Wild Things Paper Mache Project

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Inspiration for the wild thing

One night, Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another. His mother called him “WILD THING!”. And Max said, “I’LL EAT YOU UP!”. So he was sent to bed without eating anything.

That very night…

What happens next is a grasping fiction that attracts adults and children alike. Imagination runs wild in this classic story book from Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are was first published in 1963 and if it still remains one of the most beloved children’s books, it’s not without reason.

The beautifully illustrated story book demonstrates the little boy’s feelings, emotions and fantasies. The character of Max is easily identified with most children and even adults’ childhood memories. After going on a wild rumpus in his imaginative world, Max wants to return to where he belongs, to his bedroom where he finds supper waiting for him.

Working with Paper Mache

I had always shied away from form art projects, but after reading “Where the wild things are” a couple of times with my son, I couldn’t help choosing a Paper Mache Wild Things project for the next lesson. It was a messy business. But it was less chaotic than I expected. The children behaved remarkably well too, and in 2 sessions, we had our own wonderful wild thing paper mache figures.

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Simple Easter Egg Craft

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I Love You, Little Monster by Giles Andreae is a happy story of parental love and appreciation from the author of “Giraffes can’t dance”. When Big thought Small was asleep and didn’t open an eye, Small hears Big say “I love you, my darling”.

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We read the story on the day before Easter and thought what a wonderful Easter Eve craft it would make way to. We got into a crafty mode right away and here’s what we have!

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Kinder Recycled Sculptures

Form Art – The idea of it had always both attracted and repelled me. Every time I see sculptures made by kinder students, I’m amazed but the mess it would call for kept it out of my class room. But now I decided it’s time to get things done.

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Inspiration

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

I decided on a recycled project and couldn’t help choose Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback to go with the lesson. I had read aloud this book in my previous reading group and had been waiting to plan a lesson.

It is about a man named Joseph who makes something new out of his old and worn overcoat. The story doesn’t stop there. He always figures out new things to make from his old and worn things and finally proves that something could always be made out of anything, even nothing. I felt this lesson to be only too important for kids of this age. What’s more, the book also has beautiful and interactive illustrations and the way Taback has incorporated something from the following page in almost every page is just too inviting to keep reading. Psst! I’ll say no more and let you read and explore it by yourself.

Preparation

I decided to let the kids create something out of recyclables. So here’s what you need:

  • Recylables (choose from the different types listed below)
    • Cardboard boxes (varying sizes)
    • Yoghurt cups/other plastic tubs
    • Styrofoam vegetable trays
    • Old plastic container lids (I have tons of these)
    • Bottle caps – I had been collecting these for a while
    • Any other creative stuff you can find
  • Acrylic Paints (remember to protect your surface more than you would for regular projects, I had to learn this the hard way)
  • Large paint brushes (I chose painting brushes from hardware store, which were far cheaper than art store brushes)
  • Masking tape (get the easily removable type but strong enough to hold boxes together)
  • Hot glue (I used this myself)

Demonstrate and build

I had prepared to demonstrate what could be done with the materials provided to them. I chose to make a robot because not only is it easy to understand, but we could make varieties even if all the kids choose to make a robot too. After I showed them what I would do, I passed a roll of tape to each of them. Of course, given their age, tearing the tape while still keeping hold of the materials was quite challenging. So I ended up tearing the tape and sticking it to the edge of the table.

It was hard work for the kinders but they surprised me with their creativity and persistence. They all thought differently and came up with totally different but mind-blowing structures during the short lesson. Yes, their structures were filled with tape which made it difficult to see what had been done, so I helped them hot glue the pieces together and remove the tape.

Finish it with acrylic paint

The next session, I setup acrylic paints and large brushes along with their sculptures and allowed them to paint the colour of their choice. After one exciting and totally messy hour, we had these wonderful sculptures.

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Farm Perspective Art Lesson

Looking for a simple lesson to teach perspective to kinder and lower elementary kids? Here is an easily adaptable lesson on perspective.FarmChicks1

I’ve had this idea for quite a while and was looking for a good book to go with the lesson. Later I realised that I had the right book all along in my son’s book shelf.
Where Are My Chicks? by Sally Grindley and Jill Newton is a fun, farm based counting book with bright and beautiful illustrations and simple words. It features a bunch of farm animals helping mother hen find her lost chicks and in turn finding a surprising bunch of other babies. The simple plot and it’s surprising ending adds interest to the book and we were all inspired by the time we finished reading it.

