Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm Not Sure That I Will Ever Buy Watercolors Again ;).

I've been on a recipe kick for paints this week. I've been finding so many cool new ones while following Deborah Stewart from Teach Preschool on Facebook. This recipe is noted in a blog she posted from Creative Jewish Mom.

Dane and I whipped up quite a few batches in various colors. Of course, we altered the recipe using powdered Kool-Aid instead of food color for many of the colors. (Note the dark blue, brown, and black were made with Wilton food coloring).

  • 3 tbsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch 
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
  • food coloring  (OR like we did- Kool Aid powder)

Initially we thought that making them in muffin tins would allow us to pop them out and have watercolor cakes. However, we soon realized that they would not easily come out. We then transferred the paint with spoons to some plastic containers we kept to recycle. We didn't want to waste any of the paint, so we painted using the paint that stuck in the muffin tins first.

The paints were a HUGE hit! We loved the vibrant colors, and the scents were lovely too!

We use card stock when we use water colors, and sometimes we paint the entire sheet with water first.

This post was linked up at:
PreK + K Sharing

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nurturing Your Inner Artist

I'm an artist. We all are, some of us have just forgotten what it was like to be three and making masterpieces we couldn't wait to show to mom and dad. I'm a strong advocate of the fact that we are all artists, and it drives me absolutely nuts at how product driven "art" can be in some structured settings. Ask a classroom full of very young children- how may of you are artists? (You'll see almost all of the hands in the air). Do the same of adults, and well, in most circles you are lucky to get a couple of hands. I'm doing what I can in that department as I work with teenagers and adults on finding their inner artists again. Fortunately, on a daily basis I have the wonderful opportunity to let the young children continue to create, and to love the process of art.

There are a few things that I would like to share with you in regard to children's artwork. Please take what you like and leave the rest:

1) Names go on the back. As a parent or teacher, it is more respectful of you to write your child's name on the back of the page they are creating. A name on the front can be distracting and not what the child had in mind for their process or product. Have you ever noticed a child make sure to cover the name you wrote completely??? As children grow and develop, they can then choose to sign their own artwork by placing their name in a place of their own choosing, and it is still their work that shows on the front.

2) "Art" that requires more work from you than it does of the child is not art. The art project is again about the process, and if YOU are doing more than the child, where is the process and experience for the child?

3) When you display children's art, display it with pride. Matting children's art work with card stock, posterboard, or construction paper can turn any process into an amazing looking "product" to show off. I often use poster board and then print labels with the child's name, age, date, meduim, and sometimes title if the child provides one. When displaying in public- consider how adult art work is displayed. It can be expensive to mat and frame all of the children's art work, but you can mat with poster board and laminate quite reasonably.

4) Ask your child questions about their artwork and process. Make statements like: "It looks like you worked hard on that" or "I noticed you spent quite a bit of time painting today" Basic statements like this can get the conversation started. Rather than placing the value on the outcome or the product - an example of a product focused question would be: What is it? You could use questions and statements that allow the child to tell you more about the process. Ask: Can you tell me about this painting/drawing? What did you like about working with (this paint/ the markers/ collage materials)? Do you think you would like to try something like this again? What would you do the same? What would you do different? What do you like best about the experience? (This does not apply when working with very young infants and toddlers- BUT what you can do is talk with them while they are working with materials. For example- with finger painting- talk about what the child is doing and how they are interacting with the medium. "Look at that paint, you are moving it with your fingers. It feels cold and squishy. You are opening and closing your hand. Look at the bright colors. etc" And, yes give infants and toddlers regular art experiences!)

5) Keep art fun! And don't force it. Children will gravitate towards welcoming activities and art processes in their own time on their own terms.

6) Don't have any expections on outcomes. Let the children create and enjoy the process of defining thier own outcomes.

7) Stock your supplies. Again- art is a process, allow children multiple sheets of paper if they want to continue to explore the medium. Let them integrate materials and experiment with mixed mediums.

Keep in mind the process for yourself too. Take some time and drift back to a time when you scribbled on a page and were filled with pride. Make time for art experiences, with no expectations. Explore to find your inner artist again ;).

Midnight Masterpieces

Today was an early night for us, we were done providing childcare at 4:30 p.m., which was considerably early for us considering our night time care can run until 11:30 p.m. So, for a "normal" human being, that might mean an early night??? Well perhaps in another household, but not ours :). It is nearly 1 a.m. and we are just now starting to wind down for bed.

I am continuing to find some amazing ideas and network with a variety of folks through Deborah Stewart by following her on Facebook- Teach Preschool. She brings together many people in the field of early childhood education and she regularly posts ideas she finds on blogs and websites. I have been very interested in some of the recipes she has posted, and decided that I would try out one of them tonight.

The recipe I tweaked came from a post by Allison at in a nutshell (you can follow the link for the recipe and directions.) When I made them, I doubled the batch and instead of using food coloring and flavoring extract I used unsweetened powdered Kool-Aid. I actually ended up making 3 different batches of the recipe. Next time, I'll know to multiply it by 6 and make one huge batch! Because the Kool-Aid is a powder, I filled each 16 oz jar half way before adding the powder, mixed it well and then continued to add the paint and mixed it thoroughly. I made 7 different colored and scented jars, and with the remaining paint, I made a smaller amount of black using Wilton food color and no scent.

