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Fostering Creativity in Your Child

12 May

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Providing opportunity and support for creative growth for your child can be difficult. Often between work, dinner, homework, and sports there seems to be less and less time for your child’s creative outlets. In addition to less time at home, schools are often losing more and more of their art programs as focus shifts to promoting STEM education. Finding a balance is key to creating a fostering environment for your child’s exploration of the arts. Consider the following activities as ideas of ways that you can weave creative moments into your child’s everyday life.

Provide the tools to create a masterpiece.

  • Gather all of your “child-friendly” art supplies into one central location for easy access and so that they can know what they have to freely create with.
  • Give them tools of their “trade”, such as providing a ballet bar for your little twirler, taps shoes for your jumping jack, and a box of costumes for your tiny actor to use in their living room performances.
  • Consider the Craft-tastic® Idea Box, which provides all the craft supplies and ideas that help kids tap into their own creativity.

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Provide the space to create.

  • It can be as simple as a basket of supplies and a blanket, a kitchen table covered in newspaper, or a whole crafting corner as long as there is a safe space to make stuff without worry of their safety or destroying of your favorite carpet.
  • Provide a quite space for your writer or painter to work without distractions.
  • No clear open space? Take art outside! Paint in the grass or even with sidewalk chalk! With the Chalktivity Stomp ‘n Stamps, they can create magical star and moon prints with every step or create a rainbow of color with the Chalktivity Rainbow Jump Rope.
  • Clear a space in the basement for your ballerina to practice her twirls. Help create a makeshift stage, complete with a blanket curtain, for your little actor to perform a play for the family.

Encourage multiple explorations.

  • Creativity is found beyond the coloring page. Be sure to expose your child to multiple aspects of the arts because you never know when an activity will spark a lifetime love and even a future profession.
  • Consider theater, singing, film, and dance camps. Perfect for exploring interests without a yearlong commitment.
  • Let them explore learning how to play musical instruments. Don’t want to commit to professional lessons? Try YouTube or the Toccata Musical Measure Blocks (which teaches about measures, rhythm, & meter).
  • Provide them an example! Don’t be afraid to show them that you can be creative too by dancing around the living room, helping them create a college of pictures, and playing a role in their backyard show.
  • Finally, provide opportunity. Whether it’s performing a song for their grandparents or painting a canvas for daddy’s office, find opportunities to not only encourage but also showcase their creative abilities as they continue to develop.

How to Make an Outdoor Art Studio

29 Mar

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With all of the bright colors of spring and the warm weather that encourages outdoor play, it’s the perfect season for creating your very own outdoor art studio for kids! Here are four simple steps for making the perfect creative space for your budding artists:

1. Pick Your Space

There are a couple of factors you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing an outdoor art space. Look for an area that has both grass and sidewalk, so that children can choose between a cement canvas for chalk or a plush grassy space for art easels. You’ll also want to consider being near a water source so that children can water down paint and clean off their hands when they’re finished!

Browse our chalk selection here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=chalk&searchButton=

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2. Permanent or Temporary

Before you start outfitting your kid-sized art studio, you’ll want to decide whether the space is temporary or permanent. If it’s temporary, you’ll want to choose easels that are easily moveable. Usually these can be hung from fences and are easily collapsible. In-ground easels are more durable and better for permanent studios. Adding large trays and waterproof plastic bins are great tools you’ll want to look into if you’re leaning toward a permanent art studio.

Browse our art easel selection here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=art+easel&searchButton=

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3. Outfit Your Studio with Art Supplies

Now, the fun part! Having colorful, easy-to-manipulate art supplies in your child’s studio is a must. Including a paint station, chalk supply, and clay station all fun ideas you can incorporate. We suggest having the following:

  • Apron Stand: keep a consistent work space by having children put on and take off art aprons at the beginning and end of art creation!
  • Paint Trays: have a large canvas for little ones to splash creations on with bright colors! A blank space is a great way to work with patterns and inspire creativity. Check out the Discovery Tray as a great example: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/70918/discovery-tray
  • Clay Table: keep a few tubs of moldable clay tucked away under a kid-sized table where children can sit down and work on their sensory skills. Create clay creatures that can be dried out and put on display! If you do go this route, don’t miss these Creative Paint and Dough Design Tools.
  • Art Supplies: keep your paint brushes, chalk, and other art supplies in consistent places so children will have a designated area for each of their art tools. This teaches organization skills and will encourage cleaning practices once they’re finished creating.

