Christmas Tree ART

These tree's we made turned out awesome.

First we started with a cut out of a tree, I blue tacked it on to our canvas and smiley sponged different shades on Green in to it. Then i pulled the outline off & gave him a bowl full of decorations. There were cellophane pieces, star sequence, jewels and glitter, cut pieces of wrapping paper & some pom poms.
Some things stuck to the paint but other things required some glue.
He stuck them all on & then we glued a star on top as a final touch (or a pom pom).

The second one we tried as a foil cut out of a tree with blobs of glue as the baubles and then Smiley sprinkled glitter over it.

Projective Inkblots

Anyone who knows me will know that I am studying a Psychology Bachelors Degree, I am no where near my goal and it is seeming to take for ever but I am determined to get there & be labelled a Registered Psychologist. What I do from there is still unknown.

I recently went away for my on-campus residential for the subject Psychological testing & Assessment, one of things that popped up was the development of the Projection Test as one of the first Personality tests. Developed initially by Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalytic Theorist, Inkblots soon developed further and The Rorschach inkblot test and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) were coined, if you have any interest in Psychology who may have heard of these as they are the two most widely used Projection tests, and they were both important milestones in the clinical field.

The test assumes that the person being tested is projecting their personalities into the inkblots.  Further, the test assumes that since the person is focusing on the inkblot in order to identify what it resembles, they would be removing the attention of themselves and therefor remove their usual psychological defences. Since the same inkblot could seem like everything and nothing, any object or idea that the subject claims to see would be a product of the subject’s unconscious projected onto the inkblot.  That is the history.

Now, I am not a fan of Freud and anyone who has read about him may feel the same, he is often seen as a creep with sexually deviant desires and his theories surrounding early childhood are very radical and some what disturbing. None the less, he is a major player in Psychology and I do understand the basis of Projective tests.

Out of curiosity I made some inkblots with Smiley. I still have ink left over from our experimental Marbling in November.  So I got that out to use. It was a fun process and a learning activity for him as he got to see how the ink transferred onto both sides when folded in the paper and how the colours smeared together.

I cut A4 White printing paper in half and did about 10 inkblots.  I asked smiley to choose his colours, splash some dots on the paper and then we folded them in half. Using the same technique you would if you were making butterflies with paint. Open them up and put them up to dry.

Once they were dry I asked smiley what they looked like. What do you think that is,  and what is it doing?  I did this purely out of curiosity, and of course for the process of making them, i didn't intend to perform any type delving technique and I wasn't going to look into what he said for some underlying hidden meaning. 

He is nearly 3 and that would be totally inappropriate, so I did it purely to see where his imagination took him and how well he could attend, listen and talk about the pictures. Through open ended questioning I thought it would also help develop his language and conversational skills. But most of all, they were fun to make and they do look pretty unique and interesting.

He did really well and he is suprising me a lot lately with how grow up he is becoming. Time has gone so fast and he isn't my little baby anymore he is becoming a little boy.  All grow up he says "OK, Show me this one!" and took the inkblot, as the tests are ambiguous they can be seen in any direction or angle that the viewer wants them to be in and this is funnily exactly what he did.

He twisted and turned it around, hummed & hared tilting his head at all different angles then announced this one is a Big Camp Fire, like the one out the bush!  (we had a bomb-fire that day but if it were a real adult projection test the psychoanalyst might have said that represents a hot temper or signifies anger rising up - PFFtTt so the tests as you can imagine aren't really that popular these days)

It was very humorous to me, my little man so grow up telling me stories about what it is. "Lets see" he would say & squint, with a real serious look on his face. "This one has huge Antennas" he said, and then from there on it was an insect theme.

There was a Spider eating his food. There was a cranky biter cricket with huge antennas.  A squashed frog with a fat belly that a car had run over, A beautiful butterfly of course and an explosion in the water from what i gather. There were lots of sound effect, boom, splash, pachoooow and lots of cute facials!

