Q&A: Navigating Art With Siblings

Reader Question:

“The difficulty I have is my daughter (5 years) as much as she loves to do art/craft like her brother (18months) there are times where she just wants to do something more grown up or even different to her brother. How would you plan this so they can do it side by side?”

When I sent out a recent reader survey, the issue of siblings came up again and again. So I am going to respond to this specific question, but also share some tips that will hopefully cover the other sibling questions that have been raised. Overall, it seems that the biggest struggle when it comes to siblings and art is managing multiple ages, abilities, and attention spans.

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Q&A: Toddler Art Exploration And Clean-Up

I’m starting a new Q&A series! I get a lot of questions from readers that I think are universal challenges when it comes to kids and creativity. After sending long e-mail responses to these questions, I realized that I should be posting them here on the blog so that others can benefit as well. So if you have a question, please fee free to send me an e-mail or ask in the comments below and I’ll do my best to post my answers to each of them.

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Messy Clay Discoveries and Pinch Pots

For our clay week, the 1s and 2s classes explored the qualities of clay with a variety of objects. They used tools such as rolling pins, clay hammers, plastic pizza cutters, garlic presses, and modeling tools to cut and shape their clay. You can try this activity at home with our Make+Believe Create With Clay! Supply Kit.

Other objects like toys, old CDs and necklaces, were used to add texture to the clay.

The children squished and molded bits of clay with their hands- a good work out for those tiny muscles!

After a while, the teachers introduced water to investigate what happens when the clay gets wet.

A little water made the clay softer…

A lot of water made a big, fun mess!

The classes with 3 yr olds took the exploration a step further and worked on making pinch pots out of clay, then decorated them with tempera paint, sequins, and jewels. Some kids also made “elbow pots” by pressing their elbow into a ball of clay. This creates a slightly shallower bowl than a pinch pot.

 

What a keepsake!

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.

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.

Papermaking

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!

Watercolor Techniques and Valentines

We started off our watercolor week with a bleeding tissue experiment in the 1s/2s classes. The children placed pieces of “bleeding” tissue paper (the colors bleed when wet) onto their watercolor paper and used a variety of tools to moisten the tissue with water. When the watercolor dry, the children will use them as a base for making valentines.

Aside from the basic sponges, the children used droppers, sponge rollers, sponge stamps, and spray bottles to get their tissues to transfer color to their paper. All of these tools provide the kids with  different opportunities to develop their fine motor skills.

The spray bottles are not only a blast (pun intended!), but they also help to strengthen little hand muscles.

 Spray bottles and brushes were used at the easels with liquid watercolor to explore the dripping effect.

After some super wet exploration, the kids were introduced to foam paint (a non-toxic paint with a shaving creme texture). I like to provide white foam paint so the kids can add paint themselves and create their own colors. Adding glitter is fun too!

 Spraying foam paint on the acrylic wall panel offered a different kind of messy sensory experience!

In the older 3s/4s and 4s/5s classes, the children started off with a still life drawing of a pot of daffodils. For their drawings they used black sharpies and oil pastels, which are a great base for the watercolor resist technique. Each child was given a few different sized pieces of watercolor paper so they could eventually turn these works into Valentines.

After drawing, the children were given liquid watercolor and watercolor brushes to add more dimension to their work.

 A finished still life from the 4s/5s class:

If you’d like to try these techniques at home, check out our Make+Believe Wonderful Watercolor Resist! Supply Kit.
After working on the paintings, the kids made different Valentines by gluing small collage items onto bright tag board. The hearts and butterfly paper shapes were made by using a paper puncher on old paintings- a great way to re-use old artwork that you would otherwise throw away!

With our sporadic weather, we occasionally hit a warm day and get to have some fun outside in the garden after art class. It looks like a dance party going on on top of the hay stacks!

Tape Resist Paintings

For the first week of our new session, we began with a tape resist painting exploration (where tape is first placed on paper, painted over, then peeled up to reveal negative space). It’s always a fun challenge to come up with an introductory lesson for new students that still offers something fresh and novel for the returning students. I think it’s important to start new students off with finger/object painting so they get to know the qualities of tempera paint and the wacky tools that are available to them each week. This project allows for both the messy, sensory experience of finger/object painting, while simultaneously teaching this new technique of tape resist.

For the 1s and 2s classes, the children started off painting over tagboard (similar to poster board) that was pre-taped with the first letter of their name. So for those kids who aren’t yet interested in the tape, they will still get to see the effect of the tape-resist. The children were also given fingerpaint paper and colorful tagboard to try out new painting surfaces.

Some of the toddlers tried making their own designs with tape before painting over them.

They also explored the studio to find that the easels and the window made great painting surfaces as well!

The 3s, 4s, & 5s classes began with tape and scissors to experiment with their own designs.

Then they focused on painting over their tape work. Some covered their entire paper, while others chose only parts of the paper to paint.

When the children decided that they were done with their paintings, the teachers showed them how to carefully lift up the tape to see their designs- So cool!

Some of the finished pieces:

Clay Exploration, Leaf Prints, and Sculpture

For our week of clay exploration, some children worked with clay for the first time, while others re-visited this fun medium, experimenting with new techniques. The 1s and 2s classes began testing out a few tools to manipulate the clay.

After a bit of exploration with only the tools, the children were offered decorative objects to use with their clay (popsicle sticks, buttons, glitter, and paint).

The older twos classes tried out our new plaster molds. They pushed clay into the mold, rolled over it with their rolling pin, and then peeled it up to see detailed designs appear- So exciting!

The younger classes were eventually given water to add to their clay for a super sensory (and messy!) experience.

Window painting was also a hit this week!

The 3s/4s classes first were introduced to resist leaf printing. They chose leaves to press into their clay, painted over the entire thing with tempera, then peeled up the leaf to reveal their print.

After peeling up the leaves, you can see the veins printed into the clay. The leaves also acted as a resist to the paint, allowing the outline of the leaf to show when peeled up.

After leaf printing, the kids began to add to their work with more clay and decorations.

Some kids also decided to pick out items from the recycled materials bin to use with their clay.

 A couple of the finished sculptures…