Process Art Masks for Toddlers


With Halloween coming up there so many cute Halloween craps out there. I wanted to do something with these Do a Dot markers that we received in the mail recently from Melissa and Doug. I also want it to be a process art activity where the boys would have total freedom and creativity.

I settled on the idea of making masks. It could combine collage, paper crafts, wearable art, and the markers.  


I have to say I was really excited about these Do a Dot markers because not only are they easy, non-toxic, and come in a variety of colors -even silver! The green box has fruity smells to the markers! The boys really enjoyed that!

To make the masks I simply cut out a face shape from white card stock. Then I gave the boys the markers to choose colors from and they began making their dots.


After they finished making their dots I gave them red pom-poms and googly eyes to add details to their masks.  For this step I did most of the gluing, however I did allow them to experiment holding onto the glue bottle and trying to squeeze out some glue.


After that they added the hair I cut out of yellow card stock to the back of their mask.

Often times when making crafts and art projects with little kids adults feel the need to steer children in a direction towards a finished product. The great thing about process art is that there is no definitive look to a finished project. The child can create their project however they wish-this gives younger children a lot more self-confidence in their decision-making while creating art. This self-confidence can aide children in continuing to be creative down the road whether it’s in visual arts, music, or writing.

The next time you do a craft or art lesson with your child consider letting them take the reins. Maybe they’re making a self-portrait and their lips are painted on their foreheadand their eyes go on their chin, that’s fine. Pablo Picasso did that after all!

Floral May Crafts for Toddlers

may flowers
April showers bring May flowers right? So this month I’ve been doing a lot of floral crafts with my boys. The first one I shared on Instagram and in a previous post which is a Monet Waterlilies craft.  Monet was a French impressionist painter in the 19 century who built an incredible garden in his home complete with a Japanese bridge and water lily pond which he painted over and over again. This is a simple process art project that then gets turned into a craft.  For more information on how to make it you can check out my previous post here.

monet 2Later on for Mother’s Day we made paper plate flowers which are also a simple process art activity. The boys use bright colors and painted paper plates. Afterwards we practiced cutting with our safety scissors little slips along the side of both plates. Then we bent the tabs that we created to resemble petals on a flower. To finish we added a green construction paper stem and leaf.  Both boys painted a paper plates, Ben helped with the cutting, and Adam helped with the gluing.

flower cardWe created some friends willows based off of a Pinterest pan I found last month. We did this project in play group along with the water lilies. For this project I pre-drew the willows on white card stock sized 9″ x 11″. Are used a sharpie marker, but any permanent marker will do. You don’t want to use Crayola markers because they will smear when the paint is applied. We then dipped hour some into different colors of paint and pressed around the flower. It’s a simple cute process project that could then be turned into a card or framed.

I did a willow, but on Pinterest it initially came to me as a dandelion.  There are so many cute thumbprint flowers on Pinterest.  I’ll share some pins below.  Let me know if you try any in the comments below.  Happy May!

Thumbprint Dandelion - Kid Craft - this idea would be a great gift for a teacher or a DIY project for grandparents!:

Thumbprint Art Project For Kids - Easy craft idea! Painted flower pots make cute homemade Mother's Day Gifts. Crafts:

Mother's day gift idea from thebubblegumtree.blogspot.com:

 

DIY Mickey Mouse Art Projects

Mickey Mouse ArtA couple months ago I was visiting a dear friend who had some extra canvas sitting around her house. I took a square shaped one that was already pre-stretched and it had a gyclee on it home with me with the intention that I would be using this for a Mickey Mouse DIY painting project to be hung in Ben’s big boy bedroom. Being that the canvas already had a giclée on it I went ahead and used a paint primer that I picked up at Lowe’s. If you’re trying to do this project you can also use a few layers of gesso and a sponge brush.   I did about four coats of the primer using a house painting brush and allowing each coat to dry in between. I was very careful that the coats were thin and even. I also painted the sides.

