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Play based learning

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Make a melting ice sculpture

Ice is such a fun material for kids to play with! It is easy to make and it changes form over time which means it is perfect for process-led art activities. In this post, I share how you can do your own melting ice sculpture at home with your little ones! Age range: 18 months + Preparation time: 10 minutes (ice needs to be frozen over night) What you need WaterSaltAcrylic paints or food coloringLarge Tupperware container or cake tin container to freeze iceLarge plastic tub or tray for kids to play with the ice inSmall containers (yogurt pots are perfect)Paintbrushes and kitchen utensils Additional equipment: Spray bottles for the paint, spice shakers, children’s toys to freeze in the ice and a camera to document the ice melting over time. Preparing the melting ice sculpture The night before you do the activity, freeze some water into the large Tupperware container…

Make a soil tray

Pic: Louisa Penfold With lockdown restrictions being eased, the outdoors (except for playgrounds) is being flagged as one of the most ‘socially-distance friendly’ play spaces for children. Creativity and nature go hand-in-hand. This post shares how you can experiment with ‘soil trays’ as a land art activity with kids! Soil trays are a wonderfully open-ended art activity you can do with young children. The soil itself acts as a ‘blank canvas’ that children arrange natural materials onto. This activity can be done in any natural space including a backyard, a city park, bushland or even at the beach. Nature in art and early childhood education Many artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Georgia O’Keefe have spent their entire careers exploring nature as a creative material. American architect Frank Lloyd Wright also once famously said: “Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration.” Goldsworthy’s art is talked about…

Free printable for families! Play Shapes

I am so happy to introduce my new Play Shapes resource for families! This is a free PDF print out that is given to everyone who signs up to the Art Play Children Learning mailing list! The resources, which was developed with Beam Editions, features 10 pages of funky, colorful shapes that have been inspired by the art of Josef Albers, Bruno Munari, Henri Matisse, and Geta Brătescu. If you would like a copy, you can sign up to the mailing list here: [mailerlite_form form_id=1] The shapes can be printed on either regular printing paper or transparency film. In this post, I share some activity ideas for what you can do with them! Experimenting with light and shadow You can use Play Shapes to explore phenomena like light, shadow, opacity and translucency. First, print the shapes onto transparency film and cut them out. You can then add art tools, set…

Why is dance important in the early years? An interview with Liz Clark

Image credit: Turned on its Head dance company Children love to move! In fact, we were all born to do it. Dance is a fun and creative way to get young children connecting with their bodies. Research has demonstrated it also directly helps with young children’s physical and sensorimotor development. However, while many teachers and parents know that children’s creative movement is important, many are hesitant to do it as they don’t think they are good at it! I recently spoke with Liz Clark, an English early years dance artist, about the importance of dance and creative movement in children’s lives. Liz is the Artistic Director of the Turned on its Head, a dance company that has produced popular children’s dance performances including Sponge and Shiny. In our conversation, Liz shares some fantastic ideas for how adults can do creative movement at home with little ones – no fancy equipment…

Make a window picture

Attention all parents who currently have the kids (unexpectedly) at home! I know that everything feels so overwhelming right now. You are probably thinking ‘how the hell am I going to keep them entertained?’ I get that. It is such a weird time for everyone. So, I am going to do my best to help. I plan to share some different kid’s art projects that you can do at home over the next few weeks. These will all be simple, creative projects that can be done using things you have around the house. First up… Create a window picture The window picture I created in my kitchen! The first kid’s art project I am sharing is so simple but so much fun… creating a window picture! All you need is foil, paper, water and a window. This activity is perfect for children aged 2 years and up. What materials you…

Make edible paint for babies and toddlers

Image credit: Keisha Baker (follow on Instagram here) Little kids love tasting things. While this can be gross, and at times even dangerous, it is also a very important part of their learning and development. This post shares an edible paint recipe for babies and toddlers – it is perfect for any parent who has a child under the age of 3! ⁠The recipe uses flour as its base. I like it because it has a thick and gluggy consistency that babies love to squish in their hands. Age range: 6 months + Preparation time: 10 minutes What you need 1/2c flour⁠1 tbs salt⁠3/4c cold water⁠3/4c hot water⁠Food coloring⁠ (5-6 drops)SaucepanWhiskWooden spoonSmall plastic containers Preparing the Edible Paint Place the flour and salt in a saucepan. Pour the cold water in the saucepan and whisk until smooth. Add in the hot water and whisk. Heat on the stove until it…

Make your own paintbrushes

Have you ever tried creating your own art tools? It is a fun art activity to do. Many artists including Gerhard Richter, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning are famous for making their own tools for painting! This post shares how you, and your kids, can make your own paintbrushes using pegs and other items from around the house. This activity is great as it allows kids to experiment with different designs, surfaces and textures so there are lots of opportunities for creativity and problem-solving. Age range: 18 months + Preparation time: 10 minutes What you need Large clothespins/pegsScissorsPaint (homemade edible paint is a great option for babies and toddlers)PaperHousehold materials such as cotton pads, dishcloth, paper towel, tissue paper, bubblewrap, aluminum foil, leaves, ribbons, string, feathers, flowers and pom-poms. Making your DIY paintbrushes Step One: Collect your household materials and cut them into small enough pieces so they can…

Make blinged-up playdough

Above: Turmeric and Matcha flavored play-dough This post shares a play-dough recipe unlike no other. That’s because it features some simple ingredients that you can add to bling it up! Play-dough is one of the all-time-greatest toddler activities to have been invented. It can also be a wonderful kid’s art activity because it is: Easy to make with ingredients you probably already have in your pantryA fun sensory-based activity that kids can do at homeSomething you can keep re-using for months (if you store it correctly) Age range: 1 year + but also fun for adults! Preparation Time: 10 minutes Ingredients for blinging up your play-dough: Before making your dough, think about what ingredients you would like to add to bling it up! These additional bits help to make kids play a sensory experience by incorporating different smells, textures and colors. Things you can add are: Essential oils. These are…