4. Choose How to Display Finished Work

The creation process is of course the most engaging, but showing off those beautiful creations is important, too! Whether it’s keeping clay creatures on the windowsill, hanging paintings on the walls, or taking pictures of chalk drawings, be sure to celebrate your child’s creative endeavors. One of our favorite ways to hang up paintings is the Aluminum Paint Drying Rack (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/17183/aluminum-paint-drying-rack). Dry your favorite paintings then frame for years to come!


Have you already set up an outdoor art studio? Share what you learned with us by commenting below or on our Facebook page!

4 Nature-Inspired Hearts for Kids!

11 Feb

Everyone makes hearts for Valentine’s Day in one form or another; why not tie them in with outdoor exploration? Go on a nature walk with your little learner to collect a handful of decorations for creative ways to make Valentine’s hearts! Here are four outdoor materials you can collect to make nature hearts and foster organic love and learning in the home:

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Smooth Stones

Go on a walk with your child to find round stones to paint! These stones are usually found near creek or riverbeds. The smooth surfaces are perfect for colorful creativity. Draw hearts with Fluorescent Do A Dots for easy painting!

Source: http://www.firefliesandmudpies.com/2014/11/03/gratitude-stones/

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Backyard Berries

Do you use bird feeders? Help your child show love to their feathered friends by making birdseed and berry hearts! American Holly berries are the best, but if you have raspberries or blueberries growing in your backyard, those will work, too! String the berries along heart shaped wire for a lovely addition to your bird feeder.

Want to build your own bird feeder? Check out the Hanging Bird Feeder Kit! (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/143861/hanging-bird-feeder-kit?c=1%7CKTAP09)

Source: http://www.hometalk.com/6929358/birdseed-cakes-and-berry-hearts?utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=featured

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Seashells

Live near the beach? Go on an exploration for seashells! Shells can give way to all sorts of creativity, but one way to use them is to make nature hearts. Simply use a hot glue gun to shape them into a heart on a hard surface. Whether you use cardboard or wood, the final result is pretty breathtaking! Place in a shadowbox as a treasured memento.

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/448460075371453298/

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Sticks & Twigs

Now this one is fun! Go outside and pick up sticks of varying lengths. Once your child has collected a handful, break them into varying sizes to start making your wooden heart. Have fun painting the sticks, connecting them with wire, and hanging your colorful nature heart!

Find high-quality tempura paint for your child’s creations here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/18753P/kaplan-kolors-tempera-paint-16-oz

Source: http://www.handmadecharlotte.com/fall-crafts-playing-leaves-twigs/

 

Easy Ways to Make Indoor Snowmen!

6 Jan

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Winter is here! Whether you have snow outside or you’re looking for indoor activities to keep children engaged, we have the perfect pastime for you and your little ones—snowman building! Snowmen (and women) are the perfect go to as they can be built in many ways, both indoors and out! Even if you don’t have snow this year, here are some of our favorite ways to build indoor snowmen with your children:
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1. Coffee Bottle Snowman

 Incorporate recycling by reusing empty coffee creamer bottles for snowman building! Simply pull out the markers and cotton balls to get started. This is a fun activity that builds fine motor skills, takes creativity, and produces an adorable snowman your child can display around the house! Best part? It doesn’t melt!

Source: http://frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com/fine-motor-skills-build-a-snowman/

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2. Giant Block Snowman

Break out the blocks to make this giant block snowman! Put those holiday boxes to good use by selecting four boxes of varying sizes. Whip out the white wrapping paper and encourage your child to start building! Children can select whatever accessories they want to add to their snowman as well as draw a face and buttons! This is a great way to incorporate block play in children’s indoor snowman building.

Source: http://b-inspiredmama.com/diy-giant-snowman-blocks/

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3. Shivery Snow Paint Snowman

Encourage children to use all of their senses as they get creative with snowpaint! This is a great activity for creating glittering snowmen on paper. Find the Shivery Snow Paint Recipe here and start creating a sparkly indoor snowman that your child can put on display!

4. Cupcake Snowman

 Do you love baking? Involved children in the process by making snowman cupcakes! This is a great way to teach cooking skills, inspire creativity, and create a warm tasty snack for a cold day!

Find instructions for making your tasty snowmen here: http://www.examiner.com/article/create-a-marshmallow-snowman-cupcake


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Don’t forget to enter our Spectacular Snow Down contest on Facebook! Simply take a picture of your child’s finished snowman, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, and share it with us here for your chance to win our Snowman Prize Pack! Contest rules found here. Good luck!

