A Thousand Cranes & Other Collaborative Art

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This week I had the good fortune to visit Anna Bing Arnold Children’s Center at Cal State L.A., where creative ideas are thriving. Curriculum Coordinator Alexandra Walsh and Director Patricia Ulloa have decades of combined experience and a particularly innovative staff. Like Dominic, who facilitated this brilliant collaborative puzzle piece painting with three- and four-year-olds, which immediately caught my eye. Isn’t it brilliant?

anna crane 2 anna crane 3Dominic explained how this experimental project began by cutting 12 x 18” Real Watercolor Paper into puzzle shapes, then prompting children to select a shape and paint it using Colorations® Simply Washable Fluorescent Tempera. The puzzle pieces were placed in a basket in the art area for use at any time. The intense color you see here resulted from distinct 3 variables:  (1) using fluorescent paint,  (2) mounting each puzzle piece painting onto black construction paper, then trimming a close border, and (3) by using watercolor paper instead of white construction paper. The added thickness (and spongy quality) of watercolor paper absorbs more pigment than regular paper, giving the finished paintings a visual “pop.”   Nice!

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I fell in love with this Thousand Cranes Origami project, facilitated by Jasmine Cruz and Raul Delgado, which creates a unique environment that children, parents and teachers all participated in!  This delightful classroom activity, which combines open-ended art with math foundations and collaborative teamwork, embodies the “Four C’s” which children will later address in Kindergarten and elementary school.  These “Four C’s” are the four specific skills deemed by the US Dept of Education to be the most important for preparing students to succeed in the 21st century: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.  Kudos to Jasmine and Raul for initiating an important learning experience while adding beauty and innovation to their school.

anna crane 8A Thousand Origami Cranes is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Some stories believe you are granted eternal good luck. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures that is said to live for a thousand years: That is why 1,000 cranes are made, one for each year. Here children decorated papers over the course of two months, while parents and staff folded them into a thousand origami cranes. Thanks to patience and motivation, the children’s parents, grandparents and teachers strung all thousand of their hand-colored paper cranes onto cord and even added pony beads for charm.

Creative art programs like this one develop over time as the result of intention and practice on the part of administration and teachers. Lots of little tips that facilitate art set-ups are learned from experience. Writing the paint color of each bottle on the top of the white lid makes identifying each bottle a breeze.  Glue doesn’t just stick things together. It can be used in unique ways and one way is to pour a thick layer of clear glue onto a smooth surface and add seed pods, ferns and natural collage elements. When the thick layer of glue eventually dries, it creates a unique semi-clear glaze which holds the collage elements together. This second collage also uses clear glue, but in this one the glue is first infused with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, then is painted and drizzled onto butcher paper.

anna crane 9 anna crane 10 anna crane 11anna crane 12Last but not least I re-discovered one of my favorite art techniques at Anna Bing Arnold that day:  the wonderful effect of colored chalk on black paper. This black butcher paper mural has so much energy, and I love how the door handle was cut out!  It also beautifully illustrates the constructionist idea on the poster in the center’s lobby: “Inviting children to fully engage in the use of messy, unstructured materials allows them to explore freely with infinite possibilities.”anna crane 13Thank you, Alex and staff for a LOT of inspiration.  Which one do YOU want to try?  

Materials Used Here:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor Paints, 8 oz. – Set of 18 (LW18)

Colorations® Washable Clear Glue (P4GL)

Butcher Paper Rolls (P4018)

36″ x 1000′ Dual Surface Rolls, 40 lb., black (PDSBK)

Colorations® Colored Dustless Chalk – 100 pieces (CNODUST)

12 x 18″ Real Watercolor Paper – 50 sheets (BIGMONET)

9×12″ Heavyweight Construction Paper – 50 sheets (9CPBK)

Colorations® Simply Washable Fluorescent Tempera – set of 7 (FSWTSET)

Pony Beads – 1 lb. (PONY)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education.

