Family Art Events On The Road

When we began planning this 3-month Airstream tour around the US, I knew right away that I wanted to host pop-up family art events along the way. I wanted to connect with families across the country and share creative activities that might inspire them to bring more art and creativity and into their lives. But how was I going to pull that off?

The best thing about being a blogger is the friendships that I have made with other art teachers and creative mamas around the world. So once we had our trip route down, I of course went straight to my community of art teacher friends along the route and asked them to collaborate on a family art event in their town.

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Art Workshop For Children: Self-Portraits

Let me introduce you to my favorite new book about process art and Reggio-inspired learning. Friends, meet Art Workshop For Children. Art Workshop For Children, please meet my friends. I’m sure you guys will get along really well.

Art Workshop for Children, by Barbara Rucci and Betsy McKenna, is a breathtaking book (the photos literally made me gasp when I first flipped through the pages) filled with unique process-based art activities for kids and tips on how to prepare your art space for creative exploration. I especially love the thoughtful reflections woven throughout the book by Reggio-inspired educator, Betsy McKenna, on how to raise creative thinkers and why this is important for all children.

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Reggio Inspired Art Secrets

You probably know this by now, but I am a huge fan of the incredible art teacher and blogger, Meri Cherry. I remember discovering her work a couple of years ago when she wrote a post about wood working with toddlers. I immediately felt a kinship and was so excited to find another Reggio inspired art blogger. We eventually got to meet in person over a plate of tacos and we both couldn’t stop blabbering on about Reggio and kids art. We have been friends ever since! Meri has a way of sharing her experience as a teacher that is unlike any other teacher and blogger I know. Her beautiful photos and down-to-earth voice bring you into her world and make you feel like you are being let in on a secret. So it’s no wonder she recently published an e-book called  Art Secrets Every Teacher Should Know, A Reggio Inspired Approach.

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Washable Marker Experiment

I’m currently working with a client to set up an art space for her 16-month-old daughter. Whenever I’m thinking about materials for toddlers, I always think about washability, but even more so when the art space is in a central area of the home. This toddler art space is in an open family room/kitchen that leads out to the back yard. It’s where this family hosts guests and spends the majority of their time, so I’d like to help them out by stocking them with the most washable supplies I can find.

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Drawing Games With Jeanette Nyberg

If you haven’t already fallen in love with Jeanette Nyberg and her hilarious blog, Craftwhack, go check it out and I promise you will not be disappointed. Not only does Jeanette’s humor shine through in everything she does, but she is incredibly creative and has an awesome eye for design. After years of drooling over her blog, you can imagine how excited I was when I heard she was coming out with an art book for kids! I received a copy of Jeanette’s book for review and am excited to share it with you today.

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Layered Canvas Family Project

This layered canvas turned out to be one of my favorite art projects I have done with my kids. It started off as a holiday Advent activity and turned into something we will be doing all year long. The basic idea is to work on one canvas over many days, adding a new material every time. Because it started off as an Advent activity, each material was a surprise, hidden inside of a bag for that specific day. This quickly became a fun game where they would try to guess what the next material would be. If a material didn’t fit inside the bag (like on day 1), I would set it up like an Invitation To Create and surprise the girls that way. Although we tried to do this every day during early December, I quickly realized that it was going to have to be every other day- and sometimes we’d go a few days without working on it. This made it a much more enjoyable experience and helped me realize we could continue on indefinitely! Here is what our process looked like…

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Garden Wish Flags With The Artful Parent

When I started blogging about kids and art in late 2009, I discovered my first blogger hero, Jean Van’t Hul at the Artful Parent. She was (and still is!) my go-to resource for creative project ideas and living artfully with kids. Her toddler art group was also the inspiration behind my first toddler art classes. Over the years, Jean has only become more inspiring, always delivering countless fresh ideas for engaging children in the arts.

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Secret Message Valentine Gift Experiment

Karuna recently discovered these cute mini paint sets in the toy store. I didn’t know if they would paint very well, but I thought they were the perfect size to give as gifts with a secret message Valentine (one of my many “Pinspirations“). We first cut out a heart from watercolor paper, then used a white crayon to draw a hidden Valentine message. The white crayon on white paper keeps it invisible until you paint over it with watercolor. The crayon will then resist the watercolor and you will see your message!

Karuna was so excited to find out what her secret message was, but sadly this little paint set was not up for the challenge. The small brush created scratches in the paper and the paint trays couldn’t hold enough water to lose their opacity.

So we started over and tried a real watercolor brush and some better quality paint and… voila! The secret message was revealed!

With the success of our new paints, Karuna couldn’t be stopped. If I hadn’t convinced her to take a lunch break, I think she could have gone all day making secret Valentines. I’ll remember this next time I need to do some work around the house :)
I’m still intrigued by the idea of giving a secret card with an attached watercolor set.  With a nice set, this little baggy would be an awesome goody bag, thank you card, or birthday present. Just write an invisible note and gift away!
 

Watercolor and Foam Exploration

For our watercolor week, the children explored liquid watercolor in a variety of ways. They started by drawing on the watercolor paper with oil pastels so they could investigate the “resist” effect between the oil and water. When they painted over their drawings, the oil pastel resists the water and shows through the paint. If you want to try this at home, our Make+Believe Wonderful Watercolor Resist! Supply Kit includes everything you need.

Using tools, such as the eye dropper or the spray bottle, help to build their little hand muscles and develop fine motor skills. Since the watercolor is much more fluid than tempera paint, working at the easel adds a whole new dimension to their paintings- lots of drips and downward movement!

This session we introduced some jumbo coffee filters to paint on. The dried results are really cool- keep your eye out for our upcoming group project using the painted coffee filters!

 A favorite activity… spraying white foam paint, then driving toy trucks through the foam.

For our older toddlers, we introduced the idea of drawing a self portrait with the oil pastels using a hand held mirror for reference.

I love to see how the older children interact with materials in different ways from the young toddlers. With the foam paint, they carefully dropped watercolor onto the foam and created a marbled effect by swirling a brush through the colors.