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Make A Mess: Summer Outdoor Art

The sun is shining and the days are long. It’s time for you and your little one to venture into your backyard to try some juicy, messy and fun art projects that you might not care to have in the house.

Messy art gives children a sense of freedom, control, and possibility that they don’t get from more tightly controlled crafts. Children explore gravity when plops of paint land on their toes, experience sensory stimulation by painting with their hands and feet, and discover color theory by sheer trial and error. This kind of joyful, messy, and limitless play allows children to grow and develop by integrating the whole child; mind, body, and spirit.

Play-based, messy art explorations can be daunting for parents, but with these tips you can set up, manage, and clean up play based art explorations for your child with ease.

  • Choose your spot. The driveway, backyard, and the picnic table are great choices. Shady areas are most comfortable for your child to work. Tape or pin up paper on the backyard fence or tree for an impromptu easel.
  • Protect your picnic table with a machine washable, naturally coated splash mat like the one from Mimi-the-Sardine. (They also make gorgeous aprons from organic cotton fabric imported from Sweden.) If you need a quick solution, slice a garbage bag lengthwise. Sponge the table with clean water before you spread out the bag so that it will stick.
  • Paint on an old cookie sheet. It contains any spills and you can send it through the dishwasher. Rimmed cookie sheets also work well as trays to store art materials and carry them outdoors when ready to make art.
  • Old baby food jars make excellent paint containers. Lids keep paint fresh between uses.
  • Keep oversized old t-shirts handy for rags and cover-ups. Button-up shirts are great to put on backwards, so that when they get messy they don't have to pulled over your little painter's head. Better yet, slip your child into her old bathing suit and water shoes.
  • Put up an outdoor clothesline for drying art in the sunshine. Dripping dry over the grass is good too.
Basic Project Supplies
  • Large roll of easel paper or newsprint. Painting on old newspapers makes an interesting background for a change of pace.
  • At least three to six colors of washable children’s craft paint. Primary colors (blue, yellow and red) are fun to mix into more vibrant choices for your child. Adding white makes pastels.
  • Three to six large, round brushes. House painting brushes are fun too, but you’ll use more paint. Dish and bath sponges, old toothbrushes, and dog toys make great, unique paint brushes.
  • You can order bright, washable materials: paint, markers, watercolors, and lots more from Discount School Supply. Some great paint choices are: Clementine Natural Tempera Paint from Clementine Art, or Colorations Liquid Watercolor paint from Discount School Supply. This highly concentrated, extra vibrant watercolor paint can be used straight from the bottle as paint for paper or wood, a dye for rice for the sensory bin, a coloring for play dough, and much more. Try the Tropical Colors set, eight 8-ounce bottles, $24.
  • Spray bottles. Fill with water and several tablespoons of liquid watercolor paint. Spray on paper mounted to a tree or your back fence.
  • Save your old cardboard boxes and hot glue or tape them together with your child to make rockets, castles and trains. Cut windows and doors with an exacto knife (parents only), then paint and decorate. This one keeps children playing for hours.
Clean-Up and Storage:
  • Add a drop of dish soap to tempera paint to make clean-up easier.
  • Use one brush per color of paint. The paint won’t get watered down or muddy. It also creates a matching game for young children.
  • Cups or old mugs with warm water keep brushes pliable until wash time.
  • Old shoeboxes make great storage for markers, pencils, brushes, and paper. Just take a digital photo of what’s inside and stick it on the end; Your kids can find everything easily and independently.
  • Untangle the hose. The best part of outdoor art is that you can just wash it all away.

1 comment:

My Oatmeal Kisses said...

Wow! What a cool post and what a cool blog! I just found you on Pinterest and I'm your newest follower. I also featured this post on my blog http://www.myoatmealkisses.com/2011/08/weekly-wrap-up-outdoor-fun.html
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