Archive for Art

Process Art for Valentine’s Day

process art for Valentine's Day

I love love love Valentine’s day. I love letting the kids create tons of wonderful process art creations. When I spend time with the kids making things, I really want them to gain confidence and self-esteem from each activity. Crafts, or what we generally think of as kid’s activities don’t allow kids to express their own ideas. We give them supplies, and ask them to create something like what everyone else is making. » Read more

Over 50 Christmas Gifts Kids Can Make

Finding gifts kids can make can be a challenge sometimes. Gift kids can make instead of the provider can sometimes be hard to find. Making gifts for parents is a fun way for parents to interact with the daycare program and it’s a fun way to teach kids to be givers. Kids LOVE making something special for mom and dad. It’s tough for providers sometimes to find gifts kids can make on their own that look like something cool that mom or dad would enjoy. 

Receiving a gift from your child that is 100% made by the provider is less memorable than getting something your child really worked hard on. I like to help my kids make their creations into something parents would think is cool, but I also like for them to be involved in it. I have compiled a great list of things that kids can make with minimal help from you that will still turn out great and parents will love. Each one is linked to a how to with all the instructions.

If you don’t have a daycare, your own kids would love to make gifts for grandparents, teachers, or other special people in their lives. Give them some supplies and let them go at it. Just click on the title to see a how to for each activity. 

Hand foot or foot print Christmas gifts


There are tons of things kids can make with their hand print or foot print. Using their hands or feet makes the gift very personal just from that child. I love keeping things like that because you can compare later and see how much that hand or foot has grown. I love to watch kids be so excited to present their parents with what they made.

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Ornaments

Ornaments are a wonderful gift for parents because they can be cherished and re visited every year. I LOVE getting out ornaments my 24-year-old daughter made throughout her life. They also don’t take a whole lot of room to store, so you can easily keep them forever.

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Gifts with photos

Kids can make some really cool gifts out of photo of themselves. I also LOVE getting photo gifts. They are treasured memories


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Other Christmas Gift Ideas

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Gather up your kids and put out some things to help them make a great gift for their parents. If you don’t have a daycare, your kids will love to make things for loved ones, this is a great idea for you as well. 

Be sure to pin for later:

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3 Amazing Ways to Nurture Creativity in Kids

Creativity is so important and it must be cultivated. The world is full of cookie cutter art where every child’s projects look the same. These craft projects are cute, but if we teach children all art should look exactly the same, what are we really saying to them? When I see a provider show pictures of their kid’s art and each piece looks perfect, I know young children didn’t make those projects on their own. I also know that when the provider or teacher fixed those pictures and made them each look perfect; they were telling those children they weren’t good enough. I know teachers would not do that on purpose, but they just don’t know.

It makes me sad. It’s so common for caregivers to churn out project after project where they show kids what a craft should look like, for instance a butterfly made of the child’s handprints, and they work with the kids until they each have a perfect butterfly.

open ended art builds and nurtures creativity


Do you remember a time when you were young and your creativity was flowing? I can remember, for instance, making mud pie bird nests in the back yard with my sister. We took plastic containers and filled them with mud we cultivated with the garden hose, and we added a bunch of “ingredients” and mixed and “cooked” them over a pile of rocks we called the stove. After a few days, we would dump out the pies and they looked just like bird’s nests to us, so we started a bird nest factory.

I remember creating games with my sister. I remember writing poetry in elementary school. I remember painting in my Mom’s college art class one evening. I remember making up games with my sister like a catalog store where we took “phone calls” and took orders from catalogs for hours on end. Creating brings LIFE into a child’s brain. Creating brings LIFE into a child’s heart. People were made to create. Even our Creator was creative. He gave each of us our own skills and talents. When children are expressing their creativity, we should not squelch it. When they express their own visions, we should not correct them. Kids need to get messy. Kids need to think outside the coloring lines. Kids NEED to make their own ideas.

self esteem boosting activities

How, in a world full of cookie cutter ideas, can we nurture children who think on their own? Art in not offered in schools in Oklahoma until 5th grade, but creativity is formed in children by the age of 8. Creativity has to be nurtured earlier.

