We have been rained in all weekend, so guess what we have been doing. Making fringe art of course! It has been a great distraction from the bustling winds of Hurricane Harvey. I have to say, we kinda cheated with this project using already made fringe that I scored on sale. But, you could always make your own fringe. I found Kid Made Modern Fringe Lantern Kits at Target on sale for $2.98 and snatched up three kits to use for the materials. If you aren’t familiar with Kid Made Modern , you must check them out! They have a super cool line of kits and art materials that I usually find @Target. Some of their kits are inspired or created by artists. This kit was developed by Nicholas Andersen and Julie Ho of @confettisystem.
A few weeks ago we made the cutest robot sculptures at Figment Creative Labs. Most of the supplies that we used for this project came from Dollar Tree. It took some instruction to get started, but ultimately the robot is in the eye of it’s creator.
What you need:
styrofoam from the floral section at Dollar Tree (various shapes and sizes)
You know how bohemian wall hangings are all the craze? Well, if not, let me catch you up with this Pinterest board of samples: Figment Wall Hanging Inspiration There are so many different styles and techniques you can use to make wall hangings. Depending on your skill level, you can use complicated weaving techniques, macrame knots, or tie and hang yarn… all giving you very different looks. Earlier this summer we painted large scale, using a mop as a paintbrush. When I rinsed out the “paint brush” I thought, “This would be an easy and inexpensive way to make dye tipped wall hangings.”
I later had a ladies art night where we made wall hangings using mops as the main ingredient.
I pre-dyed the tips of some mops before hand to save time.
I basically supplied them with the idea and supplies to work with. Like in my weekly classes, I like for the ladies to use their own creativity and not just copy what I do.
What we did:
They each chose a stick or crochet hoop, or in this case vintage tennis racket brace to hang the mop on.
We hung up the base, so it was at eye level to work on.
We used scissors to undo the mop strands. I found Cleanx Large Cotton Mop Head Refills at my local grocery store, for $4.95 each. It is important that they are the kind that fold over a change out mop. See Bulk Here
The ladies hung feathers, beads, metal pieces… from the strands. Many braided the strands similar to the macrame technique.
Each were very different, but no one chose the dyed mops.
We had fun.
Then I did this project with my summer campers. We started out decorating sticks with chalk.
Then we hung the sticks and choose mop strands to adorn them with. They definitely wanted the colored strands.
I cut strips from thrifted denim jeans before hand. Some of the kids wove the denim “yarn” through the mop to secure it and bring in more color.
The kids really got into this project and were very pleased with their boho wall hangings in the end. I feel like this was a very simple craft that allows grown ups and kids alike to create independently and make their own creative choices with out having to have any weaving experience. It is a great introduction to weaving, tapestries, and fiber art.
I have always cringed at the idea of painting over someone else’s art work. I think about the time and energy they put into it, and the thought kills me. I never draw on a student’s work and don’t allow others to in art class. But… a while back I ran across Meri Cherry’s blog post Repainting Thrift Store Canvases, and the idea stuck with me. Those sad canvases were tossed out, why not give them a new art life? And then I said, “Amber, stop your hoarding ways.” We always use recyclables in art class to make art. Why not use art.. to make art? So, I started to keep an eye out for large used canvases when I thrift store hopped. One day when binge shopping at Austin Creative Reuse, a local reuse center, I found Patrick’s collection of Bob Ross inspired landscapes. Patrick’s decade of work! His signature evolved over time, and so did his talent.
This lesson began with the class and I discussing what collaborative art is. Then, I had the quietest mouse in the room choose painting after painting. (I had to throw some extra landscapes in there to choose from.)
I asked the kids what they would like to see exploring in their scene.
I gave them paint pens and they got to work. Most of them started out signing next to Patrick’s name.
It was so fun to see how different they all were from start to finish.
I suggest you hit the thrift shop and see what you can find. I would love to see what you add to found masterpieces. -Ms. Amber
I could lecture my students about light and shadow, how shadows are made, about silhouette and shape, teach them about the difference between translucent and opaque … but I believe that hands-on learning is the best way for a child to fully grasp a mysterious concept like light. So we put on shadow puppet shows and talked about light and shadow. The kids really got into it we all had a fabulous time doing it. Some of the kids performed up to five times.
This is an example of many:
What we used as our puppet theatre:
We had built a play house the other day using Antsy Pants Building Set from Target. I covered the play frame with white wrapping paper from Dollar Tree, leaving the back open. This gave us the perfect transparent screen. I have used white bed sheets and laundry line in the past, but I found that this worked far better.
Danielle sat behind the theatre with the performers and shined a flashlight on our screen. The light from the flashlight traveled in a straight line. When the children or the puppets interrupted that line, it cast a shadow on the screen.
The audience was enthralled by the light and movement, drama and storytelling. We had some fierce battles between the dragon and the prince. A witch turned a fairy into a beast, a beast fell in love, a fairy saved a kingdom. I believe there was a pumpkin butt in there somewhere … One of the girls used her alligator stuffed animal she brought to class, as a character in her fairy tale. We tested what happened when we moved the puppet closer or further from the light, and turned the puppet to it’s side..
The room was filled with wonder and shadows. -Figment Creative Labs
In my Figment Creative Labs art classes, we explore a lot of different materials and do a lot of exploratory play. I often offer the kids a selection of loose parts to inspire creativity or as an invitation to play or create. This could lead to them building something, or to imaginative play. I usually do not give them step by step instructions, because what they come up with on their own, is most often, more exciting than what I could ever dream up. I love to watch their minds in action and listen to their stories. It is interesting to see how different children decide to use the same materials in very different ways. We often talk out a plan together, if we run into engineering road blocks when designing. It is all about problem solving and figuring out what works and does not work. The process is the most important part of an activity. That is where we learn. (Note: With older kids and lessons on more precise things, obviously my teaching style changes.) Here is a quick video of a tinkering session at Figment using bins from our tinkering station:
Offering children loose parts is a great way to inspire open ended play. There is no right or wrong, only what they choose. I am reminded of a holiday workshop. When the parents came for pick up, one of the little girls ran to her mom in excitement and told her, “We played with choke able things!” Mental note: for small loose parts play, shoot for age three and up.
Now to the project at hand. In class we made our own Figment Creative Tinkering boxes. I acquired a bunch of wooden cigar boxes from Austin Creative Reuse. I spray primed the tops of the boxes with Flat White Spray Primer. This gave the kids a nice surface to paint on.
I filled the boxes with some loose tinkering parts to get them started. I instructed the parents to add glue, tape, and scissors to the boxes. I think a few of the parents were confused why I was sending their kids home with a box of “trash”, but I hope they are pleased when their child spends time making something with my old wine corks and loose parts. Wether you have a tinkering station in a classroom, or a tinkering tray, table, or a Figment Creative Box… loose parts play and tinkering are essential for early childhood development and promoting creative thinking. Here are some great resources to check out: