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Artsy Kids: Coloring Easter Eggs

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We always color Easter Eggs the day before Easter at our house, and we always buy the kits at the local store to do so.  This year, however, I decided to make my own dye at home using a method I found on Pinterest (yes, I am a Pinterest addict!).  It was so easy to make, and the eggs turned such bright, bold colors!

Here are the directions:

1.  Pour 1/2 cup of water into plastic or glass cups.

2.  Add 20 drops of food coloring (40 for yellow).  Stir.

3.  Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar.  Stir.

4.  Add boiled eggs and color to desired brightness.  The longer you leave them in, the bolder the color!

Lessons in patience…

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We used glue dots and rubber bands to get some neat effects on our eggs.

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And here are lots of pictures of our beautiful eggs…I did warn you ahead of time that there are lots of pictures, right?

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We even mixed our colors at the end.  Red and yellow make orange, green and blue make turquoise.  Pretty fun!

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This is what you get when you mix all the colors!

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Be sure to protect all surfaces and clothing…and hands!  The food coloring will stain!  Example…

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My silly kiddos being Easter Bunnies!

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Oh, and here’s our newest addition!  Happy Easter from the whole family!!!

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Artsy Kids: Traditional Puebloan Pottery

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My children have been learning about Native Americans in History this year.  Our approach to History is very hands-on.  I feel, especially at this age, that exploration, discussion, and hands-on activities are much more important to learning to love History than fact memorization.  For our study of the Puebloan people, I found pottery craft kits sold on Amazon by Wildwood Craft Kits (these are also available at Mesa Verde National Park if you happen to be in the area).  These kits were so much fun, and really gave my kids an understanding of how the puebloan people make their pottery.  Here’s what comes in the kit…

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First, the kids had to work the clay…

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Then, they rolled it into a ball…

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They made a hole in the center of the ball of clay…

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And began forming the clay into pots.

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Once the pots were finished, they had to give them a few days to air dry.

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When the pots were dry, they polished them with a smooth stone.

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Then, they got ready to paint puebloan designs on the pots.  First, the kids had to chew the ends of the yucca stems to make paintbrushes.  They didn’t love this part.  The yucca stems tasted bad.

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Then, they mixed the paints and picked out designs…

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And drew the designs on the pots…

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And painted them.

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And here are the finished pots…pretty cool if you ask me!

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Artsy Kids: Paper Snowflakes

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For our Christmas activity last night, we decided to make paper snowflakes to hang on the tree.  We have made these before, but we’ve never had patterns to go by, just free-styled it, and ended up with some rather “unique” looking snowflakes.  Since I have become friendlier with Pinterest, I have found tutorials for several activities I enjoy doing with the kids.  I was able to find a great tutorial for paper snowflakes with 24 different patterns to use!  You can find the tutorial here.  This tutorial is very easy to follow and really helped us with our snowflakes this year.  Although, we had to do the free-style thing, too…old habits die hard!  I hope you enjoy this little craft and maybe get some ideas for your snowflake projects.

Here’s our step-by-step:

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Paper Snowflakes

Materials:

White printer paper

Scissors

Directions:

1.  Fold paper to make a triangle.

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2.  Cut off excess paper.  When you open the triangle, your paper should now look like a square.  Refold the triangle.

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3.  Fold the triangle again.

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4.  Fold left point down toward the middle.

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5.  Fold right point over this fold.

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6.  Cut off excess to make another triangle.

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7.  Stick the triangle on your stuffed animal’s head.

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8.  Draw the design of the snowflake on your triangle.  The dark parts will be cut out.

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9.  Cut out the shape and open it up to find a beautiful snowflake!  My son was so proud of his work.

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Here is my daughter’s beautiful snowflake.

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My husband joined in the fun, too.

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This was a tricky pattern, but I thought it made a lovely snowflake.

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And, of course, we made some free-style snowflakes.

