Posts Tagged With: kid’s art

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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

Why I Feel Easels Are Vital For Young Artists!

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

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Painting outside 

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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!

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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

A Wonderful & Safe Medium For Young Artists: Painting With Kool-Aid Rocks!

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Captain at 22 months painting with kool-aid outside on a sunny day

Want a better use for cheap packets of kool-aid than mixing it with a ton of sugar and drinking it?  Mix it up as safe watercolors for your little ones!  I couldn’t believe how simple and easy it was to do, and it really works well.  Kids really love to explore art at very early ages by drawing and coloring.  Why not give them a chance to paint too?  Before Captain turned two, she had already done a lot of coloring and drawing, playing with clay, and finger painting.  She saw me use paintbrushes when she was about 20 months old and wanted them for herself.  I couldn’t deny her!  I searched the house for something she could paint with that wouldn’t hurt her if she suddenly popped the brush into her mouth or got it into her eyes.  I found some old packets of kool-aid (the ones that don’t have the sugar already added) in grape, lemon, orange and raspberry. I mixed them up with just enough water to make “watercolors”. They smelled good to her, but I told her that they were not to eat and she NEVER tried to eat the paint.  I used the plastic tray from a box of crackers for a little “palette”. I taped down two pieces of paper at a time onto a table that was low enough that she could stand at it. I don’t think first time painting should be in a chair.  I could see how much she wanted to move around the table and be up over the top of it.  It’s exciting! Another cool thing to do is to tape paper to a post, or outdoor wall, so that kids can stand up and paint “easel-style”.  It just adds more to the ever-evolving experience of art, in my opinion. Keep a glass of water nearby for rinsing the brushes and a rag for little wipe-ups.

This early art-experience was such a cool foundation for so much more painting, and more mediums, to come!  She got to brush up (hello pun!) against methods, tools, and ideas, that artists of every age use, like a palette, real brushes, imperfections (there are spills sometimes, paper can get too wet etc.) and it made her feel very proud of herself. Okay, here is something else cool about kool-aid painting: You can make scratch-n-sniff works of art!!!!  Yes, the fruity smells do wear off after a couple of weeks, but it is fun to make simple shapes, like a sun, and then scratch them to sniff the lemony sweetness!  The thicker you mix the kool-aid paint, the more scent your “scratch-n-sniff” artwork will have.  Fun!

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Tape the paper down onto the table to avoid frustrating paper-slippage 

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Oh, it is fun Mom!

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She called this one her “Bird on a Branch” 

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Captain got used to painting with the kool aid and then quickly moved on to washable kids’ paints.  It wasn’t very long before she tried her first acrylics!

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Kids love to see their artwork displayed, no matter what age they are.  This was our first “wall of art”.  We used to regularly switch out the pieces for new ones.  I’m so glad I took this photo to remember the beginnings of so many wonderful works of art!

I highly recommend purchasing an artist’s smock for children.  An oversized tee-shirt works okay, but my kiddo tends to dive right in with paints and other materials, and I like to protect her clothing.  We had a Young Artist Smock, which sells for $7.78 on Amazon. I liked this smock better than the “apron style” because it has long sleeves (for messy art!), slips on easily, and has a loose back, with a strip of velcro to close it quickly.  These smocks come in only one size, which fit most preschoolers, and I only wish that they made them in the next size up!

I hope you enjoy this style of painting with your little ones.  If you do any kool-aid painting, I would love to hear about it here on kartwheels!

Cheers and fruity goodness to all,

Karen

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

Make Easy Recycled Rings of Power!

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Using the seal from a 1/2 gallon of milk, a piece of a cereal box and some pretties, we made ourselves a couple of power rings! 

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This is a cool project that Captain and I did yesterday, in only a few minutes, and it was fun!  We discovered that the seal from a 1/2 gallon cardboard milk, or juice, container was a perfect ring.  It fits almost any sized finger because the top flap holds it on comfortably, and can have just about anything glued on to it!