 Once that was done I made my circle templates out of craft paper just tracing around a large sized salad bowl and a cereal bowl twice.  I cut them out and taped them down flat onto the dry canvas.  After that I began splattering paint in yellow, red, and black across the canvas.  Tip: You want to make sure when you’re doing this to start with the lightest color to the darkest allowing each color to dry completely before adding another color otherwise the colors will run into each other and you’ll get a murky look.



I made sure to let some paint drip down the sides as well.  I let the painting dry overnight. I was able to hang it up with Command Strips that I placed in each corner. Then I bought these cute wall decals from Babies R’ Us that I stuck on the wall underneath the painting.

Moving onto the numbers that I painted Mickey Mouse style. I bought the numbers and the wood circles from Michael’s. The Mickey Mouse wall plaque I got from Amazon.

The numbers were really easy to make but do require a little bit of painting skill. You could also apply the same method with the wooden circles for ears and the colors to letters if you want to make a name plaque or the ABC’s.

The numbers came already primed with white paint. I simply taped off the bottom of each number so I would get a clear edge when I painted the yellow coat of paint. While I waited for the paint to dry I used Gorilla Glue to glue the wooden discs onto each number for mouse ears.  Once the yellow paint was dry I carefully removed the tape. I recommend using painter’s tape. If you don’t have painter’s tape you can use masking tape but you do run the risk of a peeling off part of your acrylic paint and not having a clean edge. I taped off the middle of each number to paint the red paint, but before I painted the red I added yellow circles for buttons.


I painted on the red paint, allowed it to dry.  I then proceeded to tape off the top of the numbers to paint black.  After I allowed the red paint to dry I repainted the yellow buttons.  Sometimes when you’re painting you have to add another layer in order to have a nice clean edge. Another option if you don’t feel comfortable painting buttons on each number, you can purchase small yellow or white buttons and glue them on.  If you do choose to paint on the buttons I recommend using a very small paintbrush. For the rest of the project are used in medium size paintbrush. The project in all took me two evenings to complete. I used Command Strips to hang up the numbers and the Mickey Mouse plaque.  Ben really loves this display in his room. He practices counting his numbers in both English and Hebrew when he sees it.

I think having DIY accents in the room separates Ben’s Mickey Mouse themed bedroom from others.  I didn’t only rely on the same merchandise we see in every superstore, department store, and baby store.  I added unique pieces to give it a personal touch.  Art is a fun, inexpensive, and easy way to add a little DIY flair to your child’s room.

DIY Mickey Mouse Rocking Chair

rocking chair

When we decided to switch Ben’s nursery into a big playroom I knew immediately what the theme would be: Mickey Mouse. He’s obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse-it is his favorite show, we watch it every day. He has every Mickey Mouse toy you can imagine, and we went to Disneyland for his second birthday.  The problem was that we had nothing as far as Mickey Mouse furniture or even artwork. Along the way a friend of ours was selling their son’s red Corvette bed, which my husband picked  up for Ben as a Hanukkah present. It goes along with a Disney Cars painting we received for Ben’s first birthday.  I thought we could kind of combine Mickey Mouse and the car theme because the new show Mickey Mouse and the Roadster Racers is coming out and so it really works out perfectly.

This rocking chair was given to us by a friend who’s granddaughter outgrew it. It was a typical brown wooden rocking chair.  I saw a DIY Mickey Mouse painted chair on Pinterest this past fall and have been dying to replicate it. The first thing I did was paint the whole chair white with a primer I picked up at Lowe’s. I did two coats of white.  I allowed them to dry completely in between coats. My biggest piece of advice that I teach all my students when it comes to painting anything is to start with your lightest color and leave your darkest color for last. For this project I simply used acrylic paint that I purchased at Michael’s. I started with the yellow on the bottom of the rocking chair and the two circles on the seats for Mickey’s buttons.  The next step I did was the red seat which I had to be very careful painting-especially around the circles so that they still looked pretty smooth around the edges.

