Tag Archives: painting

Yard Art

Last month I brought some clay and plasticine out to the yard.  I put several pieces of each on trays around the yard.  The children explored the textures.  I showed them how to use the heat from their hands to warm the clay and make it more pliable.


We collected various items from the yard and garden to add to the clay to make sculptures;


Of course the process was more important than the product and everyone had their own ideas and methods;


After the children were done with this activity the clay, plasticine, and other supplies were abandoned in the gravel area.  Only the trays were returned to the outdoor art area.  Later that week I brought some painting supplies out and placed them on the lid of the storage box – it is a nice height for the toddlers to use as a table.


Some children prefer to try alternative methods when painting – I thought it looked much more difficult to stand on the back side of the storage box but that was her choice;


It added a physical, gross motor, element to the art activity. Another bit of process over product – it could be described as ‘hanging’ art since her feet were not on the ground;


Over the last few weeks the children have discovered that the clay that was abandoned in the gravel area has now hardened into ‘rocks’.  The plasticine however is still pliable – especially on warmer days.  Of course you have to find it though – there are bits and pieces of plasticine strewn throughout the 400 sq ft gravel area.

There is always excitement when someone finds a piece of plasticine amongst all the gravel.  It is even better when they can collect enough of it to create another sculpture;


The sunlight and shadows add even more artistic opportunities.  Even though the process is our goal, some of the products are pretty amazing too;


Best of all, this plasticine is reusable.  With a wide variety of nature items in the yard there are endless creative opportunities.  Like all the loose parts in the yard, the plasticine offers the freedom to explore, imagine, and invent.  It is all about the process.

Art Areas

It was the summer of 2013 that I originally planned to create an outdoor art area on the upper deck but we ran out of time so it didn’t get completed until this summer.  Since our most recent indoor renovation meant giving up the sunroom as a dedicated art area the indoor art area and dining area now share the same small space.  This made creating the outdoor art area very important. This is the new outdoor art space;


It can be used rain or shine and I even have some plans for wintertime use 😉 and the addition of some woodworking supplies too.  All summer the school-age children spent ‘quiet time’ here while the little ones were napping.


Of course the little ones like to do artsy stuff too so I had to make sure they had some art space.  The indoor dining/art area is easily supervised – unlike the dedicated art space we used to have in the sunroom – so the younger children have access to independent art activities throughout the day.

However, because our indoor space is very limited I knew I was going to miss having a big art table for group activities with the little ones during the long winter period.  So, of course I came up with another ‘multipurpose’ idea.  This is the bench where the school-age children sit for meals and independent art activities;


During the school year it is not used between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm – seems like a waste of space to me.  Now I can flip open the top;


Add a table cloth, and the school-age bench becomes a toddler art table;


It’s the perfect size for the little ones to paint on;


Do some lacing;


Or much more….

Indoors & Out

We’ve endured some frigid weather in the last month.  Some days with the windchill it has felt like -45C.  Our daily trek down to the end of the street to meet the school bus has been daunting.

Luckily my back yard is sheltered from the wind so it has not felt as cold as the open areas and we have played outside for all but one day.  The children are dressed appropriately for the weather and do not complain – in fact, some of them are disappointed when I say it is time to go in.

On the coldest days we’ve stayed outside for only about 20 minutes.  Our ‘extra’ indoor time was used to explore what happens when we put paint and paper in a salad spinner and spin;


or shake if you prefer;


We’ve also investigated a bin full of bird seed;


However, we still prefer to be outside – discovering how slippery the old cookie sheets get when they are cold.  Some enjoy ‘skating’ on them;


Others take them to the little hill and try to ‘snowboard’;


Some have tried using the pipes to ‘ski’ down the slope;


The wok toboggan is another option – love that it has handles so friends can help out;


So, indoors or out, we’ve been busy.

Painting the Day Away

It was back in 2005, when I began working on my CBA portfolio, that I first saw a painting activity that used clear acrylic panels for children to paint on.  I thought this was such a fabulous idea that I just had to find a way to incorporate it here.

I love painting.  When I paint I become completely immersed in the activity.  I’d love to give the children the opportunity to paint all the time.  Sadly I had not been able to.  Certainly we do paint but not nearly as often as I’d like to.

I do have a designated indoor art area which the children use freely but it only has paint when we are doing a group art activity.  The reason for this is because there is so much set up and clean up involved with paint that it just isn’t feasible to have it available all the time.

Sure, I can involve the children in the set up and clean up – some of them would enjoy that.  The biggest problem is that no matter how often I read ‘washable’ on a container of paint I know from experience that they are lying.  In fact, I’ve had better success cleaning up after painting the walls in my house than cleaning up after the children have painted with ‘washable’ paint.

So, painting becomes an activity with too many rules.  I loathe painting rules.  Rules and creativity are antonyms.

Paper is the other issue with painting – more specifically, wet paper.   Some children enjoy creating elaborate creations with painstaking detail that requires the precision of a surgeon and hours to complete a single piece of artwork.  Others take mere seconds to cover a piece of paper in paint and then make another and another and another until there is no where left to hang any more.  Then there are the ones that like creating texture with their paint – piling it on so thick that it will be at least a week before the paint will dry.

Now I’m back to the clear acrylic panels for painting – it would solve the paper issue but what about the mess.  Then it occurred to me that the once place where we never worry about messy play is outside.  So this spring I incorporated a clear acrylic panel to the ‘manger’ (nickname for the covered seating area).  Located between the gravel area and the deck it can be accessed from either side allowing many children to use it at once. The addition of a garden hose with both hot and cold water and a laundry tub which drains into the gravel makes clean-up super easy too.

We have used it often this summer;

In fact, I’ve now run out of paint!