Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Guest Post for FARE!

I am sooo excited to be supporting FARE and The Teal Pumpkin Project again this year!! Head on over to the FARE Blog to see my guest post about how we support this amazing idea as a non-allergy family. And while you're there, make the pledge to join the movement that is sweeping the world! You can even put your house on the map as a place that offers non-food items for trick-or-treaters.

See you at the FARE BLOG!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Action Art

If you know me, you know that I am a firm believer in the process of art, with the product being the result of hard work and participation. Sure, I love displaying what my kids have created, but I also love what being involved in art does to a child. We often worry too much about what the finished product will look like, getting wrapped up in perfection. But isn't being unique far more fun and meaningful than being perfect?

So you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across this book! All of the activities in the book follow the "premise that children actively explore and discover art as a process of their individual creativity. The finished product is the unique outcome of their involvement."* YES! That's exactly what I just said!! This book is literally speaking my language! As I read, I was reminded that we had been doing action art for years! Now it was a time to take it to the next level...

The Beans and I started with drill painting, and believe me when I tell you that he was in little kid heaven! One of his favorite "I'm bored" activities it to drip holes in wood pieces, cardboard and pumpkins, so this was right up his alley.

What You Need:

  • big paper
  • paint
  • paint brush
  • power drill
What To Do:
  1. Tape paper to a fence or wall.
  2. Insert the paint brush into the drill where the drill bit would go.
  3. Start painting! 

I loved watching this process! The Beans was fully engaged and even stopped for a break only to revisit the project saying "it just keeps changing until it becomes what I want it to be. And maybe I'll change it again later to make it something else." :)

Now tell me you don't want to try this yourself, and stick around for more action art!! We're just getting started ;) 

*Quote from Action Art: Hands-On Active Art Adventures by Kohl & Zaborowski 

Thursday, August 27, 2015


"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." - Pablo Picasso

We are an art family. An all art, no discrimination, no wrong way to do it, art family. Our art room is fully stocked of anything you can use to create art. And I am a firm believer in leaving art open ended. Everyone is successful when creating art. I once read an excerpt by MaryAnn Kohl that said "When children explore art ideas, they are testing possibilities and working through challenges, much like a scientist that experiments and finds solutions. Art allows children to make their own assessments, while also teaching them that a problem may have more than one answer. Instead of following specific rules or directions, the child's brain becomes engaged in the discovery of 'how' and 'why.'" I truly do agree with her!

I have met, and are friends with, many parents that just don't like the mess that goes along with art. And I get it! I know it's hard for some, but I say at least try do as Elsa says, and "Let it go!" It you are someone who has trouble with that, there are many ways around a lot of mess! I tell moms all the time to take their plastic backyard play pool in to the yard with some paper (or not), some paint (or whatever messy medium you're using) and simply let them create! When they are finished, just turn on the hose!! We also have two red trays we call "mess catchers." They came with finger paint paper, but we use them for everything!! We use them for play dough, sand, paint and much more. And for easy cleanup with the little artists, you can use flour and water instead of paint (with food coloring or smushed berries if you don't want white). It's non toxic and washes off super easily! My point here is that there are ways to let your little ones (and not so little ones) be creative and enjoy the process without stressing you out. And remember, it's about the process, not the product!

Which brings me to this: #letthempaint. Meri Cherry writes a fabulous blog and has encouraged all of us to label any photos of our kiddos painting with hashtag "let them paint." Start out by heading over to this TED TALKS then over to Meri Cherry's post Let Them Paint - Here's Why for a better explanation of why we do this. Trust me, you'll see.

So in the mean time, look for us on Instagram and Facebook and follow the #letthempaint.

This is how we have been painting this week...

We walked to the hardware store and bought a cheap drop cloth. We got the kind with the plastic backing. It's thin and moves like a sheet so we could drape it over the hedges and fence. 

and they got to work

I put out the paint and some utensils

*side note* We use these plastic baskets so they
can put the utensils in them for easy clean up.
The kids are responsible for putting them in the kitchen sink
and I just wash them all off. 
There were no instructions, just an open ended invitation.
They weren't told what or how to use anything.
I just love the way the light and shadows danced on the paper.

The next day we rotated the drop cloth and and painted some more!

This time I put out the paint and nature utensils.

Again, they could choose what and how to use it.

Everyone should look like this at the end of a great art project ;) #letthempaint

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rain Painting

After moving to Seattle I made a list of all of the really cool things we could do with and in the rain. And wouldn't you know it, we have been here a month and not a drop has fallen! That is, until yesterday! So we grabbed our paper, paint and patience and got to work.

What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Paint - we used finger paint this time
  • Rain :)
What To Do:
  1. Paint on the paper however you wish. This time Busy decided she wanted to section off the paint on the paper in color blocks. 
  2. Set the paper out in the rain. We put it in the grass in case there was any run off from the paper. 
  3. You want to check your paper every so often depending not the amount of rain falling. Here it was a steady light rain so it took about 30 minutes to get the full effect. You don't want to leave it out too long because the water will soak through and fall apart. 
  4. Set it on a paper towel inside to dry.
  5. Hang it up to admire! 

She decided to overlap the primary colors to make some secondary ones :)

We made the observation that the rain washed the paint away in some places, making
it lighter, and "gooped" it up in other places.
Busy suggested that the "gooped" up places were from where she painted the paint on thicker. 

Then up it went on the fridge, aka "The Art Gallery." :)

You can use any paint with this project! This was finger paint but she wants to try tempura paint next time. She did make the prediction that water colors might not work because they may get washed away completely. We'll have to experiment with that one ;) 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Science Turned Art

Have I ever mentioned that my favorite subject in school was Science? I loved it! From the early stuff  (learning how roots and stems worked), to the middle of the road concepts (how a potato can conduct electricity), to the big time (dissecting a pig), I always loved learning through a hands-on approach, and so do my kids! (Really all kids do, but that's for another post). Anyway, Busy recently got a window planter from Scholastic that allows you to plant carrots and beans and see the roots take hold.  To take a better look at how the whole plant works, we did some research about roots and stems and decided to experiment...old school style.

What You Need:
  • Celery
  • water
  • food coloring
  • glass jars
What To Do:
  1. Put water in jars and add food coloring
  2. place a celery stick in each jar
  3. be patient ;)
We placed the jars in the kitchen window and checked back the next day to see if there were any changes. After about 24 hours they could really see how the colored water got carried up the stems! But too much longer just resulted in wilted colored celery :p

They found carrots in the fridge and decided to see if
the same would happen to the carrot as it did to the celery.

After we put our experiment in the window to wait, the kids decided that they could use the left over celery (we really don't eat celery because "it has no taste :p" ) to paint! So we cut off the end of the celery bunch to use as a stamp and used the stalks as paint brushes!! They cut the tops off some carrots and used the orange part and the wadded up tops as painters, too!! Their creativity makes me smile :)

"Are these tubey things how the water goes up the stem?!" #smartypants ;)