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Save your tops for rings of power!!  We want to figure out how to put dragons on them next 🙂

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The little seals fit both of us nicely…

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We used a pink cap and a stone for Captain’s ring.  I used a hot glue gun to attach the pink cap and then glued the stone inside.  We finished it off by gluing the edge with sparkly red ribbon.  For my ring, I used a piece of cereal box, which we cut out into a pentagon shape.  I liked the orange side of the cardboard so I left that and glued a red, ruby jewel onto it and attached it with the hot glue.

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I just wanted to share our simple idea for using stuff around the house. No need to buy anything when you have a hot glue gun, a creative moment, and a desire to make something out of what’s around.

Cheers!  Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Calling all K’ARTwheels Kids: Make a Fabulous Color Wheel Gecko!

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Captain’s Gecko turned out great…. Turn the color wheel (poking out on the left hand side) and the gecko changes color!!!

Once in awhile, when working with kids, we come across a project or idea that is truly remarkable.  When a project really lights a kid up and makes them want to create something special, and they are willing to see it through to the end, it is a keeper.  This project has it all! Captain has been working on a science project involving geckos and wanted to add an art piece to it, so I looked around online and found this fabulous color wheel gecko conceived by Gail Bartel of  that artist woman.  Her site is incredible!!!  She is a terrific artist, and educator, and we will certainly be visiting regularly as there are so many great projects.

I want to share photos, the materials list, and a general idea of how we put this project together.  If you decide to try this, PLEASE use the link above to visit Gail and see the original project and photos. You won’t regret it.  The moving color wheel-in-a-painting concept could be adapted in so many creative ways.  The opportunities are endless! From this project, your child will gain an understanding of the basic color wheel, as they create one themselves, and understand how different components can come together to create an interactive piece that will wow family and friends.  I want to add that we did this project in several sessions.  This is not a super quick process, and I followed Captain’s lead as to how much we did each day, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.  There were times that she was ready to keep going but the paint had to dry!  Now, lets take a little peek!

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After the circle was cut out, Captain painted her color wheel first.  

Materials you will need:  

Tempera or watercolor paint (we used watercolor)

2 sheets of watercolor paper (we used a larger size: 11×15)

Fine sharpie

Template: click here to use Gail’s, or make your own.  I looked at Gail’s drawing and sketched one for Captain

Scissors, pencil, eraser

Paper fastener

Tape

Transparency sheet, optional but WORTH IT! (I found an old, clear report cover that worked great.) It just has to fit the gecko cutout.

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Captain’s dad cut out the gecko template for her.  Gail shows a way on her site that students can do this step themselves without using an exacto knife, which can be dangerous.

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Once the gecko was cut out, Captain sketched her background using Gail’s example on that artist woman as inspiration.  When she was done, we got out the watercolors!

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She painted the sky in the background last and was really excited!

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This photo shows the gecko painting upside down on the counter with both the fastener and transparency taped in place.  Time to add the color wheel!

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She lined it up and got the fastener up through the hole.  This is the point when she realized why we put the color wheel “off center”.

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This is a super fun step.  After everything was attached, she turned it over and got to add the gecko’s details right onto the the transparency with the sharpie.  Cute!!

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Turn the wheel (showing on the left) and the gecko changes color!  She took her piece to one of her classes to let her friends see it and turn the wheel.

Yay!  This a terrific project and I want to thank Gail Bartel again for the inspiration.  If you decide to do this project, we would LOVE to see the results!

Cheers and colorful-friendlieness to all!

Karen

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

A Child’s Art Inspiration: Make a Recycled Clay & Dried Flower Sculpture

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“All The Love In My Heart For Mom” ~ clay, dried flowers, feather & cardboard box sculpture, made by Captain when she was 3.

This is a sculpture that Captain made as a gift for me a couple of years ago.  She had been in the habit of picking flowers from a large Rose of Sharon bush and then drying them in baskets.  One day she decided to use a little white box to stuff all of the leftover bits of clay (the parts where all of the colors are mashed together) and, very privately, went to work. She stuffed the box with the clay very tightly and then carefully (yes, I do mean carefully!  Even though she was 3 she was very intent on her art projects!) placed the dried roses and pushed them in.  She was so proud to give it to me as a present, and I cherish it to this day!  It is gorgeous, and all of her own creation.  Originally, the sculpture didn’t have a feather in the top corner but she was bothered for a couple of months when she looked at it because she said that it was “not finished yet”.  She was pleased (and relieved) when she finally found what was missing and placed the feather in the top right corner.  I keep this sculpture on the mantel in our living room.

