Monday, July 29, 2013

Making Silhouette Art With Children

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We recently traveled to Disney World in Orlando, Florida and asked our favorite artist there, Meghan, 
in Downtown Disney to create our second set of profile silhouette portraits of our daughters. 
6 years ago, the same artist cut portraits of my sweet girls that hang in our hallway 
as well as some "scenes" for their rooms. 
"C"(age 6) has a Pumpkin Carriage, a Thumbelina, and a Rapunzel Tower silhouette in her room.
"E" (age 10) has her favorite Disney character, Maleficent's silhouette in her room. 

Watching the artist at work, and looking at those silhouettes everyday must have left an impression on my youngest daughter "C" because the other night, as I was cooking dinner, 
she sat down at the counter with some black construction paper and a pair of scissors and created this beautiful silhouette of a giraffe with a tree. "C" sketched her drawing with pencil then cut it out and glued it down with a glue stick on white paper. 
I was blown away. I'm planning to frame it for the hallway silhouette gallery. 

When her big sister, "E" saw what she was up to, she wanted to make one as well. 
She cut out this beautiful Jelly Fish and I'm going to have to frame it too! 

We will be making more silhouette art this summer! 
Thanks for the inspiration Meghan!

Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Travel Size Sensory Box for Small World Play

We recently discovered that our Mermaid Sensory Writing Tray 
also makes a fantastic Travel Size Sensory Box for small world play!
It is great for Summer Road Trips, pool-side playdates, Grandma's house, 
Soccer Game sidelines, and our playroom. The lid keeps everything inside and it's small and portable
so my kids can carry it around much more easily than our bigger sensory boxes.
I think these little stackable scrapbook paper boxes would be fun in a classroom setting too - 
much easier to stack on classroom shelves! 

We made the box in a small, 12"x12" lidded plastic scrapbook paper storage box. 
It is only about 2"high on the sides. We placed a piece of sparkly scrapbook paper in the bottom 
of the box and added about a cup of play sand on top. Then, we added some small seashells,
rocks, glass beads, Play Mobil animals, and Polly Pockets. 

For more sensory box ideas, see my Sensory Boxes 101 Post
Any of the Sensory Boxes listed there could be remade on a smaller scale like this one!

Happy SMALL World Playing On The Go! 

Pink and Green Mama 

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Make Dress-Up Play MORE FUN with DIY Costumes!

Sponsored Post Disclosure: My family received compensation from Sprout and The Chica Show for this post. 
All opinions expressed are my own. The opinions expressed in this post do not represent Sprout or The Chica Show. 

It's time to dress-up and play! "Play" as you know is an important way for children to practice skills, try new things, and gain knowledge - all in the name of fun. The scenarios, costumes, and props they use are all catalysts for trying out new ideas and practicing real-life skills with family and friends.

Imaginative play is such an important part of childhood and children's brain development.
An article on NPR discussed how old-fashioned free play with child-led activities like dress-up, and imaginative fantasy playing with toys and props of the child's own making builds serious skills like self regulation and cognitive function. Most parents and caregivers who read this blog already know this. I'm not sharing a big secret with you, I'm stating what is obvious -- Kids NEED and WANT time to play. They thrive when given the opportunity to use their imaginations!

We love to Create, PLAY, and Explore around here. One of the ways we do that is by playing dress-up and making our own costumes.  My kids can frequently be found taping paper masks they've made to random pairs of sunglasses. 

A great way to encourage free play and fantasy thinking, is to provide your children with some dress-up clothes and realistic props. There's no need to run out to the store to buy costumes. 
You can create your own dress-up props with simple objects from around the house!

Here are a few simple and classic ideas to get you started:

Doctor or Vet's Office: 
One of the favorites in our house! If they're playing "doctor" why not get a few ace bandages out of the medicine closet, throw in some popsicle sticks, a roll of masking tape (or scotch tape),  and a flashlight? You'll have a great doctor's kit for them to play with. Add a clipboard and some file folders for "medical charts" and a white button down shirt to wear as a lab coat. We even have a real stethoscope, old X-Rays (from mom and dad), and working otoscope in our doctor kit! Toilet Paper is great for making "casts" and wrapping up patients who are badly injured like the dragon pictured below!

BTW, Milk cartons or laundry baskets are great "crates" and "cages" for stuffed animals for a vet's office or animal shelter.

