Art Rocks For Kids!

Art projects and learning ideas for homeschooling, and All!, kids!

Kids Art Lesson: Sketching, Photography, Ansel Adams Biography & Connecting With Nature

IMG_8244

View of the Sierras, photograph taken by M, age 7

Grab some sketch pads & pencils, a camera, and the following information about photographer Ansel Adams, find a nice spot in nature, and you have a wonderful art lesson to share with kids!

The beauty of nature has been an inspiration to artists for all of time. I would like to share how I presented the works of Ansel Adams, and also touched briefly on Claude Monet, while taking the kids out to sketch in the mountains. All you need is a place in nature (mountains, parks, fields, and even your own backyard ), sketch pads, pencils, a camera, and some artist information and examples.

Captain’s friends came for a fun visit this week and we went on a hike in Sequoia Forest. I told them a little bit about how artists of many mediums have been inspired by nature, and that today we would be talking about the famous photographer Ansel Adams. We talked about his life and looked at photographs (see information below) and also talked about Claude Monet’s work. They learned  the term “impressionism” and its origin. I gave each kid a sketch pad and invited them to find a spot to sit with a nice view to sketch. We talked about perspective, lines and details, and then they went to work. The sketches were amazing! The kids took their sketches home to watercolor, and Captain painted hers right away that evening. I showed them a postcard book of Adam’s lovely winter landscapes and after they “oohed and ahhed” over their favorites, I gave them the opportunity to take 3 photographs each, with my iphone, encouraging them to take their time. They each chose their favorite photo and I promised to print their special photo in black and white and frame them. They were thrilled. *Note: I printed the photos at Costco for 13 cents each, and bought black frames at a dollar store. I can’t wait to give the kids their own photographic works of art this week!

IMG_8247

Beautiful Granite, photograph taken by Captain, age 6

IMG_8252

Bueller in the Mountains, photograph taken by J, age 5

IMG_8242

M with his mountain sketch.  He really loved the whole experience of sketching and photographing an amazing view of the Sierras from atop a giant, granite rock face.

image

Captain’s watercolored sketch of granite and mountains.

Here is some wonderful, easy to understand information about Ansel Adams to share with your kids. I found these facts on a wonderful site called Mr. Nussbaum! Learning + FunClick on the link to easily print these biography pages, and also check out some of the cool science and other learning ideas and lessons presented there!

Ansel Adams Biography for Kids

Glacier National Park

Early Life

Ansel Adams was a famous American photographer and environmentalist. He was born near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, on Feb. 20, 1902. When he was four years old, his nose was broken when he was knocked to the ground by an aftershock of the great earthquake. His nose was crooked for the rest of his life. One of his earliest memories was seeing smoke from the great fire that followed the earthquake.

Growing Up

He was an only child who performed poorly at school, so his parents had him tutored at home. Although he was hyperactive and possibly dyslexic, he was thought to possess an eidetic memory, which is a form of photographic memory that includes memories of smells, sounds, and other senses. Ansel enjoyed music and taught himself to play the piano when he was twelve. He also enjoyed nature and loved walking in the sand dunes near his home. His father gave him a telescope, and they shared a great interest in astronomy.

A Photographer is Born in Yosemite National Park

When he was fourteen, Ansel read In the Heart of the Sierras by James Mason Hutchings, and he convinced his parents to take a vacation in Yosemite National Park. His parents gave him a Kodak Brownie camera for the trip, and Ansel’s interest in photography was born as he tramped through the park’s mountains. When he talked about the trip, Ansel said, “the splendor of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious… One wonder after another descended upon us… There was light everywhere… A new era began for me.” Some of his most famous photographs were of Yosemite. His work helped raise awareness of and interest in America’s national parks. In 1927, Ansel took one of his best known photos, “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome” at Yosemite.

Grand Teton Mountains and Snake River

The Sierra Club

When he was seventeen, Ansel joined the Sierra Club. The club works to preserve the earth’s natural wonders and resources. He spent four summers as the caretaker of the Sierra Club visitor center in Yosemite Valley, and was an active member of the club for the rest of his life. Ansel was interested in environmental issues related to national parks, especially Yosemite, and the preservation of wilderness.

Photography as an Art

Ansel learned basic darkroom technique working part-time for a photo finisher in San Francisco. In 1927, Albert Bender, a businessman and patron of the arts, helped publish Ansel’s first portfolio, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras. Ansel soon got paid for photos, and he began to think about a career as a photographer instead of a pianist. In 1933 he opened his own art and photography gallery in San Francisco. He often worked for eighteen or more hours a day, for days and weeks on end. He learned from and exhibited with other famous photographers of the time including Alfred Stieglitz, Imogen Cunningham, Paul Strand, and Edward Weston. They developed photography as a form of art. Ansel helped to establish the first department of photography at a museum at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Ansel’s Work in Space

Ansel Adams’ photographs recorded what many of the National Parks were like before tourism. His photograph of the Grand Tetons and the Snake River was one of 115 images chosen to grace the Voyager spacecraft in an effort to share information about life on Earth with a possible alien civilization. He died on April 22, 1984 in Monterey, California.

image

No matter how I photographed these lovely works, I couldn’t help but get glare off the glass. Funny how it made the cloudy, gray sky look blue in M’s photo!

