by Dawn Franzen, M.Ed.
Are your kids tired of conventional art materials? Have crayons and sidewalk chalk lost their allure? Or are you just looking for some new ideas for fast, fun, and inexpensive art projects? Here are some unusual ways your children can create unique art creations. You just have to think outside the box!
● Watercolors. Instead of dipping your brush into water and pigment and then painting on a dry sheet of paper, first wet the entire sheet of paper, then use your watercolors to paint the surface.
● Egg yolks. Separate the yolks from the whites of several eggs and put the yolks into individual dishes. Discard the egg whites. Add a few drops of food color to each dish and stir. Then paint with the colored egg yolk. The colors come out bright and glossy.
● Nuts and bolts. Place a piece of paper inside a shallow box. Put a spoonful of paint on the paper. Then drop some nuts and bolts on the paper, and shake the box around. You will get an unusual image on the paper. Try a second color of paint.
● Rainy day painting. Spoon different colors of dry tempera paint on a piece of paper. Go outside in the rain and watch your painting come to life.
● Snowy day painting. Take your paints outside and paint the snow!
● Plastic bag sculpture. Measure 1 cup of plaster of Paris and 1/2 cup of water inside a plastic zipper bag. Then play with it! Knead it, punch it, roll it. It will soon start to set. Leave it alone until it is dry. Then remove it from the bag to reveal a unique freeform sculpture. Paint it.
● Mud bricks. Mix dirt and water in a bowl until you can make it into a ball. Press the mud into an ice cube tray and leave it in a warm place to dry for about 10 days. Pop out the “bricks” and use sticks, leaves and more mud to lay the bricks together.
● Toothpaste putty. Measure 1/2 teaspoon creamy (not gel) toothpaste, 1 tablespoon white glue, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon water. Mix. The putty begins to dry in 20 minutes, so add a drop or two of water as you play with it. It dries hard in 24 hours.
● Kool-Aid play dough. Mix 2-1/2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 2 packages Kool-Aid. Add 3 tablespoons oil and 2 cups boiling water. Knead until smooth. It smells as good as it looks!
● Modeling rice. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup long grain rice and 1 teaspoon food color. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. Store covered in the refrigerator.
● Rubber band printing. Wrap rubber bands around blocks of wood, dip into paint, and press onto paper.
● Crumpled prints. Dip crumpled aluminum foil, paper, or plastic bags into paint and dab onto paper. Use several different colors.
When parenting children, you need plenty of arts and crafts. These unusual projects take the “ho-hum” out of art, and they won’t cost you more than a couple of dollars for supplies. Have fun!
A parent herself and a frequent contributor to St. Louis Parent Magazine, Dawn Franzen, M.Ed., has taught with the Summer Academies and Learning Labs of the Gifted Resource Council in St. Louis.