Tip: When you’re painting a piece of furniture it’s really important that you look at it from every angle, make sure that you get behind it in front of it you look on top of it facing downwards and you get underneath it and look up in between every single coat of paint. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve missed!

Lastly I painted the black sections and added the black creases for the gloves on the handles of the rocking chair.  When you’re painting a piece of furniture  with several colors like this you want that the color will be opaque.  Stay away from semi-transparent, glossy, or pthalo type colors.  Once the rocking chair was finished I took it up to Ben’s room and I must say it has been a really great addition to his big boy Mickey Mouse bedroom. It’s a piece that definitely brings that theme of Mickey Mouse into the bedroom and completes the look. I’m glad I was able to do this on a budget-using a chair that I got for free and was already in my home, with small tubes of acrylic paint that I purchased only for a few dollars at Michael’s.  Just like the rest of our house our kids’ bedrooms are going to change over the years and it’s good to be able to do so while conserving money through DIY projects like this.

Patriotic Playgroup Activities  for Presidents’ Day

This week we had our playgroup on Presidents’ Day. I decided to go with the theme of patriotic crafts and I did some research on Pinterest. I found a really cool pasta sensory bin that was cheap and easy to make.  I will attach the pan below in case you’re interested. The century vent was a blast and the children really enjoyed it. It did not take a whole lot of work to make. In fact I made it just in a few extra moments that I had over the weekend. Obviously the pasta is reusable, so I can use this for future crafts to come.  Once the bin was assembled I added in some plastic cups, plastic spoons and forks, and a little car for the kids to play with.



I also did a patriotic star craft. We assembled stars using Elmer’s glue with red and blue popsicle sticks. Then we attached the start to some white card stock. The kids could use glue sticks to collage paper tissue squares in red and blue or red glitter on their star.  This was sort of a problem-solving craft in the fact that the kids had to help their moms put together a star which is not easy to do as far as it coming out symmetrical. The kids also had to learn how to use a glue stick and choose the materials that they wanted in their star.  For a two-year-old that is definitely some higher-level thinking. They are analyzing, synthesizing, and creating.


My last activity was a so-called free painting in red white and blue. This particular project has some art historical significance. The style of Abstract Expressionism  which was made popular by Jackson Pollock in the 1940’s was an exploration of paint itself. No longer was paint being used to depict a person, place or thing – the artist was just creating a painting to depict the paint.  Their style of art marks the transition of the center of the art world from being Paris to it being in New York City. This is a truly American art movement.  So as the kids dripped, swirled, and explored with paint, they were actually creating works of art that tied into an American historical style of art.


When I do my playgroup every month I like to have a variety of activities. I like for there to be something for the kids to craft or collage, something for them to model or experience such as a sensory activity or clay, and of course a drawing or painting material. At this age it’s really important that kids just experience as much as they possibly can. By giving young children art materials and allowing them to create they’re using their higher thinking skills, they are exploring their imagination, and they’re expressing their unique individuality at a very-which is a character builder.  Young children experience a level of confidence in themselves and their artwork and like teenagers who typically are shy about their accomplishments. If we can encourage  young children to to be proud of themselves and build up their confidence at a young age then hopefully they’ll be more confident when they enter their teenage years and adulthood. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and if you have any thoughts about how art builds character in kids please share them in the comments below.

I Used to Be an Artist

Some artists create everyday like clockwork.  They take their canvas and easel and go to a mountain top or a cliff and paint for hours on end until they have a masterpiece or hurl their canvas over the cliff like Cezanne in a fit of frustration.  I am not that kind of artist. I have never been that kind of artist and yet my whole life I have been Liza the artist.  I was the girl in high school who spent countless hours in the art room listening to Depeche Mode on her headphones shading and mixing colors. I attended art school, have a B.F.A. in painting, and went onto a successful career as art teacher in the public schools.  I created my own art and displayed it in galleries in my spare time.  Then one day in October of 2013 I got the call that ended my artistic career: I was finally pregnant.  I had tried for several years to create what would become one of my two greatest masterpieces, not knowing that this news would make me completely redefine myself.

