By Catherine L Pittman © 2009
Ahh…. The lazy, hazy days of summer are upon us, but what’s a child to do? School is out, the weather is hot and boredom quickly set in within days after the last day of school! Every mom and dad cringes when they hear, "I'm soooooo boooorreeed...I don't have ANYTHING to dooooo!"
Kids of all ages love art in every form, from music to painting, dancing and sculpting, they love making and doing things. For young children it is not so much what they are creating, but providing the opportunity to play and experiment with art. Exploring the many genres of art over the summer is a great activity to keep your child occupied and try new sensory experiences. Here are eight creative ideas to help your little one explore their artistic nature this summer!
Toe Painting Mural
On those really hot summer days there is nothing like a toe painting party!
Simply have your child and friends put on their swimsuits, put some finger paints into pie tin plates, and lay out a an old white bed sheet. Once you’re all set up, let them paint away with their little feet and toes all afternoon. They will have barrels of fun and lots of laughter and giggles as they dip their toes and feet into the squishy paint to create their art. When they are done painting, hose them down to get the paint off. The summer heat will quickly dry their works of art so they can proudly display it, or you can hose it off for use on another day!
Rocks can be found anywhere and in any size. Let your kids paint rocks of all sizes and decorate with ribbons, glitter, beads and glue. Add some wiggle eyes or “feelers” out of pipe cleaners to make a “pet rock pal.” They will have a lot of fun letting their imaginations run free making their creations.
Tie Dye Fun
There is nothing more fun than getting psychedelic with an old crafting classic: tie dyeing. Every parent probably remembers creating a tie dyed t-shirt, handkerchief, shorts or bag when they were a kid. The colorful sunburst patterns never go out of style.
All you need is a little Rite dye, a t-short, pair of shorts canvas tote bag, bandana or similar item, a large metal pot, water, long handled metal spoon to stir with, tongs and rubber bands.
Make and Fly a Homemade Kite
Although a simple kite is inexpensive to buy, Instead of buying a kite, make one! There are plenty of instructions available on the internet for making a standard kite or box kite, and the kite itself can be made out of strong butcher paper or even plastic trash bags. Your kids will have lots of fun coloring and decorating the kite.
Once your kite is made, head to a local park or empty field to fly it.
Salt Dough Sculptures
Kids love sculpting and salt dough is very easy to make, easier to clean up than play dough, and it’s safe as well for younger children. All you need to make the dough is 2 cups of plain non-self rising flour, 1 cup of fine-grained plain salt and a 1/2 cup of water. Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly first, then add the water. Knead the mixture until it becomes smooth and elastic. Covering the dough with cling wrap keeps it from drying out. If you would like a dough that is more firm, add 2 tablespoons of wallpaper paste.
If your children want to keep their creations, simply let them dry overnight and then they can have fun painting and decorating them the next day.
Make a Piñata and Have a Backyard Party
Summertime is a great time for small parties with other children in the neighborhood. Making a piñata is a lot of fun and easier to do than you would think. It’s a great way to recycle newspaper too! We found a great website that provides instructions on how to make piñatas, www.fun-pinata-party-ideas.com/make-a-pinata.html. They have some very fun ideas.
If you are worried about too much candy, remember you don’t have to just stuff the piñata with candy! There are plenty of “non-edible” ideas to put in your piñata. Visit a dollar tree and purchase things like water guns, yo-yos, bouncy balls, stickers, mini-pack of crayons, kazoos and other fun items. These and coins and dollar bills make great “guts” for your piñata in addition to a little candy!
Once your kids have made their piñata, have them invite a few friends over for a lunch time backyard party, and break the piñata as a game. Water solulable
If you have ever been on a hike with your children, you know that they never go on a walk through the woods without picking up a stick to carry. This project pulls that stick-gathering impulse into good use, and creates a fun vase to display on your patio.
You’ll need a bunch of sticks approximately 1/4 “ round diameter, an empty peanut butter or mayonnaise jar, raffia or ribbon, glue and pinecones or other natural décor. Break or snip the sticks so that they are all approximately the same size and at least one inch taller than the jar itself. Place two rubber bands around the jar: one near the top and one near the bottom. Tuck each stick under the two rubber bands, placing them as close to each other as possible. Once you have surrounded the jar with sticks, slide the two rubber bands to the center of the jar, then tie a piece of raffia around it to make a bow. Glue on a few pinecones or other natural décor, then fill the vase with fresh flowers and place on your patio table for a center piece at the next family backyard cookout.
Juice Bottle Bug Zoo
This fun craft is a wonderful for incorporating a little science in with the art, and a great way to reuse a plastic juice bottle.
You’ll need a plastic bottle that has at least one flat side and a lid, scissors, duct tape, a piece of tulle, and natural items for the bugs to crawl on, such as rocks, leaves, twigs. Simply cut an opening on the flat side of the bottle. Mom or dad may need to do start cutting it with a small utility knife until the scissors can take over.
Cut a piece of tulle large enough to fit over the opening--- be sure to overlap it by approximately 1/4” all the way around. Place leaves, twigs and rocks inside the bottle, and even a milk cap with a tiny bit of water for moisture. Place the tulle over the opening, and duct tape each side of the tulle, creating a frame and window screen. As an alternative, you can also use craft foamies or craft sticks to make a frame and glue it in place. Now your kids are ready to catch caterpillars, grasshoppers and other insects in their bottle, screwing the lid on tightly. If you’ve lost the lid, simply cut another piece of tulle and use a rubber band to secure it over the opening.
For added educational activities, have your children write a story or make a video about what they observe. Remember to not leave the bottle in the sun with insects in your zoo, as the plastic will get very hot and cause harm to your “guests.” Your child’s bug friends should also be set free later.
About the Author
Catherine currently resides in Oregon and is the owner, songwriter and main vocalist for her children's music production company, Pitter Patter Productions. The company has specialized in original award-winning music for children from newborn through kindergarten since 1992, and also produces ebooks published on Amazon’s Kindle. She is currently working on two new ebooks: Playdate Playbook and a Baby Food cookbook. Have a baby food recipe? Email it to us! Our children's music is available on CD at www.pitterpatterproductions.com, and available for download at: CD Baby, Amazon.com, and iTunes.