what little hands do…

November 28, 2011

pastels on bark

A crack and a thud left a huge limb on our sidewalk on Thanksgiving eve. I love how trees can just drop what is no longer serving them.  As we were picking it up to move it, the kids started gathering the fallen bark. They noticed some really cool patterns on the inside of the bark. I went in to get some pastels and paper to make rubbings, but when I delivered them to the kids (which now included the neighborhood kids too) they just started coloring the bark instead. I think the best kid art unfolds on its own.

hearts are everywhere

The kids then decided to ding dong ditch their art which sounded like a great idea to me but may have been confusing to the recipients to open the door and find a piece of bark on your step, but you know…our neighbors are probably used to the crazy and random acts of even weird yet sweet kindness by now.

So I’m thinking if you are trying to get something done, like the list of 57,000 holiday to-do’s, some bark, leaves, rocks and pastels might be just the trick to keep little hands busy. I love when nature, art and kindness collide.

a few of the urban nature artists

Got any other simple kid projects to share?

My kids have been on my nerves lately, even their back rubs and gentle questions of “you okay mom?” are driving me crazy. I know when it gets this bad, I am not only way overdue for a break but also usually need to stop everything, like everything and play, create, do something to connect.

I saw this lovely art project from an old Wondertime article (oh, how I miss that magazine!) and thought it might be just the prescription for us. It’s a mix between tie dye goodness and crazy science, except a lot less work and mess.

All you need are some old white tee shirts, sharpie markers, rubbing alcohol, eye droppers (or an old infant tylenol dropper), rubber bands and drink glasses. We put the shirt over the glass and wrapped the rubber band until it was taut.

The kids then drew their designs. The original directions suggested putting a water bottle cap in the center and drawing around it with dots and lines to give a flower effect, we eventually just made/drew whatever we wanted.

With the rubber band still on, drop about 20-50 drops of alcohol all around your design. The color molecules “move” and mix in the right solvent resulting in really cool art. The kids experimented with the alcohol technique to give different looks. It was super easy, very gratifying and great for a wide range of age levels. When you are all done, throw into the dryer for 20-30 minutes to set. Wash and dry as normal.

Whenever we are really deep into something, with no agenda, I am reminded how delightful it all is…how excited they were, how kind they are to each other, genuinely happy/encouraging of the others art, how relaxed I am in holding the space for them to create, how in every picture they have those big mops of brown hair never brushed…how our desire to pull back and away is actually an invitation to go in and deeper…how the core of it all is where it’s at.

We are definitely doing this one again, please remind me in the height of summer when I am grouchy again of this dreamy day!

Art unfolds in our house much like a “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie…” sort of way. I put out this lovely wire thinking we could do some cool sculpture which reminded Josiah of another wire project in which we used old junk from the recycle art box.

This sparked an idea in Jack, so out the box came. The stuff in the box inspired a windmill sort of sculpture which Josiah then decided something with wind power might make a cool boat…

which reminded Lucy of the Chronicles of Narnia’s Dawn Treader. She decided to get deep into ship building… and as a total side note I’m pretty sure I was the only one wearing clothes. So weird, right?  


At the end, someone thought the wire might be good to hang all this art from the ceiling.