This sculpture is an awesome (we think!) use of all of the leftover bits of clay (do you have a baggie full?) dried flowers, or any other bits of found nature, feathers, beads, trinkets, well, just about anything that can be pressed into the clay.  She used a small 4 x 3″ white box, the kind that a little necklace would come in, but just finding a tiny box of any sort would work.  This is, afterall, a work of recycled art, and kids love that!

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There is a gentle old-fashionedness to this piece that strikes such love in my heart!

I recommend first explaining the project and having the clay on hand. Then have an art “treasure hunt”, whereby the child searches for a suitable box and goes outside to gather found bits of nature.  This is a Captain-recommended project for kids and we truly hope you will try it, just in time for April Earth Month.  I am going to post a photo of this sculpture in the k’ARTwheels art gallery, and if your child makes one, feel free to contact me to show their recycled clay sculpture in the gallery, if they like!

We would love to hear your thoughts, or how this project worked for your family.

Cheers!  Karen

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Tempera Still Life Painting Project With Kids!

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When my daughter painted her very first still life, it was amazing to watch her really envelop herself in the whole process, and have so much fun doing it.  She arranged her fruit, mixed her own paints with 3 primary colors, sketched, and then painted, her subject.  Watching her delight as she discovered that adding a few simple lines gave the bowl depth was priceless. It was such a wonderful experience for both of us, that I would like to share our version of a still life painting “learning unit” for kids. This is just what we did, you can adjust along the way to suit the child’s needs.  This is a project to delve into when the child is relaxed and feeling creative. This is not a project to do today if mom or kiddo is feeling rushed.  Early still life painting is special and needs as much time as it takes.  Here goes!

Supplies to have ready:  bowl, fruit, pencil, powdered tempura paints in red, yellow and blue, paint smock or old shirt, paint brushes, newspapers, black marker, glass of water and rag to rinse brushes, thick paper suitable for paint, popsicle sticks or spoons for mixing the paint, and a small plastic palette or little cups for the paints.

Step 1.  We talked about what a still life is, as we gathered materials. Basically, a still life is a picture of  inanimate objects, such as fruits, flowers, books, etc., usually grouped on a flat surface.  I also took this opportunity to reiterate the terms “landscape” and “portrait” in terms of placement of the paper.  Portrait is when the shorter side of the paper is at the top, and landscape is when the longer side is at the top.

Step 2.  Captain chose a bowl and as she arranged her fruits just so, I took a moment to talk about the term “arrangement”.  Help your child take the time to arrange, and not just throw the objects in the bowl or on the counter.  This is a still life, and composition is important. I told her that an artist usually takes their arrangement very personally.  How the artist places the fruit is important for composition. (I didn’t explain exactly what “composition” means to her at this time, just threw it right out there with everything else.)  We were low on fresh fruits, so we used some plastic bananas and grapes to fill it out.  She really enjoyed placing everything just so. She took her time with the arrangement and decided that the grapes were too squished-looking by the pear, and changed it around and placed the banana gently on top.  Voila!  Now THAT is how we arrange things.  Fantastic!  Make sure there is good lighting for the objects.  A small lamp can even be used to enhance the light source.  Before she started sketching, we talked about lighting and depth.  “See how the light shines from one direction and changes the colors and makes shadows?”

Step 3. Captain sketched her still life by drawing a large circle for the bowl in pencil, and then drawing many circles bunched together for grapes, and other shapes for the rest of the fruit.  It was great!  After she sketched, we took a break and then returned to mix the paints.

Step 4. From the 3 primary colors we had, Captain was able to make all of the colors she needed to paint her still life.  She measured out about a teaspoon of powdered paint into her cups and mixed water, a little at a time, to make her colors. (I wish I had offered her a dropper to use for the water as I think she would have really liked using one with the paints.  She could take her time and add drop by drop, because that works with her personality!) She needed red, green, purple, yellow and orange to complete her project.  She mixed her colors and painted her fruits and bowl.  This is a good time to remember that red and yellow make orange, and so on!  The painting looked wonderful already!

