All of my grand kids are age 5 and under so there is not really an organized routine or craft plan that we have. I do attempt organized crafts at times though; this week will be Father's Day cards. Right now the kids just like to play and explore with the materials I offer them. Mostly they like to paint or use markers; and glue! A few times I have let them use glitter but aside from the mess they make with it they seem to like shaking it out more than any thing else. If I didn’t stop them we would soon have all the glitter out on the table and the shaker jar would be empty!
When we use glitter I attach their papers to a thin plastic cutting sheet with an office clip. I purchased these cutting sheets at Wal-Mart 3 to a pack for around $4 I think. They work great because when you are through with your project you can remove the clipped paper and pour the glitter back in the container, they are very bendable. And watch out for getting glitter in the eyes!
One of my favorite tips when we are crafting or painting is to have a spray bottle of water on hand. I regularly spray the paint trays keeping them wet for the kids. Sometimes they have a hard time with the “dip your brush into the water then onto the paint color then your paper” routine. With the spray bottle keeping the paint ready for them they are free to just paint.
I also spray water onto cloths to use for cleaning hands and the table when we are all done. The spray bottle can stay on the table (we have a dedicated crafting space) and unlike cups of water, the spry bottle won’t spill or evaporate if you leave it out. But at times using a cup of water is necessary.
See my Mason jars holding the craft supplies? In a handy tote of course in case we go outside to create. These are my everyday supplies; my 'special crafts supplies' for special crafts (such as Father's Day cards) are stored out of sight.
Some days I stick to just painting with the kids. We use water colors and tempera paints. I pour the liquid tempera paint in a plastic ice cube tray or on a plate. When I have several artists working on a project who all need paint I use a large glass disk (recycled from a small patio table) that I center on our work table and pour paint on it. Everyone can reach some paint then. You can see the glass disc with paint in use at our Spring Family Day.
Tempera is a step up from regular water colors, it’s thicker and more opaque, and the kids love it. I don’t let the smallest kids use it, say under age 2 or 3, unless they are good at listening and keep it out of their mouths without being told no. It says non toxic on the container but still…. I like that tempera paint also works like regular water colors after it is dry; you just need to re-wet it. Then it is not wasted, just used next time. In the ice cube tray or plate, I continue to add the same color paint to the same spot each time we use it.
They like to take their projects home of course but there are always lots of art works left behind. I use these when I let the oldest ones practice cutting, then the cut pieces are recycled into shapes that can be glued onto a fresh paper at another time. This is a great way to use up those small bits of scrapbooking paper you have left over too.
It makes an interesting looking project with the painted or crayoned designs on the cut shapes. Of course there is always the gluing on of pasta shells, rice and dried beans. We use stickers too and all kids love them but they are one of those things that I usually forego, preferring natural or recycled materials for the kids to experiment with. Kids can empty a sheet of stickers in no time flat and then you have to buy more. At times we go outside and collect things for them to glue on to paper, even dirt, or to things to apply paint to like leaves and press the image onto paper.
The kids like to stamp too. Sometimes I use a placemat that has a little sponge or give to it with a washable surface like the one in the picture above. Using the office clips again I clip the kid’s papers to these mats. They are great for stamping because of the spongy quality making it easier for the kids to get a good stamp image, and the mats keep their papers from moving around as they work. Sorry, he didn't want to stamp for the picture.
When the youngest of them starts to get bored and the older ones are not through yet, I try to keep the little ones at the table longer by giving them pieces of tape to play with.
It helps prolong the activities at the table and helps me have them all in the same place where I can keep an eye on them all at once.
I always put my smallest kids in the chairs with arms, it keeps them from falling off because they do forget and try to stand or kneel. And aprons are required artist garments for gluing and tempera paint projects. See my thrifty Tote Bag Aprons making technicque here.
One last hard core artist left alone at the table working on “A Rainbow with Rain Drops.” A gift to Gramma :)
It will be fun staying a step ahead of them as they grow. As I look for new ways to expand their creative minds I’ll be expanding my creativeness too.
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