Thank you so much for reading. I wish you a glorious, dramatic, black and white day, filled with color!

Good thoughts, Karen

Advertisements
Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Sequoia National Forest & Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Make A Ming-Inspired Bowl!

IMG_8121

These sweet bowls would make lovely Christmas gifts for family & friends!

We’ve been studying the beginnings of Ancient China and highly recommend this straight-up fun project for all ages. If needed, parents can help younger kids in between making a Ming bowl for themselves!

You’ll Need: A large ball of air-dry clay (I have some of the Crayola brand, and it works great, and is affordable at about $5 for a tub), plastic wrap, a small round bowl, a rolling pin, a sculpting tool or blunt knife, acrylic paints, a clear acrylic sealing spray, or a mixture of glue and water, to glaze the finished piece.

1. Wrap the outside of your bowl in plastic wrap.  I recommend using a smaller “condiment” sized bowl for the first one.

2. Roll out your ball of clay to no less than 1/4″ thickness, making sure it is big enough to cover the outside of the bowl. Press it tightly around the bowl, then use your tools to trim away any excess. Be sure not to make the air-dry clay too thin or the bowl will crack when it dries (we did this and then used the pieces as “archaeology pottery” 🙂 )

3. Place the bowl on a piece of newspaper and allow to dry in an airy place. Don’t put it in the direct sun or it can dry out too fast and crack. It should be dry by the next morning.

4. Remove the dried bowl from the form and paint! Ancient Chinese pottery was usually decorated with pictures of birds, flowers, and outdoor scenes, painted in whites and blues. Captain painted hers with cobalt blue, let it dry, then painted flowers and bird shapes in moon yellow. She was a little bummed that her birds didn’t come out the way she wanted, but they are fabulous! She even added a little tiny “M” for “mom” in the center of one of her flowers… ahhh!

IMG_8081

5. After the piece is completely dry, a fine sharpie can be used to write a name, or initials, and date on the bottom. What a sweet keepsake!

6. Spray with clear acrylic sealer (adults only), or you can glaze it with a mixture of 2 parts white glue to 1 part water. These both will give it a shiny glaze coating, which we love. Or, you can leave it as is.

IMG_8114IMG_8117

Before and after I sprayed the acrylic seal on

Fun, simple and a little “M” to boot. I love it!  I hope you and/or your kids will give this a try. Check out Google images to share some traditional Ming bowls and pottery with your kids. Captain has been inspired to try making another one that looks like this:

Unknown

A gorgeous flower bowl from the 1300’s

We got the idea for this project out of The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Ancient Times. We thank you kindly!

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Social Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Writing Practice, Art & Imagination: Create Your Own Superhero!

photo-4

Princess Halina, Animal Rescuer, has super-powers, a secret cabin, blue hair and her motto is: “Be yourself: everyone else is already taken”…

Here is a simple way to get the imagination rolling, get some writing practice done, and draw and color/paint your very own special superhero. I was surprised at how Captain reacted to this simple prompt: “Create a superhero character. Draw, label, or write about what powers that person has, or can do.” Basically, she thought about it for about a minute before she started spewing out a list of exciting possibilities. I sat on the opposite side of the counter from her, with a paper and pencil ready, and made notes as quickly as possible. She really enjoyed that I was “her assistant note-taker” and felt free to just brainstorm. It was really fun! Afterward, she sketched her character in pencil and then colored her in with markers. She wanted to copy the notes in pen, as she was sure she wouldn’t need to erase a single thing. She was right! We did this activity a couple of days ago, and she is still talking about it and adding to the story. Princess Halina, Animal Rescuer, seems to have empowered her creator and I can’t wait to see where it goes! *On a side note, I believe that an adult offering to just be an “assistant” or “note-taker” for early writers is very valuable. They feel special, and the freedom to just go with their ideas without having to fiddle with handwriting is priceless!

Here is part one of Captain’s Superhero Description:

“My Superhero, Princess Halina, is a girl who saves animals. She wears a yellow dress and crown, and sometimes a yellow cape. Her super powers are to read minds (but only when wearing her yellow cape, dress and crown), shoot lights out of her fingers (to blow things up), and she can make a light so bright that nobody can see except her, when she is wearing her goggles (which magically appear). She also has another secret, secret power that nobody knows about yet…

Princess Halina has a secret cabin where she can hide animals when she’s helping them, and to keep them safe from creepy people who want to steal them. She needs a lot of powers to defeat the bad guys. Ten people have already told Princess Halina “Be yourself: everyone else is already taken” and she really knows it!”

