Tag Archives: Art

Summer Book Exchange: The Singing Mermaid

When I signed up for The Educatorsโ€™ Spin On It Summer Book Exchange, there seemed to be plenty of time to do the activities we’d be sent. In reality though, it’s been the busiest three weeks of the school calendar full of events during the week and with weekends packed with parties and outings. We’ve barely had time to breathe, let alone sit and do some structured crafts. Eek!

We were paired with Here Come the Girls. You can see a sneak peak of what we sent them here and the results of their fab crafting here. We were sent a copy of The Singing Mermaid, a book we didn’t actually own already (!), and four packed envelopes full of craft materials with these great book inspired ideas:

1. Make a necklace or bracelet with blue and green beads, plus sea horses and shell beads to remind the mermaid of the beach and the sea.
2. Make wooden spoon puppets to act the story, with tons of glittery foam sheets, big eye stickers, glitter glue and wool for hair.
3. Make a seascape collage with even more glittery foam sheets, shiny green paper, sand, shells and other bits and pieces.
4. Decorate a box with lots of shells, sparkly gems and a key.

Summer Book Exchange, making Mermaid puppets

MG and DG were excited to get the package and we opened the first two envelopes containing the book, bead kit and puppet making materials. We read the book, grabbed some scissors and glue and the girls got to work making their mermaids.

They both wanted to make a mermaid of course, even though the idea was to make puppets for the whole story, but they made up their own stories inspired by the book instead! They had such fun with it (and there is so much glittery foam left) that I’ll definitely be picking up some wooden spoons for them to do more puppets over the summer.

Summer Book Exchange, making mermaid puppets

I helped MG and DG by cutting out mermaid tails for their puppets, everything else they designed themselves. They seemed to have the most fun playing with the ‘hair’!

We’ve read The Singing Mermaid several times, but not at times when it’s been convenient to start on the other activities. MG and DG have been concentrating on their own activities in the limited free time we’ve had in the last few weeks so although I’ve had the projects on the kitchen table readily available, they’ve not been chosen yet! There’s only another four days left at school after today though and then six weeks to fill so I’m sure we’ll do them all, and update here if I get time.

Mermaids (MG on left; DG on right)

Huge thanks to Rebecca from Here Come The Girls for her well thought out parcel of crafts, which will keep MG and DG busy over the coming weeks. If you’re not already following Here Come The Girls, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest for lots of fun activities, recipes and parenting tips.

Here Come The Girls

To see what the other participants got up to, and for lots of book-inspired activities for keeping children amused over the summer, visit The Educators’ Spin On It. I’ll link up to the post collecting all this summer’s posts when it’s live.

Summer Book Exchange with 30 + bloggers with border

How to Draw 101 Cartoon Characters

How To Draw 101 Cartoon characters (Top That! Publishing, 2012)

How To Draw 101 Cartoon characters (Top That! Publishing, 2012)

Our copy of this is extremely tatty, despite being only four months old because MG has flicked through, drawn on and coloured in throughout the book! MG is five and this book is probably too ‘old’ for her but it’s still useful for her to see stages of drawings building up. She’s not used it as intended, choosing to attempt to finish the step-by-step pictures in the book and colouring in the final pictures. DG has also joined in with scribbles…

Not quite as intended...

The book does exactly what it says! It gives 101 4-6 (mostly six) step cartoon characters which are relatively straightforward to copy and improvise from. This book would be more suited to children 8+ I think, and still be enjoyed by teenagers and adults! It’s fun for younger children, and some younger children may enjoy attempting the steps but my two are more free-range in their art so preferred to do things their own way – and still loved the book!

This is one of a series of How to Draw 101… books, and at only ยฃ2.99 each they really are a bargain. I have my eye on Monsters, Dinosaurs and Pirates for a start!

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of How to Draw 101 Cartoon Characters by Top That! Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Other Worlds at The Story Museum

The Story Museum centre opens in Oxford in 2014 but before then they’ve starting putting on events in the building. Other Worlds is open for the whole of May and is a series of art installations in rooms in what was the post office and telephone exchange. It is somewhere that needs at least a couple of hours of exploring, which I certainly didn’t get with a 3 and 5 year old but here are the highlights of our little exploration.

We visited on Sunday 13th May in the morning because I knew Korky Paul would be there for a workshop. He will also be there Sat 19th May in the afternoon and Sun 20th May in the morning (check with The Story Museum for times).

Firstly, all the staff were absolutely wonderful. They greeted everyone enthusiastically, spent time chatting with the children and were completely approachable to talk to. They made the whole visit a delight (even with slightly clingy small children!) MG spent most of the time saying “can we go now?” until we left when she said “when are we going back?” Typical five year old?! DG explored, she likes exploring. We missed out at least half of the exhibits.

