By Indrani Perera | indraniperera.com
Painting with small children can seem very daunting. All that mess! But with the right materials and preparation it can be a little less messy and lots of fun. I started painting weekly with my daughters when they were 3 and 7. We all loved sitting around the kitchen table painting.
Painting wet on wet lets the colours magically blend and swirl together. The paint on the wet paper mixes together to form new colours and interesting patterns. It’s easy to get absorbed in the process.
Painting in the Steiner style adds songs and verse to the activity. Older children in particular may struggle to come up with an idea of what to paint. A verse or story will appeal to their imagination and fill their mind with pictures to share on the page.
Notes: buy good quality art paper, it’s really worth the investment as it won’t disintegrate as you’re painting.
Stockmar watercolours can seem quite expensive but a little bit goes a long way. You only need the primary colours - with them you can make everything else. They come in two of each primary colour. Choose either carmine red, ultramarine blue and lemon yellow OR vermillion, Prussian blue and golden yellow.
Tip: have a sponge handy to clean paint off the walls as it happens.
1. Preparing the paint
Give the paint bottle a good shake. Put a small amount (about a five cent piece) of paint into the small glass jar.
Add some water and mix together with a brush. Repeat for each colour.
Once made, the paints can be stored in the fridge in their jars with the lids on. They will last a few weeks, you’ll just need to give them a stir before use.
When starting, only give two colours to your child (eg red and blue) so that they learn how they mix together. After a few weeks when they have explored those colours, give them another combination (eg blue and yellow). When you have done all the colour combinations, let them experiment with all three colours at once.
2. Set up the art space
Set up the table for each child with a painting board, 2 glass jars half full of water and brushes in a jar, bristles facing up (this keeps them nice and pointy for painting).
3. Name and dating
Write your child’s name and date on the back of the piece of paper. Round the corners of each piece of paper with a pair of scissors.
4. Apron tying
Ask your kids to roll up their sleeves, put on art smocks and tie their hair back.
5. Wetting paper
Have your child help you run the paper under water from the tap. Drain excess water into the sink and place the paper on the painting board.
When they are sitting at the table, read a poem or tell a story to inspire ideas.
7. Handing out the colours
Sing or say this verse as you give each child their colours.
“Rainbow fairies soft and light, bring us colours bright.”
8. Knock knock
By now they’ll be itching to paint. Just one more step before they can. Teach your kids to keep their brushes clean with this little story:
Take your child’s brush and tap on the paint jar and say, “Knock, knock, knock. May I come in?” In a different voice, sing out, “Only if you’re very clean.” Then take the brush and dip it in the water, then back to the paint. “Knock, knock, knock. May I come in now?” and the paint replies, “Oh you’re nice and clean. Yes you may.”
For very small children you may need to repeat this little story.
9. Start painting
Now the fun begins - paint away!
When your child wants to change colours from red to blue, help them use the rinsing water jar to clean. Then dip the brush into the clean water jar, pressing excess water from the brush against the top of the jar.
10. Drying and packing away
When the paintings are finished, move the painting board somewhere out of the way to dry.
Get your child to help put the paint away in the fridge, wash the brushes and clean the table.
Indrani Perera is a a homeschooling mama of two girls aged 7 and 11. They're currently into their fifth year of homeschooling. Indrani shares insights and experiences in making the life she wants on her blog and Instagram. Her big passions are craft and nature and sharing them with her girls.
Jenny Diaz shares some simple toys you can make with things in your home, that will grow with your child as they learn and develop.
By Jenny Diaz | jennydiazphotography.com
During the first five years of your child’s life, development happens so rapidly. It almost feels as if everyday something new is happening, so how do you know what toys will best suit your child’s interest for the long-term? Here are some toys that you can make at home in just 15 minutes or less that will aid and grow with your child’s development.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: All toys are always safest when being used under adult supervision.)
You will need:
This is for when your child is first learning how to pick items up and place them in and out of places. To assemble, simply take a paper towel or toilet paper roll and tape or glue it to a piece of cardboard so that it is slightly elevated off of the ground.
Hold it or lean it against a wall and provide your little one with a few pom poms to put down the tube. When they are ready, this activity will also help build pre-math skills by teaching one-to-one ratio as they place one pompom in the tube at a time.
Once your child is beginning to learn colours, you can add more tubes and colour code them along with the pom poms. Once your child is beginning to learn how to count, you can verbally provide them an amount of pom poms to drop or write the number above the roll if they can visually identify numbers.
To further challenge an older child, provide them with a fair bit of their own rolls and materials so they can make a course for the pompoms to fall through. You may even want to build two and have a race to see which course is faster.
Here is a list of other ways you can make a different toy by using the same concept:
You will need:
You’ll want to keep your puzzle simple. Start with matching two of the same items together. Find some images to print of whatever your child is interested in and print two of each. Glue one set onto a piece of paper and have your child place the matching picture on top of it.
You can also cut out various shapes, again 2 of each, to have your child match. Another alternative is to choose some objects from around your house (preferably with the help of your child) and trace them onto a piece of paper. Once you are finished, your child can match each object to their coinciding outline.
When you think your child is ready, try puzzles consisting of just two pieces. You can use those same pictures you printed earlier by cutting them in half and seeing if they can match the two pieces together to make a whole. You can also take a few paper plates and have you or your child colour/paint them one colour per plate. Once they are finished, try cutting them into 2-3 pieces. For more of a challenge, cut more pieces.