I also feel that creating a superhero can help kids work out some of their fears about things like “bad guys” and “creepy people”. Incidentally, the quote above is from Oscar Wilde and was our family “quote of the week” last week. It was sweet that she incorporated it into her creation.

This one gets a gold star for simplicity and fun. I hope you’ll try it with your own kids, and we would love to hear about it here on Kartwheels.

Powerful, blue-haired thoughts to all,

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Budding Egyptologists: Make Your Own Canopic Jar!

IMG_7269

Greetings! This is a straight-up wonderful project for kids and adults alike. Captain made her very own canopic jar as part of an extensive study of ancient Egypt, and it has turned out to be a wonderful art piece, not to mention a terrific keepsake of this lovely period in her life.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ONE! These jars are made from a condiment squeeze bottle (like ketchup!), wadded-up paper towels, masking tape, pre-plastered gauze rolls (I used the leftovers from a belly-cast I did while I was pregnant), Crayola air-dry clay, and paint.  Kids could also create an entirely different style of jar using this method, without an Egyptian theme, if desired, and the possibilities are creatively endless!

In the time of Ancient Egypt, canopic jars were used to store particular organs of the body during the mummification process, and were placed in the tomb along with the sarcophagus containing the prepared body. The jars had lids, or stoppers, that were shaped as the heads of the minor funerary deities known as the Four Sons of Horus. It was the job of these deities to protect the internal organs of the dead. Ancient Egyptians firmly believed that the deceased required his or her organs to be reborn in the Afterlife. The organs needed to be removed from the body so that it would not decay, but needed to be present with the body, so the jars were used for their storage. They were made of natural materials such as limestone, wood, pottery, alabaster or calcite. There were 4 jars used. The deity Hapy, the baboon, was for the lungs, the human-headed Imsety guarded the liver, Jackal-headed Duamutef held the stomach and the falcon-headed Qubehseneuf took care of the intestines. Fascinating! Captain chose Duamutef for her jar and created a wonderful jackal-head out of simple air-dry clay right onto the squeeze bottle top!

When Captain decided she wanted make her own jar, I found the instructions for this project at Detroit Institute of Arts Lesson Plans for Teachers. Here are the supplies you will need:

IMG_0510

One plastic squeeze jar or bottle with a top (preferably a pointed top as shown above, because it provides an armature for holding the clay head tightly in place and makes it much sturdier), pre-plastered gauze rolls, self-hardening modeling material, like Crayola’s brand, masking tape, paper towels or newspaper, acrylic or tempera paint, paint brushes.

IMG_0511

Step One is simple and fun. Use wadded up paper towels and masking tape to create a canopic jar “shape”.  I pulled a bunch of strips of tape off and had them ready for her and helped her to hold the paper towel wads onto the jar as she taped.  She stopped when she got to the shape she desired. Leave the top of the squeeze bottle in place while creating the body of the jar, including applying the plaster strips.
IMG_0513

Step Two: I pre-cut the plaster gauze rolls into strips and had a bowl of water on hand. Dip each strip quickly into the water and apply to the jar to cover completely in overlapping layers. Cover the bottom first and work up from there, covering the entire jar and smoothing it all down as you go. Do NOT cover the jar tops, as the heads will be formed later with clay, after the body of the jar has dried.IMG_0514

While the jar then dries for a day or so before painting, the top can be removed to start working on creating the head!

IMG_0516

Step Three: If it has not already been decided, the child should choose which of the 4 deities they would like to make. Captain chose Duamutef, the jackal-headed god, and there were lots of gooey comments about the stomach that would have gone into this one 🙂 I basically gave her a smooth ball of air-dry clay, she flattened the bottom, and I helped her press the lid into it. Again, the pointed tip provides an excellent armature for making a solid head.

IMG_0517

Using clay tools, or anything you have on hand like toothpicks, knives etc., help guide your child in carving out the basic shape of the desired head. I explained that she would need to remove clay from under the “chin” and extend the nose to get the jackal face that she wanted, and she did an awesome job shaping the clay. I helped a little bit here and there. I showed her how to add the ears before adding the final details to the face. I got out some toothpicks and after she shaped the ears, I showed her how to use a toothpick to secure the ears to the head and then use her fingers to carefully sooth the clay down to help secure the ears in place. The jackal is the only one that has ear “extensions” like this, and we really wanted to make them sturdy! The air-dry clay was very thick and took a few days to dry outside.

