Category Archives: kids a&c

Woodpile

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We accumulate a good amount of scrap wood at our house from various projects. Most of it gets used for kindling, but there’s always plenty for arts and crafts too. When I’m working with kids, I give the scrap pieces a very quick sanding to get rid of splinters, and sometimes I spray paint the scraps very randomly to liven them up a bit.

Here are a few characters that climbed out of our woodpile.

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Brown paper grocery bag awareness week!

Today and all this week, I am celebrating one of my favorite art materials, the ubiquitous, free, and versatile brown paper grocery bag. Whether plain or printed, these sacks present endless possibilities. Today: Books!

I regularly make notebooks out of brown bags, either by sewing the bindings on my sewing machine or by stapling them. I prefer plain bags, but my local grocery store has printed bags, and I use them anyway. It’s tough paper, good for collage, and I love the color. The books are great to have on hand for children, who often like having their own books to work in. The paper is good for collage and craypas, and kids also like using them as scrapbooks to collect their drawings. The bags are large enough to make good-sized pages.

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You can get much fancier, though! Here’s a lovely little book from Carolyn at homework:

This little 8-page book was made from a single sheet cut from a brown bag paper.

falg bookAnd lastly, here’s a little magazine collage book mounted on a twig frame, made, as you can see, a lot of years ago.

book1The bag paper is rugged and has retained it’s original bag creases. These photos were taken this weekend, and I think the sturdy bag paper held up pretty well all these years, with a bit of curling.

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Clearly, this is not paper for fine finished work, but if you work with kids, and found materials are important to you, it’s good stuff.

Tomorrow: High fashion!

The bling thing

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Being a child art therapist and an arts & crafts counselor has involved a fair amount of jewelry-making over the years. There are a lot of things to recommend jewelry-making as an activity in both situations.

  • This activity is festive and fun, like playing dress-up or getting ready for Halloween.
  • Hand-made jewelry tends to become a symbol of identity that is proudly worn.
  • Jewelry styles are so diverse that anything goes, and kids can forget about the creativity-crushing idea of right and wrong.
  • Materials are cheap or free and easy to come by. Whatever materials you have around are enough to come up with some kind of jewelry project.
  • Stringing beads and objects is meditative and calming and promotes easy companionship.
  • Because this activity involves many small items, there is usually a sharing of materials in a group. These shared elements connect the varied finished pieces, a nice metaphor for group connectedness.
  • Kids love to make presents for friends and family, and in our culture a gift of jewelry is associated with love.

Pretty much anything you have on hand for stringing works fine. Ribbon, telephone wire, lanyard, or shoelaces are good bets. The ball chains pictured were donated for camp arts & crafts, and I can personally guarantee that they are universally loved, no matter the age or gender. You can buy them here.

What to put on the strings? Beads, buttons, decorated cardboard pendants, wooden spools, styrofoam peanuts, paper, found objects, anything. Sculpey and Model Magic are great for making beads. And remember: you can make a bead out of anything you can punch a hole in. Paint and decorate freely!

Below are some examples of materials and of jewelry created in art therapy sessions, in the camp arts & crafts room, and in my very own basement studio.

 

 

Three French Hens

3french hensToilet paper rolls, cardboard, styrofoam.

It’s kind of amazing how much great stuff is in your garbage, in recycling bins, in nature, in the gutter.

To make these with kids, I’d cut a lot of random-shaped cardboard pieces for the body and give them some materials to work with. They’ll do the rest.

Art therapists pay a great deal of attention to materials, as all people respond differently to different ones. It’s an interesting topic and I’ll write another post about that soon. When it’s not practically Christmas eve.

Joyeux Noël!

Camp holiday party

Today was the Camp AmeriKids annual holiday party and sadly, I missed it due to the big snow. I had put together some plain white cards, a box of envelopes, and a bunch of markers for holiday card making at the arts & crafts table. Emma, my co-a&c counselor, contributed beads and other supplies, and judging by this picture that a camp buddy sent me, a good time was had by all the a&c lovers!

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It’s always the case that there are a load of kids who love arts & crafts, no matter what else is going on at an event. Even when there are lots big happenings, like magicians and jugglers, or swimming and horse rides, there are always some kids who gravitate to the arts & crafts activity. Certain events call for more elaborate projects, but at a party I’ve found it’s best to keep it simple. Any kind of frame to contain work usually makes it easy for kids to jump in and make something. For last year’s party, I brought small white cards, metallic cards for backing, markers, jewels, stickers, and photo squares for mounting, and the kids had fun making tree decorations. Even when there are lots big happenings, like magicians and jugglers, or swimming and horse rides, there are always some kids who gravitate to the arts & crafts activity. Certain events call for more elaborate projects, but at a party I’ve found it’s best to keep it simple. Any kind of frame to contain work usually makes it easy for kids to jump in and make something. For last year’s party, I brought small white cards, metallic cards for backing, markers, jewels, stickers, and photo squares for mounting, and the kids had fun making tree decorations.

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