How do I keep the kids entertained while I mow the lawn? Water painting. All you need is a bucket of water, paintbrushes, and a fence. It’s free and it’s fun and it doesn’t make a mess. Plus kids can practice all kinds of things:
- patterns- use the fence pickets
- math problems
- sight words or spelling words
- and my daughters’ favorite: splattering
It isn’t the same as practicing handwriting with a pencil and paper, but that’s the point. Sometimes kids need a break from the routine. Novelty makes learning fun. Who wouldn’t want to practice their spelling words outside with a paintbrush in the sunshine instead of at the kitchen table?
We’re a little owl-obsessed around our house. So when I saw toilet paper tube owls on Pinterest, I knew we had to try it. The ones I saw were beautiful with intricate designs drawn with black sharpies. Not exactly a project for a three-year-old and a five-year-old. So we improvised. Bring on the googly eyes and foam shapes! These owls are so simple that my daughters made them completely on their own. And isn’t that the best kind of project? They get to learn by creating, then play with their creation. It’s a win-win!
Super simple instructions:
- Fold the top of the tube down. (optional: cut tube to make an owlet)
- Paint tube.
- Glue on eyes and foam (or construction paper) shapes for beak and wings.
- toilet paper roll
- foam shapes (or cut out triangles and ovals from construction paper)
- googly eyes
So easy. Fold toilet paper tubes to make a triangle and square. Lucky you, the circle is already done. 🙂 Then dip the ends in paint, stamp on paper, and you have a shape masterpiece! This is a great craft for toddlers who haven’t mastered painting with a brush. You can talk about shapes and colors while you create.
You might want to give them one color at a time or else this happens…
Last year for Mother’s Day we made these kid-painted vases for the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I was happy to find a use for the plethora of glass vases that take up residence in my kitchen cabinet. I swear, even though I rarely buy flowers, they just seem to multiply up there! Maybe it has something to do with the microwave beneath them. Hmmm… Where were we? Oh yeah. My girls are big fans of painting, so they loved it. Big Sis liked picking out “the perfect vase” for each grandmother and great-grandmother. And even if the painting looks like a mess (ahem, Little Sis’s small vase in front), it will still be a cherished modern art masterpiece by any grandma.
Do you have some tissue boxes? Let’s make them into monster feet! Last year the girls’ preschool made these and the kids loved them. I like the idea of recycling trash into toys. I also like crafts that are easy enough for kids to make it mostly themselves.
- Cut out the plastic in the top opening of the tissue box. (I did this part.)
- Paint boxes whatever color you want.
- Cut out toes from construction paper and glue to the bottom of the box.
- Optional step: We used a texture brush to do a final coat with sparkly paint.
The end product isn’t perfect, but it is kid-made and they had fun painting.
The scariest monster you’ve ever seen…
- 2 tissue boxes
- construction paper
- texture brush (optional)
Time investment: 15 minutes (plus extra time for the paint to dry)
Difficulty: Elementary kids could it all by themselves, preschoolers might need some help with the cutting.
So over breakfast, I had an idea to make masks (or glasses or goggles or whatever you want to call them) out of an egg carton. It was fast, easy, and didn’t require a lot of supplies. Just the way I like it.
- Cut apart the egg carton in pairs.
- Cut out circles for eyes. We experimented with different sizes for the eye holes. Also, we found that it was helpful to cut a little triangle out for the nose, but it isn’t necessary. Please note my meticulous cutting job.
- Decorate! We used washable tempera paint (after first failing with markers). Stickers would also be a fun idea. And as you can see, stickers would be a lot less messy. How did she get paint on her chin?!
- Glue on a popsicle stick and you’re done! (In case you were wondering why our egg cartons don’t carry a dozen eggs…we lost a pair of glasses in a cutting mishap.)
This project was easy enough for Big Sis to do the cutting, gluing, and painting on her own. Both girls had so much fun that I wanted to try it out, too. Please say you can pick out the one that wasn’t painted by a preschooler.
- egg carton
- popsicle sticks
Time investment: 15 minutes to make them, then a couple hours to let the paint dry
Difficulty: Elementary kids could it all by themselves, little ones need help with cutting.
During our recent packing paper fingerpainting extravaganza, we also made prints. There was so much paint from the color mixing that Big Sis started making designs with her finger. I gently pressed white paper over it and… ta da!
Multiple prints can be made from the same design (depending on how much paint you use and how hard you press). We made our design on packing paper, but I’m sure it would also work on tin foil, wax paper, a cookie sheet, or the table itself. It would be fun to experiment with writing letters or numbers and see how they come out backwards! Let me know if you try it and how it works!
Packing paper is big, easy to clean up, and free. Perfect material for kid art. Now what can you do with it?
1. Cover the table. Put packing paper over a table (it completely covered our kid table) and let them finger paint all over it. Give them some primary colors and let them mix it by hand to make secondary colors. The best way to learn is by doing, so let them get messy. Not feeling the paint? Give them crayons and markers and let them draw on the table while you make dinner.
2. Hang it on the wall. Tape up the packing paper to a long wall and let them create a mural.
3. Lay it out on the floor. The floor is the perfect place for sitting babies that haven’t mastered walking. Plop them in the middle of the packing paper and let them go to town. Have older kids lay down on the paper and trace around them. Then they can color themselves and design an outfit with paint, markers, or chalk.
4. Take it outside. On a nice day, put packing paper down on the driveway, deck, or sidewalk. Take off those shoes and make paint footprints!