Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life


Salad Spinner Art

Did you know you can use your salad spinner to make awesome art? I was reminded of this recently, when Jean over at The Artful Parent posted a link on Facebook to her blog post about doing so. I have had a salad spinner sitting in the back of a cabinet, and it has been years since I have used it for washing salad. I almost donated it when we moved last year, but I am now glad that we still have it kicking around for this new creative purpose.

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Simply add paper to the salad spinner, drip in some paint, put the lid on and spin! It is really fun to see what the results are when it finally stops and you take the lid off. Simon squealed with delight every time each new piece was revealed.

We had fun testing out different color combinations. Simon even made one using all of the paint colors we have. We discovered that the results were better when the spinner went really, really fast.

This project is also very easy to clean up, for those of you who are more hesitant about using paint at home with little ones. I recommend using water based, non-toxic paint, such as tempera. When you are done, just wash the salad spinner out in the sink.

The following week I also brought my salad spinner to work with me and did this project with the kids who attended my Preschool Storytime program. I read aloud books about colors and art, and then gave the kids paper plates. They dripped paint onto their plates and we passed the salad spinner around for them to take turns. They had a blast!

spin art at the library


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morning art
Last week there were two days of school cancellations due to weather, which meant no work for Mumma, and no preschool for Simon. We were stuck inside for two days. Then, we kicked off the beginning of this week with even more inclement weather, dangerous roads, and staying indoors. This winter has been a doozy, and it is only just beginning for us here in Maine. I think it is safe to say that cabin fever has been high around here, and we are all a tad grumpy.

However, there has also been a lot of creativity. Jeramy got into the baking mood, and whipped up some crock pot beer bread on a whim. Simon and I drew in our sketchbooks. There have been multiple instances of toy cars being pressed into playdough, and some sponge painting.

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The sun has returned, and I look forward to shaking off some these feelings of being cooped up by getting us out of the house. However, I am glad that when we do end up “wintered-in”, we are able to find ways to add color and flavor to our days.

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Three Little Pigs Playdough

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This week at the Library where I work as Storylady, I presented a Three Little Pigs themed Storytime program for the preschoolers. After I read some stories, and we sang some songs together, I set up a fun sensory project for the kids. I got my inspiration from a website called Fairy Dust Teaching, and then put my own twist on it.

First I made some homemade playdough, using this recipe. I decided not to add any coloring to the dough, so that the materials would really stand out. I put out cut up pieces of raffia, piles of small sticks from my yard, and some brick colored stones from the craft store to represent the straw, sticks, and bricks that the three little pigs use to make their houses. Since the focus of this activity was meant to be about sensory play rather than a finished product, I told the kids to just have fun with the materials while thinking about the houses that the pigs in our stories had made.

I received a lot of positive feedback from the parents about this activity, and the kids had so much fun sticking and mixing the objects into the dough. As you can see from the photos, I also brought some of the materials home for Simon to play and experiment with, and he had a lot of fun too.

The three stories that I read aloud today were:
The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague (My favorite interpretation on this classic!)
Huff & Puff by Claudia Rueda (I asked the kids to play the role of the Big, Bad, Wolf and do the huffing and puffing along with the story.)
Rabbit and the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf by Michael Escoffier (This one might not have any pigs, but it has excellent illustrations, humor, and a plot twist that the kids loved.)

We also recited “This Little Piggy” on our fingers, sang “Old MacDonald” (with cow, pig, and wolf on his farm), and “The Pigs on the Farm go Oink, Oink, Oink” (to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”).

I had so much fun reading aloud and singing with the kids, however, I think the playdough activity was definitely the most fun today!

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Side By Side

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Last night I did some drawing in my sketchbook while relaxing on the couch. I forgot to put my art supplies away when I finished, and this morning, Simon noticed the bin of drawing supplies sitting on our current makeshift coffee table, and asked: “Mumma, what are these?”. I told him they were art supplies and he asked “Can I use them?” “Sure!” I said, and went to get a large pad of newsprint.

We spread out paper and supplies out on the table, and worked side-by side. Simon was mostly interested in experimenting with charcoal and a rubber eraser, two things that he hasn’t used before. I sketched while he experimented with the feel of new materials, and I made it a point to let him experience the trial and error of attempting to erase various drawing mediums.