The last one, which was totally out of the theme was Poppy with his glasses on which surprised me because he hasn't seen Poppy for a couple of weeks and the picture was, well very ambiguous but I can see where he got the glasses from (it was 2 big yellow blots that looked like round eyes, or glasses).

Here are some below; The fire, the spider eating his food & the cranky cricket 

Painting the Bath Tub

Painting the Bath Tub

Dimples loves getting paint all over his hands, arms & face.
So instead of giving him his tressle and tubs of paint, brushes and sponges, putting his art shirts on & trying to get him to keep the paint only on the brush or the paper (& failing in doing so) I let him go.... In the bath tub!

The rules were that he could paint the sides & bottom of the tub, keeping all the paint inside the tub.  He could paint any part of himself as long as he washed & cleaned it all off when he was finished.
That is what he did, he followed the instructions clearly and cleaned himself up.

I gave him a sponge, a brush and a roller then splatted paint through out the bath. He was in it and also had a paint tray full of paint. It got messy and watch out if you are trying this, it gets very slippery so we also said another rule of sitting / kneeling down to prevent a nasty fall.

He painted his feet, his legs and his hands as usual and then realised he had full range so he grabbed the roller and painted his belly aswell. He was covered in paint from the tip of his toes up to his chin. Then once he got that out of his system he painted a "beautiful waterfall" up the side of the tub and a shark.

It went well and the best thing was it was so easy to clean, as it was still wet it just washed down the drain & then he was in the tub already so he was clean and spottles within a matter of minutes. If you are a multi-tasker like I am, it is also too easy to clean the bathroom at the same time. While he was painting away I cleaned the shower and the vanity, Sorted through the washing and then cleaned him :)

Great fun.

Balloon Sprinkler

Here in Australia, Summer has arrived and the days are getting longer as the sun is getting hotter. But parents these days need to be much more conscious of our precious but lacking resource, water, when it comes to ways to play outdoors.

Every one who lives in a warm climate area has fond memories of running under the sprinkler as a kid. I know I do! My brother and I would play endlessly under, on & around the sprinkler; Jumping over, racing around, sitting on or trying to stop the water is all great fun as a kid.

Here is a water conscious home made sprinkler idea that can provide water play & sprinkler fun, (without hooking up to the tap & leaving it run the entire day).

You will need a sharp pin & several balloons, some string or ribbon and a place to hang your balloon sprinklers.

While the balloons are new & unstretched prick some holes in them with the pin. You must be careful not to do them all in the centre or it will burst with water, like wise if you do too many all over the water pressure will make it burst, so your best to lay your balloon flat & prick the holes closer to the bottom of the balloon where the rubber is thicker.

Fill the Balloon up at the tap, making sure you don't over fill them. Hold them as you do it so you can feel the weight.  They will be hung & bopped around so they need to hold their own weight with out bursting. Tie the tops & then tie on your string. Take them to you hanging spot & tie them up high enough that your little one can go under them, reach them & play with them but so they are not going to swing onto any rough or sharp near by surface & pop.  We did ours on the clothes line!

If you look closer at the balloons water is squirting out in all different directions. We had games of catching it in a bucket, trying to manoeuvre the balloon squirts around to squirt each other & dancing in the "rain".

There you have it. As the water comes out it squirts in all directions, they can drink out of it, have fun bopping them around, spin them around or stand under the drips. 
They're still getting wet, cooling down, having fun, but your not letting a continuous stream of water pour unto the ground for hours...

Experimental Marbling

Marbling: Water, Oil or shaving cream?

I recently bought a small ink marbling kit for Dimples. We have experimented before with shaving cream marbling and food colour, I have tried to mix oil based paints and poster paint but have Failed in my marbling attempts.

So first up we tried the marbling as per the instructions, ink on water in a tray. If your marbling is ink it is recommended you put a dash of vinegar in the water, so we did this.
Dimples squirts his pick of colours in the water and uses a skew to stir and mix. Then we place the paper on top, you don't submerse it and there is no need to leave it there for long.
it worked OK. Not as bright as I would have liked.

Then we tried again with some oil in the water.