What you need

      • Drawing sheet for creating the farm
      • Tempera paints
      • Yellow construction paper
      • Yellow, orange and brown oil pastels
      • Black oil pastel or grease pencil for drawing
      • Scissors and glue

Drawing and painting the farm

On day 1 the illustrations in the book were still fresh in our minds and we made a farm background for our surprise lesson. I demonstrated a few barns and fences on the white board and asked the kids to get started in their own way. Since this was not the final project (though I hadn’t told them what we will be doing next week because I wanted to keep it a surprise), I kept it pretty much an open ended work. Mountains and tractors and sign boards soon flowed in along with barns and fences.

Drawing the chicks

On day 2, I asked the kids to draw 4 chicks (going by the story) on the yellow paper. I provided each kid this handout and they could choose any chick they found comfortable drawing.

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Near or far? Here or there?

Since they were lost and were to be found around the farm, the chicks were to be all different sizes. I explained how things that are far away looks smaller than ones closer to us. I also had the opportunity to explain the concept of eye level, that the bigger chicks will be placed below eye level that is towards the bottom of the paper and the smaller ones near the horizon. It is all easier said than done. Honestly, I had to keep reminding them that the chicks had to be different sizes and even when they grabbed the concept, most of the time, they ended up drawing all 4 chicks in the same size.

Final roundup

Cutting out the smaller chicks were no easy task for the 5-6 year old group. It took a whole session to get the tedious job done. Then we added feathers using yellow, orange and brown oil pastels. At the end of the day, I had a handful of satisfactory farm perspective paintings.

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Teaching Art: The beginning

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. – Pablo Picasso

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Sometimes I think it necessary to write down the reason I teach. Not only does it help preparing myself, but I thought it would help others. Unlike schools and privately run enrichment centres, my students come to my class only because of me. They are comfortable with me and they enjoy what they get to do in my class, it makes the children keep coming back. But how about the parents? I wanted them to know why I teach and in turn what to expect from me.

Art is my joy. I always believed art is a process and not a product. So when it was time for me to introduce my child to the world of art, I was all set to give him art materials without adult intervention and allow him to explore. I wanted him to create what he would and see what he will in his creations. It was an amazing thing to do but little did I know that though I was right, I hadn’t figured out everything.

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I can’t tell how excited I was when I put my own little baby in front of a sheet of white paper and pots of non-toxic washable paint shortly after his first birthday. To say that I was excited would be an understatement. I felt like it was all I had ever wanted to do, the thing I had been waiting for! He was curious and wasn’t as excited as I was, but it was definitely a start. We didn’t stop there, we kept going and very soon, he had his own art station where he could have access to his art supplies without having to wait for mama’s help.

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I never stopped him when he was exploring or advise him on what he should be doing. I just let him go, do what he would, just like I thought it should be.

Drawings at 3 years old

Drawings at 3 years old

When he was around 4 years old, I sat with my son for a mom and me painting session and in the middle of the session, my son told me that he couldn’t draw as well as I did. That was a big shock for me, because I didn’t think that 4 year olds would ever criticise their art the way adults do. I thought they were confident about their own art and about what they created. And I really did appreciate my son’s bold unrealistic creations much more than my own subtle realistic paintings, not so much because he is my son as because I lack the sort of fearlessness that I’ve observed only children have.

For the first time, I reconsidered all I had discovered about art in early childhood. That was when I realised that useful intervention was definitely needed in a child’s art exploration. And then there was this question about when a child needs adult help, and how much. I enjoyed the process of exploration myself, as I set out paint palettes for children of my friends in my home. And I definitely learnt as much as or more than the kids did during those little art sessions. It helped tremendously when I decided to start my own classes for kids.

“Seven Blind Mice”

This was a book our volunteer reader had chosen to read on the first session of KidsREAD club. It is a simple yet powerful story and with brilliantly coloured pictures on black paper, it is captivating.

