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Hanukkah is right around the corner. We are very excited about this in our house. Recently, I came across a stack of Gigi’s old paintings and thought the colors were so pretty, it might be fun to make something out of them. We have piles and piles of art so I didn’t feel bad cutting these up. I had seen a post on the amazing, Art Bar Blog, where Bar used her child’s artwork to make a garland and thought it was so clever. Those piles can really accumulate quickly and there’s only so much art work you can hang. So, this dreidel wall art seemed like another great way to use children’s art work to create something long lasting and beautiful. We will definitely save this frame and bring it out year after year, just like our hanukkah dreidel garland from recycled paper.
First step is to cut out the desired shape from your child’s art work. I made a template of the dreidel first, on card stock, and then just traced it all over Gigi’s art. At first I was going to make a garland as well, but thanks to the magic of Instagram, I took some suggestions on what to do with the dreidels. My childhood friend and amazing graphic designer behind Silver Hollow Creative, suggested I create wall art from the dreidels. So, after cutting out a ton of dreidels, I found a clear shadow box frame and glued them to the top of the frame. She also suggested I use liquid gesso to seal them to the frame, but I didn’t have any. Instead I used glue and water and I must admit, that was a pretty big fail. The glue dried really yucky in between the dreidels and I had to scrub it off with water and a paper towel. Oops. It still looks really pretty and if I ever have time I will go over it with the gesso. You can also glue the cutouts onto paper and just insert them in the frame. I really like the clear look of the frame when you hang it up. It has a bit of stained glass appeal to it.
I love that this project is a collaboration of mother and daughter. I’m thinking we can do mini versions, sans glue and water coating, for the girl’s grandparents as hanukkah gifts. Any frame will do and the cutout possibilities are endless. Happy holidays!
There 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.
First, 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.
After 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.
When 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.
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.
As a mom of two little ones, I am constantly trying to find new and fun ways to excite and engage my girls. It’s not always easy, but here are some simple ways I’ve found that have really worked well.
1. LET THEM PAINT! My daughter has spent hours painting. I don’t mean at one time. She’s only two. But she definitely gets her paint on. We recently hung an oversized canvas on the wall in the playhouse and it’s been a fantastic visual invitation for her to paint, paint, paint. I got a few of these canvases marked down 90% at Aaron Brothers. If you ever see them on sale, don’t hesitate. I wish I had gotten more. You can put them on the grass or a tarp for a play date, hand out brushes and rollers and the kids will love it. The big size is really appealing to little ones.
2. Making Salt Dough is super easy. It’s one cup water, one cup salt, two cups flour. You can read a post I did about it here.
3. Oh, how I love water beads. These things are so freaking cool. I may like playing with them slightly more than Gigi but I am confident when D gets old enough she will love them even more. They are so bouncy and colorful. They are really hard to resist. Plus you can reuse them, which is pretty amazing. Read more about what we did with water beads here.
4. Planting a garden is super fun for kids. We made a whole day of it and Gigi loved it. Truth be told, our garden is…kinda…welll…dead at the moment. But we really enjoyed planting it and if I had a greener thumb I’m sure it would be awesome.
5. We are going through a major poking phase at the moment. I’m constantly looking for things that will poke into other things. It’s great for fine motor and I find that the more things we find, the more Gigi gets excited by it. I think there are a lot of ways to expand on this activity, but so far a great introduction to balance and motion.
6. I keep my washi tape collection in our family room so it’s always handy. We use it for everything. I think tape was one of Gigi’s first words. There are so many old school games you can tape out on the floor or carpet. We’ve tried hop scotch, color jumping, marble runs and race tracks. The marble run was our favorite so far.
7. This fantastic and super simple painting idea came from The Artful Parent, a book I highly recommend! You can tape out names, letters, numbers, designs, etc. and use all different kinds of paints. It’s a really fun project. Read more about it here.
8. Water play with food coloring has become a staple in our house. We use it for play groups, play dates and just hanging around the house solo. Kids love water no matter what, but they love it even more when it’s rainbow. I love the idea of exposing Gigi to basic science at an early age. I loved my science kit when I was younger. There is something so exciting about test tubes and the possibility of an explosion. I can’t wait to take our science play to the next level. Fun at Home with Kids has some fantastic ideas for playing with baking soda and vinegar that we are definitely going to try this summer.
9. Rubber Band Play It doesn’t get more simple than this. Get some rubber bands, wrap them around some toys, put some in a pile and go get some work done while your child snaps, pulls and plays.
10. This was super fun. I found some old acrylic easel frames at a local thrift store for 95 cents. I helped Gigi pick out some photos of friends that she liked and printed them out in black and white. I cut them to fit in the frames and let Gigi paint them. She was cracking up as she painted her friends orange, green and yellow. She went on to paint her parents next. It was super fun. You just wash the paint off with water and are ready to go for round two. There’s something about painting on the acrylic rather than the paper that makes this so engaging. This is something we will definitely do again.
Please let me know if you try any of these ideas. I would love to hear from you. Have fun!
I 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.
Summer Art Camp is in full swing. We finished up our door signs today and the kids took them home. I like to picture the kids putting the signs on their bedroom doors, telling their parents not to come in all serious. I was actually surprised more kids didn’t make Do Not Enter signs. The majority of kids just put their names.
All the kids, ages 5-11, enjoyed making these. What made it great is that they had the freedom to write whatever they wanted, so it appealed to everyone. I find the open ended projects are always the best ones. Give the kids freedom and materials and look out.
You can read specific directions here on how to make these.
I found clear blocks for a dollar at Michael’s the other day and I’ve been waiting to feel inspired. Inspiration struck today with my camera back in business. These starburst picture frames, as Ev likes to call them, are super easy and pretty limitless. All you need is cardboard, glue, scissors, sequins (which are missing from the photo) a photo or drawing, paper or old folders, and a clear block of plastic. Here’s how you do it.
1. First, cut out a small circle from the cardboard. If you don’t have a circle to trace I like to just cut off the corners of a square- a great kindergarten TLC lesson trick.
2. Next cut out long triangle shapes from cool paper and folders.
3. Glue the paper around the perimeter of the circle.
4. Cut out the shape of the photo to match your clear block and glue it down in the center.
5. Then take a super cool book like this one and use it to flatten down the triangles. The folder pieces tend to curl up.
6. Glue your clear block onto the photo.
7. Glue lots of sequins around the photo block.
8. Love and admire your creation and then give it to a friend as a gift! This one’s going straight to New York to my friend Molly, age 7.