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Maybe you’re reading this saying I shouldn’t have to give up my artistic pursuits to be a mom.  You’re right.  There are plenty of people who have babies and manage with a helpful family member, daycare, or sleep schedules to continue their interests.  I have fully committed myself to being a mom and put this part of myself on the back burner.  My practice as an artist has ebbed and flowed throughout my life.  Three summers ago before my pregnancy I was creating art everyday, and now nothing since.  The blog is filling the creative void to express what art left behind.  I do miss it, but not terribly because I know one day it will consume my life again.

Teacher Tip: Evil Eye Magnets 

evil-eyes
I recently was confronted with a Facebook memory of this photo: handcrafted evil eyes that were used as a fundraiser by my art club 4 years ago.  For many years I didn’t have much of a budget as an art teacher and I had to get creative as to how to get supplies for my 800 students.  I decided with my art clubbers we would mass produce evil eye magnets to sell in order to raise money for the clock parts we wanted to buy to make ceramic clocks. The evil eye is seen in many Mediterranean cultures of protection from negativity.  By having the kids make the magnets and sell them at our city’s monthly art walk the kids took ownership of their education, their program, instead of asking an adult to just give them the money or project components.  I think this is a very important lesson.  We are so blessed in this country to have free education for all.

To make the magnets I simply poured Plaster of Paris into old egg cartons I lubricated with Vaseline prior.  When hard, I popped them out, sanded them, and then handed them to the children to paint and we hot glued on a magnet backing.  I had hundreds of free magnets from a business that donated them when they closed.

At our local First Friday Gallery Walk we stood in front of my friend’s gallery with signs the kids created on posterboard.  People stopped and talked with us about why we were fundraising, the meaning of the evil eye, and we made over $300 in a few hours of sales!  The GATE teacher at our school sold the rest on Friday mornings with pencils.  We were able to pay for our clock parts and create our masterpieces.

Ice Fishing Sensory Activity

ice-fishingWe don’t get a winter vortex in Las Vegas-and I don’t miss the 23 years I scraped windshields in Buffalo.  I do miss the beauty and quiet of snow.  Snow insulates sound.  I grew up next to a busy four lane street and when it snowed there was hardly any sounds from the traffic.  It’s peaceful and there’s nothing more fun as a kid than playing in the snow.  I went sledding and snowman making every winter. My friends and I threw snowballs at each other in the school yard.  My boys will be growing up with palm trees instead.

Since the boys won’t be seeing much snow or feel bitter cold I thought it was time to try some cold sensory art experiences out.


We did this activity with the My Petite Picassos Playgroup and t was a hit.  I used Swedish fish silicone trays from Ikea and filled them with water. After, I added a drop of gel food coloring.  I mixed it using a baby foods phone. You can also use a toothpick or straw.  I pop them in the freezer for about an hour and a half and they were all set. We used it on card stock so the paper wouldn’t buckle. The kids had so much fun!  One little boy painted for an entire hour!

Arty the Anaconda

arty-the-anaconda

This is a lesson I did both in the art room and at home with Ben.  I will provide differentiated instruction based on the size of the group in this lesson.

Arty the Anaconda by Liza Amor

Grades: K-1st # of sessions (50 minutes each):2

Homeschooling: 1 media per day for as many media as you have to choose from (up to 5 or 6).  I did this project with a 2 year old, I think it is appropriate for ages 2-6.


Art Materials: for the classroom:butcher paper in a variety of colors pre-cut to represent the body of the snake on each table, glue, paper scraps (pre-torn), feathers, crayons, bingo markers, stamps and stamp pads, chalk, markers, and watercolor paint. For homeschooling: corrugated scissors or regular scissors, construction paper in a variety of colors, markers, crayons, stamps and stamp pad, bingo markers, craft materials, painting materials, and glue.

