Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Painting with Kids

So far in my children's short lives, I've kept the amount of times we have to paint to an absolute minimum, preferring to keep any messy craft activities as an exclusive part of their preschooling/daycare experience. Truth be told, there's just something about the thought of my kids being let loose near paint that sends me into a cold sweat.

Realising though my little cherubs are getting older and needing a little extra stimulation in order to prevent boredom, I've recently admitted defeat and am now trying to include more paint time into our stay at home schedule.

In any case, today's painting mission was actually alright. The kids were entertained for a while, they squished paint through their hands, experimented with colour and when I overheard my youngest exclaim how much fun he was having, I knew I'd done the right thing - despite the mild panic attacks I went through!

For future paint sessions, I'll be bearing the following tips in mind to ensure our painting time goes as smoothly (and as cleanly) as possible:

1. Have everything ready - This means getting your paints, paper, several old towels or cloths, smocks, easel, paintbrushes & containers out and ready to go before the kids get started. Find a suitable area in or outside of your house and set everything up there.

2. Cover up - Don't let your kids wear anything you wouldn't want paint to ruin, no matter how 'washable' the paint is supposed to be. If the weather's warm enough, strip your kids off. Otherwise dress them in old clothes or buy some art smocks.

3. Keep it clean - To stop little paint footprints covering your house, have an old towel on the floor ready for the kids to wipe their feet on or catch any spills as they occur. Alternatively, you may like to cover the floor with a cheap, disposable tablecloth that you can pick up for a few dollars in the party section at Spotlight (which I have continued to reuse & even machine wash successfully several times). Keeping an old, damp cloth on stand by is also a great way to wipe down your art easel or other equipment before the paint dries.

4. Paper rolls - The best $10 I have ever spent was on a roll of butcher's paper bought from my local newspaper (also known as an 'end of roll'). Our roll will probably take the whole year to finish, a bargain considering how much we've used in the past two weeks. For your painting session, roll a large sheet of the paper onto the floor or cut into appropiate sized sheets. Whatever works for you.

5. Set a limit - Unless you want all your paint & paper wasted gone in one paint session, discuss setting a limit with your children. While this isn't a necessary step, it will keep the amount of mess you need to clean up down a little and hopefully prevent a tantrum when you unexpectedly announce paint time is over. So give your kids three sheets of paper each, a certain amount of paint to use or set a time limit. Once their limit's been reached, it's time to clean up. 

5. Add in some learning - No doubt, learning works best when it's hands on and fun! Draw some shapes, letters, numbers or animals onto one of your child's sheets of paper and get them to paint it in. Don't forget to let your kids have some freestyle painting fun while they're at it!

6. Use little paintbrushes - At first, I was cursing the fact I only had little paint brushes, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The smaller brushes worked out easier for the kids to hold, gave them greater control and significantly reduced the amount of excess paint dripping onto the floor. Not to mention, you'll get a few extra minutes out of the activity since the little brushes take them a little longer to paint with :P

7. All over, red rover - When the kids are finished (or bored with painting), use an old cloth to wipe off any paint from their hands and arms before you march them towards the bathroom. Better yet, clean them outside under the hose with a towel or two you've set aside for cleaning and drying your child. If using the bathroom to wash up, place a hand towel over the basin so that it hangs down over your cupboards to catch any paint transferred from your child's clothes. Carefully remove their painting clothes/smock and throw them into the washing machine immediately along with any other towels, cloths, etc used during your painting time. Use your old cloths to wipe any equipment down as well removing any paint from your brushes.

So my next step here will be purchasing some proper paints and accessories to make paint time a little more exciting for the kids. And slowly, but surely I will be relaxing in the fact that I am embracing messy activities into our lives!

P.S. Have you got any painting tips that work for you? Any paint activities your kids love doing?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Alphabet Collage - Part 1

If your kids love craft time as much as mine do, this Alphabet Collage is a great little activity to do with your toddlers.

I know I've said it before and I'm going to say it again, but preparation really is the key to ensuring you enjoy these craft/activity times as much as your kids do. You'll feel more in control plus there seems to be less mess involved when our activities have been prepared in advance.

But moving on to our collage. Inspired from other learning blogs, I have tweaked this activity to suit our learning style and what resources I have on hand.

Step 1, print your A, B & C outlines.

Step 2, print off your worksheet with assorted images beginning with the letters a, b & c (hence the part 1 title. As more worksheets are developed they will be posted on this blog). Since I'm unsure how to insert PDF documents, this image below will have to do! Please contact me or leave a reply below for the original worksheet.

Step 3, cut out your letter outlines and all those individual little images. These can be all mixed together since part of the learning process involves sorting through the various a, b & c images and gluing them to the appropriate page.

Step 4, allow your child to colour in or decorate the letter outlines as they see fit. Glue them onto separate pieces of paper (I've used different coloured paper for each letter). As an alternative to this step, you may like to make your letter outlines large enough for the pictures to be glued inside of the actual outline instead of surrounding it like I will be doing. 

Step 5, let your children sort through the images and glue them onto the correct page. For example, all cars, cats and cameras will be glued around our letter C.

And just to emphasise the point of being organised, this is how my planned activites will now live. I have labelled a spare document wallet (now called Planned Kid's Activities), which quite rightly stores any planned activities or craft ideas I may have in store for the kids later on in the day or for tomorrow.

When not in use, our Planned Kid's Activities wallet will now reside in my newly organised and recently beautified errands zone/station (see below). I like to keep my little folder close by so that I can add ideas and worksheets whenever inspiration strikes and have all necessary bits and pieces ready to go when I get a chance to do so. It also makes life easier when I need a stand by activity to keep the kid's amused, particularly during all this wet weather we've experienced.

There you have it. A quick, easy and relatively mess-free activity to perform with your kids. 

P.S. How do you fit in learning/craft activities with your kids? Is it a structured thing or unplanned?