IMG_0520

Meanwhile, the body of the jar had dried and was ready to paint! If the jar and lid are both going to be one solid color, you can wait to paint them both at the same time, but there are endless ways to paint and decorate the jar. Captain went for a solid-color “stone” look after painting the bottom of the jar a dark color and then changing her mind.

IMG_7212

Using acrylic paint, she mixed the desired colors…

IMG_7216

Painting the jackal head…. It looks so cool!!

IMG_7211

Painting the jar was fun. When she got bored with painting it the second time, Dad jumped in and helped too!

IMG_7262

After the jar is completely dry, screw the head right on! Fantastic! This is a terrific project and I want to thank the folks at DIA for sharing this wonderful method. Captain’s jackal-headed canopic jar has become a conversation piece at our home, and we all LOVE how it turned out and are very proud of her. This project stimulates so many things like creativity, history, culture, patience, imagination! We talked about Ancient Egypt a lot while working on this and throughout our other Egyptian projects, which will be coming up here on Kartwheels. I would like to add that any project that allows for mistakes to be made with solutions to be figured out is terrific for kids. When the jackal head and jar were outside drying, Captain tried to play with the head and snapped one of the almost-dry ears off of her jackal. She was devastated and cried that it was ruined and was ashamed of herself for trying to mess with it after we had advised that it not be touched until dry. It was a wonderful moment when I came out of the house with some Gorilla Glue and together we reattached it and also filled in a couple of small cracks.  Voila! It was a gentle reminder that most things can be fixed, and I got a giant hug too 🙂

Read more about Canopic jars of Ancient Egypt here and definitely google “canopic jar images” to see some fantastic examples of both ancient canopic jars, and handsome ones made by students and Egyptologists alike!

Visit Discovery Kids to try your hand at preparing a body for mummification online, courtesy of BBC.

Thanks so much for reading, and if you try this project with your kids, we would love to hear about it!

An ancient tomb of echoing cheers to all,

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, History Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Make Summer “Camp” Lanterns From Recycled Cans!

IMG_7204

Sweet little lanterns make the table look so festive!

IMG_6866 IMG_6865

You’ll Need:

Recycled tin cans, hammer & nails of various sizes, wire for handles, battery operated tea lights or tea candles (supervised), freezer or boards and clamps (explained below)

This project is so simple and fun… perfect for lighting up warm summer nights, or dressing the dinner table. They also make a sweet gift for loved ones!

Captain and I camped with a group of homeschoolers from HSC last month in Mono Hot Springs, CA. What an incredible place, and the people were wonderful! One of the moms, the eco-crafty Mary Ann, brought all the fixens’ to create tin can lanterns, and a great time was had by all who made one. Mary Ann said that she saw online that these can easily be made at home by placing a recycled tin can, filled with water, into the freezer. The block of ice inside the can helps prevent it from getting dented when hammering the holes in. I would highly recommend using the freezer method if you can. If you decide to try this project while camping, Mary Ann came up with a great idea to replace the ice. She brought boards and some clamps to secure it to a picnic table. As you can see in the photos below, a piece of wood that will fit inside the cans extends out far enough that the can will slip on. This provides support inside the can so that it won’t dent while hammering the holes.

IMG_6864 IMG_6863

You can use a permanent marker to make a design on the can, or just go free-form.  When you have your design in mind (think constellations, hearts, names, or random patterns!) use the various sized nails and hammer to pound holes into the can. Hold the nail in place and give it a tap to “seat” it, and then give it about two more solid pounds and you’ve got a hole!  Using large nails and small nails give the lantern a really nice look! Add two holes at the top of the cans, on opposite sides, for your handle.  Handles can easily be made by snipping about a 6″ piece of wire and crimping it on. Kids can write their names and the date on the bottom of their can and they have a lovely summer keepsake for their rooms!

** A note about hammers, nails, and kids!  I helped about 6 different kids with their lanterns, as hammering is hard work and they could only do a few holes before getting tired. The kids were in the 5-8 age range, and although a couple of them did whack their finger once or twice, they never complained or gave up. I told them how to seat the nail with a tap, and if they were a little afraid of hitting the nail with the hammer, I just encouraged them to try, looking only at the head of the nail when they swung the hammer.  It’s like the idea of “keeping your eye on the ball”- it works! The kids felt empowered and special to be hammering tin cans and doing it for themselves. So, don’t be afraid to let them go for it, just remind them to watch the nail head and they’ve got it!

*We used both tea light candles, and little battery-operated tea lights for our lanterns.  I highly recommend the battery ones for fire safety.

Captain LOVES her lantern and was so proud to bring it home to show dad her memento of a very special camping trip. I made one too, and it reminded me that I had done this project on a Girl Scouts camping trip when I was a kid! What fun! I hope you decide to make these with your kids.

