Saturday, July 7, 2012
I bring you fun art activities to keep little eyes shining and little brains creative.
It’s summertime, and the living is far from easy. The kids are racing from baseball to soccer, from softball to dance class, and please don’t forget swimming lessons. They are wearing out the library card and reading every book in the building. Still, there is not quite enough for them to do to fill the hours. Shut down the telly. Drag those flying fingers away from computer games. The Angry Birds can beep another day. Your artist friend (that would be me) has come to save the day. I bring you fun art activities to keep little eyes shining and little brains creative. Let’s open up that big old art portfolio and see what fun things we can do.
This first one can get really messy, so be sure you have lots of old newspapers on hand. We are going to make a wax crayon Encaustic (hot wax) painting.
You will need some old, used, broken crayons you are ready to part with and some smooth cardboard. Poster board works well. Foam core is even better. Place the cardboard on the newspaper. Remove all paper from the crayons. Use the crayons to draw any design or picture on the cardboard. Place the crayons in appropriate spots on the drawing or design. Now comes the fun part. Place the artwork on a warm surface such as the driveway or patio in the sun. Leave it alone for several hours to let the crayons melt. When the crayons have melted into the design, carefully move the picture to a shaded spot to allow it to cool and harden.
Here’s one for the smallest fingers.
This time we are making egg carton creatures. You will need some colorful egg cartons, fuzzy pipe cleaners, glue and some sequins, beads, buttons, or those little glue-on eyes.
To make an egg carton caterpillar, cut the egg cartons in half lengthwise. This makes the segmented body. Use the pipe cleaners for legs and antennae. Glue on whatever decorations you want to make your caterpillar come alive.
To make an egg carton spider, separate one segment from the rest of the egg carton. Draw eyes and a mouth for the spider’s face. Use pipe cleaners to make scary spider legs. You can use the rest of the egg carton to make as many weird and wonderful creatures as your imagination can invent.
Now we can make a drawing of easy, noiseless Fourth of July fireworks. To make these fun fireworks, you will need black construction paper, Elmer’s glue and several colors of glitter. Place your black construction paper in the center of a large sheet of newspaper. Drop a blob of Elmer’s glue on the construction paper. Spray it lightly with water. Let it spread. Carefully sprinkle one color of glitter into the glue and allow it to spread out in the glue. Drop another blob of glue onto the paper. Sprinkle a different color of glitter into the glue. It will spread out and look like fireworks.
Here’s one for everybody: It’s a magical mystery painting. You will need a small candle, cardboard and watercolor paint. The watercolor paints in the little boxes work just fine. Use the candle to draw an invisible drawing on the cardboard. Since the wax is clear, you won’t be able to see your drawing. When the design is complete, use the watercolor brush to paint across the cardboard. Paint only one color, or paint stripes or designs of many colors. The paint will not stick to the wax. The watercolors will make the magical mystery painting appear.
Toothpick sculptures. This is a great project for older children. You will need various colors of cellophane or tissue paper, scissors, Elmer’s glue and a box of wooden toothpicks. The flat kind work best, but if you have colored toothpicks, that’s okay too. Glue the toothpicks into triangles. You can glue the triangles right onto the tissue papers and cut them out. Glue three triangles together to form three-dimensional tent-like objects. Glue the little tents together to form taller, wider, higher structures. They can be bridges, houses, and sculptures. There is no limit to the strange and exotic shapes you can make.
Now we are going to make some giant soap bubbles. This is guaranteed to get everybody outside. Art is beauty, and there certainly is beauty in the color and shape of soap bubbles. To get started, you will need a really big pan. Bend a coat hanger into a giant loop that will fit into the pan. Mix ½ cup of Joy or Dawn detergent, five cups of cold water and 2 tablespoons of glycerin in the pan. Dip the coat hanger into the liquid and wave it in the air.
Last but not least, this is a sweet combination art activity and science project. You will need a small, clean mason jar, a pencil, a thick, clean string, 4 cups of granulated sugar, 2 cups of water and a few drops of food coloring.
Cut the string a few inches longer than the height of the jar. Tape or tie it to the middle of the pencil. Wet the thread, and roll it in granulated sugar. This will give sugar crystals something to build on when they start to form. Set the thread aside to dry while you prepare your sugar syrup.
Place the water in a medium-sized pan and bring it to a boil. Carefully add the sugar, one cup at a time, stirring as the sugar dissolves. You may notice that it takes longer for the sugar to dissolve after each addition. Continue to stir and boil until all the sugar has been added and is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.
Let the sugar syrup cool for at least 10 minutes, and then pour it into the mason jar.
Place the pencil across the top of the jar and drop the sugared string into the jar until it hangs about 1 inch from the bottom.
Carefully place the jar in a cool place. Make sure it is away from heat. Cover the top loosely with plastic wrap, and leave it alone.
You should start to see sugar crystals beginning to form within two to four hours. Allow the rock candy to grow until it is the size you want. Keep watching it. Don’t let it get too big, or you won’t be able to take it out of the jar. When it is as big as you like, take it out of the jar and let it dry. Notice how beautiful the crystals are when you hold them up to a light. Then eat them. This is an edible art and science project.
Have fun and enjoy your summer!
Award winning artist and writer Jan Statman’s paintings are owned by museums in Italy and Spain and by corporate and private art collections across the USA. She is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the Arts, Dictionary of International Biography, and numerous other references. Best known for colorful acrylic and delicate watercolor paintings, she also paints portraits, judges area art exhibits and teaches painting classes. See her work on Facebook at Artist’s Studio of Jan Statman American Artist.