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Fall Art Ideas for Young Children

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Fall is here, the leaves are starting to turn and the air is becoming crisper. Hooray! It’s time for the scents and smells of autumn. Here are some fun ways to bring autumn themes into YOUR home or classroom.

Small gourds and Indian corn make great additions to your sensory bin and inspire children to observe, compare and explore nature and its many attributes. This sensory bin promotes STEM learning foundations, as does the observational painting that you can introduce with the same gourds.

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This 3-year-old is painting with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ as she observes and documents a gourd. Observational drawing and painting is an important way to facilitate critical thinking and brain development in early childhood. Drawing and painting from nature can also slow children down, reduce stress and promote self- regulation. These are important skills for children to learn that go way beyond the more obvious benefits of art-making.

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Leaf Punching is a great way to incorporate nature into your fall art activities. Use large hole punches that are easy for young hands to manipulate and punch shapes out of leaves that are at various stages of drying out. You can also let colored leaves dry out completely and crunch them into “leaf glitter” to use in collage work.

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Tree bark makes a good natural painting surface. Look for fallen bark pieces on a nature walk this time of year. These chunks of eucalyptus bark made for wonderful paintings by 2- and 3-year-olds. Painting on bark calls for an opaque paint, like acrylic paint.

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Don’t forget how much fun it can be to add Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ to soil and paint with it. This Writing Center incorporates color-tinted soils to Twig Books, a variation of the Paper Bag Book lesson plan from Smart Art Ideas.

Thanks for checking in and have a wonderful autumn.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™, 8 oz – Set of 18 (LW18)

Colorations® Acrylic Paints, 8 oz – Set of 8 (CACRYLIC)

Giant Paper Punches – Set of 8 (BIGPUNCH)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

My Love Affair with Colorations®

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I love to sing praises for Colorations® art materials, how can you NOT love a brand with that name? There’s always something new, sparkly or magical coming down the pike.  So I say, who needs the high-priced brand, when Colorations® is less expensive and of better quality. Do you feel the same?

When the new year rolls around, it’s fun to see what’s NEW in Colorations® art. Have you taken time to experiment with something new lately? If not, why not try something NEW each time you re-stock.  If you “change up” your list of art supplies and new things here and there, you’ll help S-T-R-E-T-C-H young minds and imaginations.  It’s true!  Creativity thrives on new input, and new materials provide unique challenges and discoveries.

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This weekend I experimented with three Colorations® dough products to compare and contrast their properties. It felt like a science experiment as I immersed myself in exploration and documented my results.

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I was eager to try a brand new product: Colorations® Amazing Air-Dry Modeling Foam.  Why was it called foam and not dough? How was it different from Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough or Air Dry Putty? How could I use it to raise my Ecers scores for 3-D art? Given fifteen minutes to play with it, here’s what I found out:

The colors are bright and inviting. The small air-tight containers are practical and re-usable. The price is right at $14.99 for a set of 12 colors. After digging in, I realized immediately that it’s way denser than other manipulatives. It offers  a completely different tactile experience than play dough or homemade putties. Children will enjoy the simple process of rolling and pounding it. You can use it with the same clay tools you have on hand. I took the green and made a simple pinch-pot to test the material’s stretch-ability. It’s pretty amazing  – unlike any art material I had ever played with.

On a therapeutic note: Because Colorations® Amazing Air-Dry Modeling Foam is dense, it would serve as a great tool for helping children channel stress and calm themselves down if they’re feeling angry or fidgety. In other words, modeling foam will provide a physical release for tension much like the resistant putties that occupational therapists use. It will also help develop muscle strength in hands and fingers, which is excellent preparation for early handwriting skills.

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Look at how the dense quality allows it to stand up tall and keep its shape. Here I rolled out the blue, took a potato press to the pink, and simply squeezed the orange in my fingers. They held together when I pressed them, but if I was going to keep this I would add a little white glue to hold it together. If I didn’t want to keep it, I would put it back in the plastic air-tight containers, for re-use another day.

