Eraser Painting

June 15, 2013

Pencil with eraser

You don't need a lot of paint for this one, just a quarter size dollap on a plate will do.  Show your little one how to dunk the eraser into the paint and down onto the paper.  They might be interested in making dots, lines or flipping the pencil the other way around and moving the paint around with the pencil tip.

Ziplock Finger Painting

May 1, 2013

We have been sick a lot in the last few weeks and this mess free take on finger painting has been one of our favorite arty activities!

large ziplock
tempera paint

Tape three sides of a large ziplock onto a smooth surface, leaving the opening untaped. Any smooth surface will work, though we love using a window.  The light passing through adds a unique element as the paint moves between being  opaque and transparent.  Add tempera paint to the ziplock.  I recommend using two or more colors, so your kiddo can watch the colors swirl and mix.  After paint is added, seal the ziplock and tape down. Squish and smoosh away!  The bags can be saved and used again!

Kid Made Bird Piñata

April 30, 2013

Had to share the piñata that my three year old insisted we make for mom's birthday.  "It isn't a party if there isn't a piñata," he told me the night before!  One box, a crayon drawing and a few handfuls of crushed tissue paper later we were party ready.

Pipe Cleaner Garland

Pipe cleaners can be tricky for little hands.  They are a bit sharp and hard to manipulate into exact shapes.  But this abstract spring garland was a perfect pipe cleaner activity for my one and three year

Pipe Cleaners
String, ribbon or thin rope

Hang a long ribbon or string in a spot that your little one can reach.  Set out a stack of pipe cleaners.  I was thinking spring, so I picked out a mix of happy yellows, oranges, greens and pinks.  Show your little one how the pipe cleaners bend and move.  Then let them get to work!  Encourage your little one to hang their creations on the string.  The mix of unique little sculptures makes a super fun celebratory display!


April 11, 2013

Spring has arrived and our art making materials have been inspired by the buds, grass and breeze of the season!

Leprechaun's Gold Dough Play

March 30, 2013

Yellow Play Dough
Rolling Pin
Rolling Pad
Round cookie cutters

Make a batch of yellow play dough inspired by leprechauns' gold!  Set out lots of round cookie cutters, along with a rolling pin and rolling pad.  All you need for a St. Patrick's Day dough play session!

Painting Snow

March 27, 2013

Container for snow

We don't get a lot of snow here in the city, but we love what little we do get!  To maximize snow time, I regularly bring a sled full into the house for the kids to play in.  Building, digging and melting the snow are favorite activities over here, but during our last snow we decided to try something new: painting it!

This is an easy one!  On a snowy day head out with a leak proof container.  The container can be any size--cup, bowl, storage bin, etc.  I used our plastic sled. After filling your container with snow, bring it inside and let your little one get to work painting.  They can experiment with brushing on color or pouring paint onto the snow.  They might want to mix up the painted snow with a spoon or their hands, playing with color saturation and enjoying its weight, texture and temperature.

Embroidery Floss + Glue

March 26, 2013

Embroidery floss
Construction paper

Set out paper, glue and lots of long lengths of embroidery floss.  It is the season of leprechauns and pots of gold so I opted for a colorful rainbow of floss choices.   My kiddo used a glue stick to thoroughly cover his paper, though white glue is great too!  He then got busy smushing handfuls of floss into the glue and guiding individual strands into place.  Such an easy way to add fibers into our everyday art making!

Pouring Paint

Watercolor Paper
Tempera Paint

Start by lining your bathtub or sink with newspaper.  Place watercolor paper on top top of the newspaper.  Mix tempera paint in cups with just a little water.  You want the paint to be thinner than it is right from the bottle, but not too transparent.

Invite your little one to pour paint onto the paper.  The paint will splatter, pool and mix in interesting patterns.  Your kiddo may want to experiment with colors and paint consistency.

St. Patrick's Day

March 17, 2013

We moved right on to St. Patrick's Day for our next round of art making inspiration!  Lots of green and rainbows for us in early March!

Class Valentine's Day Cards

March 15, 2013

Just wanted to share this year's Valentine's Day cards!  My guy made mini collages for his class, gluing hearts cut from old magazine pages and pieces of tissue on to construction paper.  Here he is showing off his work!

Medicine Dropper Painting

tempera paint
medicine dropper(s)

It probably goes without saying; a three-year-old squirting medicine droppers full of paint around the kitchen can be a very dangerous thing!  Prepping your space before you get started is the key to enjoying this one!  I drape the area in a combo of garbage bags, shower curtain pieces and newspaper.

Next dilute tempera paint with water.  I went with about one part paint to two parts water.  You can experiment to see what dilution works best for your droppers and paper.

Then tape your paper down.  I opted to tape multiple sheets of paper close together on a well covered wall.

Then let the paint shooting begin!

For some little ones it might be a challenge to figure out how to use this new tool.   You might need to help them with the first few squirts or fill the droppers for them throughout the project.

Chopstick Painting


Just set out paper, paint and chopsticks.  Your kiddo will do the rest!
The chopsticks will pull and push through the paint, leaving thin lines of color as they go.  Today my little one loved this, but my big one wasn't as interested.  He was preferring the bold mush of paint that a regular old brush provides.  Next time maybe!

Watercolor and Oil Pastels

March 7, 2013

Watercolor Paper
Liquid Watercolors
Oil Pastels

Oil pastels are one of my little artist's favorite mediums.  They are bold, easy to use and oh so gratifying to color with (also pretty messy, but we find them worth the mess!).  Adding a layer of liquid watercolors to an oil pastel drawing is a nice experiment in color and transparency.