Red- Cherry
Orange- Orange
Yellow- Lemonade
Green- Lime
Blue- Berry Blue
Purple- Grape
Pink- Pink Lemonade
Black- Wilton Food Coloring

Of course, you can't just make paint and not try it out! So, Dane was the guinea pig! (Yes, he was up at midnight and more than willing to test out the new paint before his friends had the opportunity to dig into it! We are all night owls in this house, morning people only when we have to be! Dane is also homeschooled, so he can sleep in tomorrow morning.) We found that some of the paints were not as vivid as we would like so we added some food coloring to them. Perhaps next time around I will opt to use 2 packages of the food coloring instead of just one??? They smell delightful- and are BIG fun to finger paint with. We may have to do some experimenting with different food coloring for the purple paint, as it is not very purple but smells delightfully grape! It is a little too far on the blue side, and is already staining fingers quite well. Otherwise rated quite highly by our resident guinea pig, and mom too :).

Dane's test page- Our "Midnight Masterpiece"

I can't wait for the reviews from the children in the morning!

This morning was definitely not an "art" morning. Much to my dismay, the children were not as excited about painting as I had hoped. However, when I mentioned that there were new paints, there were five "butts in the seats" at the table. The paints had jelled quite a bit while they cooled, and had the consistency very much like that of store bought finger paints. The scents were a definite hit! "This smells like berries! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH YUMMMY- just like fruit snacks!" "Ms Amy- the orange is really ORANGE!"

The children spent more time exploring the scents than they did actually finger painting, but art and activities are a process, not a product. When they did decide to dig in..... They opted to grab handfuls and blobs! Again, a wonderful process piece- overloading the cardstock pages- guishing and squishing. In terms of a "finished product" there was no way that the creations would dry in any reasonable amount of time if at all. We opted to problem solve this by using the same technique we did for our shaving cream prints and to squeegie them off. We took before and after photos for the children and parents. Hopefully the paint will dry in the thinner layer.

The paint does stain quite well- It's made with Kool-aid after all ;).

Next time.... I think we will stay away from the spoons/sticks to get the paint out and encourage fingers and perhaps have little finger bowls for intermittent color rinsing?? Perhaps ;).

Overall rating from the children "Awesome" "They're great!"
This post was linked up at:
PreK + K Sharing

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Heat Index of 90-100 in May in da U.P., eh?

It is a serious understatement to note that we are experiencing unseasonably warm weather. I am refraining from complaint, as our long winters have often left us with inches of snow at this time of year. However, with the children, it has been necessary to find ways to cope with the heat and humidity! We've been running through the sprinkler, playing in sudsy cool water, and misting each other with spray bottles.

It is hard to believe that we had snow and hail just a few weeks ago! What is that saying again in regard to the U.P. weather???? Oh, yeah, I remember now: "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes, it will change!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Shaving Cream Marble Prints

One of my favorite magazines and websites to visit for ideas is Family Fun Magazine. In a recent issue, I found this great idea for shaving cream prints. (If you click on the link, you will be directed to the online version of the article).
We opted to use a Medium sized Plastic Tote rather than a large pan for our attempt. I found some shave cream at the dollar store that has a lovely fruity scent to it, and it is made for sensitive skin.

We put a small layer of shaving cream in the tote and spread it as even as we could get it with a squeegee. Then came the fun part.... adding the food coloring.

After the food coloring was added, the children were allowed to marblize the cream with their fingers, a plastic knife, or a small wooden dowel. They were creating their works of art in the shave cream. Dane made up his own little song for this part of the project, it went something like "cutting the cake, cutting the cake, cutting, cutting, cutting the cake."

Then after they were satisfied with their shaving cream art, we took sheets of paper and pressed them gently down on the shaving cream.
The directions mentioned that you need to use a squeegee to remove the shaving cream that sticks to the paper.

In our situation, very little shaving cream stuck. I'm not sure if it was the brand we used or the paper, but we had limited use for the squeegee. Additionally, the directions call for card stock. We opted to use some lightly colored construction paper and regular copy paper. I admit that the copy paper was extremely fragile when wet, but the construction paper seemed to hold up well. (I would imagine that the experience is very different with different brands of shave cream).

With some of the children's shaving cream and food coloring art, we were able to take a number of prints before the color began to fade too drastically. In fact, after Dane was done, I spent a good twenty minutes making additional prints from his shaving cream art. I think we have a pile of 30-40 prints between the two of us.

Of course, no shaving cream project would be complete without an opportunity to just play! We added a pitcher of ice cold water and spent some time exploring!

Here is a collection of some of our prints. As you will see, toward the end of the photos, I took some of the prints that I made with the leftover "ink" and made them into note cards :). Now, I'm curious, Do you think that a more permanent ink would have the same effect with fabric??? I think I may have to try!


 This was linked up over at:

PreK + K Sharing

Welcome to Our New Blog Address!


For those of you who have been to, I welcome you to the new venue for our blog. I hope that this venue will be easier to use and navigate and encourage more frequent posts!

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...