Spring Art for Little Hands

31 Mar

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Keeping your little ones entertained for spring can be a challenge, but with such great weather, so many inspiring colors, and the opportunity to play outside, there are plenty of fun art projects you can do together to celebrate the season! Here are some of our favorite activities that will not only encourage color exploration but also give you adorable pieces to put on display in your house:

 1. “Say Cheese” Flowers

Make someone smile with these card stock flowers featuring your child’s photos.

Before Beginning:

-Cut card stock into 4” by 4” flower shapes.

Materials:

  • Various colors of card stock or recycled cardboard scraps (e.g., cereal or cracker boxes), cut into flower shapes
  • Crayons or markers
  • Small photo of child
  • Green pipe cleaners
  • Clear tape
  • Glue
  • Card stock, 1 full sheet

What to Do:

  1. Decorate at least three or four flower shapes with crayons or markers.
  2. Choose one of the flowers, and glue the photo in the center of it.
  3. Tape green pipe cleaners to the backs of the flowers to create stems.
  4. Decorate a whole sheet of card stock with crayons or markers.
  5. Roll the piece of card stock into a funnel shape, and secure with clear tape.
  6. Place the flowers inside the card stock funnel to create a beautiful bouquet. Be sure the photo is clearly visible.

Helpful Hints:

  • Use a large flower-shaped cookie cutter as a pattern for creating the flower shapes.
  • Instead of card stock, use index cards, poster board, and cardboard scraps for flowers.

Variation

  • To create a personalized bouquet, decorate four flowers, place the photo on one of the flowers and, in the middle of the other three, write a letter of the recipient’s name or his or her initials.

Find even more great gift ideas like the one above in 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make.

 2. Watering Can

Gardeners will love this watering can made from a liquid laundry soap jug and markers.

Before Beginning

-Cut off the top portion of the jug, along the top ridge and just above the handle. Soak bottle in water to remove labels.

Materials:

  • Liquid laundry detergent jug
  • Sharp scissors or utility knife (adult only)
  • Nontoxic permanent markers
  • Hole punch

What to Do:

  1. Decorate the outside of the watering can with nontoxic permanent markers. Create a colorful picture or design.
  2. Fill the watering can with homemade flowers, or fill the container with dirt, and plant flowers or flower seeds inside.

 Variation:

  • Roll up pieces of tape, and use them to attach flat plastic stencil shapes to the outside of the watering can. Apply nontoxic permanent marker in a zigzag motion around the edge of the stencils. Remove the stencils, and add detail to the shape outlines.

Helpful Hints:

  • Save cut-off tops for funnels to use in sand and water play.
  • A utility knife works well for cutting off bottle tops, but be careful! (Utility knives are for adult use only.)
  • Use Teflon scrapers or scrub brushes to remove residue from labels. This is fun to do outside in a tub of water.
  • Use scraps of wallpaper, tissue paper, construction paper, and pipe cleaners to create a unique bouquet of flowers to place in the watering can.

Find even more great gift ideas like the one above in 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make. 

 3. Butterfly Blots Art

With a little paint and folded paper, toddlers can make beautiful decorated butterflies!

Materials:

  • Manila paper
  • Paint
  • Markers

What to Do:

  1. Have the children put two dabs of paint on one side of their paper.
  2. Help them fold their paper over in half. Show them how to smooth the paper, and rub gently.
  3. Open to see a butterfly shape.
  4. After the butterflies dry, encourage them to decorate their shapes using paint or markers.

Love the activity? Find activities for each month in The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities ().

4. Spring Nature Mobile

Go outside on a nature walk and collect items to create a Spring Nature Mobile to hang in a science learning center!

Materials:

  • Stick
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Collection of natural objects

What to Do:

  1. Take the children on a walk outdoors.
  2. Ask each child to select one natural object, such as a rock , pinecone, acorn, or feather.
  3. Back in the classroom, look at the collection of objects as a group.
  4. Turn the collection into a classroom mobile by connecting the objects together with string, and suspending them from a long stick.
  5. Finish by hanging the mobile where everyone can enjoy it.

Find more activities for each month in The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities.

Have pictures of the spring art you and your child made together? Share with us by tweeting @KaplanToys or posting on our Facebook page with the hashtag #SpringArt.