You will need:
Chances are that random household objects already hold your child’s interest the longest around this age, so make some safe ones readily available to them. Wash and clean some empty food and drink containers and put them on a low shelf or basket. Yoghurt containers, cereal boxes, water bottles, milk and egg cartons are all wonderful places to start.
While you’re in the kitchen making food, allow your little one to sit on the floor in or nearby the kitchen as well and play with these items. Plastic or paper plates, cups and spoons are also great things to offer them for playtime. Also around this age children start to enjoy learning how to care for themselves so offer a comb, brush or toothbrush so they can “practice” and get familiar with the objects for the future.
Once your child gets a little older and gains more self-awareness, they may be interested in starting to dress themselves. Happily oblige by leaving a small bin or few items of clothing out for them to try putting on. You can also use yours or a sibling’s old clothes to play dress up.
If they are beginning to enjoy fantasy play, then paper crowns and hats are easy items to make. An empty box can be decorated to make a car, castle, train or boat. A quick drawing can go a long way. Remember, let go of perfection and just go for it! Don’t worry about spending more than 5-10 minutes on it. I promise you care more about what it looks like than your children do.
It’s amazing what you can do with everyday household items and just 15 minutes of your time. Not only have you made a toy that will grow with and aid your child’s development, you’ve also saved money as well as the environment by reusing and repurposing some objects that might have otherwise been disregarded.
The cherry on top though? I bet these homemade toys will serve your child’s interest just a little longer than the traditional ones.
What are your children's favourite homemade toys? We'd love you to share in the comments below.
Jenny is a former Early Childhood Educator and Montessori teacher of 10 years turned photographer. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, fur baby and 1-year-old daughter. She remains passionate about child development and education in the early years, and enjoys spending as much time outdoors as possible with her little one. She's on Instagram @jennydiazhomelife
Take a peek inside the homeschool habits of this family in Florida, and see the unique and creative ways they investigated the water cycle.
In this article
By Kristine Wilson | @creativeandgrowingkids
We are the Wilsons, a family of six who have been enjoying the homeschool life for the past ten years. My husband, Caleb is in federal law enforcement, and I spend my days learning at home with my three youngest, Marseille, 11, Dominic, 9, and Adeline, 6. My oldest, Whitney, who was homeschooled for 8 years, now attends high school.
We have an eclectic style of homeschooling with threads of Waldorf, Montessori and Charlotte Mason woven throughout. We especially love learning through hands-on activities and creative work.
Moving to southern Florida has really inspired us to get outside daily, and we have enjoyed spending that time studying nature. I love using nature studies as the vehicle for learning science, and this year we chose The Nature Anatomy book by Julia Rothman as the core structure of our science study.
The kids and I sit down every week and decide together how we would like to approach the next subject. We use our imagination, different books, online sites, and resources like Pinterest to put together hands-on activities for each subject.
I have found the benefits of hands-on learning to be wonderful for my children. It has made it possible to teach my children, with their mix of tactile, auditory, and visual learning styles, to find not only enjoyment in their studies, but the ability to retain the information that they have learned.
Through presenting the material with group reading, discussion, written narration, and hands-on activities, they have been able to learn through all their senses. Working together as a group also allows the children to foster their critical thinking, communication, and creativity skills as well.
I don’t delve too deep into each subject but touch upon it lightly so as to inspire my children to continue learning about the subject through a deeper personal study of their own.
One of our favourite studies this month was on the water cycle. The children gathered our main books and encyclopaedias, and we brainstormed ways to make the study as fun and informational as possible.
1. We started by flagging pages in the books that we wanted to read and discuss. We then proposed different ideas for hands-on activities.
First, they agreed to draw out and label the water cycle for our homeschool portfolios. My son had been wanting to add LEGO to our studies, so we thought that this was a perfect opportunity to make the cycle with LEGO. My daughters love to cook and create with food, so they thought a quiz on the water cycle with fun foods would be enjoyable.
We followed that up with a few Pinterest ideas such as making a cloud in a jar and chalking out an evaporating puddle.
2. How we used LEGO
We used a 10 x 10cm flat LEGO piece as our base for the water cycle activity. My kids used the LEGO pieces we had at home and built the water cycle according to the pages we had studied. I printed out the vocabulary water cycle words and arrows, and the kids placed them on the project where needed.
3. A delicious twist on the water cycle: representation with food
The kids brainstormed which fun foods would work for the aspects of the water cycle that they needed. After preparing the foods, they put together the water cycle and gave an oral presentation on the project. They chose to make a chocolate chip cookie mountain, jello lake, marshmallow clouds, raining color candies, and frosting for the snow, river, and water evaporation. They used extra colored candies for the greenery and sun as well.
4. Puddle evaporation experiment
For the puddle Evaporation experiment we poured out a bottle of water onto the warm pavement and drew a circle around it with chalk. We continued to draw outlines of the puddle as it evaporated.
5. Afterwards, we drew out and labelled the water cycle in our learning portfolio books.
This year has definitely been one of our best homeschooling years. Not only has it been really fun, but I feel adding a lot more hands-on activities has helped my children focus better, spark their curiosity about the world around them, and engage their love of learning more deeply.
Although every school year has its natural highs, lows, and challenges, homeschooling continues to be an ever- expanding and fulfilling opportunity that I am so grateful to be able to experience.
Kristine Wilson lives in Fort Lauderdale Florida. She has been homeschooling for 10 years. Kristine enjoys spending time with her family, being outside studying nature, and curling up inside with a great book. She's on Instagram as @creativeandgrowingkids