m not sure where to begin.  I just love it! I really wanted to do a self-portrait for my art enrichment class called Art Adventures.  When I researched ideas, so much of what I saw didn’t quite capture the essence of the child or it was too difficult for three and four year olds.  I was so inspired by a recent Reggio workshop I took, that more than anything, my goal was for the self-portrait to feel authentic to the child.  I am really proud to say I think we achieved that with these self portrait shadow boxes.  They took a lot of work for 25 kids, which I’m not sure I’d repeat, but if you just have one or two kids, this is an amazing project done over two 45 minute sessions and it is so worthwhile.

Reggio Inspired Self Portrait Shadow BoxesFirst, each child mixed and named their own paint from the primary colors and different variations of white.  This part was so much fun.  Many of the kids added their own names to their paints or referenced their favorite shows, places or toys in the titles.  I had complete attention from every student as they waited patiently to choose their colors, mix them, and then finally name them.

Reggio Inspired Self Portrait Shadow BoxesAfter mixing the paints, we talked about self portraits and I demonstrated on my own photograph how I could find different shapes in my face that are unique to me.  Each child was then invited to find the shapes in their own picture that was already taped to different tables throughout the room with a piece of 12×12 acetate over it.  I also taped their names under the acetate so they could trace the letters if they wanted to.  Each child was given a sharpie and off they went.  It was so interesting to watch how different kids approached this task.  Some worked diligently to find every shape in their picture, while others scribbled back and forth over their face.

Reggio Inspired Self Portrait Shadow BoxesWhen the kids returned for week two I explained that we were going to travel on many adventures over the year, and we needed to create a passport to help us get to all the places we wish to visit.  We discussed the art style of Jackson Pollock and looked at photographs of his work.  I had all of their boxes set up on a big tarp outside ready to be splatter painted.  I had received a bunch of packages not too long ago that came in these great white priority mail boxes, but you can use any cardboard box.  I had pre cut a 9×11 rectangle in each with an exact knife to create the shadow box. I invited the students to splatter away, which everyone did with gusto.  They all started with splatter paint only, and then over time different kids chose to paint their boxes directly with the brush.  We used the paint they created the week prior, which added a fantastic layer of interest to the project.  Some kids only wanted to use the paint they created, while other kids were happy to go back and forth sharing the shades they really liked.

Reggio Inspired Self Portrait Shadow Boxes When everything was dry, I taped the photograph of each child in their box.  I printed the photos in black and white which made a nice contrast to the colors of the paint.  With an exacto knife I cut little x’s on the top of the box and then weaved a short piece of rope through the x’s and tied a knot on each end.  This created a little handle so the kids could hold their boxes with ease.  I tried using a rubber band, but it was too skinny and a bunch broke.  Finally, a little too late, I realized you could easily do this with a pipe cleaner which would have been way easier.  Oh well.  The rope looks really nice.  Lastly, I taped the acetate over the whole in the box and the shadow box was complete.  I hung each one in the hallway at school with pushpins.  Seeing them all together looks beautifully dramatic.  I think this may be my favorite art project of all time.  I can’t wait to make it with my daughters when they are a bit older.  If you try it, please shoot me an email.  I’d love to hear how it went for you.  The response from the families at school has been really special.

Reggio Inspired Self Portrait Shadow Boxes

Homemade Rainbow Play Dough – Play Group Party

23 Sep

homemade play dough recipeThe color and feel of homemade play dough is intoxicating.  This stuff is so much fun and so easy to make I can’t believe I wasted so much time with store bought play dough.  You can find recipes all over the internet, especially pinterest.   Follow me HERE.  I used 1 cup of flour,  1/3 cup salt, 1 tablespoon of oil, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 cup of water and food coloring.  Then, I doubled it so I could make enough for both play groups.  You stir it all together in a pan on low to medium heat until it starts to get hard around the spoon.  It takes about 4-5 minutes.  Then just take it off the heat and let it cool.  It feels so soft and smooth, it’s amazing.   We had a blast mushing it up, standing in it, and making rainbow towers.  It was so nice knowing the little ones could put it in their mouths with out cause for alarm, which they definitely seemed to do every time the moms looked away.  Sneaky little kids.  I loved keeping all the colors in a big tub too, so kids could really get in there.  Gigi definitely wasn’t shy about that.  It was a really fun day.

homemade rainbow play dough - play group activityhomemade rainbow play dough - play group activityhomemade rainbow play dough - play group activityhomemade rainbow play dough - play group activityhomemade rainbow play dough - play group activityhomemade rainbow play dough - play group activity

The Magic of Clay – Inspired Play for Little Ones

12 Aug

Reggio inspired clay play for toddlersThese girls had the best time creating with clay .  When I put out the materials I had no expectations.  I just knew the group couldn’t resist the wet clay squishing through their fingers.  I got the clay, tools and mats from Discount School Supply, my go to spot for pretty much all art supplies for kids.  I got a 25 lb bag of red moist clay, which is more than enough for tons of activities.  We’ve already made many birds nests, a ton of birthday cakes, and now lots of these flower planters.  At first I thought maybe I should have gotten the modeling clay, which is more of a gray color, but the red clay is so natural and earthy, I’ve grown to just love it! The mats have been an unexpected surprise hit.  They clean really easily and besides protecting the table, they add purpose for the kids and create a great specified working space.  I use them daily.

