Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paper Wind Sock - Toddler Art Project

Spring is coming and so is the wind, so today we made wind socks at the library. Here is a quick summary of how we did it so you can try it too.

Wind Socks

Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)
Time: 10 min
Theme: Wind
Books: You can find a bunch of suggestions here

Colored Copy Paper (20lb – 28lb)
Various colored crepe paper streamers
Glue Sticks
Adults get to use Scissors and a Hole Punch

Prep: Cut lengths of streamers 18” – 24” long (5) per wind sock

Activity: Each child gets a sheet of paper, glue stick and 5 streamers. Lay paper out flat and glue streamers hanging off of the 11” side. Once all the streamers are on, put glue along one of the 8-1/2” edges and roll into a tube shape. Punch 2 holes at the top and add a string for hanging – Or running.

Notes/Tips: Copy paper works better than construction paper for this project because it does not rip as easily. You can also reinforce where they will hang by adding a small pieces of masking tape inside the ‘sock’ before punching holes. Older kids can decorate the ‘sock’ before adding the streamers; just remember to leave about 1” of blank space on the 8-1/2” side where the sheet will overlap.  

Life Underground - My Kids Favorite Subway Station

One of the coolest things about living in NYC is the subways, and the art that goes with them. The kids are partial to the 14th Street Station and the Tom Otterness sculptures that are there. Here is a picture of our little one chatting it up with one of the Otterness guys last year.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Moderately Sized Brontosaurus

On our latest excursion we made a point to seek out unusual landmarks and destinations. We came across this dinosaur in Bayville, NJ by accident. Roadside America ( describes it as a "moderately sized brontosaurus" and notes that he has been living along side Route 9 since 1932!

Phone Booth Art

I believe in making random public art that makes people smile, or at least take a closer look. Smiles make the world a better place. Taking a closer look usually helps too.
Don't Forget to Call Your Mother Absecon, NJ 2/24/12

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rainbow Me - Toddler Art Project

I have been volunteering at our local library with the little kids for about 10 months. We read books, sing songs, do crafts, wiggle around, and generally having a good time. I ran the Toddler Story Time during the 5 month gap between Juvenile Librarians, and now that they have a Kids Librarian again, I am a general helper and lead all of the art projects. I plan to share a 'how to' for some of the more successful projects that we do. When I remember, I will let you know what books we read with them too.
Rainbow Me!
Age: 18 Months - 5 Years (younger ones need more supervision)
Time: 15 min (+ Prep)
Theme: Color Mixing
Books: Mouse Paint, Blue Chicken and Little Blue and Little Yellow
Water Color Paper (Other paper will work - I used Blotter Paper because it is what I had on-hand - the key is that it is absorbent and does not tear easily when wet)
Permanent Marker
Silhouette Pattern
Bleeding Tissue Paper (Note - Not all tissue paper bleeds. You can test what you have or just pick some up at a craft store)
Water Cup with TINY bit of water
Heart Stickers (Optional)
Prep: Cut each sheet of paper in half (1 for each child). On each (half) sheet, using the Permanent Marker trace a simple silhouette of a person - I used one from a previous project, but you can find your own online like this one of an adult and kid: 
Activity: Each child gets a paper with a silhouette, a q-tip and a water cup. Rip off small bits of tissue paper, place them on the silhouette, then dab them with the wet q-tip. The color from the tissue paper will 'bleed' onto their person. Add a heart sticker a finishing touch.
Notes/Tips: If you use 2 paper plates - one for dry tissue paper and one for the wet scraps - your clean-up will be easier. The tissue paper will stain little fingers, but it washes off after a soapy scrub or two - and it a LOT less messy than paint!

Letters to a Home Town "Assembly of a Dream"

I won't be posting all of my "Letters" here, but you can count on a steady trickle of my favorites, both old and new. This one was from about a month ago....

I am not sure how it really happens, but in the myth that I have created there is a little workshop in the recesses of my brain. There is a Dream Maker who works there. She goes out each night and picks up scattered bits of thoughts and memories to use as supplies. Sometimes she gathers unfinished sentences and sights that were in the periphery – things I saw but didn’t notice. Some materials are plucked from the pile of things I thought but didn’t say. When the dreams play, often there are things of obvious source. Others I have no idea where she found them. Sadly, no matter how well crafted, chances are I won’t remember a dream when I wake. To the Dream Maker this does not matter. She gathers, assembles and creates because the act of creating makes her feel whole.
In the drifty space just before waking I know there was a dream playing. I could feel myself straining to hold on to it, catching bits like a conversation overheard from another room. The cat must have noticed my lids flickering because she began to knead. I feel like I am in the impulse isle of the store, the one you have to go down to in order to get to the register where they put all of those things that you didn’t know you needed but now you suddenly do. I grab randomly, tossing things into the cart of conscious thought just before opening my eyes.
Dear Cat, I find it rather gross the way you drool on me when you purr. I also find it endearing. I am conflicted. Also, please stop tenderizing me.  
The dream was gone but somehow I grabbed onto some of the bits the Dream Maker used to assemble it. The common theme - letters. I know this for sure because my first waking thoughts came phrased like short letters. I decided to follow this through; to encourage some morning pondering in short letter form.
Dear Coffee Pot, Please brew faster. If you could also ask the dishes to wash themselves I would be forever grateful.
Dear Almond Butter, I still can’t get past your consistency. It is too much like peanut butter which I am allergic to. I am sorry. I am putting cream cheese on my English muffin. 
Dear Sleeping Child, I am changing your middle name to “Zilla” until you are three. When you have children of your own you will understand.
Dear Politicians Seeking (Re)Election, I am pretty sure that Dr. Seuss wrote If I Ran the Circus after listening to politician on the stump. This is not a complement.  
Dear Every Place I Have Ever Lived, The number and composition of your population does not determine your values. Your populace does.  
Dear Dream Maker, Thank you for participating in my personal myth, cleaning up my brain scraps and putting them to use.
Dear Letter Home Reader, I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

Welcome to Art Mama Says

People have been telling me for some time that I should be blogging. I write a weekly column for my home town newspaper, so in a way I have been for years - I've just been doing it 'old school'. Anyway, yesterday I added another candle to my cake, and with that I decided that this year is as good of a time as any to get going on a blog. The plan is to let it be a forum to share creative things I have been making and doing (the Art part), recipes, kid pics, green home tips and such (the Mama part) and a few of my "Letters to a Home Town" and other random writings (the Says part). As those of you who get my "Letters" already know, I welcome feedback, comments and constructive criticism, but please, no other types of criticism. That stuff can be nasty and damaging and I am trying to strike it from my life.
Pic: Detail of "Before I Die..." Interactive Installation taken in Brooklyn, NY 2011