As summer rocks on, I wish you many good thoughts, glowing like little lights around the campfire!

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Visit a Street-Artist!

IMG_0761

Who wouldn’t love to capture themselves in cartoon? I want to share an inexpensive, and really fun, idea for a wonderful memento of a city visit. If you live in a big city, or have plans to go with your kids, perhaps you’ll try a visit to a street artist!

IMG_0699

Captain and I had a wonderful time last year in the great city of San Francisco! We were lucky enough to go with Captain’s two Grandmas (the “Grandma Patrol”) and we stayed in a lovely hotel and got to experience many wonderful sights. One thing we did was to stop at the stand of a street artist, who sketched our portrait, capturing us in all of our pink-cheeked, freckled wonder. The experience itself is delightful, especially for us mountain-dwellers, for we sat surrounded by the powerful smells of coffee, flowers, baked goods, and salty ocean air, mixed with the exhaust of passing busses and cars, all topped with a slight whiff of urine. There were people everywhere, going by with intense briefcases, baskets of apples, rolls of paper, and flowers in their hair. There was a single man’s black leather shoe in a bush, as though placed there as a little sculpture of imagination. I still think about that perfect shoe in that exquisite bush. Fantastic!!

IMG_0710

We only paid $20 (including a tip!) for the sketch & matte frame, and the experience itself was priceless. Even though we live in a remote forest-cabin and relish the excitement and energy of city visits, I think that someone who lives in a place large enough to support street artists would enjoy doing this with their kids. If I could, I would do this one time each year, just to see the little cartoon face of my daughter change with age, the seasons and the particular artist who sketched for us. Our artist was a wonderful man, who told us all about his life and artwork. Doing street-sketches is how he earns money to live and to pursue his true artistic endeavors. He was quiet and reserved at first, but when I asked a few questions, without prying, we ended up sharing all kinds of interesting things about our lives and travel. Oh how I love people!!!

IMG_0691So if you get the chance, go out and support your local artists, in whatever form they choose to express themselves, earn income, and make memories for our families. I would like to wish our artist, who would rather his name not be mentioned, good travels and let him know that a couple of pine trees are waving to him from the Sequoias!

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

DIY: Cool Art with Aluminum Foil, Glue & Shoe Polish!

IMG_0480

View From The Cabin, By Captain and Mom

This project is soooo cool!  Captain and I had a blast doing this, and it has a wide range of possibilities that meet the needs of smaller kids, big kids, and adults.  Our first attempt at creating aluminum foil, glue, and shoe polish art had some mistakes that we learned from.  Our second try was inspired by the view out of our front window at home.  We love how it turned out, and enjoyed working on it together.  We’d like to frame it as a “mom-n-daughter” piece 🙂 This project can be adapted to all kinds of images, and I hope you try it!

You’ll need:

A piece of cardboard (we used the back of a pad of watercolor-paper)

White glue and a glue stick

Heavy duty aluminum foil

Black shoe-polish (the kind that comes in a sponge-applicator bottle is best)

Method:

Create your basic image (don’t worry about the little details as they get added later) by drawing on the cardboard.  Go over all of the lines with the bottle of white glue, squeezing out some of the lines in a thin stream and go back over some of the main lines heavily with the glue.  Let it dry.  Or, as we did, you can skip the drawing part and just use the glue to make the free-form shapes.

IMG_0442

As you can see here, the glue has dried clear.  If you run your fingers over it you will feel the relief-texture that will create the basic shapes in your picture.  Very simple!

IMG_0447

Next, use the glue stick to go over the parts of the piece that don’t have the dried glue.  This will help hold the foil tightly onto the cardboard.  Be sure to rub the glue stick around all of the edges too.  You will then decide if you want the shiny side of the foil to show, or the matte side.  We chose the matte side, but it will depend on your image and the effect you would like to have.  Place the image, glue side down, onto the foil and press it down.  Be sure to have a big enough piece of foil so that you can wrap the flaps around and tape them on the back.

IMG_0468

IMG_0472

Put a piece of toilet paper, or a thin, soft cloth, over your fingertip and carefully (don’t rip the foil!) go over both the raised, and flat, parts of the image.  Take your time.  Use a cotton swab to go over every line to make the image really stand out.  This is an excellent time to talk about “relief”.

IMG_0475

Ooh, good fun here.  Swab the whole thing with the shoe polish, wait a couple of minutes, and then wipe it all off with a paper towel.  Use a dull pencil to make details, textures and patterns on the foil.  If you used heavy-duty foil and your pencil is dull, the foil wont rip.  All these little swirls, dents and marks help add dimension and life to the finished piece. Cover it with the shoe polish once more, let set.

IMG_0476

Wipe off the polish, taking care to let the very dark parts of the polish, right up against the edges of the raised parts stay.

