Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Magnetic Art Creations

Transient art, by definition allows children to manipulate, explore, and experiment with patterns and shapes in a completely process oriented way. This evolving art process is a great way for children to experience art in action and most of you have probably done this sort of art with your child without ever realizing.

There are infinite possibilities of way to explore transient art and exploring loose parts with children, any collection of objects can work. Think stones on a beach to marbles in a classroom. Today we are using this way of creating art to also explore the science of magnetism. This invitation cannot help but entice children to set to and create, I dare you not to get creating too!

You will need:

A metal surface (Tin lids work great or a baking tray)
Metal Objects
Plastic Objects

I began by gathering my supplies. I actually spray painted the lids I had collected, I use them to work with in the classroom and wanted to create 'blank canvases' for the kids. This is entirely optional of course.

Here are some of the metal objects we collected, we like to include things with interesting shapes. A few ideas are screws, bolts, springs, washers, paperclips, metal bottle caps, cookie cutters.

I also threw in some non metal objects so the children would be able to explore what items are not attracted to the magnetics. Marbles, plastic bottle caps and plastic discs.

The Magnets

*Small children should ALWAYS be supervised with magnets. 

The first set of magnets is a set one of my children was gifted for their birthday. Its good because the larger pieces are easier for young children to handle and the interesting shapes are great for them to explore and use. They also label N and S which if working with older children is a fun concept to explore as magnets attract or repel.

This second set was made up of super strong magnets, the the children really enjoyed working with these. This set is really appropriate for slightly older children and should never be used with those who are still putting things in their mouths. I picked up this set on amazon they are not a toy to be left unsupervised but the strength lends themselves to this creative experimental project really well.

The Invitation 

The objects (minus the magnets) were all left mixed together in a tub. I encouraged the children to start by creating this way. They lay out the objects onto the lids as trays in a classic example of loose parts play.

Next I introduced the magnets. I talked about how we have to be safe when using magnets, never put them in your mouth. I demonstrated how you could attach the magnets to either side of the tray and they would still attach. We discussed how magnets are attracted to metal. 

The third instruction before they completely dived into creating was showing them the difference between metal and non metal items. Which one of these do you think stays attached as you lift the lid?

The Creations

After going over the supplies the children were left to create in their own ways. The addition of magnets allows their creations to build upwards and outwards however they desire. My children created and recreated with this FOR DAYS! When I took this along to the 4's art class I teach it was by far the favorite station of the day. I love listening to the conversations that go along with the creating. Kids have boundless imagination.

A Launch Pad

A City


The Fair



Endless possibilities

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chinese New Year Lanterns

We made these Chinese Lanterns last year over the course of a couple of days, I shared a few pictures in my early days on Instagram with a 'how to" but I honestly loved the process so much I'm making them again this year with the kids and thought maybe you'd like to join me so here is a quick 'how to' with pictures. The creation of these is heavy on the process art which it makes it super fun for the kids and the finished product is spectacular, you'd never guess a 4 year old made them! I love these lanterns so much.

So this project can be broken down into 3 stages. I'll list what you need to complete the entire project and then I'll break it down by stage that way you can always adapt this to create something different using any of the three stages.

You will need:

Part 1 - playing with ice and salt
  • Liquid Watercolors (Or food coloring)
  • Ice trays
  • Salt
  • Medicine Syringes

Part 2 - bubble wrap printing
  • Gold paint
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Paint brush

Part 3 - tracing and making lanterns
  • Black Sharpie
  • Print Out of 'Happy New Year' in Chinese
  • Light table (or hold up to window to trace)
  • Short wooden rod or stick
  • String
  • Tape/stapler 
  • LED bulb (optional)

PART 1 Playing with Ice and Salt

Prior to starting the project I had frozen liquid watercolors (red and orange) mixed with water, I had some trays that created sticks but any shape would work. If you don't have liquid watercolors you can use food coloring but the colors may not be as vibrant. 

I set out some watercolor paper on a covered surface and let my little guy help himself to the ice sticks. He pushed them around on the paper.

We watched as they left trails behind them and discussed how the colors pooled and swirled together. 

As he began to get done with the ice sticks I introduced the salt in a pot with spoon, a salt shaker would also work well.

He sprinkled salt over the sticks, we talked about how the salt helped the ice to melt.

I encouraged him to feel the salt and he enjoyed rubbing over his painting.

The final addition to this process art was the medicine syringe (a pipette would also work). I filled a pot with some liquid watercolor and he played squirting the liquid and dropping it onto his picture.

We noticed how the dropper of paint left a much more intense color on the paper.

Below are our red ice and salt pictures dried out.

PART 2 Printing with Bubble Wrap

Once the red paint was dry we began the second step. I set out gold paint, a brush and some bubble wrap next to the paintings.

We began by painting the bubble wrap with gold paint. I encouraged him to cover the whole piece.

Show your child how you can turn the bubble wrap over to create a print. Press down on the wrap, and smooth over before pulling it back to reveal your print.

Wow, these were pretty special just they way they are.

Part 3 Tracing and Creating the Lantern

The final part of the project requires tracing or copying the Chinese words for 'Happy New Year'. 

I found this lettering by googling images for Chinese New Year, once I found one that would work I  printed it out for my kids to copy. We have a small light table so I lay the printed sheet underneath our art work and positioned it to where we wanted it to be. My son using black sharpie was able to trace over the letters. If you don't have a  light table you could free draw it (my daughter chose to do this) or you could hold the 2 pieces of paper up to a window and trace it through against the window. 

Using the light table

Free drawing

Once you have written on the words create a tube by stapling or taping  the ends of your paper together with the picture on the outside. You have now created your lamp shade. 

You could leave it as is, or if you'd like to hang it as a lantern hole punch two holes opposite each other at the top of your lantern. Thread a wooden dowel through the holes, this wooden rod can now be used to attach string to in order to hang the lantern.

We used a thicker pen on this to create lettering that stands out more.

Such a pretty project and a great way to make something out of some fun process art.