As first this product looks a lot like Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough, but it has a much finer grain, so it holds a shape more easily. It also dries hard and is perfect for 3-D art (required by Ecers, remember?). I look forward to seeing children use it in large recycled 3-D art, by molding and gluing it onto cardboard boxes, wooden blocks, plastic bottles and other recyclables.

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Here you see how another green bowl made from Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough compares.  IncredibleFoam® has much larger grains, so it makes a rougher bowl shape. While the Air-Dry Modeling Foam dries overnight, the IncredibleFoam® never dries. Both art products are fun to play with and can be completely child-directed.

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My favorite Colorations® dough is Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty.  I love the white version since you can paint white air-dry putty with any water-based paint or marker, and therefore personalize it completely.  But lately I’ve been working with the colored version of air-dry putty, which works beautifully with the new dough pattern plates. In fact, pattern plates and air-dry putty were born to go together.

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Air-dry putty is extremely fine-grained, so it picks up incredible details when imprinted with clay tools or pressed onto these patterned dough plates. These pattern plates will make all your play dough and clay experiments more fun, too.

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Next I brought out a pack of new In the Garden Plastic Beads. These brightly colored beads were much smaller than I expected, but they were full of delightful little colored leaves. I was worried that no small child could string these beads because the holes are small, but they all fit perfectly onto Colorations® black elastic cord. I think they’d be fine for four- and five-year-old children to string.  Plus they make great glue-down collage materials for the younger set and you get 800 beads in a pound, so this is a good budget-stretcher that ties in with nature themes.

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In the Garden Beads are very dimensional and make interesting stamped patterns on the air-dry putty.  I used some of the leaf beads as stamps, and then adhered other leaf beads into the putty with a little glue. This is an excellent exercise in fine motor skill development, and the designs will motivate children who are visual thinkers.

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My mind kept going back to recycling, so I found a baby food jar and placed a large ball of putty on the lid as a decoration. Then I glued some more putty around the sides.  I could have continued my discoveries, letting one idea flow into the next, but I was running out of time and the Super Bowl was about to begin.

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To finish off my experiments, I rolled out all the excess air-dry putty and created a simple Mandala with what I had on the table. When in doubt with what to make, take a paper plate and create a mandala. There’s something about a circular design that’s always satisfying.

Thanks for witnessing my discoveries, and please try some of your own soon.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty –  Colored (CPUTTY)
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty – White (WPUTTY)

Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough (FOAMDO)
Colorations® Amazing Air-Dry Modeling Foam (MODFOAM)
Patterned Dough Plates (DOPLATES)
In the Garden Plastic Beads (NATUREBD)
Black Beading Elastic (BLKELAS)

To celebrate Discount School Supply’s love affair with Colorations®, we are hosting a giveaway on our Facebook page! Beginning the week of February 10, you could win a Stamp Prize Pack, a Craft Prize Pack, a Finger Paint Prize Pack, a Paint Prize Pack or the Grand Prize of a Colorations® Ultimate Liquid Watercolor™ Paint Kit! Head over to our Facebook page to enter to win our drawing! The contest ends on Friday, February 14!

Favorite Art Ideas from 2013

Anna Fave Art 2013 1December is here so I’d like to reflect back on 2013 and share some innovative art ideas that came from YOU and never made it into a blog post.  The above photo is Printmaking with BioColor® on painted spaghetti, and other innovations follow. I hope you are inspired to try some of these soon.

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Leaf Punching with Giant Paper Punches

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Mud Painting with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Paint added into the mud with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ paint on Cooperative Mural Art Material.

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Color Spray Mural Team Building (click here for lesson plan) Staff Development Team Building at Pressman Academy.

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Toddler Messy Art with Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera.

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Community Paint Run by Ugly Dog Events using Colorations® Powdered Tempera.

