Make-A-Wish Collaborative Art

Last Saturday The Art Pantry team was invited to create a playful family experience for the Walk For Wishes event held at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, Ca. This was a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area foundation to raise money in order to fulfill the wishes of kids with life-threatening medical conditions. If you haven’t heard of them, check out the Batkid wish they granted almost two years ago. Incredible.

I’m happy to say that the event raised enough money to grant 13 wishes!

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Wacky Painting To Kick Off The New Session

Our new session began last week so, as always, we started it off with a messy painting exploration. The new children got to know the qualities of the tempera paint and investigated some of our wacky painting tools, while the returning students dove right in to this familiar scene.

In addition to our textured toys and tools, the children tried painting with an onion bulb, freshly plucked from the garden outside. The long dangling roots were especially fun to use like a brush!

The 3s class also experimented with the onion and wacky painting tools, but they first worked on color mixing and creating some multimedia paintings with their new colors and tissue paper shapes.

Every spare wall was utilized this week while the kids moved around and found new surfaces to check out.
Looking forward to a great session!
If you want to try out some wacky finger painting at home, check out our Make+Believe Finger Painting Fun! Supply Kit.


Last week’s art class was all about paper. We played with paper, ripped paper, glued paper collages, and even experimented with making paper! The teachers prepared the paper pulp, by blending up white newsprint with water. When the children arrived they were offered a mixing bowl, spoon, white pulp, liquid watercolors and glitter to create their own unique paper pulp.

At first we tried spreading out the pulp onto a screen with cheesecloth to drain the liquid, but that didn’t seem to work well (and didn’t capture the children’s attention like we thought it might).
So the teachers adjusted their process and offered each child a tray with a towel and a piece of fabric to soak up the pulp juice. Being able to work individually at their seats helped get the kids excited about the pulp.  They used all kinds of tools to squish it, pound it, roll it and color it!

To really flatten the pulp and get the excess water out, the kids placed a piece of fabric over their pulp to continue the pressing and rolling process.

For the final step, children could shape and decorate their paper with flower petals and sequins- check out this paper pulp man!

 After drying for a few days, the papers were firm and ready to take home. They looked awesome!

Beading, Building, and Messy Fun

For our beading week, we started the 2s classes off with a simple bracelet making activity with large beads and pipe cleaners. The stiffness of the pipe cleaners make it easy for the little ones to practice their hand/eye coordination. Some kids were super into the beading and finished it off by twisting the pipe cleaners into a circle to make a bracelet. Other kids had absolutely no interest in beading and preferred to go straight into painting or gluing instead.
After their beading exploration, each child was given their watercolor paintings from last week to continue their work. With the watercolors dry, the kids could now add to their paintings with markers, glue and fun Valentine collage bits. Some kids decided to use the beads for the collage instead of the bracelets… great idea!

Our hope was that the kids would use glue sticks for their collages so that they could take them home in time for Valentines day. As it turns out, 1 and 2 yr olds would much prefer to to squeeze white or colored glue rather than rub an unfamiliar clear stick onto their paper- imagine that!

For the last part of class, the teachers brought out our super fun floor painting tools and a canvas for some gross motor painting. The toilet plungers made really cool circle prints, but the child-sized broom was probably the hottest commodity.

After each class, we added painters tape to the canvas to preserve some of their work before the next class got to the painting. Once all of the classes have had a chance to add to the 2 canvases, we’ll peel off the tape and see if we can find the contrast between the classes.

While some kids got messy on the floor, the table was full of various tools for more collaborative painting.

The 3s, 4s, and 5s classes worked on an entirely different type of beading project. They began with a block of wood, markers, paper shapes, nails, and mallets to make the base for beaded sculptures. Of course they loved the hammering part!

After drawing on the wood and hammering nails and paper shapes onto their blocks, the kids attached craft wire to the nails (we used Twisteez craft wire, which is super flexible and coated with colorful plastic). Finally the kids threaded the wire with beads before attaching the other end of the wire to another nail on the wood block.

 Some chose to embellish their sculptures with glue, glitter and more collage items.