National Visual Arts Standard: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

Objectives: Student will-

*experiment with a variety of media.

*create a group based work of art (for the classroom).

Preparation: For the classroom:Set up one section of the butcher paper snake at each table. Set out a different media at each table. (4 tables, 4 media, 2 weeks=8 media all together)

For the homeschooler: Choose a different media per day and the appropriate color of construction paper to go with each (lighter paper for crayons, darker for tempera paint).  Set up a spot at home for the child to work with the media.

Procedure: For the classroom: Day 1: Teacher will introduce the lesson. Student will be shown and demonstrated to the various centers at each of the four tables in the art room. Student will put on a smock and rotate to the four centers using each media placed on the table. Day 2: Student will review the steps of the project.  Student will be shown and demonstrated to the various centers at each of the four tables in the art room. Student will put on a smock and rotate to the four centers using each media placed on the table.

For the homeschooler: Each day have the child try a different type of media on their construction paper.  Once the work has dried use scissors or corrugated scissor to cut out a circle.  I used a roll of tape to trace the circle before cutting it out. 

Ending: For the classroom: Display all the parts of the snake wrapping around the school building. Cut out eyes and a tongue to add to the face.  Display with state standards, national standards, and objectives.  In class discuss the materials they used, asked them what they learned and what they would do differently next time they try that media.

For the homeschooler: Put together the parts of the snake with your child.  Add a tongue from red pipecleaners and a googly eye.  Discuss the materials they used, asked them what they learned and what they would do differently next time they try that media.

Literacy/ Science tie in: Read a book about Anacondas or snakes.  Read a book about using art materials and creativity such as Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre or The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.

 Rubric: /10

Student was actively engaged with each art media center. 3/10

Student treated materials appropriately (putting them away correctly and using the appropriate amounts of each material, not leaving a mess). 5/10

Student listened an followed all of the instructions of the activity/center/media. 1/10

Tips for Painting with a Toddler

img_3744Over the years I have been told repeatedly by classroom teachers how brave I am.  Not because I’m a ninja, but because I can organize groups of fifty elementary school aged children while creating messy masterpieces.  Painting with a 1 year old or 2 year old is very different and presents far more challenges than with a group 20 five year olds-seriously.

1. Cover the chair they’re sitting in with a garbage bag, even if it’s a highchair.  The dyes in the paint could leave a permanent stain on the fabric or plastic.

2. Tiny paintbrushes or Q-tips.  Tiny amounts of paint being splattered and dropped is everywhere is a lot easier to clean than large amounts of drippy paint.

3. Non-toxic only. If the paint is store bought there should be an AP label. I have had a few students taste the paint over the years and even though it’s non-toxic, I sent them to the nurse just to be safe.  She had them gargle with water and sent them back to class.  If you want to be extra safe try my homemade, food safe paint recipe.

4. Make a DIY garbage bag smock.  Turn the garbage  bag upside down, cut a hole at the top for the head and two at the sides for the arms.  It will cover them top to toe and it’s reusable.

5. I recommend putting some kraft paper on the floor for spills and on the table. Or wrap plastic wrap around the highchair table.

6. When they are finished, take away the supplies first and the smock last.

7.  Baby wipes work best for cleaning up the kiddos or a bath.

8.  Stain removers that have worked well for me are Oxyclean, Honest (got out Sharpie), and good old baking soda/vinegar.

9.  Little ones don’t know to cover the whole page, and maybe parts of the page are out of reach for them. Either point out where else on the paper they can paint or turn the painting for them.  You want to do this before they paint over and over in the same spot for so long they wear a hole through their painting.

10.  Turn their paintings into something special: a garland, cut out repetitive shapes and make a Warhol inspired work of art, scrapbook with it, the possibilities are endless!