Paint blots are a fun and easy way to create and explore your imagination.
My daughter and I have been making paint blots together since she was only a couple years old. At first, it was just interesting to see what she saw in the blots and then it was fun to watch her make her own paint blots. Today, we did both and found great inspiration within our blots.
My daughter and I sort of have a set evening routine. I come home from work, we eat supper together as a family, we talk about our days & then my little girl and I head to the craft bin. Some nights she wants to craft with me, on others, she wants to craft on her own & some days, she just wants to draw.
Last night, she pulled out some old scraps from a cupcake liner that we had cut up for a craft. She looked at the liner for a minute & then said to me “Mama, this looks like a tutu. Let’s make a girl out of this.” She glued it down on a piece of paper & I took some of the other remnants and made a bow with it and placed it where a head might be. Mai squealed & took the paper & began drawing her girl. She drew in the face, the hair, legs & high-heeled shoes, like mommy has.
She was very excited when she was done.
This simple activity sparked me to want to try more shapes and see what she did with them.
I glued down a triangle & a rectangle. In my mind, when I envisioned this, I pictured her creating a house. Her perception of these shapes was different from my own.
I watched her fascinated, as I realized that she was creating a well.
It is amazing to watch a young mind work.
Next, I gave her two circles.
She drew up a storm on this one.
Mai offered me a very detailed description of what was happening in her drawing. This was a garbage truck & all the garbage guys we going to work.
The last one that we made was just 2 yellow cupcake liners glued diagonal from one another.
Mai saw a baby chick in this one.
Her cute craft & imagination inspired mommy to make a cupcake liner chick of her own.
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We like to work with shapes a lot in our home. My daughter loves creating with shapes & I love watching her. Her imagination is flourishing & it is an amazing thing to see. We use these shapes to make abstract art, holiday crafts & we even use them for imagination play in the bath. Last night, my daughter came across a photo of shape magnets for kids in one of her kid’s magazines.. Her eyes automatically lit up. “Mama, I want these.” My eyes lit up too when I realized that I could make them myself at home.
If you have a toddler or a small child, you know the importance of routines. We have had the same bedtime routine with our daughter for the majority of her young life. Somewhere around 7:30 she brushes her teeth, takes a bath & gets in her jammies. We read some books, rock & then tuck her in for bed. As she has gotten older she has made some subtle adjustments to her routine.
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In lieu of books, she now prefers to be read Highlights magazines, lots of them. At the end of every magazine there are usually games, activities & recipes for the kids to do. In a recent edition, I came across a great idea.
Did you know that foam will stick to the side of a tub when it is wet? I did not either. We work with foam sheets for crafting all the time, so I had plenty of it to experiment with. I cut out different colored shapes & showed my daughter how to dip it in the water & stick it to the side of the tub. She let her imagination go from there. She sent me out of the bathroom a few times to cut more foam. She had special requests for certain shapes so that she could finish her masterpieces.
Mai made a sideways & colorful snowman, a man in a hat & scarf and just a square.
Here she created a princess castle & a Minnie Mouse.
She had so much fun with the shapes that I could not get her out of the tub. I had a pruny footed toddler at bedtime, but she sure did have fun.
I just adore my how my daughter’s mind works. I never know what she is going to say or do. To look at life through her eyes is a daily adventure, with a new story every day.
Since the birth of my daughter I have become a pack rat. I never throw anything away because everything has some sort of creative potential. Things like empty paper towel rolls, tissue boxes & milk jugs are great for craft time. My daughter loves to draw and color and I have found that many things other than paper make for a great canvas. My home is cluttered with empty boxes, recycled ribbons & bows and other assorted odds & ends.
Mai’s birthday party is this weekend. This year, it is a Play-doh theme to pay homage to her favorite addiction. I have saved all of her old Play-doh containers in the hopes that I would be able to use them for her party. As I was washing out all of the containers, Mai saw a chance to grab the lids. My daughter played with the lids, pretending that they were various things. She baked Play-doh lid cookies, formed Mickey Mouse ears with them & cracked them open for scrambled eggs. For an hour, we played with them. I listened as she described to me every step in the Play-doh cookie lid baking process. She told me the flavor of each different colored treat. Some were sprinkled with sugar, some with cinnamon. She made sure that both of us had our oven mitts on before handling our freshly baked desserts. She is just fascinating to watch.
With a glorious imagination like hers, remind me again, why we have a house full of toys.
For more free fun…Please check out my latest article in this month’s Seek.
One of the reasons that I love painting & drawing with my daughter is listening to her explain to me what she is creating. She wields such a wonderful story with each stroke of her paint brush or marker. I love watching her. I could just stare at her for hours & listen to what she has to say.