MG’s favourite was the Word Storm. We didn’t go in properly and read the walls but the room with its thunder and lightning was intriguing enough and the peephole in the wall to look through was great for the children.

The second favourite was A Crafty Fag, although I have no idea what was going on because I didn’t get to look for more than five seconds! But the girls climbed the ladder and looked through a periscope to see a video which seemed very curious. I think the ladder was of more interest to my children though!

Both of these were on the first floor, we didn’t go in any rooms on the ground floor but the main entrance had audio and paintings so you walk straight in to the experience. The portaloos (very important when you have small children, we had several visits!) were behind some bean poles with tags that looked interesting and I loved the notice in the courtyard about smoking!

The second floor housed Korky Paul’s PlessieOsaurus and the workshop, where the children were free to draw and paint an underwater scene on the walls and floor with Korky drawing outlines of Plessie and fish for everyone (not just the children) to colour plus giving impromptu advice on how to draw fish, how to make the paint more watery to look underwater etc. He spent the entire time engaging with the children and if I wasn’t totally shy I would have said hello as it was a very informal and intimate workshop. I think there were about 20-30 people there so it wasn’t overcrowded. There was a bit of drama when the Plessie fell over when the staff tried to move it to make space but no one (including Plessie) was hurt.

DG, being DG, happily painted the walls, looking for me when she wanted to change colours and when she wanted to stop. MG, being MG, clung to me at all times and didn’t do any drawing at all (which is a shame, because it is her favourite occupation usually). So MG and I kept out of the way and looked at the other exhibits in the huge room that we were in while DG happily painted, looking out for me on the odd occasion (I kept an eye on her at all times, in case she got stressed.)

There were tables with books spread around (which of course I couldn’t resist) and posters, postcards etc to support the museum. I bought a small handful ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was a lovely trip and although the girls had their ‘bored’ moments while we were there, we did stay for about an hour and a half and they said they really enjoyed it afterwards and wanted to go again.

This review is a tiny taster of what Other Worlds has to offer, it really deserves a longer visit. Other Worlds is open until 27 May on Thursdays to Sundays (see website for details) and costs ยฃ3 per person, children under 2 are free.

Timothy Pope, Timothy Pope…

Yesterday evening MG found a cardboard tube and pretended it was a telescope, which led to reading Shark in the Dark by Nick Sharratt for the final bedtime story. “I want to paint my telescope” announces MG. Of course, I say, we’ll do that tomorrow…

So, as soon as she’s awake in the morning: “Can I paint my telescope? I need blue and yellow paint.” Ad nauseum, until I give in (about three minutes later, before we’ve even had breakfast…)

We have a messy art cupboard in the kitchen full of paints, paper and related paraphernalia. That “messy” belongs with “art”, not “cupboard”; it’s probably the tidiest part of the house at the moment. Generally there are things stacked in front of the cupboard door, so that DG can’t help herself to the paints ๐Ÿ™‚

MG had her cardboard tube, so of course we had to find one for DG. Blue and Yellow were requested, so that’s 4 paint pots: blue and yellow for MG; blue and yellow for DG…

DG prefered painting on paper, and soon smeared her hands everywhere (she’s left-handed, hence the brush is in her dominant hand: I know she’s a toddler and it’s too early to tell etc but she’s been strongly left-handed from around 10 months old much like MG has been strongly right-handed from around 10 months old…)

MG painted her “telescope” to be like the one in the book, and then painted an empty milk carton before moving onto mixing paints and creating these lovely caterpillars…

…that ended up being smeared onto MG’s hands shortly after I took the picture. The girls were in a tactile painting mood today. Mess turned into running to the sink to wash hands (and bodies); then paint pots and brushes. And when all had finished, it was time for a bath ๐Ÿ˜†

I’ve recently discovered Amber Dusick’s Parenting with Crappy Pictures blog. This post on art is so true for this household; we invariably end up in scenario two…

Ice Experiment Failures

I’ve been absent from blogging for a few days, partially through feeling too tired to concentrate in the evening and partially from the last couple of art experiments not going down well with MG and DG. As it’s the summer holidays, I’ve been concentrating on outside and art projects with them.

But this blog is Child-Led Chaos. The Child-Led I’m working on; the Chaos we’re good at! So here’s some failures from the last few days…

Inspired by Share & Remember I gave the girls ice cube paints. I liked how bright the food colouring + water paints looked, and that they were given paper and cloth to paint on. MG drew half a dozen designs in about 2 minutes before she announced she was bored and went inside.

DG didn’t like the fact that the ‘paints’ were disappearing. She didn’t understand it and it upset her. As for painting on a muslin cloth – oh, no, that was not allowed! Muslins are comforters for both MG and DG and although MG understood it wasn’t permanent, DG was having none of it. Neither girl was impressed or happy, so all in all a failed project. I’ll try it again some other time though!

