Water painting - on a chalkboard

A clean alternative to painting - something I have recently seen on Art for Little Hands as well as Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas.  I needed a way to keep Mina busy on this particular afternoon so I could work on getting homework done with my 7 year old.  I took a paint brush and a cup of water to the chalk board and let her take the ropes. 


The chalkboard had not been erased from some "playing school" the previous day and had some words written on it.   Mina immediately began tracing over the letters. Wow, I didn't know this was going to be an educational experience for her.  Even better!  I had never thought to have her trace letters before, but I can see now that she is ready.

Eventually, after she had gone over all the letters on the board she began to fill in the spaces and "paint" with the water.   Once the water would start to dry, she would start over again.  This kept her busy for a good 30 minutes or so - enough time for me to watch over my 7 year old as she completed her homework. 

Learning to sew

The past year or so I have really started to enjoy sewing.  I am still learning, really, but have been able to make a few things for my girls.  So naturally they have been interested in learning to sew something themselves.  I don't know what a good age is to begin learning on a machine, but this is the second time I have given Lou (age 7 1/2) a mini sewing lesson. 

She made a pillow.  I think a pillow is a great thing to sew for a beginner because it only involves straight lines and it's fun because it's something she can actually use.  I traced around a box onto some scrap fabric we had and I cut it out since my scissors are a little dull, but next time I think I'll let her do the cutting also.

Sewing carefully at a low speed, she was able to keep a pretty straight line.

Turning the fabric right side out to prepare for stuffing.

Stuffing the pillow.

All done!  "Sew" cute, I stitched up the small hole we had left to insert the stuffing. 
Other than that, she did it entirely herself!  She wants to make more, next time
I think we can try something with a little curve to it - maybe a stocking for her
stuffed animal or doll?  We'll see!

7 benefits of coloring

My girls love to color and I have sometimes wondered if there were better ways they could be spending their time.  I have asked myself the question, "Is this just a great way to occupy them for a bit?  Or are there actual lessons to be learned from such an ordinary task?"  Given more thought, I have found that there are actually several benefits for children when they simply color a printed page. 

1- Coloring helps a child practice holding a writing tool the correct way and aids in developing those tiny muscles in their hands, fingers, and wrist.

2- Coloring aids in hand-eye coordination as the child learns to color within the specified area.

3- Children develop the skill of patience and learn to focus on details when coloring. Such a sense of accomplishment is achieved when a coloring page is completed.

4- Coloring allows a child to relax and be comfortable while creating a piece of art. Children can fill in the figures and shapes on the page any way they choose, whereas drawing can sometimes be a little intimidating that the outcome won't be exactly as they wanted.

5- Coloring a simple printed page helps a child to recognize color, hue, line, perspective, shape and form. It also helps a child to see and recognize patterns - a pre-reading and pre-math skill.

6- Eventually a child can even learn to plan as they decide the colors they will use in their picture and then what order they are going to color things within the picture.

7- Last, but not least, coloring can allow you and your child to have some quality quiet time together.  It can provide a wonderful time to sit and chat with your child.

What other benefits have you seen as your children have spent their time coloring?

Exploring rubber stamps and ink

Maisy was at preschool and I really needed to figure out something to keep Mina occupied for a little bit.  I have a bunch of old mini stamp pads and a set of rubber stamps I picked up at the dollar store a while back so I let her figure those out.   Yes it was definitely messy, but boy did she have fun.

 At first she just wanted to stamp the little stamp pads right onto the paper, I think she tried every single one.  She tried stamping dry stamps onto the paper (no ink) and wasn't too pleased with it.  I had to show her that the stamps needed to be pressed onto the ink pad before applying them to the paper. 

So she tried the stamps a few times with the ink, but then went right back to the plain stamp pads. 

She even found one stamp pad that had come unglued from the base.  Oh boy, that made her giggle.

She loved stamping her hand print onto the paper.

 She definitely had a good time - reminds me that it's the process, not the product. 

Cardboard Fire Truck

This afternoon Maisy came home from preschool all excited about being able to meet a firefighter and see inside the truck.  She was absolutely ecstatic.  She immediately started asking if she could make her own firetruck out of an old box, luckily I found a couple that would work.  She wanted to paint it so I pulled out the tempera paints, a couple of brushes and rollers (from the dollar store) and let her and Mina get to work.

The boxes that we had were very shallow so I taped the top flaps together to extend the depth of the box, then did the same with the bottom flaps.  This allowed the box to become a foot powered car.

Before the girls began their painting, I drew a couple of wheels on each side of the box that they were able to go over with the black paint and then fill it in. 

