As the latest TV commercials declare, our kids are not getting enough art or opportunity for creativity in most school systems. Budget cuts seem to start there. It does not always cost money to be creative and I believe things like working with colors assist the mind with scholastic achievement in area's of math, science and so on. I used Montessori techniques when my kids were young to stimulate them. I did not have the kind of money for a Montessori school, so used the public library to learn all about it to grasp the basic concepts. That was 20 years ago. These days we have the net.
I know my kids benefited very much starting with their first bright mobiles in their cribs and interesting objects in their baths. I tried to frame the activities below around normal household ingredients and practical clean up with difficulty level of 2 on a scale of 10. Some are ideas here are so cool adults may want to apply a few concepts to their own crafting. To change the subject I recently found Keebler has a very cool site for kids. Click here to see that! Stay tuned for the next edition of Mabel's Newsletter because that will one of our best issues for adults!
Blowing bubbles can be a great event. Seeing who can blow the biggest can also be very fun. Objects used to blow the bubbles can be made from just sticks and wires around the house. I saw a very pretty wand recently with a heart shaped wire top affixed to a stick. The wire wrapped all the way down to the bottom where it held a big marble at the end and simply had that "Harry Potter" look. I wish I could have supplied a photo of it. We store our bubble mixture in a mason jar, but if you are going to make big wands, you will want to dip the wands into a bucket of the mixture. Use the following to make bubble blowing liquid: 1/2 cups of water to 1/2 cup of dish soap. Stir do not shake. Adding a little salt, sugar, and glycerin can make better bubbles.
Sidewalk chalk is so fun, but runs as high as $24.00 on the stores. You can make your own very easy. Unlimited creativity and easy clean up is the beauty of side walk chalk in the first place. Here you will actually use used toilet paper rolls as the mold! You can also get creative and use heart shaped soap molds and other neat shapes. Presentation can be in a simple bucket. Crayola beat me on this one. To see their idea's press their sidewalk bunnies to the right. I still feel you can use soap molds, candle molds, or even used toilet paper rolls.Ingredient's?
Sand art can be very expensive in the stores and more commercialized than we care to know. In case you do not have sand in your back yard, cornstarch or salt will do just fine. With cornstarch you would need to mix dry tempura paint to achieve colors, where as with salt you can simply shake it up in a zip lock bag with your favorite food color and lay out to make sure it dries. The same applies to fine sugar, and unfortunately they can eat the product. Store in zip locks or airtight containers. Once colors are layered in a jar a think stick is used to push the colors down and give as much of a marble effect as the child desires. Click here to see what others are doing with sand art! I even saw another group layering candy as art, but who would want to baby-sit after a child ate that much sugar?
Frosted Candle Votive Holders for Loved Ones
Everyone has plain old glass sitting around. You can transform a plain glass bottle or drinking glass into a beautiful frosted candle holder by rolling the glass in school glue and then rolling in fine salt. The glue dries clear so you need not worry about that. The salt gives a beautiful glow when a votive or tea light are burning! We find tea lights with cups easier clean up. Never clean your masterpiece in the dishwasher. For best presentation of a gift, touch it off with a ribbon that matches the color of your work.
Easier yet, you can also take a four ounce glass, and tape a photo inside it, (like a rose or dragonfly) up against the glass, and with a fine paint brush, paint glue around object. Then sprinkle with fine salt. You can even color the glue with food coloring. So, with this method you may not desire to roll the entire plain piece of glass in glue. I have also seen kids take a piece of wire, form a heart and glue that to the already decorated glass. It is very beautiful. Want to make more of a statement? Glue glass looking gems to your creation. They are cheap and elegant.
Krylon also sells a frosted glass finish and I recommend that for spraying over stencils to more simply decorate plain glass.
Making soap on a rope has always been my all time simple favorite project for kids. All you need for each ball is two bars of glycerin soap grated in the food processor and a beautiful 24 in cord of reach creation. Clearly Natural sells a variety of colors in the soap section of most supermarkets and they runabout .80 cents each.
When the soap is shredded a little fragrance oil can be added before the kids make hand hard snow balls with it. I put a little tape at each end of my cords so they do fray and then tape the two bottoms together. They will end up going in the middle of the soap to anchor the rope. To insert you have to pull the snowball in half, lay the cord to the center of the soap and then firmly press together again.