The second inspiration was from The Artful Parent and Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas. I prepared a few balloons full of water in the freezer the day before but wasn’t going to use them because it was pouring with rain. However, being stuck inside created two very frustrated small monsters, so I set the ice, salt and food colouring out for them.

It was such a failure, I don’t even have pictures… DG tried eating the salt; her expression on spitting it out was priceless but I didn’t have the camera on me. MG piled an entire tub of salt onto her ice block and then coloured the salt with food colouring. The ice didn’t really crack too well under the salt, I think it wasn’t frozen enough? I don’t know what I was expecting but I don’t think it ‘worked’!

Both girls ended up covered in various shades of food colouring and the kitchen ended up smelling as I decided adding bicarbonate of soda and vinegar would make things more interesting for them (it didn’t)…

As I’m doing failures, here’s how the cake the girls made ended up:

So, CBeebies has been winning the ‘child-led’ aspect this week! Onwards and upwards… ๐Ÿ˜†

Splodgy Cup Painting!

Todays mess art experience was the trusty paper-cup-full-of-paint-with-a-hole-in-the-bottom. It probably has a proper shorter name, but I’ve gone for “splodgy cup painting”. This time MG and DG were involved in the setup so I have no setup pictures as we were too busy doing things to take pictures.

Materials needed: paint, water, paper cups (plastic will do), string (or similar), plasticine (or similar) and pencil.

For the uninitiated: take a paper cup (or three) and punch holes in either side at the top (pencil and plasticine method), tie string (or whatever you have – in our case curling ribbon) to create a hanging cup. Repeat for however many cups you want to use – three was plenty for my two small ones.

If you’re not already outside, relocate out at this point. Or somewhere you don’t mind covering the floor in paint. Or use a VERY large plastic sheet to cover your floor…

Put cups on plasticine balls and make a hole in the bottom with a pencil. Keep the plasticine over the hole in the bottom of the cup. Partially fill cup with paint of your choice – I used premix paint but any paint that can be made into a liquid will do. Add water until the paint consistancy is enough to flow through the hole at the bottom but not too watery. Repeat for all cups, trying to keep the paint contained in the cups until everyone is ready. Spread some large sheets of paper around, let small children pick up hanging cups, whisk plasticine off bottom of cups and stand well back…

Having never done this with the girls before, they wondered what I was up to when we were preparing but soon got into the swing of it (pun not intended :lol:)

This is how i envisaged the finished product looking (I did manage to sneak away one sheet to dry at this stage):

DG decided that extra water would be good in her paint cup, and MG chose to mix the red and yellow to make orange:

The extra water made things wetter and more slippery and after some foot painting I decided that we needed a tub of water to wash feet in. My jumped in with all her clothes, therefore clothes were discarded by the children at that point. DG decided that the foot washing tub was more fun than painting:

MG decided that brushes, and hands, and feet were more fun than refilling the cups:

MG squeezed lots of paint and danced through it but it was very slippery so she fell (not hurt, phew…) and ended up covered in orange from toes to upper thigh – which she happily washed off in the tub when DG came out for some paint dancing. Once they were happy with their work, they washed the bulk of the paint off in the tub, dried and I whisked them into a quick bath (there’s a theme to our art exploration here…)

I’m not sure how other bloggers make art look so neat and tidy. We’re just messy! The aftermath wasn’t too bad really:

I think a teensy bit of preparation, rather than just deciding to do this on a whim and making it up as we went along might have made this a bit less messy… ๐Ÿ™‚ Great fun, quick and easy to set up, best done outside in warm weather!

Outdoor Painting

Reading this post on Putti Prapancha reminded me that I set up something similar with MG and DG a few weeks back – and it’s about time I posted about the children on this blog!

For a change, I managed to set up whilst MG and DG were amusing themselves elsewhere (usually they help). Firstly I laid out three long strips of easel roll paper, weighted them down with bricks due to the wind and took the tops off a set of six watercolour tubes (from Poundland). I managed to choose a fairly dull and windy day (British summer!) which meant I had to use a few bricks to keep the paper from flying off.

Once the girls had started, it became apparent that two strips of paper were more than enough, so I removed one. I tried not to influence their painting but they worked out to use their feet and hands fairly quickly!

Later water became involved, to spread the thick paint around more (and mix all the colours). Most of the colours other than black had been used up at this point.

Later still sand became involved, being scattered over the wet patches of the paper – and the water and paint were added to sand on the patio too! Once the paint ran out, I whisked the girls into the bath and hung up the painted strips to dry – the wetness of the paper caused it to tear in places but the wind dried it quickly.

The end result isn’t pretty, but the girls had a great time painting (and then playing in the bath). Next time I think I’ll limit the colours available for them and probably offer acrylic paints instead of watercolour tubes to get a better spread of colours.