Paper Mache Animal Heads

Materials: pencil, paper, chip board or cardboard, wire, masking tape, bowl, water, flour, newspaper or recycled copy paper, tempera or acrylic paint, (I love these, especially if you can find the neon colors!)

  1. have pictures available of a variety of animals or an ipad/printer for viewing them as children decide which animal to be inspired by (you could also tie this in to a culture or geography-inspired unit and study specific animals)
  2. draw animal face/head with pencil- think about all the parts of the face and details for each part
  3. using the cardboard as a base (I cut the pieces into about 5 inch rectangles (you could also do ovals, or U shapes kind of like little shields) crumble newspaper to create the head form and any snout/ears/etc.
  4. tape the pieces together, and use wire as needed. make sure all is securely taped to your base
  5. trim any extra cardboard (especially if you have corners sticking out) from the base
  6. add paper mache (aboouuut 1 tablespoon of flour to 1/2 cup of water) all over the newspaper/wire form by dipping 1 inch (doesn’t need to be exact) strips of copy or newspaper into flour+water mixture, sliding fingers down the strip to get excess water off, and draping+pressing onto the form
  7. repeat until front, sides, and back of form are covered in paper mache
  8. when dry, you can add paint
  9. add a small screw eye to a discrete place near the base so that you can hang the animal flush with the wall

*I also showed the children examples of Abigail Brown’s paper mache animal heads

Easy Sculptures

flower arrangement foam or styrofoam cut in small cubes, pipe cleaners of different colors and lengths, beads, foam paper, scissors

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  1. push a pipe cleaner into the styrofoam- can leave straight, or bend into different types of lines, can also poke the second end into the styrofoam too
  2. decorate with beads
  3. cut shapes from foam paper and push them onto pipe cleaner like a bead
  4. repeat!

These are so simple and the children are really engaged in the process.  Michael’s sells little jewelry boxes and the last time I did this with kids, I cut the foam to fit inside the box for a finished touch.  (I also bought a styrofoam cutter but it is possible to cut with a knife!)

Contact Paper Mural

contact paper, masking tape, windows if you have them handy 😉 , sequins, tissue paper shapes, decorative paper shapes

  1. pre-cut tissue and decorative papers into shapes- I did rectangles, squares, and triangles, and with the decorative papers I also made some circles with a punch
  2. place all items in little bins/bowls on a table (or floor) near the windows (or just spread them all over the table…)
  3. cut contact paper to fit window, and peel open
  4. tape contact paper sticky side out to the window
  5. add beautiful shapes!
  6. seal with either a second piece of contact paper or a piece of clear plastic film (transparency sheet)
  7. trim edges if needed, and send home with kids – for these, I cut each piece in half so each child could take one home

Watercolor Monoprints

clear plastic, liquid watercolor paint, muffin pan or paint tray, watercolor paint brushes, watercolor paper, paper towels

  1. paint on plastic
  2. press paper onto paint
  3. wipe plastic clean and set print somewhere to dry
  4. repeat to make a second print!

This is super easy but also exciting for young children everyone to do- somehow it is always shocking when you peel your paper away and see the beautiful print made when the colors squished and mixed together!

Dream Catchers

embroidery hoops (these are 6 and 8 inch and I love the look with 6), markers or washi tape, yarn or ribbon, wooden beads, plastic needles

  1. decorate the wooden hoops with marker (these images also show some decorated with washi tape but it is tricky for kids to wrap it tightly enough to stick)
  2. attach decorative hanging pieces of yarn by folding one piece in half, holding by the loop, placing loop under the hoop, putting loose ends of yarn piece over hoop and through loop, and pulling! (directions I tell kids- so simple- see picture and video)
  3. add as many hanging pieces as you’d like
  4. use the plastic beading needle to thread beads onto hanging yarn and tie off the last one on each strand
  5. tie a long piece of yarn to the hoop and wrap around until there is only enough left to tie off, creating the web- I think less is more regarding the web because if kids play with it (it’s a jellyfish! it’s a hat with hair! etc) the web can come undone into a loose tangle and you’ll have to stretch it back to be taut again (this is also why we do the web part last)

I did this with 4-7 year olds so we kept it simple so they could work independently, but there are lots of ways to embellish and make these really fun for all ages!  Here is Art Bar‘s version, and Meri Cherry‘s.


 

 

Inspired by Alexander Calder

I found this lesson on Dick Blick, and modified it for my students who are much younger than the lesson’s intended students. I drew the shapes on the metallic paper, and the children used air dry clay instead of styrofoam for the base. You can click over to read the lesson, but since I changed it I will include my supply list here (paper, colored wooden beads, and thick wire from Dick Blick).  Check this post for Alexander Calder children’s books.

air dry clay, wire, Twisteez, wooden and plastic beads, metallic paper, white glue, brushes for glue

 

Painting on Plastic

I started a new class this fall that is specially designed for two and three year olds. It is process based and many of the classes to do not culminate in a take-home product, and the lessons often involve collaboration.

This painting lesson was the first class, and is from Meri Cherry so click over to read her post. I asked the children not to mix the paint colors for the first half of class, and towards the end I invited them to start mixing, which held their interest. I also brought out sponge brushes towards the end of class. Painting on plastic is pretty fun- the paint really glides across the surface and it feels different than paper. I painted a blue outline around the plastic, and I also taped larger paper behind it to keep the walls clean.  Also, this is a secret: I just used trash bags!

Inspired by Alexander Calder

chipboard and acrylic or tempera paint OR heavy paper like colored cardstock, Twisteez wire, pipe cleaners, stapler

  1. if using chipboard, let children paint it with a bright color of their choosing- it is for the background…I thought stapling these to a ground might help them not immediately get squashed in backpacks!
  2. model how to connect two pieces of wire, and also how to make a spiral, a curl, a wavy line, and anything else you can think of!
  3. make a large oval with a wire piece, and connect the ends
  4. use wire and pipe cleaners to make parts of the face- I printed pictures of each child so they could lay the parts of their face on top of the photo, then attach the parts to the large oval shape
  5. try not to cut wire until you have attached it to the overall face shape… or you might end up with tons of pieces of wire that are too small to attach
  6. staple to background, and don’t hesitate to staple while children work if it helps them
  7. let them get sidetracked and play with the wire!!

Books!

Meet the Artist: Alexander Calder      Sandy’s Circus

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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, something for a still life

  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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