Just the other day, my daughter asked, “Mommy, I want to paint.” Without even thinking twice, I was quick to discourage her efforts. But as I was saying no, I asked myself why not? The answer was simple. I didn’t want to deal with the mess. For my eldest, I made activities involving paint, sand, glitter, glue readily available. For his younger sister, I only cringed at the thought of the havoc she could wreak. My son was capable of independently using these materials; I knew he would use them for what they were intended. However, my free-spirited daughter would definitely test her limits – you can only imagine the kind of “accidents” we’ve had in the past. The clean-up usually took longer than the actual craft. But after realizing how frequently I rejected her artistic curiosity, I decided that from that day forward, I was going to make a conscious effort to spend more time doing arts and crafts with her. I went on a search for crafts that weren’t daunting or overwhelming for me, and would be entertaining for my daughter. My first project was jell-o painting – materials were readily accessible, messiness was low, and it was a huge success.
First we made ice cube paintbrushes; filling an ice cube tray with water, covering it with foil and inserting popsicle sticks into the cubes.
Then we waited patiently for the cubes to freeze. Of course, my daughter forgot about the ice cube paintbrushes five minutes after they were in the freezer, but she was excited the following day when we pulled them out. The next day, we spread an old towel on the floor, laid a big piece of white paper on it, sprinkled green and red jello powder on the paper, and away she went, painting with her ice cube paintbrushes! The powder amazed her, the melting ice amazed her, the designs she created amazed her, even the taste amazed her, and, as usual, she amazed me!
Though this is an activity that’s great for getting younger kids involved with creative materials, older kids can enjoy it as well. Everyone gets a kick out of experimenting with new materials and using them in unconventional ways (painting with jello?? and ice cubes??? how cool!!!!).
What are your favorite unconventional art materials?