Here she asked mommy to draw a monster for her, but with a little instruction Mai was able to draw her own. It is a little faded, but it was a pretty good representation I thought. The baby monster was trying to find the mama monster & was running fast and it was so windy. The dots are the baby monster’s foot prints. Adorable!
We do a lot of painting in our home. We use different mediums of paint. We dabble in water color, acrylics & even Cool Whip paints. Aside from experimenting with different paints we like to paint on different canvases as well. We have painted on cardboard & paper plates, wax paper & over the weekend we painted clay.
We used a simple clay recipe:
2 1/2 cup of flour
1 1/4 cup of water
1 cup of salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Use hands to knead the clay in the bowl until all flour and water is absorbed.
We rolled out the clay with a rolling pin.
Mai made hand prints in the clay & used cookie cutters to make a lovely piece of abstract clay artwork.
We baked our clay projects at 250 degrees for 2 hours. This will vary depending on thickness.
Our little Picasso went to work.
Tonight we tried something a little different, tin foil painting.
Mai & I painted designs & pictures on a piece of foil & then pressed a piece of blank paper over the painting. We rubbed a hand over the paper & transferred the painting onto the blank paper.
Mommy made a tree & then was asked to make a heart.
Mai made a beautiful painting as well. This was a doggie. He was very tired & wanted to lay down. I do love that imagination.
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It is funny how before you have a child, you take for granted the little things like having a few moments of privacy while you are on the toilet. It is very rare for me to be able to use the bathroom in private, so it was no surprise to me when my daughter came barreling in on me today when I was on the toilet.
Mai: “Mama, mama!”
Me: “Yes Baby!”
Mai: “Come look, I made Mickey Mouse.”
Me: “Ummmm, Ok, give mommy a minute.”
I could sense my daughter’s excitement, so I got out to the living room as fast as I could to see what it was that she was so excited about.
“Look Mama!”, she said to me pointing at the coffee table & beaming with pride. There on the table were 3 golf balls arranged in such a way that it resembled the shape of Mickey Mouse.
I thought this was amazing. I loved that her young mind was able think & create in this manner. This is something that I want to cultivate in my child & watch as it grows. I wondered what other creations might be brewing in that little brain of hers. This gave mommy an idea for an activity that we could do together. Since it turned out to be a dark & rainy day & all of our outdoor activities were cancelled, it seemed like the perfect thing for a boring rainy day.
I grabbed some different colored foam sheets from our craft bin & cut several different shapes of varying sizes and colors. I cut out circles, triangles, ovals, diamonds, squares, rectangles & crescent shapes.
We laid them down on the floor. Immediately Mai jumped into them.
First she was just excited to share with me the shape names & the colors. I then grabbed 3 circles & copied her previous pattern with the circles & showed her that we could make Mickey Mouse with these shapes too. This intrigued her. She started grabbing at the shapes and laying down different patterns explaining to me her thought process as she went. “Look Mama, I make a club house.”
“You most certainly did. It is beautiful.”
I always like to play alongside her as well. As much as she likes to create, she like to learn new things just as much. She studies and absorbs everything & often is happy just to watch me as I do an activity. This is how she learned all her US states at only 2 years old. She simply would watch as I did a United States puzzle & named off each state as I placed them.
With my shapes I decided to start with a bus. The road that the bus is riding on was Mai’s idea.
Together we made pyramids, fish, a Christmas tree, a princess castle & decorated a birthday cake. It was wonderful to watch & listen to her as she used these shapes to create colorful & imaginative images. It was an easy & fun rainy day activity for us to share.
It is not always easy to leave the house with a toddler. As soon as you have a child it becomes a huge production to go anywhere. You have to make sure you have their diaper bag or back pack… snacks (check), juice boxes (check), change of clothes, diapers, books, crayons (check,check,check & check). And this is just for a trip to the supermarket.
With the weather getting nicer, we have been taking more day trips on our weekends. This will continue through the summer with trips to the zoo & beach. It is easy for our active little ones to get bored while riding in the car. It is not always easy to keep them entertained from the front seat.
But, like most things in life, every moment can be a learning opportunity, even if it is from a car seat in the back of the car.
I love to keep engaged with my daughter as I drive. There is always a teaching moment with our young ones.
Lessons that you can teach from the road:
1. Directions – As we drive, I always like to tell my daughter when I am taking a turn whether we are going left or right. I signal to her with my arm and repeat “Right, mommy is turning right.” She will repeat it after me & is getting better at differentiating her left from right.
2. Imagination exploration – On many of our journeys, my daughter will look around and point out things she sees during our ride. A few months back, she started making up little stories to go with the sights she was seeing. One rainy day as we were driving she made up this story about us driving in a submarine because of the rain & she was pointing out the fishies that she saw swimming up. “There is a mama fish & dada fish & baby fish.” Now, mommy jumps in on story telling time too & together we weave fun tales as we travel.