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Leaf Mobile on branches using Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ paint on Liquid Watercolor™ Lovely Paper Leaves and beads

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Fabric Flower Mobile on branches with beads

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Painted Pinecone Mobile with Stringing Straw Beads on a branch.

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Pipe Cleaner Sequencing with assorted buttons

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3-Dimensional Pot with Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty

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Air-Dry Clay Impressions with fresh flowers

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Collaborative Quilt from the recent NAEYC Conference in Washington, D.C., using Classroom Canvas Quilt squares

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write this blog, it’s always fun to be on the lookout for innovative art ideas. My thanks go out to Discount School Supply® for having the vision to start this blog five years ago. Their intention was to have me collect and share ideas on how to use Colorations® products with continuous innovation, and I work hard to live up to the task. More importantly, my thanks go out to you, the parents, teachers and early childhood program directors who read my monthly posts. Without you there would be no Arts & Creativity community. I love that you join me in sharing your own ideas and spreading the word about the value of art in education. Thank you.

PS – Special thanks to Monica Marshall and Kathy Walker from College of the Canyons CDC, the always innovative Danielle Monroy of Creative Care for Children and the awesome Mona and other ECE staff of Pressman Academy.

Materials Used:
BioColor® Paint, 16 oz – set of 13 (BIOSET)
Giant Paper Punches – set of 8 (BIGPUNCH)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Paints, 8 oz – set of 18 (LW18)
E-Z Pull Extra Large Clear Trigger Sprayers, 12 oz – set of 6 (TSBOT)
Cooperative Mural Art Material – 4′ x 10′ (LWMAT)
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera, 16 oz – set of 11 (SWT16)
Colorations® Powder Tempera Paint, 16 oz – set of 10 (CPTSET)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™Lovely Paper Leaves – set of 72 (LEAFSET)
Best Value Bead Bucket (BDBKT)
Fabulous Fabric Flowers – 200 pieces (VIOLET)
Stringing Straw Beads – 1 lb (STRS)
Pipe Cleaner Classroom Pack – 250 pieces (PCPACK)
Assorted Grandma’s Buttons (PTBTN)
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty (CPUTTY)
Air-Dry Clay – 25 lbs (AIRDRY)
Classroom Canvas Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASQLT)
Classroom Picture Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASPIC)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

Fun and Affordable Holiday Art Ideas

I love to spray paint. Whether I’m working with children or adults, it’s exciting to watch people experience freedom and leave their inhibitions behind by spraying liquid paints onto paper. Let’s think about making Color Spray Murals for the winter holidays, it’s a spray paint process that creative, affordable and makes for great gifts and festive decorations.

At the NAEYC Conference in Atlanta last month, Peter and I made a video of “How to Make a Color Spray Mural.” Here’s a photo of the artwork I made in the video, I draped it outside my studio so you could see how nice it turned out when it dried. The paint I’m using is Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, which is super easy to use in spray bottles and is also 100% washable, always a plus.

Here the same artwork folded and used as a coffee table runner. (Notice my sweet dog Abbey on the sofa , awww). Color Spray Murals are a great way to dress up your home or classroom for the holidays and this one used just a third of a sheet of mural paper so it cost very little to make, including the paints.

Best of all, Color Spray Murals can make you feel over-the-top creative. To the adults and teachers I work with, I like to say “you will feel like an instant artist!” and this quick YouTube video will prove just how and why that is. Take a look!

The “fabric-like” paper I’ve used is called Cooperative Mural Art Paper, and it’s the key to success with Color Spray Murals. Notice the soft drape and spongy textured surface in this plain white one that’s ready to be painted. Cooperative Mural Art Paper is a actually a special 2-ply paper drop cloth that’s sold in some hardware stores, but it can be very hard to find. It’s available from Discount School Supply® for $8.99 and is an oversized 4’ x 10” sheet with plastic backing. One sheet will make 2-4 small murals or 20 individual works of art. I recommend this paper over any other surface to spray paint, and I’m certain you’ll agree.