You can see this one worked better, the first ones were very light & vague in colour, you can see below where the oil dots formed.  Dimples was whisking the oil and trying to separate it while he was stirring the colours.

Then we moved on to Shaving cream, this worked the best by far.  I filled the tray with shaving cream and gave dimples the inks to choose his colours and squirt them around on the shaving cream.  I love shaving cream, its so versatile. We have done a few posts using shaving cream!
The colours always look so much more vibrant on it.

Then we used a fork to slice the colours and mix them a bit.
Then we placed the paper on top of it, flattened it down and pulled it off.
This part gets a little tricky so this is were Mummy's help is needed!  You need a piece of cardboard or something to whip off the shaving cream, once you clear it off your paper the ink marbling remains on your paper.

Magic.....  This use of the ink marbling gives you a more effective, brighter piece of art compared to the usual water and oil marbling.

And as usual, with shaving cream art leads to play, play leads to mess & Dimples feels the need to attack the dog & cover him in shaving cream also. FUN! The dog doesnt look very impressed...

Fun Foot Prints

I recently read a post by Hands on as we grow about BIG ART. I have always been a fan of big art and they share 40 fun ideas here at hands on as we grow . I think this activity falls nicely into the category of big art, it uses big movement and gross motor skills in the process and has a BIG result. My little monkey got into the paint, it was a big process, it was outdoors, it got him moving & it got a little messy.

 I totally agree with their statement that it is all about "the process and not the product".

Footsteps can be fun and little ones just love covering their hands & feet in paint, smearing it over the bodies and making a real mess, so we took this outside on a rolled out drop sheet (a Vinyl off cut), I love outdoor art, its much easier to wash up- If something gets thrown or splats on the floor or wall or we just go a little wild its too easy to grab the hose & wash it away. No biggy.

This was pretty simple to prepare. I got 2 trays and filled them with 2 different coloured paints then lined the paper across the vinyl and let the little monkey at it (you could tape it down if it is windy out or if its sticks to their feet). 
We discussed left and right, we talked about the colours and the types of "walks" animals do. 

FEET in instantly, that was the plan and he was straight in, feet first with out any instruction. He walked across the paper and into the water bowl then back again.
We did a few different colours but here are some snaps below of the brights we did up first.

Pinecone People for Christmas.

Its a cute Christmas Decoration!

One day, we went on a trip to a nearby town & Smiley spotted some Pine cones that he called 'spikeycones', He happily played with them & asked if we could take one to put eyes on it (after the story stones & his pet rock he asks if we can put eyes on everything) So i stashed a few in my bag for play and craft.
The things mothers do! I am sure the lady at the supermarket later that day thought i was quiet strange when i pulled out 3 pine cones in order to find my wallet.

Eventually I came up with this Christmas decoration idea and thought they would be excellent gifts for Smiley to give to family or to decorate our home for the Christmas season. We tried to use some different techniques while making this as well. . .

So here go,
What you need;  Pine cones, 2 pom poms, 2 craft eyes, 1 pipe cleaner, paint & glitter glue, glue, felt, scissors, a stapler, another pom pom & some time.

We did this in steps as it took a while to dry, ill tell you the way we did it but now that it is done I would have done the eyes last. So you might want to swap the eyes til last but seen as this just came to me as we were making it I worked backwards.

Step 1:  Eyes & arms,  2 pom-poms & a cut pipe cleaner, I got smiley to choose a colour & put glue on 2 pom poms, then asked him to wedge the eyes into the pine cone next to each other. then I put the glue on the craft eyes and got him to put these on top of the pom poms. Cut a pipe cleaner in half and put glue on one side of both halves, entirely, I actually put the tip of the pipe cleaner into the glues tip so that it was covered in glue & got Smiley to insert the arms into the body. Make sure the glue has contact & will set.
drying time.

Step 2: Paint. This is a little different. In order to get some fine motor practise in and let smiley practise manipulating a knife I gave him a small old baby knife that i had. He is so keen to use a knife but is yet to master the skill & the baby safe ones really don't do anything but frustrate him as they don't cut through even the softest of foods, they are a little too safe that they are not functional at all so for him to practice holding & handling a knife with no pressure & no frustration I asked him to use it to "cut" the white paint & feed it to the pine cone, whipping it inside the pine cone section.
Drying time.