IMG_0480

Voila!  Your very own “antique-ish” piece of art!

Below you will see our first try.  We were inspired by two beautiful, pearlized ammonites.  Our mistake was that we used yarn to make our relief, and it was too thick for the foil.  We looked online and saw how others had made this project and learned that simple glue was enough to get a good relief.  We loved making this one and it turned out pretty sweet anyways!

IMG_6199  IMG_6193

The possibilities with this project are juicy and delightful!  We saw some nice owls and other free-form patterns when we looked online.  I hope you try this one.  It is inexpensive, easy and rewarding.

Cheers! Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Take a Photography Paint-Sample Walk With Kids, and Make a Cool Scrapbook too!

IMG_3092

Have you ever wished you could find a use for those colorful sample cards found in the household paint aisle?  Well, they’re not just for choosing colors for your walls anymore!

Greetings nature, colors, photography and scrap-booking! This is a neat project that is perfect for the kiddos who love to be outdoors in nature, with a camera.

You’ll need:  paint sample cards from your local hardware store, or paint store, a camera, pages for a scrapbook, and glue.  *The photographs will need to be printed in order to make a little scrapbook.

What to Do:  Invite your child to join you on a “paint-card picture walk”. Go to the hardware/paint store and pick out paint sample cards that are in colors that might match your surroundings, or your local park.  Greens, yellows, browns, reds?  The colors of rocks, of wildflowers? What do you have living outside around you? Collect some of the cards to bring home.

Grab the cards, and a camera, and take a great big nature walk (a lovely time to bring a picnic lunch along!). The object is to find things in nature that match the colors of the cards.  Not exactly matching, of course, but of a similar color family. The child will take photos of the plants, rocks, trees, etc. This is great fun!!!  *I took a moment to remind Captain know that we were not going to print ALL of the seemingly hundreds of photos she took, but that she could choose 20 of her favorites to create a little scrapbook. Kids take their photographs seriously, and I think it is best to let them know, ahead of time, that there are limits.

After the walk, review the photos with your child.  Captain was excited at the dinner-table that night to share her experience with her dad. After the selected photos are printed, a scrapbook can be made with the paint cards displayed on a page with the photos, perhaps a little writing about what is in the photos, and Captain even suggested that we find some of the featured plants and flowers to press between waxed paper (under heavy books) to add later!

IMG_3078

IMG_3090

“These colors don’t match, but don’t they look nice together?”

  IMG_3509IMG_1703

Captain’s colorful photos of a dog bone on granite and wildflowers

The creative skies are the limit when arranging pages for the scrapbook. The colored cards can be pasted side by side, or in a fan-pattern, with the photos over the top etc.  Each project is unique to the child who creates it. Oh yes! You can take these picture-walks more than once and keep adding to the scrapbook. What a sweet way to let loose the creativity, spend time observing nature, and have a neat memorable keepsake!

I got the idea for this project on Education.com. They offer tons of great project ideas, sheets and activities for kids of all ages.

If you go on a picture walk with your kids, we would love to hear about it here on Kartwheels!

Thanks for reading.

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Science AND Fun: Build and Erupt a Cool Papier-Mâché Volcano With Your Kids!

IMG_3252

Hooray!  The volcano erupted to squeals of delight from us all!

Greetings science (and fun) enthusiasts!  I want to share a terrific project that is challenging, and fun, from start to finish. Please note that this is not a “quickie” project. The newspaper will have to soak overnight, the paper mache volcano will have to be built, and have a chance to dry for a few days, and then it will be painted and sealed.  It is worth it, the volcano is super durable!  Captain, for her young age, had no trouble waiting in between steps. In fact, to do it all quickly would have taken away from the learning and fun. The photos you see here are of Captain’s experience, last year.  I helped her blend up the paper mache mix and to construct the volcano. She painted it herself and then I sealed it for her. She did all of the mixology to create the eruption herself.  Did she learn exactly what the chemical reaction did when it took place?  No. I explained what was happening and she has never forgotten what happens when baking soda and vinegar are mixed together! Once again, simply brushing up against all of these “scientifically based ideas” at a young age, in a fun (and completely excited and willing way) just puts those crumbs of knowledge in the brains of kids and makes learning all of the deeper details later much easier and fun!

One other side note:  The chemical reaction that causes the eruption took place in a small film container.  This small-sized receptacle was recommended for use in the instructions that I used (see below) and keeps the “lava flow” from being too much, and too messy.  We were completely satisfied with the eruption for our first time, and have a wonderful, sturdy volcano to this day to erupt any time we want.  However, we have decided to build another one with a much BIGGER receptacle (like a soda can?) as we like to do it up big here at the Cabin and will do it outdoors again!

IMG_1398

Little volcano drying…

Part 1 of 3:  Making the Papier-Mâché!