First, set out paper and pastels.  After your kiddo has colored for a bit add a cup of liquid water color and a brush to the table.  Watch as they they paint and draw away!  Regular oil pastels will hold their line and color, water soluble oil pastels will bleed into the paint.  We used regular oil pastels.

Valentine's Play Dough Bakery

March 5, 2013

Play Dough
Food Coloring
Cookie Cutters
Rolling Pin
Rolling Pad
Cookie Sheet

I believe in letting little ones guide their art experiences, so putting out dough, rolling pins and cookie sheets might not turn your table into a holiday bakery, but it is a great starting point for your kid to follow their imagination in any direction!

First make your dough.  Check out Makes and Takes for our favorite dough recipe.  I find it helpful to make dough at least a couple hours before it's needed, otherwise my kids get anxious to play before it is fully cooled.  In this case, I made it the night before and added drops of food coloring and glitter before sticking it in the fridge.  Waiting till the dough and coloring are cold before mixing allows the dough to maintain a swirly look.

After setting out cookie cutters, rolling pin and cookie sheets, place your dough on a rolling pad.  Then let your kiddo get to squishing, rolling and cutting!

All You Need is Love

February 7, 2013

The last couple weeks I was planning art experience around wool. I thought it would be a fantastically tactile addition to lots of activities we love to do.  However my kiddos were not inspired.  There was lots of drawing, squishing and painting going on, but typically only after they had put the wool to the side! So I am going to keep those project ideas for the future and move forward with a new theme for early February: LOVE!

Bubble Snow

Stand Mixer Bubbles (more on making them here)

A few batches of stand mixer bubbles make a lovely winter wonderland.  Just a little dish soap and water and you have a soft, slippery, snowy play medium. 

This activity is pretty straightforward.  First find a spot that you don't mind getting wet.  A counter, bath tub or water table are all good options.  I also drape the floor to catch drips.  Make a few batches of bubbles (you can read more about how we make them in this previous post).   Empty a bowl or two of bubbles on your play surface.  Set out a few animals and let your little one play!  Easy!

Hauling Snow Dough

Snow Dough (recipe found at Learning Tree)

We finally jumped on the snow dough band wagon and I am so glad we did.  We used the recipe from Learning Tree, substituting vegetable oil for baby oil.  The dough is a little gritty, clumps easily and satisfyingly crumbles in little fists.  I had originally put out animals to play with along with the dough, but my guy grabbed a couple trucks and started hauling snow dough around the table.  It was a mess but he had a great time!

Painting with Salt and Tempera

Watercolor Paper
Paint Brush
Coarse Salt 

Simply set out a plate of coarse dried salt when your little one is painting.  The addition of rough texture makes for an interesting tactile painting session!

Melting Ice on Tissue Paper

January 15, 2013

Water Color Paper
Bleeding Tissue
Ice Cubes
Cup of Water
Paint Brush
Cookie Sheet

Choose a few sheets of bleeding tissue paper.  I am working with a cool theme, so I picked blues, greens and off white.  Your little one can help rip the tissue into pieces.  Any shape or size will work.  For some kiddos this might be enough fun for one sitting.  If so, you can store the ripped pieces for later.  If not, you can go right to the main event!

Place a piece of watercolor paper on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Set out a bowl of ice cubes, a bowl of warm water and a paintbrush.  Encourage your little one to place pieces of tissue on the watercolor paper.  Layered, separate, smooth, crumpled, it’s all good! 

Now see what your little decides to do!  My guy positioned the ice cubes, then started brushing them with the warm water.  The water helps them melt a bit faster, adds an interesting tactile temperature shift and creates puddles of color quicker than if only ice cubes are used.

Once he had his fill of brushing and melting, he picked off the pieces of soggy tissue.  This left a bit of color on his hands that washed off by evening.  Waiting till the tissue is dry before removing it will minimize the color on hands, though this project can get a little messy no matter what! 

Chalk and Oil Pastel Drawing

January 9, 2013

White Chalk
White Oil Pastel
Dark paper (blue or black)

Snowy landscapes inspired this simple exploration of texture and contrast.  Place a white piece of chalk, a white oil pastel and a few pieces of dark construction paper out.   Watch your little one draw a wintry mix, enjoying the combination or powdery chalk lines and smooth oil pastel smudges.

Gluing Buttons


Set out glue, buttons and paper. I opted to put out glue sticks for ease of application and immediate tackiness.   I had a bunch of white buttons (think snowflakes) to use, but any flat buttons would work just fine.   

You may want to work alongside your kiddo, sweeping glue onto your page, setting buttons down, moving them around, experiencing the thick gooey texture of the glue and the slight pull of the buttons as you reposition them on your page.  

New Year, New Plan!

I have been trying to do a creative experience everyday with my kids for a while now.  Simple, open ended explorations that are process focused.  Our house if full of wild action, so having a sensory activity ready to go can shift the mood, calm the kiddos and give me a moment to breath.

This year I am trying to brainstorm activities around themes.  The themes aren’t lessons or things I am hoping the kiddos will take from the projects.  This month we are starting with snow and ice, but I am not suggesting to them that we are making or doing something about snow and ice particularly.  The themes are 100% for me.  They challenge me to think out of the box, inspiring me to set out different material and try out new processes with them.

So here we go!  Two weeks of creating inspired by snow and ice  (despite having no sign of snow this winter in NYC)!