Detective: Create your own costume for your favorite "Little Spy" with some plaid fabric as a cloak. Just drape it around the shoulders (as we did) for a cape or cut a big circle with a smaller circle in the middle as a poncho. Add a baseball cap and a magnifying glass for your secret agent to get to work. You may also want to give them a flashlight, sunglasses, and notepad. We made a fake mustache with some scrap felt and my daughter stuck it on her face with a loop of masking tape!

You can make your own magnifying glass with the handle of wooden craft foam brush glued to a canning jar ring - spray paint it black. So cute! We used E600 glue. We made our own "Rainbow Spy" hat by sewing some felt to a simple white baseball cap we picked up at Walmart.

Supplies for Magnifying Glass:
Canning Jar Lid, Sponge Craft Brush (handle), Glue (I used E600), and Black Spray Paint.

Step 1: Remove sponge head from craft brush and glue canning jar ring to wooden handle. Allow to dry.

Step 2: Spray paint the whole thing black in a well ventilated area - we did this outdoors, in our driveway, on a newspaper.

Dinosaur (or Dragon): It's so easy to create a costume with a simple hoodie-style sweatshirt. You can sew on ears, felt teeth, or felt "spikes" to the back of the shirt. (Hint: Iron or fold the jacket in half to create a center line to follow for spikes)  If you don't sew (or want to re-use the hoodie), just attach everything with safety pins so it can easily be removed when you're done playing! We made this dinosaur hoodie removable by stitching our felt spikes to a long ribbon, then we pinned the ribbon to the jacket - easy to take off later when it's time to wear the coat to school!

Supplies for Dinosaur Hoodie:
1 hooded sweatshirt, felt, scissors, needle and thread, glue (I like Aleene's Turbo Tacky Glue)  Optional: Iron (makes it easier to find the center line of the hoodie),  ribbon and safety pins if you want the spikes to be removable like mine!


Step 1: Cut felt into diamond shapes. For a 3T sweatshirt 12-15 2"x4" diamonds will work. Ours was a women's small sweatshirt - we used 22 felt diamonds.

Step 2: Fold the sweatshirt in half and iron it down the middle to create a visible crease - this is your center line to follow when you stitch or pin the spikes on your hoodie.

Step 3: Unfold and lay down the hoodie with the back facing up. Center the diamonds down the middle crease without overlapping.

Step 4: Sew middle of each diamond to shirt. Fold diamonds in half to make a triangle. Glue halves together. The other option for this step is to stitch and glue your felt diamonds to the ribbon then pin the ribbon to your hoodie when the glue is dry.

Cat, Dog (Wolf), or Bunny:  Same thing as the Dinosaur, just sew (or safety pin) some felt ears to a hoodie. We stuffed the leg from an old pair of tights and pinned it onto the bottom of the jacket to make a tail.

Face paint is a fun touch too for dress up time too! You can learn about our favorite brand of face paint and see a demonstration of me using it here.

Restaurant: Set up a restaurant with your kids, give them some pots and pans, a tray, a notepad to write down orders, some fabric or a real table cloth. Stuffed animals make great customers. An apron or dishtowel is all your server or chef needs to get started!

(love this menu from one of their restaurant games in 2010)

Our "restaurant" play is usually part of a hotel game as well. My girls love to turn our upstairs into a hotel. They close our bedroom doors and add numbers with post-it notes. We dress up as various "characters" to come out of the rooms and order room service. Some of our people staying at the hotel are quite over the top!

Play IS important. Play is WORK for children. 

Kids need time to enjoy their childhoods with more time spent engaging in sustained fantasy play where a child creates scenarios with props or toys like playing house, or hospital. This has been a major part of my parenting philosophy and the reason why I haven't signed my kids up for a lot of after-school activities. I want my girls to come home and play with each other. It is good for their brains, they learn how to negotiate, compromise, and imagine as well as how to get along with each other. It's one of the major reasons why they are such good friends.

Free play is endangered by schools that cut recess time and even preschools that are moving away from play based "curriculum" to structured and focused activities to "prep" students for upper grades. So get out there and play! 

My girls spent many preschool mornings enjoying Chica and friends at Sprout when they were little.

Sprout was kind enough to send us this box full of goodies
for us to make some fun DIY costumes for play -- Thank you Sprout! 

Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Mark Rothko Inspired ATC Color Studies

Kids are home for the summer and they're bored. Why not explore some great artists with them and create art inspired by their style? Looking at the work of a famous artist is a great jumping off point for experimenting with different styles, material, and techniques in a low-pressure way. 