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Not too shabby for free-style, kids!  My son thought his small one looked like a frog, and my daughter designed and cut that pattern by herself…artist in the making right there!  Love those kiddos!!!

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Then, we hung our snowflakes on the tree in the playroom.

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And cleaned up the giant mess we made in the living room.

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It was worth it!  Now, have fun making your own snowflakes…and have a very merry Christmas!

Artsy Kids: Paper Chains for Christmas

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Since Christmas is right around the corner, I thought I would share some of our family Christmas fun with you.  I always try to let my children do plenty of crafts and baking around the holidays.  I’ve tried to pass down Christmas traditions and create new ones with my family.  We make ornaments, cookies, and gingerbread houses.  We watch Christmas movies, read Christmas stories, and sing Christmas carols.  We enjoy playing with our Lego City Advent Calender.  And we even adopted an Elf on the Shelf last year to add to the fun.  We have trees in just about every room in our house.  We always decorate the “big” tree together.  We put on a cute little Christmas play at our church every year.  We spend time with family, drink hot chocolate, cuddle by the fire, and eat lots of popcorn.  We always dress in our Christmas pjs and read Twas The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.  And, we always have a pancake breakfast on Christmas morning.  This list could go on and on…we really love Christmas in this house!

So, I will be posting different crafts, goodies, books, trees, traditions, and so on that I enjoy with my family every day this week.  I just love spreading that Christmas cheer.

A few days ago, my kids made paper chains to hang in their rooms.  These are so easy and fun to make.  People have been making these for years and hanging them around the house and on trees.  My mom used to make them with her siblings when she was a little girl.  I made them when I was a little girl.  And now, my children are making them.  Traditions!  Here are the steps to make your own paper chains.

Paper Chains for Christmas

Materials:

construction paper

scissors

glue

Directions:

1.  Using scissors, cut construction paper into strips that are somewhat even in length and width.

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2.  Glue the ends of the first strip together to form a loop.  Hold together until glue dries.

3.  Place the second strip of paper through the first loop.  Glue this one together to form a loop.

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4.  Keep connecting loops until your chain is the length you want it.

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5.  Hang your paper chain from the walls, ceiling, tree, chandelier…wherever you want it!

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I hope you enjoy this Christmas craft of ours!  What crafts do you do with your family at Christmas?

A Day At The Clay Center

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My hubby was out of town this weekend, and when he isn’t around, my children and I feel a little sad.  So, to keep our minds occupied and make the time pass more quickly, I planned a very busy weekend for us.  We went shopping for spring clothes,  for new books (we can’t ever go shopping without buying books), and for party supplies for little man’s upcoming birthday!  We went to see Oz, The Great and Powerful…wonderful movie, by the way.  My son says it’s the best movie he’s seen in theaters, and my daughter is now in love with James Franco…he’s “cute”.  We also went to our favorite place in West Virginia…the Clay Center!

The Clay Center is an arts and science museum located in Charleston, WV.  We have been visiting this wonderful museum since my children were very young, and they still love it today.  It’s almost like our home away from home.  The center  has three levels of fun and education for children, with some exhibits that always remain the same and others that are constantly changing.  They have giant screen films and a planetarium.  They also offer family fun days to celebrate holidays.  Earth Day celebration is coming up soon!  And they have special concerts just for children.  One of our favorites was the Seussical Musical…all about Dr. Seuss stories!  There are kid’s camps, children’s programs, outdoor programs, adult programs, and so much more.  No wonder we love it so much!

So, we visited the Clay Center and took lots of pictures of the fun!  I hope you all are ready to be overloaded with photos!  I love watching my kids enjoy themselves and being able to freeze those moments to enjoy them forever.  Here is a glimpse of our day at the Clay Center…

We started off the day with a visit to our favorite exhibit, Earth City, where we explored…you guessed it…earth sciences.

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Learn about Port Royal, Jamaica’s experience with liquefaction by burying your hands in a quick-sandy earthquake.

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Explore the natural wonders through a really neat View Finder exhibit.