As you see to the left we added a pretty gold foil bow and this looks great hanging from the neck of the shower. Just be sure to pack them tight!
You will need a large box of crayons with the wrappers taken off and a well greased cupcake holder. Let the kids break up the crayons and arrange them in contrasting colors in the cups. Melt at 350 degrees until just melted and use a toothpicks to swirl the colors around. Pop in the freezer for a bit and wallah! You have a mega crayon.
World's Best Play Dough Recipe Ever
When your child pounds, punches, pulls, rolls, cuts, stretches and squeezes the dough he is developing the muscles in his fingers and hands. When there is more than one child involved, there is tremendous opportunity for learning to share and take turns as well as develop language as they talk together about what they are doing.
Measure into large bowl:
3 cups flour
In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, put (in this order):
1 Tablespoon alum (white
spice section store)
Add to liquid to flour
mixture. Stir well with a heavy spoon until entire
You can make a big Hershey’s kiss by plugging a well greased funnel and then pouring in your chocolate or layers of colored chocolate until cool. Place in freezer for a few minutes so it will pop out hard and shiny. The kiss can be as big as your funnel! Wrap with aluminum foil and attached a loving message that sticks out. To obtain the chocolate you may want to melt dark chocolate chips, very gently, and perhaps layer with milk chocolate chips. White chocolate is pretty but scalds easy so use care when using white chocolate for this project. This idea will come in GREAT for Christmas. Other color foils can be pretty too.
Okay, this is a stretch but I read it in the newspaper so it must be true. For this project you need clear plain old Jell-O, a small mason jar and a little lace. Fragrance oils would be about 1/4 ounce per four ounces of Jell-O. Cut the lace in a 6 inch diameter circle. You may even want to put embeds at the bottom of the creation and pour just enough clear Jell-O that they will set and cool before you pour the remainder. If you do not, your objects will float to the top. Plain old food color will give you color and you can even layer and keep cooling. When it comes to scent, the big question, it will most likely cloud your Jell-O and oil based may or may not mix well. Adding a teaspoon of borax to the hot water may help the oil and water fuse. I have not tried this yet, but I sure plan to. I assume the freshener will not have allot of scent throw unless under a vent and will evaporate over time since water is involved.
Everyone loves a treasure hunt and so do I! A year ago I was babysitting a few four year olds and a six year old. Perhaps they were babysitting me. The six year old ran interference and had her brother and sister all get buckets and put bandanas on their heads because they were going to a sand box behind my house to find some buried treasure. I think the bandanas helped in the pirate spirit of things, because if I was missing any jewelry they were going to get it. Well, the six year old already had things planted and that was a blast watching them dig through the sand for an hour. I kind of wanted to join them. They were very serious about their mission. They brought back pretty shells and some play jewelry the six year old had planted and a few other things from the house I even forgot I even had. I had to call it quits when they were eyeing my cat. They figure if she was in the sand she was fair game. But I think giving them each a copy of an old fashioned looking map with hints is also very cool. That would be for a long term babysitting job!
Older kids seem to like those plastic eggs with movie tickets in them, gift cards, but cash is preferred, no checks. Another neat thing I learned this Easter when at a loss of things to do, was to throw 100 pennies up in the air and who ever picked up the most won a certain prize. Since my kids are grown, the prize was a dinner out. I would like it better next time if a few eggs contained specific chores.
If I can by pass part of a fun project I will. In this case my time is not worth baking cookies or treats that may come out wrong anyway. I like to buy the plain old ginger bread men and other plain cookies and treats and just let the kids go wild with decorating them. So the key is to have a wide selection of cake decorating items on hand you can always use later if the occasion arises. This includes Rice Crispy treats that can even be dunked half way in melted chocolate and set on wax paper to dry. After that they can still be decorated! The photo to the left is an edible color wheel with plain vanilla wafers, white frosting and food coloring of choice.
Home Made Finger Paint
Some kids like to add fragrances and scents to paint. Some
suggestions are: shampoo, lemon or almond extract, peppermint extract, hand lotion,
perfume or cologne, fruit drink mix, chocolate powder, coffee. Adding spices adds
textures and fragrance cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil, sage, or others.