Playdough

1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil, 1/2 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar, 3-6 drops of food coloring, 1 cup of flour

  1. combine all ingredients except for flour in the saucepan on medium until warm- it’s ok if it simmers a little
  2. remove from heat and add the flour
  3. stir together and it will be thick mashed potato consistency
  4. transfer to a plate and wait for it to cool, then knead until smooth (aka play with it!)
  5. store in an airtight container or baggie

 

This recipe used to be (might still be?) taped inside a kitchen cabinet at The Franklin Montessori School, where I had my first full time art teaching gig after college. Just about every other¬†week one of the lovely teachers would be in the basement kitchen (next to my basement art classroom) whipping up some playdough, and the first, I don’t know – 25 times I saw it, I thought it was magic. But actually, it’s super simple! I know there are tons of recipes available online, but this is my forever favorite. If you can encourage kids to keep it on a tray and have clean hands when they play with it, you can keep it for more than a month and it really stays squishy!

Still Life Drawings

large drawing paper, pencils, colored pencils

  1. set up a still life
  2. review types of lines and shapes with children
  3. fold paper in half
  4. on one half, let children draw the still life with pencil first, and then add color
  5. put still life away and let children draw from memory on the second half

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Mandalas

colored papers, contact paper, mandala template, masking tape, transparency, sharpie markers

  1. cut contact paper in a circle РI traced a paper plate for size
  2. place contact paper sticky side up on top of the template, then tape to table
  3. add shapes – I had pre cut papers into rectangles, squares, circles, and triangles
  4. cover with a transparency
  5. color with sharpie on the transparency – you can invite children to trace the shapes or draw¬†whatever they’d like
  6. cut transparency to match contact paper circle and hang in a window

Line Design Flowers

pencil, sharpie, tempera or acrylic (or both) paint, acrylic paint paper

  1. draw a circle in the center of the paper – these were about 14 inch squares
  2. draw another larger circle around the first
  3. the 3rd circle can be a little wavy
  4. the 4th can have small bumps
  5. the 5th can have large bumps that look like flower petals
  6. add different paint colors to each section
  7. paint design details – polka dots, stripes, zigzag or wavy lines

 

Paper Sculptures

This project is SO easy but looks cool and counts as sculpture which I am always trying to make sure I do enough of with my students. Sometimes it’s really nice to do simple projects because the children work so hard and need very little help- they feel successful and get really engaged in the process. And I love seeing how they always come up with a clever way to deviate from the original instructions! – not making circles, stacking circles, or laying them down.

cardboard or chip board, white gesso + white paint (optional), strips of colored paper, glue sticks, white glue

  1. if you want a white background, paint cardboard (or chipboard- I ALWAYS save the backs of pads of drawing/bristol/watercolor papers) with gesso mixed with white paint
  2. make circles by using a glue stick on edge of one strip of paper, then folding into a circle and holding for about ten seconds- I tell children not to move on to step 3 unless the circle stays glued closed when they let go
  3. dip circle in white glue (you can pour glue into small plates or small trays) and place on background
  4. add lots of circles of different sizes and colors!

Garden Collages

This lesson is from Purple Twig so click over to read the original post. The children loved working on this and I was happy that they could try both painting and collaging and end up with one beautiful picture. We talked about radishes, turnips, onions, potatoes, beets, and carrots, and it was helpful to have our school vegetable garden right outside the window! Lots of possibilities for integrating gardening themes!

Here are a few of my favorite children’s books about gardening.

                  
A Seed Is Sleepy¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Curious Garden¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†And Then It’s Spring

 

Talavera Tiles

This was an extension activity during a unit about Frida Kahlo. I showed examples of talavera tiles from Mexico, as well as images of Kahlo’s kitchen.

square papers, pencils, rulers, 6×6 inch ceramic tiles, china markers, patio paint, spray sealer, school glue, cork paper

  1. make a practice drawing of the design on paper with pencil- use a ruler to find the center of the square so the design can start in the center
  2. use a china marker to make the design on the ceramic tile
  3. add paint
  4. wipe away any china marker still showing
  5. spray with sealer
  6. glue cork paper to the back

#weaverfever

So the weavings were so much fun for the kids to make, and people liked them so much that I got together with a few friends to try some of our own. We used the backs of pads of art paper (like watercolor paper) to make the looms. They were 9×12 inches, and we made them with the same steps from the¬†Weavings¬†post. You don’t have to have a whole inch on the left and right of the group of warp strings, and as long as you have an even number, they don’t have to be exactly 3/8 inches apart. I used this white yarn for my warp and hanger strings, and most of the yarns pictured are also from Michael’s.¬†My friends and I plan to make more of these to sell on etsy, and we are eventually going to make some grown-up looms out of picture frames. I will post about that soon, and in the meantime, knock yourself out looking for inspiration on instagram with #weaverfever.

Weavings

3-6 colors of yarn, yarn needle, cardboard or chipboard, white yarn for making the warp, pom pom maker, beads, stick

  1. make cardboard loom
    1. cardboard should be cut to about 6×8 inches
    2. measure 1/2 inch from the top and draw a line, repeat 1/2 inch from the bottom
    3. at the top, measure 1 inch in from the left, and make a mark that goes from the top to the drawn line, then measure 3/8 inch over and repeat until you have 12 marks (there should be about 1 inch left over on the right side)
    4. repeat at bottom, and then cut slits along the 1/2 inch marks that you made
    5. glue a piece of cardboard (or two layered, or a pencil, or dowel/chopsticks) at the top and bottom just below and above the slits to allow the strings to be raised a little
    6. add string in the slits to make the warp, leaving about 2 inches on the top and bottom of each string so that you can tape to the back and eventually tie off
  2. precut different colors of yarn about 2 feet long
  3. children choose color, then you can help tie the end to a yarn needle
  4. start weaving- over under over under- on the first row of each color you have to pull through until there is the 3 inch tail left (see step 6) before you start the second row
  5. try not to pull to tight- if far left and far right vertical strings are getting pulled toward center- it’s too tight and the weaving will get skinnier and skinnier!
  6. when each piece of yarn runs out, make sure to leave about a 3 inch tail
  7. when whole weaving is finished, take tape off vertical strings (on the back of cardboard) and tie off the strings at top and bottom (2 at a time- this is why there are 12 vertical strings- you can do any number as long as it’s an even number) and tape the tails to the back
  8. sew to a stick, add a hanger, beads, and pom poms or tassels