Check out this Wrapping Paper station, using the same Color Spray Mural from the video. Gifts look so beautiful when wrapped with swatches of a Color Spray Mural, and imagine having 4 x 10 feet of brilliant colored paper that you made by hand. For truly affordable gift wrap this season, consider a few other bargains from our ribbons and trims such as my personal favorites: Satin Ribbon in eight colors for $11.99, or Printed Craft Tape in 10 colors for $15.99, or wonderfully soft Textured Craft Yarns in eight colors for $17.99. All are an affordable way to reflect CREATIVITY and personalize your holidays.

You can also cut Color Spray Murals into smaller pieces and make scrolls, using dowels or chopsticks on the top and bottom. These make wonderful holiday gifts. You can leave them as art only, or mount a child’s poem or message or drawing on top. These beautiful scrolls are unique and easy to make, and use about 50 cents worth of materials. 

Handmade gifts are such a personal way to show you care. I found some ideas on Etsy the other day that I wanted to share:

Handmade Work has Authenticity and Soul.
There is JOY in handmade.
Nothing’s better than having a little piece of someone’s passion.

If you’re working with young children, you may wonder where to start with making ideas like these. Sometime a fence or wall outside is the best place to start.  

Notice that the sprays of paint are not running down the paper, like they would be if you spray painted onto the usual white butcher paper. The children are spraying Colorations® Liquid Watercolor onto spongy, fabric-like Cooperative Mural Art Paper so the paint is staying on the mural and reflecting back a lot of color.  

 

Here’s a picture from a 3-year-old classroom where we created a collaborative mural outside on the playground. The children used ferns and large leaves as stencils and sprayed on top of them to make leaf shapes. The bright drizzles are Colorations® Gold and Silver Liquid Watercolor, which was dripped on top of the sprayed areas.

Because Cooperative Mural Art Paper (LWMAT) has a plastic backing, you can do these murals inside also. Just be sure to put newspaper under all the edges. You’ll find these and other tips in my Color Spray Lesson Plan from Smart Art Ideas Activity Book.

(click here for the lesson plan)

Here are some girlfriends who came over to play. I spray paint on the weekends for relaxation sometimes, and when my friends hear about it they often want to join me. It’s very therapeutic and is a great activity for people who think they’re “not artistic.”

In Conclusion:
After a lifetime of being passionate about art and experimenting with every art material imaginable, I think I like to make Color Spray Murals the best of all. Why? I love the sensory and physical freedom of spraying color. I love that I am forced to work quickly and spontaneously and not over-think anything. I know I don’t have to be afraid of the final outcome or “how it will look in the end” because the color and texture will carry it, no matter what I do. I can suspend judgment, trust the process, and allow the incredible combination of light and color and movement take form in front of me.

Have a wonderful holiday season and thank you for checking in.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor – set of 13 (13LW)Colorations® Gold and Silver Liquid Watercolor (MLWG and MLWS)Colorations® Washable Glitter Paint – set of 11 (GLPA)Cooperative Mural Art Paper (LWMAT)Smart Art Ideas Activity Book (SMARTART)
Satin Ribbon – 16 spools (SATIN)
Printed Craft Tape – 10 rolls (PRINTED)
Textured Craft Yarn – 8 skeins (TEXYARN)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

 

Gelatin Giggles for Summer Fun!

Outdoor art is great for summer when we can enjoy time outside in the light and sunshine. If you love COLOR and gem-like quality of the Gelatin Giggles pictured here, you will want to add this simple sensory activity to your summer plan. Because we are making memories here with our summer, right? And there’s nothing much more memorable than colored gelatin slipping through your fingers on a perfect summer day. 