self expression in open ended art to build creativity and self esteem

There are so many ways we can encourage kids to develop the creativity inside them. One great way is by letting them get MESSY. I know it’s a pain, but kids NEED to be able to experience art mediums and other messy experiences. This stimulates their sensory development and forms connections in their brains that are pathways for future knowledge. Playdough, mud, paint, and all kinds of messy play are great for kids to learn from. Let them use these mediums in all different ways.

open ended art to inspire creativity

For instance, we hung this paper on the fence and let the kids spray liquid watercolors on the paper however they wanted. This was a group project and they learned cooperation in sharing the paints and places to paint, they developed fine motor skills from the awesome spray bottles we got from Oriental Trading Company,  and they were able to express themselves in any way they wanted in their painting.

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I was allowed to receive products from Oriental Trading Company in exchange for my honest opinions on the products, so I will be telling you about some things I got from them. Another great thing you can do with kids is when you do art with them, make it open ended. Don’t show the kids what you expect them to produce, but rather, show them what they can chose from to create with and allow them to choose what they will make.

great open ended art supplies from oriental trading company

This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company to provide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own.

You will love seeing their eyes light up when they are presented with a table full of things they can use however they wish. Watch them as they think through what they are going to make and see the pride in their eyes as they make something THEY love and tell you all about it.

creative art, open ended to nurture self esteem

I got these collage materials from Oriental Trading Company and placed them all over the table. The kids were able to choose between pieces of regular construction paper or geometric and bug shaped cut outs we got from Oriental. Adding in the cut out shapes helped the kids have more choices in what product they wanted to produce. We used animal foam stickers, which the kids loved! The stickers were easy enough for the kids to peel the backs off of because they were made from the thicker foam, and of course kids LOVE animals. Some kids used 2 stickers, some used 20, according to their tastes, and they were developing fine motor skills throughout the collage project.

open ended art supplies from oriental trading company

I also chose glittery pom poms, the kids LOVED these. They were excited they were sparkly and they were perfect for the kids to hold onto. I added crayons to the table for them to choose from and glue, as well as glitter glue pens. Children were able to draw with the pens or use them to stick their pom poms to the paper. They loved the bright colors of the glitter glue pens and they were easy for them to use, but I didn’t like that the glue took so long to dry. They had to wait two days before they could take them home because that’s how long it took for the glue to dry.

creative nurturing, open ended art

rainbow crayons for creative art

Another way to foster creativity is by following children’s interests. My kids LOVE to make rainbows, so when I saw that Oriental had rainbow crayons, I knew that would be right up their alley. They loved making the multicolored crayons dance and sing across the pages of their papers. I enjoyed drawing with them as well. They were able to create some lovely masterpieces with their new crayons. These crayons are great to offer as a part of choices kids can make when they create something.

open ended kid's art to build self esttem and nurture creativity

It’s fine to do crafts with kids once in a while as it teaches them to follow directions and listen, but most of the time, your art should be open ended and child directed. This will give the kid confidence and allow them to express themselves and develop creativity. Remember if you do crafts with kids, make sure you don’t correct how they chose to create the project or ever expect all the kid’s projects to look the same or be how you want them to be. This shows kids that their teacher is better at the project than them and they aren’t good enough. It’s super hard on their self-esteem.

fostering self esteem through creativity

If everyone was forced to make buildings that looked the same, how would our cities look? If everyone only made one type of fashion, many of us would not enjoy wearing it. If everyone was forced to have the same haircut, the world would be a boring place. Creativity drives us, it allows us to express ourselves, and it makes the world a beautiful, free, colorful place. Nurture that creativity in your kids and show them what’s inside of THEM has value too.

How to Throw a MARVELOUS Art Party for Kids!

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Open ended art is super important for kids to experience. Crafts that turn out cutesy lady bugs or perfect cookie cutter American flags are cute, but giving kids an opportunity to really experience art mediums and have valuable sensory experiences is vital to their development. These activities also give kids the chance to be in control of the outcome and create what THEY find beautiful instead of what we tell them is good.

Creativity is established by age 8, and in the state of Oklahoma, art is not offered in school until 5th grade. What are we missing here? Where is the disconnect? Art is essential for children’s development! Click here to see 10 reasons why.