Step 3: Hats and boots.
Using felt I cut out a heart shape felt piece that the pine cone will glue onto as feet and I also made a hat from felt by cutting it & rolling it into a cone, I stapled the hat and asked smiley to glue another pom pom on top of the Santa hat and due to the nature of felt I clipped the pom poms on for the drying process so they didn't spring off. If you wanted to go one step further you could sew the hat instead of stapling it :-P

Step 4:
Dust on the glitter glue. Smiley dipped a duster in the glitter glue and dusted the pine cone person with gold glitter glue, just to give it a christmas feel. The idea of the first white paint is to get in to the middle of the pine cone and this step is more to frame the surface with glitter. To "dust" it with glitter so to speak.
drying time.

Step 5: Glue the hat & feet.
I put glue on the tip of the Pine cones head & inside the hat and asked smiley to glue the hat on, then put glue on the felt feet and asked him to place the person on top. Press them on firmly. Then we let it set.

There we have a cute Christmas Pine cone Person Decoration. 

Painting the tree!

Treasure Hunt

A Real-life Treasure Hunt!

I have been planning to do this for a while but haven't had a free weekend or the props so the weekend just gone I made a point of planning a real-life treasure Hunt for Smiley.

I pre-made & painted some "coins" made from cut cardboard that had written & pictorial clues on the back of them, a treasure map and a box of treasure, oh and of course I needed a pirates flag to mark the buried treasure.  When Smiley was occupied with Daddy helping him feed the farm animals I snuck off and left a trail of semi-hidden clues around at significant land markings & large visual hiding spots (the large gum tree, the camp fire, the veggie garden, the river bank, the Caravans etc.)

Once the clues were out I drew up a treasure map. Smiley is only 2 and obviously cant read yet so I did the treasure map with visual cues and drawings, I drew on a circle with a $ symbol that represented where the coin clues were hidden. At the end of the trail was a large X mark, where the treasure was buried.  

The treasure consisted of some real .20 cent coins, some foam coins and of course some chocolate coins. Not too many though... I buried the treasure in the soft dirt down by the river bank. This seemed the most logical spot because the dirt is soft and the pirates must have came by boat to bury it there!  (Smiley is never unattended at anytime while he is on the farm so of course safety near the waters edge had to be considered).

Here is one hidden next to a canoe.

The clues read things like;  'Follow the fence to you find a Red canoe under a tree, look close & you will see a purple coin with your next clue'
  "Where the cows play you might see a very large tree"
  "Oink oink, what has a curly tail and rolls in the mud?"
 "Pirates come by boat, can you hear the water splashing & the sound of birds tweeting. Look close & you might find the Pirates have left something behind!"

Once the treasure was buried I put up a Pirate flag and marked the treasure with a big X made out of river stones then went back to start the hunt with him.

The first clue was accompanied by a shovel.  I told smiley that a little bird had told me there is treasure buried on the land near by and that it left me with a treasure Map. I showed him the map and explained that the coins are clues that will help us find the treasure and that we need to follow this trail.
He was a little hesitant at the beginning but once he had found the second clue he caught on to the game and was jumping with excitement (literally!) .
This clue below got the best reaction because he could see it across the Field and ran flat out yelling "found it. there it is! " until he got there with the hugest grin on his face :-D
There were also pictures on the back of the coin clues and of course i read it to him but let him take the initiative to follow the clue and tell me what he thought it meant and where that next clue was. It worked a treat and he caught on really quick!  If he got stuck we kneeled down and compared the place/picture on the map as I re-read the clue...

The next best thing was spotting the Pirates flag, and his face lite up. There really is treasure here. The he had to look around to find the X of rocks and start digging. The treasure was only loosely buried so it was easy enough for him to do it himself.