You’ll Need: 

At least 2 full sheets of newspaper,  large bowl,  water,  measuring cup (or two),  blender

Nylon stocking, white school glue

What You Do:

1. Have your child tear the newspaper into pieces about 2″ wide or smaller. Encourage her to have fun with it! These pieces are going to be turned into a pulp, so there’s no need to make them perfect.

2. Soak the newspaper in a bowl of water for 1-8 hours.

3. Ask your child to scoop 1/2 cup of newspaper and 2 cups of water into the blender. The water is necessary so that the blades of the blender don’t jam up and burn out the motor.

4. Put the lid on the blender and puree on high power until you have a nice newspaper pulp.

5. Have your child hold a nylon stocking open for you and put the newspaper mixture into it. Now she can squeeze the extra water out!

6. Repeat until you have about 4 cups of relatively dry pulp. *Note from Karen:  We didn’t find 4 cups to be quite enough.  I would recommend using more newspaper and making about 8 cups of pulp…

7. Mix in about 1/4 + cup of glue. Your child will probably want to help with this step, since it works best if you use your hands.  Squoosh it on up, it’s fun and messy! The papier-mâché is ready! Now it’s time to construct the volcano.

IMG_1497

Part 2 of 3: Making the Volcano!

You’ll Need:

Papier-mâché mixture,  more newspaper, plastic juice bottle, scissors

Hot glue (for adult use only), film canister (or other small container), acrylic paint (brown and red are good volcano colors), paintbrush, polyurethane (for adult use only) to seal the paint on and make it water proof.

What You Do:

1. Lay some newspaper down before you start. Papier-mâché and paint can get very messy!

2. Cut the plastic juice bottle in half. The cone-shaped top half will be the base for the volcano.

3. Use the hot glue to attach the film canister inside the top of the juice bottle. This is where the chemical reaction will take place and the lava will flow! (For a mini volcano, use the film canister alone and cover it with papier-mâché to make it cone-shaped.)

4. Let your child construct the volcano by applying the papier-mâché mixture to the outside of the plastic bottle. It should be about half an inch thick, but don’t worry about making it smooth! Volcanoes are always lumpy and bumpy and would look very strange if they were all “smoothed out”.

5. Let the volcano dry for about a week before painting. (Also, remember to wash the paintbrush.)

6. When you’re sure that the papier-mâché is dry, it’s time for your child to paint it. Let the paint dry for about a day.

7. Since polyurethane is flammable and can irritate the eyes and lungs, you (not your child) will be responsible for waterproofing. Use the paintbrush to coat the volcano and let it dry for at least a day.

8. Before the eruption, you can grab a cool volcano book to read.  Hill of Fire by Thomas P. Lewis was recommended in the book.  We didn’t have it, but looked online and found some other books (there are dozens out there!).  Check out this wonderful fact page from Scholastic! Kids really connect with what a volcano is when they are excited by this project. This is the perfect time to read about them, or find video online!

As soon as the volcano is dry, it’s ready for action. Your child will be glad to help you gather the materials; this is the fun part.

IMG_3240

IMG_3253

Part 3 of 3: Erupting the Volcano!

You’ll Need:

Your new papier-mâché volcano, baking soda, white vinegar, red food coloring (optional, but c’mon, it has to be red!!), small scoop or measuring spoon, small pitcher or cup

Towels and a bucket for clean-up

What You Do:

1. Have your child scoop a little bit of baking soda into the film canister.

2. For realistic red lava, let her add a few drops of food coloring to the film canister as well.

3. Pour some vinegar into the cup or pitcher. (Captain wanted the whole vinegar jug!) Ask your child what she thinks will happen when she mixes the liquid vinegar with the dry baking soda. Then, hand her the pitcher and let her see for herself!

4. Watch as the ingredients react. Ask your child what happened to the vinegar and baking soda. What does the lava look like? Is it runny? is it bubbly or smooth?

5. Chances are, she’ll want to do it again. Go for it!

This do-it-yourself eruption sure is fun, but it’s also jam-packed with science! Try discussing these scientific concepts with your child:

Changing states of matter (Chemistry): Is baking soda a solid, liquid, or gas? What about vinegar? What happened when she mixed the two together? Was the mixture solid? Liquid? What about the bubbles? Volcanic rock (Geology): When real volcanoes erupt, rock melts to form the magma or lava and re-solidifies (changing states of matter again!). If our lava could solidify into rock, what would it look like? Show your child pictures of igneous rock to extend the discussion. Why do the rocks look the way they do? Why do they have holes in them? (Hint: bubbles!)