Step 5.  The paints dried quickly, and, after a snack, we talked about outlining the fruits to give them more drama.  It was just a choice that I offered to her and she leaped to the idea immediately. We didn’t have black paint on hand, and she was ready for a change, so she used a black marker to outline each fruit and to add a line inside the bowl to give it more depth. She was amazed by this.  I held it up before she drew the line, and after, so she could see the difference, and she exclaimed “Wow!  It really looks like a bowl!!!”

Step 6.  After lots of ooohs-and-ahhhhs over the painting (!), now is the time to ask the child if they would like to give their still-life a name (always refer to it as a “still life” and not “picture”). Captain didn’t want to give hers a name and so we called it an “untitled painting” and talked about it.  I have found that kids like to discuss their paintings after they are done.  She wanted to talk about the colors, the arrangement and how she felt while she was doing it.  She was positively lit right up! I just can’t express how cool it was to be with her while she talked about her art with such animation.  We hung it right up and she couldn’t stop admiring it. When her dad came home, he barely got into the door when she rushed him over to admire it.  Even now, a few months later, when someone comes visiting she often takes them right to her still life to tell them all about how she did it.  She is so proud and I am even more proud than she is!

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Captain’s very first still-life!  She LOVED this project and wants to do more and more…

After the fact, it is wonderful to show some examples of famous still lifes throughout history. I prefer to show Captain other artists’ works after she has done hers.  I just want art to be pure and open for her so that she can approach things with her own creative mind and heart, without preconceived notions of how it “should” be. There are so many still lifes to choose from in art books, magazines, online etc. I will leave you with 4 wonderful examples to share with your little artists.  Thanks for reading.
Cheers!  Karen

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Still Life with Apples, a Pear, and a Ceramic Portrait Jug (1888) Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

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Bouquet (1599) Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625)

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Pfirsichzweig (Peach Twig) (1630)  Georg Flegel (1566-1638) 

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Dishes and Fruit (1901) Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Easy Dough Ornaments For Easter, Or Anytime!

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Here is a very simple recipe for craft dough for making cool ornaments. These dry quickly so there isn’t an overnight-wait period for little crafters 🙂

This dough is great to use for any ornament shapes, using cookie cutters, and you’ll want to have some colorful yarn, or ribbons, on hand for hanging the sweet creations when finished.  After the paint dries, Captain likes to write her name and the date on the back with a black, fine-tip permanent marker, which adds such a nice touch for gifts for family.  This is a perfect Easter craft too, as a simple egg shape looks adorable with any colors or patterns!

Method

4 cups flour, 1-1/2 cups water, 1 cup salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Combine flour, salt and water (excellent time to let the kids measure & mix!) and after mixing well, knead for 10 minutes (let the kiddos set the timer and help knead too!).

Roll out onto floured surface and cut into desired shapes.  Make a hole for hanging.  Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool.

Paint with tempera paints and allow to dry. You can now write on them with permanent markers, if you like. Spray with clear polyurethane on both sides.  Hang from ribbons.  I hope you enjoy making these with your little ones…

Good thoughts, Karen

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15 Fabulous Ladybug Facts For Budding Entomologists!

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I can’t help myself but to forever photograph the ladybugs of Sequoia National Forest!

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The scientific name for ladybug is Coccinellidae. Sounds romantic, eh? 

Ladybugs are truly beautiful, beneficial, and deserving of some major praise as we polish up the house, shake out our rugs, and open our hearts to spring.  Okay, I can’t promise that I am going to get the windows washed anytime soon, but I can say that I might just be forgiven if I am caught bumbling around in the forest with a camera looking for more of these beauties!

My 5 year old loves ladybugs, as so many kids do, and we adults could spare a few moments to give a nod, and learn a bit about these lovelies as well.  Here are some fabulous ladybug facts for all of us insect-lovers! At the bottom of the page are links to my sources as well as links to some fun ladybug crafts and coloring pages for the kids.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do and thanks for reading on!

1. There are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world.

2. Ladybugs can have spots, stripes, or no markings at all, and come  in many different colors. The most familiar ladybug in North America is the seven-spotted ladybug.  They have 6 short legs.