TREASURE. He was shaking with excitement and so happy he had found it, it was one of the best activities we have done together. He ran up the hill and found Daddy & his Uncle to show them what he had found and he held on to his treasure map for a couple of hours. It was a good outdoor activity to get us moving, and explore the outdoors, it challenged his cognitive processes and encouraged his imagination. It really was an awesome Adventure! 

Huge Floor Maze

Masking tape is an invaluable resource. You can pick up cheap bulk rolls from the bargain shops for a few dollars and they can provide hours of fun.

We often do roads made of tape and racing tracks but this time it was a Maze.

Here is our Floor Maze. We did it with the concept of "roads" and I thought it would be a little over my boys head but he caught on real quick when I mentioned cars and roads.

I initialised the game with an example, the roads are inside the tape this time (we usually use the tape symbolic as a road its self) and then i went around with a car "uh-oh, stop we cant go that way its blocked off"  "turn around or reverse and try again" "If we go this way will we make it to the middle "

This seemed to work a treat and he did it so easily.
Mazes are very tricky for little ones and rely on problem solving, which helps develop your critical thinking / logic skills.
Maze games and other puzzle-solving activities encourage a multitude of mental abilities. Maze games can help maintain short-term memory.
The ability to anticipate, to change the mind, and to reverse direction offer practice in faster brain processing and reaction times. This concept, called mental flexibility, may help your child sort through problems & make decisions more quickly or with more appropriate responses, because planning, anticipating, and looking ahead are all activities involved in playing a maze game.
Many cognitive processes are benefited by mazes and it has strong links in improving neural circuits in elderly and aiding against dementia (I know that's not at all relevant BUT its interesting and shows how powerful the brain is).

Before long my little monkey had a car-park of cars in the centre of the maze and listening to him play was so cute. In his little 2 year old voice he was mimicking from my example and he has an obsession with "work" at the moment so it was "bye, I'm going to work" "woops, not this way. beep beep beep (reverse on a truck)" "turn here, quick down this way" "STOP, we are here!"  It was very amusing & is still on the floor. He usually enjoys ripping them up when he has finished playing that day but this puzzle remains :)


We Made Fossils.

This was a quick & easy activity, my little man has done this before at daycare & we have experimented with play-doh but this time around it was time to get down to business.....   This is how we made our realistic fossils!

*1.5 cup flour
*2 cup salt
*1 cup water
*1tsp oil
*1 cup warm water with your choice of food colour.

Mix it up, knead it like a dough. I think I added some ingredients as i was going so just experiment with the texture. It needs to be dough consistency, thick & not overly sticky.
This is a great opportunity to get the kiddies helping with mixing recipes & baking.

Pre-heat your oven on low. I think I had ours on 100 degree. You need to slow cook it for a couple of hours, not too hot or they may crack/crumble or you can leave them in the sun to dry for a while, the oven is quicker & it was a rainy day so we used it.
Remember: its only flour & salt so it will get taken away by birds or ants and wont last if its rained on so don't stick them out on the balcony to dry & forget about them, or they may disappear :-D

Divide your fossils pieces up into small balls & softly flatten. Try to make them roughly the same size & not too large or the dough in the centre will cook unevenly or stay too soft.
We did palm sized balls & placed them on baking paper to cook.

Choose your Fossils: What type of fossils will you do?
In this batch we did an elephant, dino heads, dino feet, animal feet & some realistic shell fossils.

Once they are cooked let them cool & test they are solid.
& now you have some great fossils to play with. 

Dig with them:  My little man is right in to his dinosaurs so we will be burying them in a sensory box to dig up & re-discover, like we did with the dino skeletons here in our digging discovery boxes

As a gift:  Half of them were given to my little ones nan as a gift, she has collected real fossils for a very long time & has a good collection of interesting artifacts so these were a little humorous for her and a nice surprise. My little monkey wrapped them in pink tissue paper in a stack & i tied a ribbon on top. He was very pleased to give something home made....

Please be warned: Since you mix these like cookies, bake them like cookies & they kind of look like strange cookies younger kids will no doubt test them out to see if they taste like cookies :)


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