ATCs (or Artist Trading Cards) are tiny pieces of art the size of a baseball card (2.5" x 3.5".)  ATCs are a great way for kids to explore and make art on a small scale. 
It also allows them to experiment with a variety of techniques quickly. 
They can create as many pieces of art as they want without taking up a lot of room! 

ATCs are fun to trade with friends, family members, neighbors, and classmates too. 
We store our ATCs in plastic baseball card sheet protectors in a three-ring binder. 

I made these Mark Rothko inspired color study ATCs with my daughter's 4th grade class this spring. We began by reviewing a portfolio of Mark Rothko's art work. We talked about his life and work and discussed his use of "color fields." I also talked to them about ATCs and showed them some examples. ATCs are meant to be exchanged and traded so the kids knew they would be sharing their artwork with each other. 

Then, we cut up white coffee filters from the grocery store into 2.5" x 3.5" rectangles. 
To make the color field, color three colored bands on the coffee filter (carefully so you don't rip the paper) with water soluble markers. We used Crayola and Rose Art markers. 

Then, they sprayed their coffee filters with a few squirts of water from a small spray bottle.
We worked on top of some newspapers to soak up the excess. 

You don't need a lot of water, the water will spread and bleed with the colors. 
If the colors aren't blending, add a bit more water. 

NOTE: We also had some white card-stock ATCs (that were pre-cut) 
to mount our coffee filters on -- just glue the coffee filter on with a glue stick when it's dry. 
The kids signed the back of the card-stock cards not the coffee filters. 

Want more art lesson ideas? 
If you are looking for more ways to explore great artists with your kids this summer, 
check out my best-selling e-book series packed with simple supply lists, 
step-by-step directions, photos of real student's artwork, 
and a simple art history lesson (script) about each artist. 

 Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Paul Cezanne Inspired Still Life Drawings With Oil Pastel On Black Paper

I made these beautiful Paul Cezanne inspired still life drawings with my favorite 4th grade class this school year! We used black construction paper and drew with oil pastels.

I set up simple fruit bowls in the center of each group of students. Kids get so excited when you set up a "real" still life for them. I think it makes younger students feel like they're in a big kid art class. It also takes the pressure off when everyone is drawing the same thing from different angles. They're not all going to look alike and that's the fun part.
If students draw from life, looking at real objects and drawing what they see, the drawings will come out more realistically than when they draw from their imagination.

I used a silk scarf to create some wrinkles and folds under the fruit bowl. 

 Please pardon the crummy photos, I forgot my camera that day and used my phone. (This was taken in 2013, pre-fancy-camera iphones!) The kids really enjoyed the lesson and their drawings turned out beautifully!

If you are looking for more ways to explore great artists with your kids this summer, 
Click HERE to check out my best-selling e-book series packed with simple supply lists, 
step-by-step directions, photos of real student's artwork, and a simple art history lesson (script) about each artist. 

Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fun With Legos: DIY Lego Hangman

I had to share another one of my daughter's awesome Lego creations. 
"E" (age 10) came up with this DIY Lego Hangman game. 

She used scrapbook letter stickers to make the alphabet blocks. 

Then, she disassembled a lego guy to make the stickman you assemble as you play. 
This game has been on display in our family room all spring and it makes me smile whenever I see it. 

Do your kids make games out of their Legos? 

Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Preserving Lego Memories and Fun With Legos: Lego Island

My daughters love to build and create with Legos. 
It's hard to take some of their creations apart so after we've displayed them for a bit, 
I take a photo of their favorite projects so we can preserve them 
without having a full-fledged Lego Museum in our house!
We do have a few shelves in our house dedicated to Lego displays (they are a pain to dust) 
and we rotate our creations pretty regularly!

We are compiling them into a scrapbook of awesome Lego Creations. 
Since I use this blog as a way to document our creative adventures, 
I thought I'd start sharing some of them here with you.

This little "scene" is from over a year ago, created when my older daughter was 9. 
I love the girl surfer. the wavy seaweed and the sea serpent. 
I think the sea dragon was inspired by the giant life-sized 
sea dragon made out of legos in Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida. 

My girls like to assemble some of the big Lego kits like the Hogwart's castle and the Hobbit House. 
Mostly, they like to freestyle and create from their own imaginations! 

What do you do with your kid's Lego creations? 

Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea
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This post was not endorsed or sponsored by Lego in any way. 
All opinions are my own and the diorama was created by my own daughter. 

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