Wednesday, November 20, 2013

GO OUTside and PLAY!

Playing outdoors can become challenging when the weather is less than perfect. Sometimes it is more difficult to get motivated to bring your little ones outside. No matter where you live, you deal with various challenges based upon the weather, but they can be overcome! Remember:
 "There is no such thing as bad weather, just improper clothing!" (unknown). 

Please join in with my co-hosts:

by participating in the GO OUTside and PLAY Bloghop and Linky!

Now, a little bit about our climate and outdoor fun!

We live in Northern Michigan, right near the shores of Lake Superior. We have quite a varied climate, as we experience all four seasons -- sometimes to an extreme. It is not unusual for us to measure our snow in feet or to find patches of snow on the ground into early June.

We have a saying around here... "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it will change......"

This time of year, we can expect snow, rain, sleet, sun.... all in the same day!

I'm going to let you in on a little secret....... I'm not a big fan of the cold. In fact, sometimes it is really hard to get motivated to get out and play. However, I know how important it is for the children in my care-- so sometimes I have to "fake it" until I "make it." I also make sure to bundle up!

Our winter can be super long.... but once we have enough snow, the children really don't care how cold it is.

 Mr. Allan creates our annual luge run, and we find dozens of ways to keep busy in the snow!

We often add paint to the snow to add some color to the landscape!

The children keep us motivated to keep getting outside, and our outdoor classroom provides a vast array of learning experiences for them when it is not covered in snow. 

The purpose of our hop and linky today is to give you a resource, a wide array of ideas to help keep you motivated when you need some inspiration to GO OUTside and PLAY! Please take a moment and visit all of the lovely co-hosts and to link up any of your own outdoor play posts! I'll be pinning the posts to my Outdoor Inspiration Pinterest Board and sharing via other social media. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Upcycled Art! #CreativityMatters

This post is inspired by Everyartist Live!, a national, collaborative art event with the goal of engaging a million elementary school children on November 21, 2013 – the largest art event in history. Want to get involved? Join us in our efforts to show that #creativitymatters. Sign up at

These "pinky" puppets are made by upcycling caps from old, dried up markers!

We recycle, reuse, repurpose... UPCYCLE around here all of the time!
One of the best things about finding a new use or looking at an item with a new perspective is how creative you can be. You don't have to see things for what they are, you can see them for what they could be....
"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer

I know a lot of programs struggle with budgets. There never seems to be enough money or resources to go around. Please, don't ever let that be an excuse to stop doing art! There are so many ways you can create art with very inexpensive or free materials! You can even make some of your own art supplies. You can hop on over to my post at PreKandKSharing and my Pinterest Board if you are looking for some recipes

Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. There are a lot of businesses and organizations that have materials to give away, end rolls or outdated posters/letterhead, you name it.  I honestly don't remember the last time we purchased paper for our art area. We have so many options for the children, and we even recycle scraps and make our own paper too! Not only is recycling paper a great art project, it is environmentally friendly and it helps to develop fine motor skills!
We recycle our scrap paper into homemade paper. All of our paper making is done by hand. The children absolutely love the entire process, and they really enjoy creating on the paper that they have made. 

Paper is not the only "canvas" you can encourage children to create upon. We have re-purposed sheets of Styrofoam, cardboard boxes, large plastic lids, and scraps of wood. Basically, we try to find a new purpose for just about anything before we opt to send it for recycling or tossing it in the trash!

Large plastic lids are a great canvas for painting on too! We used them to make "flowers" in our rock garden. 

We have been working hard to create bottle cap murals to add to our outdoor fence. Did you know that when plastic bottles are recycled, the caps are not. They are fantastic for creating murals and sculptures.

Some of the children work hard to make their creations look real, while other children work in a very abstract manner. Regardless of their approach, the caps make beautiful murals!  

Not only do we upcycle materials to create art, we also upcycle materials to make art supplies and tools!
Did you know that you can take your old, dried up markers and turn them into homemade liquid watercolor?

When we first started to do this, we would just put the markers upside down in a jar of water, now we take them apart with needle-nosed pliers. Then you can use the caps and tubes for other projects as well. 

We have also used old craft foam, Styrofoam take-out boxes and corks to create our own stamps:

Old Chalk stubs can be crushed and mixed with water to make chalk paint, or you can just pound it onto a wet sidewalk to create a masterpiece:

Old crayon stubs can be melted down together to make new crayons in various shapes, or you create melted crayon art by heating those stubs with a blow dryer:

We are ALWAYS finding ways to upcycle and re-purpose when it comes to art, If you need some more inspiration, feel free to browse our archives, check out the linky below, and my new Pinterest Board for Upcycled Art!


Hop on over to and sign up to participate!

Now, a bit more about

On November 21, 2013 Everyartist Live will launch with a goal of engaging one million elementary school aged children in a collaborative art event. When this succeeds (as I believe it will), It will be the largest art event in HISTORY!

"At, we believe fostering creativity is as important as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. It will better prepare our kids to transform our country, and the world, in their lifetime."
I hope you are as excited about this mission as I am- and that you will spread the word that #creativitymatters and sign up to participate today!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to
check a few other posts written to help promote Everyartist Live!:

Child Central Station: Creating an Art Station
Child Central Station: 101 Ways to Paint Without a Brush

24/7 Moms: How to Create That Art Spark in Your Kid
24/7 Moms; Sibling Bonding Through Art

Cool Cat Teacher: Join the Elementary Art Project That Will Help the World be More Grateful
Cool Cat Teacher: Creativity for Kids November 21 and Every Day with Creativity Matters

Do you have some inspiring ideas to jump start creativity with upcycled art? I'd love for you to link your posts below! Please share any post that is family friendly and upcycles materials for art (or craft).  (Any posts not family friendly and/or relevant to upcyling for art/craft will be deleted). Your participation in linking up gives permission for the link to be shared on a variety of social media platforms.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Easel Painting

Sometimes, I think we forget that we don't need to have an elaborate set of tools, or a thousand different options for young children. Sometimes simple is best- like paper, paint, and a paintbrush at the easel. 

We still give the children full artistic control. They choose the colors and the tools they will use. I often find it interesting at times though- for many children the choice of paper color or paint color isn't of major importance. They just want to paint- It is that constant reminder of process, process, process that continues to show through. They want to experience the process involved with moving the paint brush up and down- or covering their hands in paint.....  

It is interesting to observe the decision making process and the choices the children make. For instance on this occasion the first child to the easel decided to paint with dark blue paint- and all of the following children opted to take his lead - even though they all had the option to use the 10 color of paint we have available to them. I am noticing this a lot with our older toddlers and younger preschoolers. We often end up with the same or similar choices being made by each of the children. 

 Although this appears to be a very simple activity, the learning outcomes are magnificent! Using a vertical surface, such as an easel is fantastic for developing not only the muscles in your child's hand, but also for the child's posture, neck, and shoulders. Children are much more apt to have to use both hands and have an easier time developing their hand and eye coordination while upright.  It is sometimes easier to see as your child is at exactly the right height to do so!

 By giving children full artistic control, they are also experimenting with ways to paint, tools to use, colors, perspective..... you name it.....  

We have a number of easels in our program, but you don't need an easel. A wall or a fence work just great! Anything you can use to make the activity go up and down! The easel on our fence was made by a piece of treated plywood and connected to our fence by hinges. The easel on our porch and the one pictured here are from IKEA (I am not affiliated with IKEA in any way, although I do spend a lot of $$ there!).

Are you looking for an easel? or painting supplies? (I'm an Amazon Affiliate- Here are a few choices.) 

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...