Since moving, our routine has been really off. The house is still a major work-in-progress, and I have a harder time finding my way through our routine as I adjust to our new surroundings. However, this reminded me of our frequent morning art time, and I hadn’t realized how much I had been missing it!

I love working side-by-side with my little one, being creative together as our first act after breakfast.

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A Morning Tray

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I am not a morning person. Never have been, and might never be. I do really wish that I was, but it is just not in my nature. In the mornings, my child is raring to go, and has plenty of mental focus and a need to do something with his hands. It usually takes everything I can muster to shuffle us through breakfast, let alone be entertainment for a three-year-old.

In order to give Simon something engaging to do, and give myself a little break from having to use my brain while I am still drinking my coffee, I came up with the idea of a morning activity tray.

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I always admire the aesthetic quality of Montessori activities presented to children on a tray. I also think that sometimes, having a visual or physical boundary to work within can actually be liberating to a child’s sense of creativity. Give them a space and some materials to work with, and just sit back and see what they will do.

The photos above are my first attempt at using the idea of a pre-assembled activity in a tray for morning, and it went very well. Last night I prepared the materials, lining the bottom with sheets of drawing paper, and putting some farm stickers into two round lids. I added a couple of tubes of glitter glue and a couple of markers, in case Simon wanted to draw in some scenery too. The tray I used is one that a Melissa and Doug block set came in, and is just the right size and shape to re-purpose for this.

When we came into the kitchen this morning, as I was making breakfast, I put the tray out on the table and told Simon it was an activity for him to do. He dove right in, peeling the backs off the foam shapes and sticking them to the paper. He also experimented using the glue, and sticking the shapes to the tray. After stopping to eat breakfast, he went right back to it for a while, and I sat beside him, sipping coffee and talking to him about what he was working on. By the time he was ready to move on to something else, I was awake enough to get the day going.

I already have lots of ideas for more morning trays, and plan to document them and share here.

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Outdoor Spray Art

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Simon saw his spray bottle on the top shelf of our art cart the other day and, remembering how much fun we had using it to spray paint the snow last winter, asked if we could “please go spray some snow.” I explained that there is no snow right now, because it is Springtime, but that we could find a way to make some art with the spray bottle anyway. Thinking of our day at Smudge Art Studio, when we sprayed paper shapes, I grabbed some big sheets of paper and we headed outdoors.

I used wooden clothespins to attach the paper to some low hanging branches. I asked Simon to choose which color he wanted to use,  and then mixed some non-toxic, water-based paint with a bit of water in the spray bottle. After explaining that he was not to spray the house or people, I let him have fun spraying the paint onto his “canvas”. Of course, there was also some decorating of the surrounding greenery and some rocks too. After he would finish with a color, he would pick out another one, and I would mix him up a new bottle of paint. (I am thinking I will have to pick up a couple more spray bottles so that next time he can use multiple colors at once, or share with a friend.)

We had a lot of fun making art together this way, and will most definitely be doing it again. It was a terrific way to spend time together, be creative, and enjoy nature.

Note: I am thinking the finished paintings are going to make terrific wrapping paper!



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Smudge Art Studio for Kids is located in Freeport, Maine. They are an open art studio for children aged two to nine. I first heard about them when Simon had only just turned one, and was not old enough yet to go. Going has been on my to-do list since his second birthday, but we only just got around to visiting last week. I am sorry I waited so long! It is a fantastic place, and Simon had so much creative fun.

When you walk in, you see one, large room filled with easels, and different tables and art-making stations set up all around. We happened to have the whole place to ourselves the day we went, and Simon immediately made a beeline for the spray-bottle station. There, he sprayed liquid colors onto cat-shaped cutouts on the wall. He also painted on a HUGE piece of paper that was taped up at the far end of the room, painted and glued objects onto a plaster mask, and got creative mixing pipe cleaners with natural materials. Before we knew it, our hour of open studio time had passed.

Smudge also offers art classes for kids, as well as creative birthday parties. We do lots and lots of art at home together, but it is great to go be in such creative surroundings, play with different supplies, and not have to clean-up! We will definitely be going back there again!