I am an artist (Marta Altes)

iamanartistThis book does need to come with a word of warning, which is that the day after we first read it, Bean (3) drew all over our bedroom wall. That may have been coincidence, but the book is about a boy creating works of art using every day materials, and his house as a canvas, so I suspect it gave her ideas, and I caution you to be clear with your kids about the need for permission before they create anything into art, and perhaps keeping art supplies out of reach when you go to the toilet. Thankfully for me, her chosen medium was chalk and it wiped straight off, phew.

The book does a great job of letting kids see outside the limitations of art being pictures drawn on paper. Encouraging them to use their creativity more.

Our linked activity was sculptures using polystyrene and cocktail sticks (toothpicks). This is such a satisfying activity. The act of poking cocktail sticks into polystyrene is a great standalone activity, which we’ve enjoyed before, but I thought it might be a fun progression to try to make sculptures. Obviously, as with many of my activities, reading the book isn’t necessary, it’s just a good way to incorporate literacy into everything and encourage a love of books.

I put out polystyrene (saved from packaging), scissors, cocktail sticks and felt pens. However, you could provide other materials, tissue paper, sweet wrappers, etc, there’s no rules, the idea is to create something original. Simply poke a stick into one piece, at any angle you like, then push another piece on, either pushing down all the way, to leave the two pieces stuck together with no gap, or just pushing it partway on, to have the pieces on stalks.

Bean was actually at her Nana’s while we did this activity, so she missed out. Jumbles was a bit ill, so couldn’t go, and wanted to do some activities just with me, so I was coming up with things that didn’t take too much energy for him, but also didn’t just involve him staring at a screen all day.

polystyrene-sculpture

My original thought was that our sculptures would be abstract, e.g my model to the right. However, Jumbles wasn’t impressed with my attempt, and was much more keen on trying to make representative models. This is actually very tricky, cutting polystyrene with kids’ scissors is hard to do accurately. Jumbles tasked me with the cutting, after he’d tried for quite a while to cut the largest block in half. I stuck with cutting shapes out of the thinner sheets, and letting him decide what to do with them. Though I did make some claws to order.

We made a Pterodactyl and Yoda (hopefully you can tell which is which). We’re hoping to colour them in another day. Felt pens do work, as you can see on Frank (I tried to name the pterodactyl Terry, but Jumbles said no) though little bits of polystyrene will fly off.

polystyrene-sculptures-pterodactyl

Safety warnings:polystyrene-sculptures-yoda

  1. When pushing pieces on, try to stop children from pushing directly over where the sticks are, or they will poke their hands.
  2. The warning we have broken – Ideally, don’t have any uncovered sticks, as they’re quite sharp if a child decides to touch the sculpture. However, Jumbles decided that he had to have spikes on his pterodactyl, and I decided that the risk was worth it to allow his creativity.
  3. Tiny bits of polystyrene will ping around the room when doing this, so keep it in a room away from very small children or pets, who might eat them.

Links:

21 Picture books about art on “No time for Flashcards”
Buy I am an Artist from Wordery (Affiliate link – free worldwide postage)

Advertisements

Home made Light box activity – “Can’t you sleep Little Bear?” or other scared of the dark book

can'tyousleepThis isn’t really the right season for a light box activity, as you need it to be pretty dark. However, Jumbles is off preschool with a sick bug for the 3rd day running, and today it’s raining, so with the curtains shut we were able to get it dark enough to use the light box effectively, and I needed something that would keep him busy, as he doesn’t feel ill at all, so is just going a bit stir crazy. The book we used was “Can’t you sleep, Little Bear” which is a nice book about being afraid of the dark. However, you could use any book on the same subject, for example “The Owl who was afraid of the dark” (for older children really, though we do listen to an audiobook of it at bedtime) or no book at all if you just want to do the activity, to be honest, this is one of those where I wanted to do the acitivity anyway and then just looked for a book to link it to. We do have another book on the subject: “I want my light on” one of the “Little Princess” books. However, sadly that book has actually made Jumbles afraid of the dark and worried that ghosts are in his room! Step 1 – Make a lightbox, or buy one, but they are very expensive:lightbox I adapted these instructions from: The Imagination Tree. – Get a plastic box with a clear flat lid, ideally one with a slight lip on the edge to stop things sliding off. I used a “Really Useful” box which I had already, these are quite expensive unfortunately. – Stick greaseproof paper to the underside of the lid (this avoided me having to piece together sheets of tracing paper). – Line the sides with foil, to direct all of the light up and out of the top. – Inside the box place a set of christmas lights, you want white ones which are continually on, happily, these are generally the really cheap ones you can buy. I found that the cable was thin enough that it fitted out under the lid, without needing to drill any holes. Making the box hardly took any time at all, and I was fortunate enough to have everything I needed in the house already. I made it about a year ago (hence the slightly battered state of the foil inside, I store all of our “light play toys” in it (we have a few, light up windmills, an old “UFO” from my student days,  flashing wristbands etc) plus our emergency blanket and some sparkly material.lightbox 002 You can see, when I set up the lightbox, I always end up having to put the UFO out too, as Jumbles sees it and asks for it. Step 2 – Visit Poundland or similar Last week I was in there and spotted a set of plastic shotglasses in different colours and a set of coloured resuable “icecubes” – little cubes of soft plastic, filled with liquid, you stick them in the freezer and use in place of ice cubes in drinks. I knew these would be great for the lightbox. I wish I’d bought more cubes though. Hopefully they’ll still be in there if I go back, though I’ve noticed people selling them on ebay for £2. Basically collect things which are transparent coloured plastic. e.g. counters, magnetic letters etc. lightbox 017I kept it simple, giving them just the shot glasses and cubes, they spent nearly an hour, making towers, creating patterns, putting cubes in shot glasses etc. I did add our magnetic letters after a bit and a few pieces of coloured cellophane, but they just got in the way and weren’t being used, so I took them away again. Challenge for adults How big a cup pyramid can you make before your toddler knocks it down? I couldn’t get past the second storey. Though I did manage to make all of the cubes into a pyramid. There is something about building on the lightbox which is quite fun for kids and adults. I was also making Tetris patterns with the cubes. External links: Pictoral instructions for making Light box Buy “Can’t you sleep little Bear?” Borrow “Can’t you sleep little Bear?”