 We even had a sibling pop in to help her older sister finish her sculpture!

Don’t you love how they turned out?! Once finished, kids can experiment with bending the wire to create all kinds of new sculpture forms.

Exploring Circles- Welcoming the Cycle of a New Year

For our last class of the session, we explored a circular theme to represent the end of one year and the beginning of a new year. The 1s and 2s classes began with different types of ball painting. We used golf balls for children who aren’t accustomed to marbles yet, and introduced marble painting to kids whose parents felt comfortable with such small objects.

The kids used spoons to roll the balls in paint and scoop them into their trays. Next, they began to shake and tip the trays to make tracks on their paper.

Stirring the balls around and shaking glitter onto them was also a major part of the experience.

As the children began to collect new tools off of the shelf, the teachers brought out large paper to continue their exploration.

We even tried the ball painting on a large scale, where the kids collaborated to get the balls rolling.

As the kids began to move around the studio, we had some more exciting circular activities to investigate.

We tried out our new “spinner art” machine that spins the paper around really fast while the children added drops of paint to the moving paper. The machine came with squeeze bottles, but we first tried using our eye droppers with watered down tempera paint to help develop fine motor skills.

Here is an example of a finished spin art design!

While some of the children focused on the spin art, others were drawn to the pendulum painting, set up over the floor. We hung a string and plastic cup (with a small hole at the bottom) from the ceiling to act as a pendulum. The kids squirted watered down tempera paint into the cup and swung the cup around in circles to create circular and oval drip designs. The floor was covered with a painting that had been previously sprayed with watercolors, so the design overlapped the blotchy watercolor effect. One group of kids began to pass the cup back and forth, creating a cooperative painting game!

Before getting messy with the ball painting, the 3s/4s classes worked on a more crafty project for the new year… a “wish catcher.” They began by drawing a design onto a pre-cut poster board with holes punched into it. While they were drawing, the teachers asked them about what types of wishes they had for the new year and helped them write down their wishes. Some kids wished for snow, or to play with friends, and one even wished for a chainsaw (which it turns out he actually got for Christmas!)

After drawing on the poster board, the kids practiced their fine motor skills by “sewing” yarn in and out of the holes.

After sewing, the teachers helped the kids apply clear contact paper to the middle of the hoops so they could create a “stained glass” collage (they also made sure to stick their wishes into their collages).

Here is one of the finished “wish catchers” hanging in the window. Maybe they will help to manifest all of the children’s hopes and dreams for the new year. Happy New Year!!!

Back to the Basics with Finger Painting

This week in the older 2s class we went back to the basics with good old finger painting. Although our tempera projects often turn into finger painting, we haven’t focused solely on this sensory experience in a long time. When we’ve done finger painting in the past, it was always with regular tempera paints so the kids could really get to know the type of paint that we use most often. This time we tried out some gel-like “finger paints” that have a very different consistency than the tempera paints. The kids had so much fun squishing, mixing and rubbing the paint all over!

After using our hands for a little while, I offered the kids a variety of tools to use with their paints to add texture- They especially liked our new sponge wands!

After finger painting we moved outside to paint on our large floor mural with bouncing bean bags, mops, and brooms- a super messy and super fun class!

Exploring Clay- Creating Textures

This week was dedicated to clay exploration. For the mixed age class, the young kids worked inside, getting to know the clay and experimenting with various tools. The older kids sat together outside making sculptures.

In the 2s class, we experimented with different textured tools. The children first rolled out a slab of clay with textured rollers to see what kinds of marks they made on the clay.

Then I offered the kids clay hammers that pound different shapes into the clay. They got creative with the tools and began making textures in the clay in new ways.

After creating a variety of textures on their clay, the children decorated their work with glitter glue and fun materials like buttons, jewels, shells and pebbles.

After putting their work to dry on the shelf, I offered the kids new clay to explore with water. This is a sensory experience that is an important part of learning about clay. It won’t result in a finished product (more like a mushy clay soup )- but it sure is fun!

After working with clay, both classes got some painting in before class was over.