Reggio inspired play with clay for toddlersI’ve been collecting large shells, wood bowls and containers from flea markets and thrift stores, which work so well with the clay.  Keeping things more natural has been a great shift for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love to get my glitter and googly eyes on, but there is something so calming and inspiring about using naturally found or crafted objects for play. These tools, also from DSS , have been a great draw for clay play, especially with my daughter, Gigi.  We do a ton of DIY projects around here.  Fake pretend tools just aren’t going to cut it for my girl.  She likes the real deal and these tools definitely have a professional feel to them.

Reggio inspired play with clay for toddlers

Reggio inspired play with clay for toddlersI got these pebbles from DSS too, and then felt kind of silly.  Here I am talking about going natural and then I got pebbles in a container from a store.  They are really pretty and Gigi LOVES sticking them into the clay, but we definitely could have gone for a walk and picked some up ourselves.  Oops.

Reggio inspired play with clay for toddlers

Reggio inspired play with clay for toddlersNot to get side tracked but how gorgeous are these sisters spray painting together?

Reggio inspired play with clay for toddlersReggio inspired play with clay for toddlersWorking with real clay can definitely be messy but it is soooo worth it.  I don’t mean play dough, I mean real clay.  The feel, the color, the consistency, it’s all so good.  We keep a large bucket of water next to us so we can wash our hands over and over.  If you have the opportunity, go for it!  And if you don’t want to do it in your own home and you live in LA, come over to mine and I’ll do it with your kids!

clay play for little ones

Invitation to Play – Poking and Balancing

17 Jul

Invitation to play for toddlers - poking and balancingIt feels good to put some of that excess styrofoam from toys and packages to good use.  This invitation to play is simple and effective.  Great for fine motor, color sorting, balancing, vocabulary building, so many things.  Plus it’s super fun and pretty.  You can add hammers and let the kids hammer in the golf tees.  We’ll probably do that next and then work our way to nails and screws.  I got these tees at a flea market for 2 dollars.  We’re going through a nice poking phase, which I’m trying to stretch out as long as possible to get the most out of it.  Another tip I learned from the amazing Jeannette Prince at Aspirations School of Learning. We’ve been working with branches, skewers, flags, tees and toothpicks so far.  I’m sure there are some other pointy things out there waiting to be discovered.  I keep changing out the styrofoam to to add interest.  I think eventually we’ll glue a few together.  We painted one but Gigi wasn’t so into it after we painted it.  We’ll try again soon.  We used beads for the balancing but you can use bouncy balls, marbles, pebbles, pinecones, all kinds of things.  Really fun and cheap!

Invitation to Play for Toddlers - Poking and BalancingInvitation to Play for Toddlers - Poking and BalancingInvitation to Play for Toddlers - Poking and Balancinginvitation to play for toddlers - poking and balancingZero to Two Fantastic Play Ideas for Your Baby and Toddler! This ebook is AMAZING!

What to do with Collage? Pencil Toppers, Garlands and Story Sticks

8 Jul

Collage ideas for kidsThe kids from art camp made these incredible collages the other day from magazine cut outs and tape.  Their original work was so inspiring I thought we had to do more with them.  I asked the kids if they had any ideas and one girl said “We can make pencil toppers!” Ha! Genius. So, I color copied all of their originals a few times and let them go to town.  I had a ton of stencils on hand, which made for great garlands, pencil toppers and story sticks.  We glued our photo copies onto card stock before tracing and cutting.  Really fun.  What would you do?

collages for kids

collage pencil toppers and garlandscollage story stickscollage pencil toppers

Little World Shadow Boxes

30 Jun

Little World Shadow Box DIYI love shadow boxes.  There are so many kinds and they have endless possibilities.  I introduced these little worlds to the campers on Friday to lots of “oohs and ahhhs.”  I’m excited to see what they come up with.  I gave them the option of using the top or bottom of these boxes I picked up from Michaels.  I had some paper prepped in the right size for the backgrounds but I also have blank and patterned paper on hand so they can make their own choices.  The top is a glued on piece of transparency paper with puffy paint dots along the edges for a final touch.  Last step is to glue on silver chain so the kids can hang them on the wall.  You can also use leather straps or rope.  I used some tape to hold the chain in place while the mega E6000 glue dried.  This glue is my new savior for everything.  I am hoping the kids come up with some new ways to make these boxes awesome.  I am already seeing little people being made and getting requests for sculpey.  We’ll see what happens on Monday.  I try to make all my projects as open-ended as possible.  All aspects are optional, including doing the project at all.  We usually have a few stations going at once, which works out nicely.  It’s camp, so I want to create a relaxed and fun space.  The kids seem to respond to it really well.

Little World Shadow Box DIYThe shadow box below was created by an 8 year old.  It’s a rainy day scene.  I love how she used the pattern on the background paper to represent the rain.

Little World Shadow Box DIY