Art, at its best, is a full-body experience—at least according to my kids. And with summer here (happy first day of summer!), it’s the perfect time to get outside for some messy painting.
On a recent afternoon, Peeper, Kiwi and a few friends did just that. I squirted paint onto plates of shaving cream, and the kids dove in: Within minutes, we were all messy. And within minutes, we were all having so much fun.
After all, we often tell kids to be neat. Use a napkin. Don’t spill. Wash your hands. Keep your hands to yourself.
With the weather warming up, though, it’s a great excuse to play outside. And with a little set-up—and a lot of shaving cream—you can let your kids’ creativity go wild. Come on, color outside the lines!
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
“For the love of all things holy I am not reading this book one more time!”
I have a love/hate relationship with the book 5 Little Monkeys. After about the sixth time of reading it, all that repetition makes me want to jump off a bed and knock myself in the head.
But the repetition is great for pre-readers: Books that have repeating sequences, like 5 Little Monkeys, strengthens a child’s neural pathways and primes them for learning to read later. For example, all that repetition helps kids add to their vocabulary faster, reports research from the University of Sussex in the UK. And the familiar rhythms of a repetitive book helps that child remember what comes next—a skill that later helps them predict or hypothesize what comes next.
I saw this all in action with Peeper and 5 Little Monkeys. I used to pass the book back to her while we were driving around. After a while, she would “read” the book to herself—including counting down the number of monkeys.
All that repetition really worked!
Turns out the repetitive motion of painting is a great parallel for this story. When I found Raising Fairies and Knights’s Monthly Crafting Book Club, I was in: I wanted to make a fun art project that went along with 5 Little Monkeys, too!
You may also know what a proponent of process art I am. So I didn’t want to create a craft that had a clear expectation of how the craft should look in the end. Instead, I created a project that let Peeper do her own thang while staying true to the spirit of the book. And with my hand-drawn download, you can, too!
Not long ago, we learned our next-door neighbor was sick. She had surgery and was recovering quickly, but I wanted to send over something to show we’d been thinking of her.
Naturally, I wanted to involve Peeper. We set to making a paper bouquet of coffee filter flowers.
Lessons in empathy
Peeper is still too young to understand why we were making the bouquet, and thank goodness. How wonderful to be unaware of things like cancer, anesthesia and prognoses. But it’s important to instill the value of doing nice things for others, so we made our own thinking-of-you package instead of buying a bouquet or card at the store.
One of the nice things about these coffee filter flowers is you almost definitely have the materials on hand. What’s more, it’s ridiculously easy and simple enough for even toddlers to do.
What are you waiting for? Even if you don’t know someone who’s ill, you do know someone whose day would be brightened by a hand-made flower or two. Read more
Peeper loves to create, so when it came to planning her second birthday party, I knew I wanted to incorporate art. Thanks to getting almost no sleep and leaving most of the party prep till the morning of, I had to scale back some of our painting plans, but one activity made the cut: the group DIY easel.
Peeper and her friends got to paint alongside each other in our front yard, and each kiddo took home a piece of art (or several!). Peeper’s painting is now hanging on our wall above the dining table.
The setup was surprisingly easy—and cheap—and we’ve left it up in our yard for now. Peeper continues to use it, and when we do decide to take it down, we’ll recycle or reuse all the pieces for projects later!
Want to get in on the artistic action, too? Here’s how to make an easy group DIY easel for your kids to paint their own outdoor masterpieces. Read more
Eric is really, really good about saving his change. I tend to spend mine, getting way more excited than is warranted when I get to use pennies at the store, whereas he empties his pockets at the end of the day to watch a jar fill up with dimes and quarters.
Not too long ago, the peanut butter jar we’d been using was too full to accept a single more cent. I took it to our credit union—and walked out more than $135 richer.
The problem: I could not go back to using that scuzzy plastic jar. It was dirty, it was ugly and I didn’t want it sitting on our mantle, no matter how much money it held.
So I enlisted Peeper’s help! Together, we made a brand-new/upcycled change jar so we can (ahem) watch our money grow. (Get it?)
Here are the instructions so you can make one, too! Read more