3. Ladybugs breathe through openings on the sides of their bodies.

4. The seven-spotted lady bug is native to Europe.  They were brought to North America in the mid-1900’s to control aphid populations.

5. Ladybugs are also called “lady beetles” or “ladybird beetles”.  They get their name from European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests ate their crops.  The ladybugs came to the rescue, and the farmers called them “beetle of our Lady” which became shortened to lady beetle or ladybug.

6. Ladybugs (and aphids) were studied by NASA up in space (1999)!

7. A ladybug can retract its head into it’s body.

8. One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects in its lifetime.  They eat aphids and other plant-eating pests. Farmers and gardeners love them!

9. In many cultures ladybugs are considered good luck.

10. A ladybug’s bright coloring tells predators that they will taste terrible. When threatened, ladybugs secrete an oily, yucky-tasking fluid from their leg joints.

11. Birds are the main predators of ladybugs, but frogs, wasps, spiders and dragonflies like to eat them too.

12. There are both male and female ladybugs and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart without a microscope, except that females are usually larger.

13. According to Alive and The Sierra Club, pesticides and GMO’s are threatening ladybugs.

14. Ladybugs are most active from spring to fall.  When it gets cold, they hibernate.

15. The ladybug is the official state insect of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio and Tennessee!

Thanks for reading and happy spring to all!

Karen

Visit  The Ladybug Lady and Nat Geo Kids for more information and pics! Click here for more about entomology.

Click here for a cute ladybug terra cotta wind chime craft!

Click here for free printable insect coloring pages!

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids!, Sequoia National Forest & Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Make Your Own Geoboards For Kids!

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We love our geoboard, made with a pegboard and 1″ machine bolts and nuts.  Grab some rubber bands for some fun with designs and shapes!

A geoboard is, basically, a board with pegs (nails or screws) poking out on which kids can make designs, shapes and angles by stretching rubber bands between 2 or more of the pegs.  It is a WONDERFUL tool for having fun creating pictures, and also a great tactile experience for teaching hexagons, pentagons etc.  This is another project that does not require kids to learn every angle and the exact names of each shape, although they can learn more that we’d think!  The act of stretching out designs stimulates the mathematical parts of a brain.

From Wikipedia: “A geoboard is a mathematical manipulative used to explore basic concepts in plane geometry such as perimeter, area and the characteristics of triangles and other polygons.  It consists of a physical board with a certain number of nails half driven in, around which are wrapped rubber bands.  Geoboards were invented and popularized in the 1950’s by Egyptian mathematician Caleb Gattegno (1911-1988).” 

If I read this description to Captain she would probably just walk away.  It isn’t about pushing geometry.  It just brings up one of my favorite things about our idea of homeschooling/unschooling:  brushing up against stimulating ideas with a tactile experience, and letting the crumbs fall where they may.

There are lots of ideas floating around online, and also educators could direct us more, as to various teaching methods using the geoboard.  Our personal favorites are to just have fun making shapes and designs, and also to make a particular shape and name it (square, pentagon etc.)  It is also a fun exercise to make a small shape like a square, and then make the exact shape bigger…

Geoboards can be purchased online, and in educational stores, starting at about 4 bucks for a small, plastic square with plastic pegs, and the price goes up from there.  Many people recycle a scrap of wood and pound in nails until they are poking out about an inch.  We used a pegboard with 1″ machine bolts and nuts.  The machine bolts differ from regular bolts in that they have a flat tip, not pointy.  When we no longer need the geoboard, we will use the pegboard in the barn for tools and the machine screws for another project. We have found that a bigger size (12×12 or larger) is best because it is sturdier and allows for more creative freedom to make cool designs and shapes.  We thought the little plastic geoboards seem too small.  We planned to mount ours onto the wall (they are quite appealing on a wall as a little “station”) but Captain has had so much fun with it on a table, or in her lap, that we are leaving it loose about the cabin for now.  We have a big jar of rubber bands on hand for activities.  It is important to note that rubber bands should only be used by kids who will not swallow them and that can learn to not snap themselves in the eye!

If you have a geoboard, or plan to make one, and have any cool activities to share, we would love to hear about them here on kartwheels.

Good thoughts and happy hexagons,

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects, Math Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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