The story is an artistic twist to the classic fable “3 blind men” I’d heard from my grandfather long ago. As the title suggests, it is about seven blind but differently hued mice trying to find out about the strange ‘something’ by the pond, each coming up with a weird guess about what the ‘something’ was, drawn from the little they had explored. The story ends with a conclusion that it’s important to take your time to know the whole than jump into a quick decision.
It was our first story telling session but the kids were quite involved with the story, words and illustrations. To add interest to the reading, we had also created these props.

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A handmade Braille handout to show the kids how blind people ‘feel’ what they couldn’t see. Thanks to PBSKids’ Braille translator.

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Seven mice drawn and cut out from construction paper and pasted onto popsicle sticks. We used each one of these during the part of the coloured mice in the story.

My First Self-Portrait

I’d never taught a self-portrait before and thought it was time to try one. I say try, because I didn’t really set high expectations about the results. I wanted the kids to have a good experience though.

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I read the book “What is a Self-Portrait?” by Ruth Thomson to prepare the kids about what is expected. We didn’t have to go through the whole book. Since this was their first self-portrait, the information from the first 4 pages of the book was sufficient. After covering the basics of a self-portrait, the book goes to explain the different emotions and ways self-portraits are drawn. A good read, and I might definitely choose it again for our next version of portraits.

When we read the part where artists observe themselves in the mirror to draw, I handed a mirror to the kids and helped them observe themselves. I started demonstrating on the white board how different features can be drawn and prompted them to observe the particular shape of their own features. This took a bit of time but the kids found it amusing given the subject of the lesson. They had such fun analysing their own features before they got ready to draw and paint.

End of the day, I had these wonderful self portraits. What I love best about this project is that each art work has it’s own characteristics and I bet each of them closely resemble the artist themselves…

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My Little “Pictionary-Perfect” Artist

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So, how does your son do?

I hear this question very often. When they get to know me, people always wonder how well my son must have taken to art. Answering this question is very hard. I know that just because I am an artist doesn’t mean that my son should be. But I tried my best to provide him the opportunities. He always had art supplies at his disposal and even though he didn’t turn to it as often as I wished, I was happy with what he created.

I refrained from instructions and by the time he was 4, he would amaze me with his imagination. He brought his free time drawing sheet from school one day. He’d drawn a dragon attacking a flying castle. But instead of burning, the castle’s strength made the fire reflect back to dragon, hurting the dragon itself. Of course all of this was his words, because I didn’t even recognise the dragon and the flying castle looked more like a rocket. But his concept was pretty amazing.

If he were drawing fish, he would make them race around the paper and insist that he draws a finish line, which, done in my class room, confuses the other kids making them want to copy him without even understanding what he does. He is not really an ideal student in a classroom.

While drawing a landscape, he would draw both sun and moon, because it is that time of the day when the moon rises just as the sun sets, and later he would fill it all up with grey blue paint because it was raining and all you could see in the scene was greyish blur. He is spontaneous. He is a creative thinker, who draws to convey meaning but he is not someone who would relish creating a “picture-perfect” image.

So instead of controlling his creative-thinking soul, we got him a Pictionary for Christmas. It’s a game for 8+ years with at least 4 players. But that doesn’t stop my little artist. We customised it between the 2 of us so he has a perfect place for all his creative energy.

Here’s a few of his sketches that he thought, drew and conveyed the meaning to me in under 55 seconds each.

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    1. Telephone
    2. Nose (Note the arrow mark) and Pine apple (He was focussing on the crown and the spikes)
    3. Monkey: He drew the tree first, then scribbled the creature, but focused more on the tail
    4. Car Park: This one was really interesting. It is the way things are in our part of Singapore. A multi-storey carpark with lift near your apartment
    5. Postman: This is another interesting 55 second sketch especially because our postman (usually a woman) doesn’t wear a hat or bag like that and doesn’t give letters to people directly. But like my son has figured out during his limited time, he couldn’t have drawn any other way to convince me that it is indeed a postman

He has just learnt to read so that makes the game even more challenging when played with only your opponent. So far, there hasn’t been one word he couldn’t draw or I couldn’t guess!

