Friday, July 16, 2010

We're melting....

I'm not exactly the artsy craftsy KoolAid mom who keeps styrofoam meat containers, carries a glue gun on a tool belt, or is always prepared for necklaces because macaroni is bought in bulk. (Don't get me wrong - we buy pasta in bulk, but it's for consumption, not crafting!) It becomes a challenge when summer boredom kicks in; kids are sick of the pool, and it seems too hot to fire up the oven to bake a treat, much less a clay sculpture.
But what I've learned thus far - and we're only half way through summer - is that we don't have to be mini Michaelangelos to enjoy an art project now and then.  Below are a few of my favorites.  They are simple, inexpensive, but have provided lasting keepsakes, memories, and let's be honest...helped gobble up some time in the long, hot days of summer!

  • Popsicle Stick..anything!  We seem to have a plethora of popsicle sticks this time of year, and we have had fun making frames, birdhouses, boats, lamps, baskets, puppets, log houses & villages, and one of the girls even made a purse.  To add time on to the project...bust out the paints and glitter glue! (now if someone would just come up with an art project involving Otter Pop wrappers...)

  • Salt Dough Sculptures.   The oldie-but-goodie craft staple.  We tried several different recipes we found online - from scented to flavored (we made peanut butter play dough one day - mmmm - just like cookie dough!) and who doesn't love an excuse to squish the soft dough and use the out of season cookie cutters?
  • Rice Art.  Love it.  Minute Rice works fine, but I ended up buying a huge bag of regular rice from Costco just for art fun.  We even talked a little about mosaics -- glass, stone, etc.  Although we haven't branched out to trying them out.

  • Finger Paint...with more than paint.  Kids of all ages (read: adults!) love to finger paint.  So we mix up the medium a little...our two favorites are pudding and shaving cream,  And the best surface is the table top itself - especially an outdoor picnic table that is easily hosed off, although a large jelly roll pan or cookie sheet works just as well in a climate controlled the kitchen
  • Paint, Paint, Paint!  (and eat it too...) We tried painting popcorn and jumbo marshmallows with sweetened condensed milk that had been tinted with food coloring.  The kids  loved eating as they worked. They also love just a big bucket of water and various sized paint brushes.  I turn them loose outside and let them paint away.  They do the sidewalk, the house, boxes, etc.  Harmless, fun, and inevitably ends in a water fight.

  • Paint Blowing.  Place a dollop (love that word) of paint (tempura, water color, etc) and use a straw to blow the paint in the desired direction.  Use finger prints as needed!
Getting creative doesn't have to be expensive nor require an extensive education in artistic methods.  (A favorite website for easy art project for kids is

But have fun with it - and do what you want.  Just be willing to get messy and use your imagination....and a lot of Clorox wipes....

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