Keep your volcano for the science fair, just for fun, or for “historical reenactments.” This little project has a lot to give!

sciencw

To find the complete volcano project, and tons of other activities, click the image to access the book.  I would like to thank Peggy Ashbrook for sharing such a terrific project with us, and Stephanie Roselli, of Gryphon House Publishers, for assisting me in obtaining permission to print the adapted instructions here on Kartwheels!

I wish you all an explosively colorful day!

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Why I Feel Easels Are Vital For Young Artists!

IMG_4019

Captain standing at her easel with her painting titled “Sunset Della” June 2012

IMG_0865

Painting outside 

IMG_6197

This is a painting she made for me back in November, 2010 when she was 3 years old.  Because she was outside painting, she got inspired to add walnut leaves and pistachio shells, which give it terrific dimension.  I love it!

IMG_4194 IMG_4196

Painting outdoors rocks!

ART FREEDOM!!!!  OH YES, LET THESE KIDS HAVE THEIR ART AND EAT IT TOO! (Okay, maybe just a little taste…..)

I was given an artist’s easel many years ago and it sat in my closet unhappily gathering dust. Well, my daughter, Captain, has been interested in art and painting and creating since she was 18 months old. I realized early that she needed to touch and use everything that was safe for her right from the beginning. That is when I made my commitment to let her artistic freedom go wild and I would be the one to run along after her and gather up the pieces. I also realized that it would be my responsibility to be sure she was exposed to many new ideas and techniques. Voila! That was all it took.

When Captain was about 2 1/2, I pulled the easel out of the closet and set it up for her. It sighed in relief and stretched its legs. It is a French-style easel, with adjustable legs, and it was pretty easy to drop it down into the right level for her. It was amazing! Someone commented to me that it seemed a little “advanced” to set up a “real” easel for a kid that age, but they were wrong. Why would I try to “control” her desires to create her own artwork, or think that I somehow know something more about it than she does, simply because I’m an adult?  Bulls@&t!  I say let them have it all, as long as they are ready to handle it and WANT it, whether it be age 2 or 92!  I also gave her (safe) scissors at a very early age and she never cut off her finger or stabbed herself in the eye.  I practice good parenting (I think) in that I supervised these new things.  I certainly don’t have to do that now.  Captain is 5 and does her own thing.  She comes up with amazing projects all on her own and has an artist’s secrecy many times while she is working.  We have provided her with an indoor small oak table with shelves to work indoors and outside is at her discretion. You can see this simple, effective set-up here.

Now, back to the easels.  I truly believe that sitting down at a table and drawing and painting is a very good thing for many projects.  However, there is something incredible that happens when an artist of any age can be standing up, their paper or canvas right where they want it, and at a good angle.  We hold the brushes in different ways when we are standing. We can be outside or in, and can find inspiration in different ways than sitting down.  Kids feel special when they stand (or wiggle and bop) at an easel. Try setting up an easel for your kid and turn on their favorite music, or something culturally different than what they have heard before. Paint to African drumming, Scottish clan chants, or grab some Tito Puente and go for it.  It rocks!!!

Or, how about a little quiet outdoor nook, where the sounds of the wind sway in the trees and you suddenly notice a robin jumping across the grass?

My point is, that it is so worth it to provide kids with good materials from the start.  You are wondering how much one of these easels might cost? Well, the prices can start at shockingly reasonable and shoot skyward from there.  I do have a few suggestions:

A very affordable, wooden desk easel: Art Alternatives Marquis Desk Easel sells for $15 on Amazon.  It is a desk model so it can be used inside too, and folds up nicely.  It doesn’t have legs so it would have to be placed on a chair, stump or something else for standing outdoors.

I prefer “adult” easels that are adjustable, as anyone can use them and they “grow” with the kids.  These start at about $70 and are everywhere online.  Melissa & Doug make a Standing Easel for $59 on Amazon.

Both Amazon and Costco-online sell the Kid Kraft brand easels that are super cute, quite sturdy, and they have storage space too. They run from $97-129. Scan Craig’s list, ebay, and whatever other local sources you have to find them for good prices.  Again, it is SO worth it!!

I also have one last, quick recommendation.  You can buy “kids” paintbrushes everywhere, but I find that a set of the “real” brushes, in varying sizes and styles, is way better, and often cost the same or even less than the kid ones.  I have been buying Artist’s Loft basics brushes at Michael’s Craft stores for years.  They come in sets of 12 for about 6 bucks and are terrific!

If I could, I would start a foundation to buy, and deliver, easels, paints and brushes to kids all over the world.  I just want them to have a chance to create with good quality “ingredients” in a world where the focus on the arts in everyday life seems to be dwindling.  I would like to throw out big kudos to all of the art teachers, artists, parents, and others that are keeping the freedom of artistic expression alive for kids.  They are the now AND the future, and they have so much to say….

A big, drippy, colorful palette of good thoughts to all!

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.