Children learn so much from open ended, child directed art. According to the National Association for Education of Young Children they learn:

“Social and emotional

Children relax, focus, feel successful, and can express their feelings

Language and literacy

Children may choose to discuss their art and add print to it (on their own or by dictating to a teacher)

Cognitive

Children compare, predict, plan, and problem solve

Physical

Children use small motor skills to paint, write, glue, use clay, and make collages”

There are a multitude of other things children learn from experiencing creating art. Click here to read the rest of the article.

At Little Sprouts, we do a lot of art. I was raised by an artist, and I have seen the impact of art on the world, myself, and children’s development. When my daughter Kayla was little, I made sure she spent a lot of time being creative and now she is perusing creative goals as an adult.

We love to have special art parties at Little Sprouts. It’s a great party to throw outside where the kids can get as into the art as they wish. I ask parents to send children in old clothes and send something to change into after the party. This would also be a great idea for a children’s birthday party or even a party for adults. If you don’t spend time creating things, you will be amazed what it will do for your stress level, your self-esteem, and your sense of accomplishment if you do some creating. Even our God loves to create, look at all the beauty He made and still makes? We are born to do it!

What makes an art party marvelous?

  1. Fun! Make sure the atmosphere is laid back and you are engaged and ready to support children’s efforts. Praising children with “good job” and other comments is not nearly as important as taking the time to appreciate what they are doing. You can ask children what they were thinking as they created their art or how it made them feel. Instead of saying what is it, you can say, tell me about it. You can also say, I loved watching you have fun making this, or I love how many colors you used. This type of feedback encourages children to appreciate their own efforts as well.
  2. Freedom. Children need to be able to explore the art mediums they are offered and use them any way they see fit to create. Avoid using terms like, you need to use the paint brush or do this or that. At our art party last week, the most common thing I said, is “You can use it any way you want”.
  3. Variety. For instance, when offering paint to children, don’t just give them paint brushes. Also offer some leaves or other natural objects to paint with as well as sponges, shaped objects, and of course, they can be free to use their fingers.
  4. Options. Don’t require children to participate. If they just want to put one line on a paper and move to another station, that’s perfectly fine. They are exploring the materials and its part of learning. Soon, you will see them take a deeper look at things and begin to use more creativity.

Here are some of the activities we did at our last art party. No two parties are the same here, I always try to come up with something new and different to expose the children to. Be creative when thinking of ways to encourage the kids to create!

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Shaving cream paint. Just shaving cream squirted into a bowl and a few squirts of paint added. This was definitely the favorite medium of the day. Kids loved exploring it.

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sidewalk chalk, preschool art partySidewalk chalk is always a fun outlet. Who doesn’t like to color on the ground?

Throwing a marvelous art party for preschoolColored pencils, crayons, and markers were available with stacks of paper to use.

Drawing with markers, preschool art party

watercolor relief art for preschoolLiquid water colors and paint brushes were a big hit. Everyone enjoyed painting with it.

murals painted with nature brushespainting with onion tops

Murals were available. I just used news print cut in pieces and stapled them to the fence. Children could paint with brushes, fingers, onion tops, leaves, branches, pinecones, and a number of other things I found around the yard.

painting with leaves

natural paint brushes

watercolors over glue, relief paint for preschool

As the art party began, children were able to make designs on these papers with glue, then at the end of the party, I gave them liquid water colors to paint over the dried glue and make relief art. They thought that was pretty cool.

There are so many other options, these are just a few we did this time around. If you want to get inspired with children’s open ended art ideas, check out Pinterest. It’s always a great place to get ideas!

To read an interesting article on how creative art can change the lives of neglected and abused children, click here.

I wish you art, I wish you love, I with you the peace in your soul that art brings. I hope you will create something today and tell me all about it!

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

Pablo Picasso

 

How to Throw a Gingerbread Party

At Little Sprouts, we have a yearly tradition of gingerbread decorating.  I build a creation and invite all of the daycare families over to have dinner and decorate.  We donate the creation to KidsSpace, a child advocacy center here in town to bring some joy to the lives of children in transition.  We started this tradition about 18 years ago.  We have entered our creations in contests, donated them to museum sales, and all kinds of things.  We have been donating it to KidsSpace for several years now and it seems to bring them much joy. 