An Appeal to the Tooth Fairy

My poor little son lost his first baby tooth after weeks of anxious tooth shaking and anticipation about his first Tooth Fairy visit. Unfortunately he swallowed the tooth along with his bite of sandwich. He rummaged through the remains of our lunch for the tiny tooth and when he couldn’t, broke down crying about having to go to school with a “broken tooth”.

That was couple of days ago. I really did feel bad so today I suggested that he appeal to tooth fairy and see if he would still get a chance. Of course, I had to spend the next several minutes explaining that he could ‘appeal for something when it doesn’t happen the way he wanted and it really wasn’t his fault’. He took to the idea and wrote the letter in the evening.

Dear Tooth Fairy 1

He was so eager to write that he was writing much faster than I’ve ever seen him do. And if I consciously made him add more words than necessary to his letter in the hope of giving writing practice, that wasn’t my fault at all.

Dear Tooth Fairy 2

His first, most legible letter was complete with a colon, full stops where needed, an exclamatory mark (he seems to have taken after my love for exclamatory marks) and his signature which deserved 5 stars and a smiley! (yeah, that’s what I meant)

Dear Tooth Fairy 3

He got the envelope ready and even though it was not going to be posted, he put a stamp on it out of respect for the Tooth Fairy. After all, this is not a normal request, it was an ‘appeal’.

Dear Tooth Fairy 4

He carried the letter around with him all evening and then casually forgot to put it under the pillow. There was a reason why I called him ‘my poor little son’. This might be the cutest thing he ever did and I’m sure the tooth fairy would visit him tonight with more than what he expects and probably a note asking him to remember things, or better, to listen to his mommy. Yeah, Tooth Fairies could be evil like that!

Edited: March 14, 2014

He did find the envelope under his pillow the following day, with 2 dollars and a note saying that the fairy found his letter anyway, because he had been a nice child. He thought about it for a while and then asked me whether I did it.
I replied with a question. “Why do you ask me such a question?
I don’t know. Something tells me that YOU did it.
I answered with the “I don’t wanna talk about it” like I always did when he asked about Santa. After this, he insisted that he leave a gift for tooth fairy, probably 3 dollars, thanking her for her kindness. It was getting beyond my control and finally we settled with a nice little drawing to tooth fairy in return!

“My Octopus Arms” Art Project

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I love collage projects. At 4 years old, the preschoolers are not too young to handle scissors and with a little practice, they stop complaining about having to cut too much (which did happen in some of the previous projects).

When I was looking for the right cutting project for this term, I found this book at the library.

My Octopus Arms by Keith Baker is a book about the different fun activities we can do in daily life. If the words and the fun activities discussed were not captivating enough, Keith Baker has done a wonderful job with the illustrations. The bright pink and flesh tint octopus is inspiration enough for anyone to get painting.

What you need

  • 2 sheets of B3/A3 paper
  • Black oil pastel or marker
  • Tempera paint: Red, Yellow and White (or Pink and Flesh Tint), Blue for sea
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Marker cap/anything else for stamping small circles

Drawing the Octopus

Start with the easiest and most obvious shape, the face, with an inverted ‘U’. Then add the arms one at a time, starting from one of the ends of the ‘U’ and counting up to 8 while reaching the other end. Given the the age of the child, it won’t be as easy as it sounds. But usually 4 arms on each side is quite easy to achieve.

Draw 2 eyes out of the octopus so that we can paste it in the end. Also draw any other small sea creatures you want to add in the end.

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Filling in the colours and adding suckers

I set pre-mixed pots of pink (red and white) and flesh tint (red, yellow and white) on the table and the kids shared the paint. They were asked to blend the colours irregularly to add texture and variety.

Then use a marker cap or any other small cylindrical object to stamp in the suckers.

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Prepare a blue background, cut and paste the octopus

We prepared the blue background for sea on another sheet of paper and waited for everything to dry.

In the next class, the kids cut out the octopus and the fish and pasted them on the blue sheet.

Warning! Cutting out thin strips of paper attached to the main body is not an easy task for 4 year olds. So before I knew what was going on, we had a huge pile of paper tentacles which needed to be sorted out, and some gone missing. It would have been a better idea to make some markings on the back of the paper so you would know where each tentacle belonged to.

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Finally Glue in the eyes and other sea creatures

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