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Learn myths and facts about how fog forms.  My kids like to try to blow the fog away…that’s what my son is doing in this picture.

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Ahhhh!  It’s a giant waterfall!

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Try to bury a skull with sand and learn about a land that was “consumed by the sands”.

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Learn about locks and dams.  Did you know that dams are usually named after the town that gets flooded when they are made?  Summersville Dam got its name because the town directly in the flood path was called Gad…would you like to visit Gad Dam…I didn’t think so!

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Mountain vs. Water…learn all about erosion and how the flow of water has affected our mountains.

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Careful…you will get wet in Earth City!  At least if you play like my kids you will!

Next, we went to the Mylan Explore-atory.  This is a constantly changing exhibit, currently displaying the hands-on experience, Little Builders.

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Ride on construction equipment.

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Pretend to paint the building…two rollers at a time…and don’t forget your hard hat and bright orange vest!

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Maybe you’d like to learn how to do some plumbing.  My kids made poop noises the whole time and were racing the clock to get the pipes connected before the poop came rushing out.  Why are kids so fascinated with poop?

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Build your own little town…or a giant castle like my daughter did!

We spent some time in Health Royale learning about health and wellness.  I love this exhibit, but I’m still sad they took out “The Yodler”.  It was our favorite part of this gallery.

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This is a neat “repeat the pattern” game using…body noises!  Again with the poo sounds!  And burping, sneezing, hiccuping, and so on.

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Here you can make interesting faces.  My kids like to try to make super crazy looking faces!

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This is the main attraction in Health Royale.  It’s like Hollywood Squares with health questions.  The guests on the show are body parts with names like Mr. P (I pity the fool…) and Pelvis (you know, like Elvis in the shape of a pelvis).

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Could there be anything more fun than stretching out an intestine?  Did you know that your small intestine is about 20 feet long?  Where does it fit?

We traveled downstairs to the Gizmo Factory.  This gallery has over 30 exhibits dealing with physical science!

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Discover the power of water and how the force somehow balances a ball as it spins it around and around.  Way cool!

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This exhibit is all about smoke and mirrors…and laser beams.

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Learn about pulleys and how they work as you try to lift yourself into the air.  Not an easy task!  Momma usually ends up doing the hard work while the kiddos sit back and enjoy the ride!

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We love these pin-screens in small size, but we really LOVE them in giant size!

We didn’t make it to the planetarium on this trip because we’ve already seen the film on The Planets, but we did take time to see the giant screen film, Volcanoes of the Deep Sea.

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Here we are waiting to watch the film which ended up being quite fascinating.  It was really about the sea animals who live in the aftermath of underwater volcanoes.  In waters that should boil them to a crisp, some animals have managed to not only survive, but thrive!  My son says this was his favorite film so far, even better than Giants of Patagonia…a film about dinosaurs!

And, of course, we finished our day with a nice stroll through the art gallery.  Right now, it is crowded with some of the most beautiful quilts.  I’m jealous because I’ve always wanted to learn to quilt…maybe one of these days.

We enjoyed ourselves very much and can’t wait until our next visit.  And, it helped pass the time while daddy was away.  I hope you enjoyed the tour of our day at the Clay Center.  These pictures only show a handful of the fun and interesting things you can do here.  If you are ever in Charleston, WV, you have to make time to check it out!

Artsy Kids: Origami

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We have been studying the Japanese culture in history and geography.  In studying the culture, my children are learning that there is a lot more to Japan than just business and industry.  The people also care about old traditions and customs, and this helps to make this culture unique.

The children in Japan learn a very old form of art called origami- paper folding.  They also wear kimonos, and celebrate holidays such as Shogatsu, Girl’s Day, and Boy’s Day where they get to wear bright costumes, play games, and get presents.  They take their shoes off when entering a home.  They traditionally eat at low tables, kneeling on cushions, while using chopsticks.

