Join The Family Canvas Challenge!

Two years ago, I was inspired by an Art Pantry reader, Emily, and her family advent tradition of working on one canvas for each day of the Advent calendar. I loved the idea of layering different materials each day on a collaborative canvas and turning it into a fun game that we could do together as a family.

We adapted this idea and worked on our canvas about twice a week for a month. Each time we worked on it, I would bring out a new material, hide it in a bag, and set it out on the canvas for my girls to discover. They loved the anticipation of not knowing what the next material would be!

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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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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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Embroidery Multimedia Art

This summer, my hubby, Aaron, decided to run a small soccer camp for some of the 7-year-old girls that will be on his team in the fall. It’s been a while since I’ve taught art classes and we thought it would be fun to add an hour of art to each day of camp. Then, to top off this already incredibly cool camp, Aaron decided to add in dessert adventures at the end of each day (walking around town, in search of the yummiest treat!).

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Art Supply Organization: What’s in the baskets?

Art Supply Organziation 2

Whenever I share a photo of our art space, I often get asked, “What do you keep in the large baskets at the bottom?” As an art teacher, I became accustomed to keeping large bins easily accessible for over-sized art materials like paper towel rolls, egg cartons, scraps of cardboard, fabric pieces, or bits and bobs of broken toys. Now in our home art studio (as well as my client’s art spaces) I always include these types of items without even thinking. But, of course, these materials don’t always come to mind for most people when thinking of art supply organization or setting up an art space for kids. So thank you for reminding me of this! I’m excited to give you a peek today into our large art bins and what we do with the materials.

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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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Heart Rock Valentine

Secret Admirer Heart Rock Valentines

Inspired by The Artful Parent’s heart rock valentine decorations, I suggested to Karuna the idea of making fabric heart rocks. We talked about what to do with the rocks once we made them. Giving them as Valentines was a definite, but since she already had card valentines that she had made earlier, we came up with the idea to leave them around the neighborhood as secret admirer surprises.
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Making Houses

Last week in art class, while the younger children explored the the paste mixing collages, the older classes worked on making “houses.” They were each given a cardboard gift box and began by discussing what types of houses they wanted to make. Their ideas were mostly about forest animal houses and fairies but there were a couple of underwater houses and even a skate ramp! Once they each decided on their concepts, they went to work using the paints, glues, scissors, and all kinds of craft materials on the table.

 Check out this skate ramp!
Here are a few more of the finished houses. Most of them asked their teacher, Jhaya, to help them write a sign for their house out of glitter glue…

I’ll soon be posting about our recent clay week, where some of the kids decided to continue working on their houses and ended up making furniture and other items to add to them.

Watercolor & Oil Pastel Batik

For our watercolor week in the 1s/2s class I was planning for an ice painting and oil pastel resist project like we did in the mixed age class. Before class began I came across some extra fabric lying around and decided to experiment with an oil pastel and watercolor batik instead. I taped the fabric to a tray so that it wouldn’t move around when the kids tried to draw on it. I first offered them white oil pastels to use on white cotton fabric, which is not at all exciting to toddlers (even when I tried to explain that they would magically see their drawing appear when they painted it). Here, a big sister demonstrates the first step.

 After a very brief drawing experience, I offered the kids liquid watercolor to paint onto their work.

 Even with the light pressure of a toddler, the oil pastel still showed up and resisted the watercolor, creating a batik effect.

After trying out the batiks, I finally brought out the ice painting project-  offering them colorful oil pastels, watercolor ice paints and paper.

Eventually the kids began to collect items from the shelf to use in their paintings.

 A fun day of watercolor experiments!

Flower Fabric Dying and Balloon Painting

It’s spring time and beautiful flowers are in bloom! Because flowers have so much color to offer us,  I decided to try out a flower dying technique with the older classes. I gave each child a piece of muslin fabric and a mallet. They chose some flower petals and leaves, placed them on their fabric, folded the fabric over, and pounded away.

As they pounded, the dye began to show through the muslin. When they decided they were finished, they opened it up and peeled off the petals to find their fabric filled with color.

After our fabric dying, we moved on to bigger and messier things… balloon painting! We started off painting with small air-filled balloons (for safety it was important that if any balloons popped, they were thrown away immediately). The kids dipped the balloons in paint and dabbed them on the paper, which created circular swirls of color.

Soon I brought out balloons filled with water for the kids to try out. The water added weight and movement to the balloons and were really fun to squish around!

Things began to get messy and the kids moved around the studio painting at the easels and trying out their balloons in different places.

Some of the water balloons popped and the kids decided that they wanted more water to use in their work.

I recently got some new basters and was excited to have the kids test them out!

So much fun!