3. Eye spy – This is a good one. Mai, where is the yellow sign. “Right there!! Right there!” Do you see a red car? “There’s a red car!” This works great for shape, color and object recognition. My daughter get so excited and you can hear her pride as she points out what mommy asks for. Of course, I can’t see what she is pointing at unless we are stopped, but I am sure that she is pointing to the same things that I spy.
4. Counting -Counting exercises are another fun way to pass the time in the car. My daughter and I will take turns going back & forth counting off our numbers. We used to do this with the alphabet too, but now that she knows her ABC’s we practice on our numbers.
5. Music lessons – My daughter likes to sing. She has gotten pretty good a few songs. She can sing ‘Daisy, Daisy’, ‘My darling Clementine’ & ‘Oh Susanna’ word for word. It melts my heart. It is a great way to learn new words and music can be extremely influential to our children.
How do you keep your children entertained while on the road? Share your favorite stories from the car seat.
Last week I posted about encouraging our toddler’s imaginations. My daughter has a vivid one. I am fascinated by her little brain. One of our favorite things to do together is paint. Painting not only allows her to express her artistic nature, but also brings out that great imagination of hers. She will paint a picture and tell me every inch of the story that she is weaving on her canvas. We love painting on different surfaces and experimenting with different methods of painting. Today it was wax paper.
Mai began crafting her picture and story almost immediately. “Mama look! Mai Mai paint a gorilla tree.” I am not quite sure I know what a gorilla tree is, but I am willing to bet that this is exactly what one looks like.
Here she painted some gorilla footprints. “Look! Look! The gorilla makes the footprints and he climbs up the tree.”
“Two little fishes in the ocean.” “The water is sooooo beautiful.” There is a mommy shark, a dada shark & a Nanna shark. Mama shark is going to work” That last part broke my heart a little. Mama shark does not like going to work and leaving baby shark.
Mommy opted to just smoosh her paints into the wax paper.
I folded the wax in half and pressed to spread the paint.
The paint and wax paper combo looks wonderful in the light.
Albert Einstein once said “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” He was right. A healthy imagination is a great thing. It sparks creativity, aids in problem solving and ideas. Many of us lose our sense of imagination as we get older, but our children are still growing & honing theirs. As parents there are many things that we can do to help our young ones develop this.
Role Playing: This is something that toddlers naturally do on their own. They love to mimic the actions of the ones around them. The first hint of this I saw with my daughter was with her pretend talking into a remote control. She would have full conversations about her day on her fake cell phone. She has since graduated to tea parties, baking Play-Doh cakes & teaching her stuff animals.
Enjoy the Abstract: Do you remember being younger and laying on the ground and finding images in the clouds? It is amazing what your child can see. I did an experiment with my daughter a while back, where I made about a dozen inkblot pictures and asked her what she saw. The results were interesting.
Read, read, read: I don’t know about you, but when I am reading a book, I always play it out in my mind. How many times have you saw a movie that was adapted from a book & the characters were not how you pictured them. Books expand your creative mind. Be theatrical when reading to your child. Invite them to be too. How fun would it be to act out “Pete’s A Pizza” with your child?
Playing dress up: Whether you have a little boy who likes to dress in a cowboy hat and vest or a little girl who likes to don a tiara and magic wand, playing dress up is a great way for your children to feed their worlds of make believe. Costumes inspire new characters to be born and formed & it is fun for mommy and daddy to play along too.
Story telling: This is the most fun. Get your child to tell you a story. Many times my daughter will start with a one simple sentence. “I went down stairs to get a birthday cake for mama dinosaur. ” This can spark a fun story telling experience with your child. “Really, who came to the birthday party?” “What color was mama dinosaur’s cake?” My daughter has such an active imagination. She comes up with the most creative and colorful stories. I started writing them down. In fact, I took one of her stories and made it into a book. I am currently illustrating it.
Get artistic: Transferring the beautiful images in your mind on to a piece of paper is a wonderful way to open up your imagination. Mai’s drawings don’t quite look like anything yet to us, but she knows exactly what she is drawing. “Mama look! The mermaid is in the pond.” Yes it is!
Pretend: This can often go hand in hand with dress up or role playing. Our daughter likes to pretend that she is various animals. Her favorite is a kitten. She will often ask me to play along. I am usually mama kitten. Tonight, I had to be mama kangaroo & she was my Joey. We bounced around the living room with her pretending to be in my pouch.
What sort of activities do your children do to expand their imaginations? Please share any fun or interesting stories about your smart and imaginative children.