These are just a few of the traditions and customs my children found interesting and fun.  They especially liked the idea of a holiday just for boys and girls, eating on the floor, and the art of paper folding.

So, we decided to try our hand at a little paper folding…origami.  I received a 365 day origami calendar several years ago, and never made the time to use it.  I dug it out of my craft bin, and let the kids pick what they wanted to make.  My daughter chose a peacock and my son chose a rattlesnake.

We first had to make a base shape, and from there, followed the directions for each animal.  There was a lot of folding, unfolding, fixing, folding again, unfolding again, folding some more…you get the idea.  It was quite the learning experience!  We ended up really enjoying ourselves, and our pieces turned out pretty good for a first attempt.  The kids are already picking which pieces they want to make tomorrow…maybe this will become a 365 day project for us.

Here are a few pictures from our origami adventure…

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Trying to figure out the directions

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My daughter is a natural at origami

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My son rocking the accordion fold

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Sweet little pink peacock

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Super scary rattlesnake

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And, of course, they had to add detail…feathers and fangs!

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And here’s momma’s butterfly…I couldn’t miss out on all the fun!

Artsy Kids: String Printing

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We got artsy in the style of Jackson Pollock today!  He was known for his splatter-like paintings.  He would put holes in buckets of paint , hang them from the ceiling, and swing them over his canvas to get some of his splatter effects…way cool!  We didn’t hang paint buckets from our ceiling today and swing them around, but we did swing some string to get a similar effect to a Pollock.  The bucket thing does sound super fun, though…I may have to try it sometime!

To try string printing, you will need heavyweight drawing paper, liquid acrylic paint, paint cups, cotton string (cut to lengths as long as your forearm), and craft sticks.

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Dip your sting into the paint.  Use a craft stick to coat the string with paint.

Holding the string above your paper, let your arm drop and let the string go limp on the paper.

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Continue with this motion until you are ready to change colors.

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Use one string per color to avoid mixing!

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You can also move the string in different directions or drag the string across the paper to get a different effect.  This is what my son chose to do.

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This was such a fun art project!  My kids really enjoyed swinging the string around and watching the designs appear on the paper…and on the countertop! You might want to put some newspaper on whatever surface you choose to do this project on to protect it.  I had to scrub to get the paint off, but it was worth it!  My kids were so proud of their artwork!

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And here are the finished products…string printings by my little artists…

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Artsy Kids: Watercolor and Salt Painting

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I try to do art with my kids at least once a week.  This does not count the numerous drawings and other creations they make for me on a daily basis…I’m not kidding…I need a new room to hold all of their art!

I am teaching my kids art basics from What Your ____Grader Needs To Know.  ( I already said how very much I love these books!)  But, sometimes, we just want to get our hands dirty and do something crazy with art.  So, yesterday, we got out the watercolors and our Art Lab for Kids book, and got creative.

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Lab 16 is titled Watercolor and salt painting, and I thought that sounded fun, so we decided to give it a try.  Each lab in this book shows a professional artist’s use of this technique, and a kid’s rendition.  The effect of the salt on the watercolor looked so cool in both paintings.

We got out all of our supplies:  watercolor paper, set of watercolors with brush, paper towels, cups of water, and salt.

First, the kids used their brush to lightly wet the paper.

Next, they started painting their pictures.  My son chose to paint a picture of the Galapagos island with a Galapagos turtle.  My daughter chose to paint paradise with a waterfall.

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While the paint was still wet, they started adding the salt…just sprinkling away.  They had to paint in small sections so the paint didn’t dry up on them.  The effect of the salt was almost immediate.  You could see light or white splotches appear…this is the salt moving the pigment.  Way cool!

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They finished their pictures and let them dry.  Once the pictures dried, they just brushed off the salt from the surface of the paper and admired their awesome work!

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Everyone should try this with their kids…it’s so fun (for the kids and parents) to watch the salt change the texture of the painting!  And, it’s fun to watch your budding artists enjoy their handy work!  Art is so cool!

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