 Then Maisy got to work rolling her red paint onto her firetruck.  At first she really wanted to do it with the truck standing up.  The paint wasn't going on as smoothly as she would have liked so she finally decided to lay it flat after a little persuasion - and observing how fast Mina was painting hers while it was laid flat on the ground.

 Mina really enjoyed rolling the paint on and she really completed hers quite quickly.

After adding a front windshield, Mina's fire truck was ready to roll.  She was excited.  I decided I would cut out some handle in the sides (not pictured here) for her so she could carry it a little easier, but she still just wanted to grab the top.

 Play is in full swing and the fire trucks have now transformed into a train. 

Dinosaurs and play dough

What kid doesn't love play dough?  It really is a fantastic medium to create and play with, but sometimes it's even more fun if you break away from the usual play dough toys (spaghetti press, scissors, cookie cutters, etc...).

I've been needing to make a new batch (homemade is the best, it doesn't dry out like the store-bought) since ours had turned gray from all the play we've done with it.  I found this website which is totally dedicated to different play dough recipes and gave this recipe a try.  I can't wait to try some of the other recipes. 

One thing  that's important when you make play dough if you want to have vibrant colors - add the food coloring before you heat the dough.  If color is added to the white dough after the heating process, the colors will be more muted. 

Just look at all the fun these girls had with their dinosaurs, rolling pin, and some wiggly eyes!

It's so fun to see them play and work together.

Dinosaur tracks

What are some other fun ways your kids like to play with play dough?  Jamie at Hands On: As We Grow recently shared 34 ways to play with play dough - make sure you check it out!

Making prints with fruits and veggies (again)

Yes, we did this back in June - but I have been wanting to try this again ever since and use fruits and vegetables with more interesting shapes and textures than we used previously.  This time I cut up an orange, a pear, celery, bell pepper, and sliced the rind off a pineapple. I had the girls each choose 2 colors they wanted to use, but they both just wanted yellow and green so they shared their paint.

The orange was quite juicy, but still left a nice shape.

I love that Mina decides to use the side of the pineapple instead of the side with texture.

Maisy goes for the flat side of the pineapple.

Then she adds a nice pear print.

Mina adds some curvy celery stamping. 

One of my personal favorite shapes was the bell pepper.

Mina decides to use one of the celery sticks as a paint brush and makes some great strokes.

Then she decides to get a little on her finger and see how that looks on the paper.

Near the end, Mina spends a few minutes painting the bell pepper with the celery stick.

The final masterpieces as created by Maisy (age 4 1/2) and Mina (age 2).
This is a terrific thing to try with kids to let them explore painting along with different shapes and textures. 

A different "spin" on spin art

Warning: extra long post ahead!  And I even cut out a bunch!

 I didn't know an old record player could be so much fun, but I saw this activity on The Educators' Spin On It and I knew we had to give this a try.  I just didn't know our fun would last for hours on end - and really is still going on because of the records we have pulled out and been listening to. 

Mina started out our project - we started with washable markers, but they just weren't working well with the paper plates we were using since there was a glossy finish to them.

Once we switched over to our colorful Sharpies, things really got rolling.  At first Mina just wanted to draw all over the plate even though it was spinning. 

Then she figured out that the record player really was doing most of the work for her.  She was loving this activity as you can tell by the look on her face. 

Here she is starting on her next plate - all before her sisters even knew what we were doing.  She learned quickly what to do if she was pushing too hard on the markers and the spinning slowed down or stopped. 

Maisy noticed after Mina had done three plates that we were having fun with some strange machine.  She jumped right in.

She is very happy with her finished plate. 

A couple things the girls learned while doing this particular project was that they had to take turns - which really wasn't too hard since it really was fun to just watch.  They also learned the pattern we were using to let them each have equal turns - Mina, Maisy, Lou, Mina, Maisy, Lou, etc...  Maisy kept trying to get an extra turn in between each sister, I just had to keep reminding her what the pattern was.

What to do while you're waiting for your turn?  Play the drums!

Lou came to join in and decided she would go all the way to the outer edges of the plate. 

Soon enough Lou discovered what would happen if she wiggle her pen a bit as the plate spun around.

Mina gave that a little try, too.

After about an hour of doing the spin art, the girls discovered the joy of records.  An old Smurf album made for some good dancing fun.

Maisy put the record on...

And my two oldest girls had a ball dancing together and getting some of that energy out!

Once we listened to and danced to several records, it was time to put the finishing touch on these cute plates. 

I just thought they were going to cover up the hole in the center of the plate, but Maisy went all out and decorated most of her plate.

Another of Maisy's creations.

Lou went a little more simple and attached a flower and pom pom to the center. 

Mina liked a cluster of three pom poms in the center.

These made a lovely wall hanging above the play kitchen. 


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