These photos are from Sari Abram’s 3-year-old classroom at Pressman Academy in LA where I recently a led a 30 minute Gelatin Giggles activity on a corner of the playground. I took in eight blocks of gelatin, plastic eyedroppers, five bottles of Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, and an art tray with a 1” lip to contain the mess. I volunteered for this because I’m developing a new workshop called “Messy Art with 2’s and 3’s.” I had already tried Gelatin Giggles with school-age children, but I wanted to see how very young children would respond. I learned that the best way to introduce Gelatin Giggles to a group of toddlers was to have them take turns two at a time, while I managed some semblance of control over the paint. As a firm believer in messy art, I also recognize there’s ultimately an “art” to controlling the mess while allowing children the experience of freedom with the materials.

Things were pretty clean and tidy as the first two children began playing with the eyedroppers on the white art tray. I instructed them to fill their eyedropper with the color of their choice, then stick the eyedropper into the gelatin chunk and squirt the paint inside. They learned that if they didn’t stick their eyedropper in very far, some of the color would splash back out on them, surprise!

They also learned that their eyedropper would sometimes suck up the gelatin and create a colored gelatin snake, surprise!

Before they finished their turn at the sensory table, I offered the opportunity to select a second color and inject that into the gelatin. Then they could watch the colors blend and pick up a chunk of gelatin in their hands and hold it up to the sunlight. We didn’t clean up between children, so the colors and gelatin chunks accumulated on the tray as the activity progressed.

To create Gelatin Giggles, purchase unflavored gelatin (Knox makes one and others are generally sold next to the flavored gelatins at the grocery store). Use less water than called for to make your “giggles” a bit more solid than usual. Here’s the recipe:

Knox Gelatin Mold: The ratio is 3/4 cup water to 1 packet of Knox. Take the number of cups of water your container holds and DIVIDE by .75 This is how many packets of Knox you need. In a saucepan, heat the water over low heat, add the packets of gelatin. After it dissolves pour it into your container. Let set over night. **BE SURE TO USE OIL OR SPRAY YOUR CONTAINER WITH PAM FIRST! Wait for a sunny day and unmold your gelatin onto art trays or a sand and water table.

Did I talk enough about the exciting presence of light and color? Check out how this glob of green sparkles in the sun! Does it make you think of stained glass windows or a sparkling crystal? If you own a diamond ring or anything cut from crystal, bring that to class and show children how these minerals are faceted, which means they have flat planes that refract color and light. Amazingly, clear gelatin also breaks along facets in similar fashion, which is why Gelatin Giggles look like gemstones in the light.

There’s nothing like group art experiences to bring children together and create a sense of collaboration in the summer. Gelatin Giggles is a perfect way to introduce sensory art while the weather is warm enough for outdoor play and the sun can provide a brilliant light source to enhance experiments with light and color.

If you like this art idea, you’ll probably also enjoy “Ice Tunnels” and “Sand Tray Gemstones”, two of 18 Colorations® Liquid Watercolor Activities in my book Smart Art Ideas 2. Thanks for checking in, and I look forward to reading your comments. If you would like to have your own art ideas included in a future post please send me an email at areyner@discountschoolsupply.com. Together we can continue to build a strong art and creativity community.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor
SuperSafe Plastic Droppers (12SSD)
Brawny Large Art Tray (RECTRAY)
Smart Art Ideas 2 (MOREART)

From grocery store: Knox or other brand clear gelatin

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

The Messy Art Studio

What I love best about blogging is how we stay connected and share new ways to have fun with art. It’s so refreshing to know there are other “like minded” spirits out there. I always have fun with messy art, especially the kind of OUTRAGEOUS fun you see in this photo, sent to me by a fellow arts educator, Donna Bernstein.

Donna owns The Messy Artist, an art studio for children in New Jersey. She recently sent me a blog comment, so I looked up her website and I found it over-the-top inspirational. Just the name of her art business was enough to make me smile. Donna enrolls over 150 students a month in her afterschool art classes and delivers 15 Messy Art Birthday Parties a month. What a creative and successful entrepreneur! She must have boundless energy and a very happy staff. Imagine all those happy children and families, being exposed on a regular basis to the pleasures and values of sensory play.