Building gingerbread is so much fun.  If you have a group of adults, you can let them build their creations and decorate them, but with many toddlers and preschool age kids, it’s easier to build the creation a week or so ahead of time so it’s more likely to hold together while they are decorating it. 

The first thing you have to figure out is what you are going to build.  I have several books full of patterns and there are free patterns on the internet and many you can buy.  I started by checking out library books with patterns.  You can even create your own.  I have done that a few times, but usually I just find a pattern and change it to what I want to build.

Martha Stewart’s recipes


I have always used Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread recipe.  It’s fool proof.  I do not add cinnamon to mine because I am highly allergic, but I do use ginger and black pepper to flavor it.  I use her royal icing recipe as well.  Martha knows!  And this royal icing hardens rock hard, so it’s a great glue for the gingerbread.

Start about a week before your party.  Roll out your dough to the 1/8 inch Martha recommends and cut your pieces from your patterns.  I use a pastry dough cutter or pizza cutter to cut sharp lines. 

gingerbread dough

Bake your house pieces according to the instructions in the recipe and allow them to cool thoroughly.  I cool mine overnight or for a couple of days.

gingerbread cutouts

gingerbread house pieces

Putting the gingerbread together

Now it’s time to assemble.  I use peppermint sticks to hold the house sides together and when adding the roof pieces, I secure them with straight pins like a nail until the creation is dry.  I remove them before the kids come for decorating.

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creating gingerbread

building gingerbread houses

I allow these to dry for about a week.  This year we had several days of rainy weather and our gingerbread was super soft.  Some of the houses had pieces break off, but we were able to put them back together.  If you have a large creation, sometimes the rain will totally destroy it.  I stick with smaller buildings most of the time because of that. 

Another great reason is when I have a lot of people working, it helps if each family has a unit they can work on.  We have done train cars, town buildings, and village houses.  We have also done a beach scene with a house and a lighthouse, Santa’s workshop, a mansion with a gazebo, a big city down town with skyscrapers and a protest, and many other creations.  Whatever you choose, it’s going to be fun.

gingerbread houses

gingerbread decorating

 

 


Get ready for your party guests

Before your guests arrive, lay out all the supplies.  This year we ate pizza, so I just had to put out dishes and make some tea.  The families brought decorating candy and pizza money.  That made it easy for everyone.  Once the guests arrived, it was all fun.

gingerbread fun

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creating gingerbread with kids

children creating gingerbread

After everyone ate and decorated, we put the creation together.

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finished gingerbread creation

I wanted to make a community garden in the center of the neighborhood, so I attempted some veggies.

gingerbread garden attemptcloseup of gingerbread community garden

After the creation was in place, it magically snowed during the night…

completed gingerbread creation with snow gingerbread party with kids

Having your families gather for a group project any time of year is a great way to let them get to know each other and to feel like they are a part of the daycare.  I have kids that are grown that still remember making gingerbread here with their parents.  It’s a great way to make memories and it’s super fun for everyone.  I hope you try some gingerbreading with your loved ones.  If you feel intimidated by baking the gingerbread, make houses from graham crackers or buy a kit.  Any way you do it, it’s awesome!  And imagine the kid’s faces at the advocacy center when they see all this colorful fun! 

Christmas Surprises

A few months ago my camera that I saved three years to buy for myself met an untimely accident.  It still works, but some of the features such as zoom do not and when taking a picture, there is a long delay.  Sometimes you can’t get it to come on without a little shaking.  Needless to say, with all the blog and daycare pictures, it’s a hassle.  But this year at the party, my sweet parents surprised me with a replacement camera.  It’s better, prettier, and they also gave me multiple cool tools to go with it.  I was flabbergasted.  I couldn’t believe they did this for me.  I was so touched, I had to put it away so I wouldn’t cry.  I hate crying in public.  Anyway, I am super excited about it.  I named her Lynda after my hero Wonder Woman.  Here’s a picture of her, she’s amazing…

gingerbread party gift

Do you have any gingerbread memories to share?  I’d LOVE to hear them!

Don’t forget to pin for later!

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Pumpkin Stamping

A great fine motor and sensory experience for kids is making pumpkin stamps. They can dip them in paint or like we did, an ink pad, and stamp the shapes onto paper. The pumpkin smells amazing as they are stamping, and they are learning to hold the pieces of pumpkin and manipulate them to stamp. This is great skill building for fine motor development.

Its pumpkin explore time at Little Sprouts and we are learning all kinds of things about pumpkins and the color orange. We even practiced making orange play dough from yellow and red play dough. Good times!

mixing red and yellow play dough to make orange

We had a little pie pumpkin on the porch that was rotten on the bottom, so I cut the bottom off and cut the rest of the flesh into different shapes. First I cut the pumpkin into wedges, then I cut the wedges into smaller pieces. Then I trimmed the sides off the shape to make it into a triangle, square, or rectangle. You could do any shape you want. Then I carefully sliced the pulp side off as straight as I could making it smooth and pulp free so it would make good contact for the stamping.


While I cut the pumpkin, we talked about the smell, the color, the gooey feel. The kids are learning all kinds of things from exploring the pumpkin. When you get ready to stamp with the pumpkin shapes, you can stick a fork in the back side of the pumpkin to make a handle, or you can let them use the pieces directly.

learning with pumpkins

The kids talked about what shape they were using as they stamped and we talked about our ink being orange and the pumpkin being orange. We counted how many stamps we made and how many times we stamped them and after their papers dried, they talked about the shapes and colors of the prints they made with their parents when they picked them up. They spontaneously talked about color, shapes, and counting on their own.

This is what I mean when I tell people that we learn in an informal way. It’s called fun! Kids are spontaneous learners, it comes naturally. When kids are allowed to learn in this way, they learn better than when we try to force them to learn by quizzing them or using flash cards.

This is an open ended creative art project. The kids are not given an example or expectations of what their art is supposed to look like. It is their creation and it can become whatever they want it to be. Please keep in mind that when the focus is put on the product or perfect representation of something the adult expects, children’s self-esteem is damaged because their self image rests in what the adult expects of them.  However, open ended art focuses on the process of what they are making instead of the product that results. Children are empowered by this type of experience. They are free to be in control of their own skills and they have fun as well. They are successful!

pumpkin stamping

Next week we are going to make pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie out of our other pie pumpkins. I can’t wait! What is your favorite way to use pumpkin?

Bird House Gourds!

The seeds that grow into birdhouse gourds are funky looking and amazing. One of the kids said they looked like space ships. Last year we planted some so we could make bird houses. It’s a long process, but a few days ago, we got to finish our houses.
Plant your birdhouse gourd seeds in the spring. They take several months to make fully mature gourds. Each vine will grow several. We planted two plants and ended up with about 30 or so, but according to my research, that is not the traditional yield. The vines need a sturdy trellis and they grow about 15 feet. When the gourds turn from green to brown on the outside, you can cut them off the vine and store them for drying. They need plenty of ventilation as they cure. We laid ours out in the grass and left them in the weather all winter long.
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After they dry for about 6 months, you can soak them in water and scrub the remaining skins off. You can leave them the natural color or paint them. The natural color is tan but they have spots that look kind of like mold. If you paint them, you need to use a paint that will not wash off. You can use house paint, acrylics, oil paints, or we used spray paint because that is what we had.
The gourds are enjoyed by purple martins. They like a 1 ¾ inch hole. I used the drill bit I had. I drilled a hole for the door and smaller holes on top to add a hanger. I made our doors just a little shy of the middle closer to the bottom so rain wouldn’t pour in the holes. You can also drill drain holes in the bottom if you think water might get in.
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After you drill the holes, you can work on getting the membranes and seeds out so the birds will have room to make a nest inside. The kids really enjoyed that part of our project. We shook them into a bucket so we could try to grow them again.
Next I gave the kids acrylic paint pens to decorate their gourds with. If you are trying to attract purple martins, you should paint your gourds white. After they decorated them, I gave them a pipe cleaner to string through the top holes so they can hang them up at home.
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The kids LOVED this project. It took a year, but it was really fun and I’m sure there is a bird out there somewhere that will appreciate each child’s efforts.
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I don’t know if the seeds we harvested will germinate or not, but if you want to try it, send me a message at kckamp@sbcglobal.net and I’ll send you a few to try in the spring!