To promote the VALUE of messy art, Donna highlights these words on her website:
Exciting, exploratory, creative, imaginative, fabulous, just plain fun.

Kudos to you, Donna, that pretty much sums it up. The ideas and the photos from The Messy Artist studio were so much fun, I knew you would enjoy seeing them too.

Check out these two boys messing around with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ on top of shaving cream. Donna was excited to tell me that she buys all her art supplies from Discount School Supply® and first learned a lot of her messy art ideas from our catalog. Everything here is written up as a Lesson Plan in Smart Art Ideas Activity Book and Smart Art Ideas 2.

This larger photo shows the group process at a Messy Art Birthday Party. Donna says when older siblings come to a birthday party, they sometimes have even more fun with the sensory play than the little ones! She went on to share her ideas about art in society: “In today’s society where children are so structured and pushed to grow up it’s great to see them just being kids and playing with goop, slime or finger paint.”

Here’s some orange colored Sensational Spaghetti in a large sensory tub, one of the Messy Artist’s signature projects. You’ll find the lesson plan in Smart Art, but here’s a copy (click here for the pdf) of it for you to see and print out.

Now check out this Sensory Box that Donna keeps filled with colored rice; it’s like a sandbox but for indoor use. Donna pre-colors rice with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ and keeps her sensory box filled with it. It’s the hit of her studio! Donna found that outdoor sand boxes typically don’t have a strong bottom or cover, so she had her husband make this to her specifications. It’s 4′ x 4′ with a bench all around for kids to sit on. It’s also big enough for kids to sit inside. It can accommodate about six kids inside and 8-10 if they are sitting around it.

The full-on body contact with colored rice and the sensations of this total body immersion are unforgettable. In fact, Donna says as children grow up, leave home and come back to visit her studio, they always first ask if she still has the colored rice to sit in!

Donna’s photos inspired me to make colored rice and spaghetti at my next conference, so I opened up my sensory collage box. There I discovered some colored rice I had forgotten about, I made it over two years ago! That’s some pretty good “shelf life.” I kept it because I loved this color combination, I even called it “mardi gras” rice. I colored it with lime, black, red, violet and magenta Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™. I always color some rice with black Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ because black gives such good contrast against the bright colors. And for the same reason, I throw in a little plain white.

To make this multi-colored, “mardi gras” rice, simply take dry rice and place it in different plastic zip lock bags, and make up each color separately. Pour, drizzle or spray Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ into the bag, shake it up, then pour it all out on a paper plate to dry. When the rice colors are dry, mix them together like the mardi gras mix, then keep other colors pure for use in various types of collage.

Getting back to the colored spaghetti: The night before my conference I cooked up 3 boxes of differently shaped pasta, and stored them in large zip lock bags. Here you see them in my favorite sensory tub heading for their travels. If you don’t have good sensory tubs, try these! They are wonderful. I use mine constantly and they last for years.

Here we are at the San Diego Association of Family Child Care, where I just delivered a Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ workshop. The crowd was mesmerized! But of course they were, how often does a speaker bring out 3 pounds of pasta and begin coloring it?

I showed everyone how to place rice or pasta into a zip lock bag, add Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™, shake it up to distribute the color, then pour it out. We poured the rice out onto paper plates, but we poured the wet pasta into the sensory bins. Here we have a bag of wet rigatoni colored with magenta, followed by other wet pasta shapes colored with lime. Are we crazy? Perhaps, but it sure was fun!

By the way, one final note about coloring foods. If you work in a low income area, it’s not a good idea to use food as an art material for obvious reasons. In that case, try substituting ice cream salt, plain wooden beads, or shaving cream, they work just fine!

Contact Donna or check out her website at:
Donna Bernstein
Owner and Director
The Messy Artist, LLC
www.TheMessyArtist.com
973.378.2425

Materials Used:
Sand and Water Activity Tubs (TUBS)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ – set of 13 classic colors (13LW)
Smart Art Ideas – both books (ARTY) Paint’M Beads (PAINTM)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education