Tag Archives: kids art

Tony Taylor and Summer with Grandpa by B.C. Mullins

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tonytaylorTony Taylor and Summer with Grandpa by B.C. Mullins, paperback chapter book, 70 pages, published in 2015.

Tony spends his summers on his grandparents’ farm. He loves every moment of it, as he explores, fishes and helps out with the chores. His Grandpa’s dog, Skippy, is his constant companion. He’s not so keen on the early mornings, but he does like to walk down along the stream. It is here that he meets a little girl picking wildflowers. Tony wonders who she is and where she comes from.

An easy to follow story with largish text and short chapters make this book great for kids learning to read independently. The subject matter will be enjoyable for a broad range of children.

Tony is an average kid, ready to explore and adventure. I liked him well enough, and his grandparents are nice. I liked the simple story, which is mostly realistic and contemporary. However, there is a hint of magic on the farm! The story seemed to end a little suddenly, yet it still felt adequately completed. Now I’m wondering what adventures Tony will go on next!

Tony Taylor and Summer With Grandpa is suitable for lower to middle primary school children. Older reluctant readers might also enjoy this tale. Overall this was a nice chapter book that I will happily give to my first grader to read.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

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Painting with Cotton Buds

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During a morning at playgroup the boys did some cute little paintings using cotton buds (also called q-tips or cotton tips). Later, we tried it at home.

Painting with a cotton bud.

Painting with a cotton bud.

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Paint on the tray.

I had cotton buds in the bathroom, so we got out enough to have one cotton bud for each paint colour. We put a blob of paint on a plastic take-away container lid, and the boys got started painting.

They had lots of fun spreading the paint with the cotton buds. After a while T1 also used his fingers to add some paint to his page, but mostly they stuck with the cotton buds.

Once they had finished, I threw the used cotton buds out, and washed off the paint trays. This was a cheap, simple and fun activity to do with my toddlers.

T2's painting.

T2’s painting.

T1's painting.

T1’s painting.

Blue Sun by Tracy Abrey

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IMG_5457Blue Sun by Tracy Abrey, paperback novel, 360 pages, published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform in 2013.

When Genny Hazard’s scientist father is offered his own lab on the tiny Isle of Man, she has no choice but to leave everything she knows and go with him. With her American accent she is sure to garner some attention at her new school and around town, but Genny never expected to attract the attention of the hot school swim star, Ken. Nor did she expect to be followed by people sporting a peculiar tattoo on their necks. Genny is extremely smart, and believes strongly in science and logic, but the island is swathed in legends and myths. At first Genny scoffs at such nonsense, but soon she will have to re-examine everything she’s ever known, altering her life as she knows it.

Blue Sun is a captivating young adult fantasy. It was fairly quick paced and each chapter left me wanting to read the next. I found it interesting and a little different. It’s not just another apocalyptic teen novel, it begins the story well before any disaster can befall the island community where the book is set, so it’s more of a pre-apocalypse novel. We get to know the characters as they are before they have to re-adjust to a new world, which I liked. Elements so often seen in young adult fiction, such as girl meets boy, new school, parent issues, are there, but the story goes deeper than that, as the mysteries of the island are uncovered.

The story is set on the Isle of Man in the Irish sea. The author has obviously put a lot of research into the island’s history, culture and myths, which created a very realistic scene. There are some references to Manx culture and language, though it didn’t make it difficult to read and there is a list of translations at the back of the book. The mythic elements that are so much a part of Ken and his family really clash with the science of Genny and her father. This collision of ideas and beliefs was interesting and cleverly constructed. Swaying Genny into believing occurrences outside of the scientific realm was a difficult process, but one which needed to occur.

There were a few moments of cheesy romance, but it wasn’t forced. I was even glad that Genny got to experience young love, as she certainly wasn’t getting much affection from her father. She is quite independent, almost defiantly so, but she has to be that way to cope with her mother gone, and her father pulling away form her. She’s a good, strong character, and I liked her. Genny will never really be “normal”, but her path of self-discovery from brilliant loner to an integral part of her new community made her seem more like the teenager she is, despite her apparent destiny. The other main character, Ken, is also complicated, yet charming and lovable. Despite his popularity, and his swim star status, he is neither a dumb jock, nor a prig, he is actually just a nice guy. His family is a little odd, especially his mum, with her hippyish clothing and occult crystal store. I can even smell the incense wafting through the beaded curtains… I thought all of the characters were well developed and described.

The ending was a set up for the sequel, so I felt a little deflated when I finished. I just wanted to keep reading about Genny and Ken and the Isle of Man. Luckily for me, the next book in the series, Dark Waters, is now available!

Blue Sun is the first installment in the Blue Sun series from Tracy Abrey, and is suitable for high school students and up.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Felt Pictures

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Felt shapes.

Felt shapes.

I found a felt board among the puzzles, but couldn’t locate the bag of felt pieces that went with it, so we made our own. I used several different colours of felt, and cut them into basic shapes, such as squares, circles and triangles. A took the felt board to make her pictures, while L used a plain piece of black felt as her background. Felt sticks to felt, so the shapes will stick to any piece of felt, L just laid her piece of the floor so that it was flat.

A adding grass to her house picture.

A adding grass to her house picture.

Adding a sunset.

Adding a sunset.

A made some pictures of houses and a city, with blue sky and green grass, and of course a wonderful yellow sun. L used her black background to create a lovely night picture and a volcano picture. She cut up some more felt to suit her design, as she wanted little pieces of white to create the ash for her volcano.

We had a lot of fun making our felt piece pictures, and it was simple and fairly cheap to set up. We have stored the felt pieces in a zip-lock bag to use next time we feel like making felt pictures.

L's volcano.

L’s volcano.

Hand-print Bookmarks

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IMG_4472For Mother’s Day this year we made bookmarks using the hand-prints of the kids. I found some old scrapbooking papers that had pink or blue heart patterns on them to use as our base for the hand-prints.

Using the paint pad.

Using the paint pad.

A's hand-prints.

A’s hand-prints.

Each child chose the background paper to use, and the colour of paint for their hand-print. Predictably A chose pink on pink for her bookmarks. L used the rainbow paint pad for her hand-prints on the back on the blue paper.  Unfortunately the rainbow paint didn’t come out as clearly as the other paint, but L liked it as it was. The boys used blue paint on blue paper. Using paint pads for hand-prints makes it easy to get a good amount of paint on the hand, and is much less messy than using conventional paint.

Hand-prints.

Hand-prints.

After the hand-prints were dry, I carefully cut around each hand. The kids wrote some lovely messages on the back of one of their hands using a marker. A pushed down her marker quite hard, and the ink is visible through the hand-print. She also drew a lot of love hearts! I love it because it is so unique.

Writing a message on the back of the hand-print.

Writing a message on the back of the hand-print.

To finish the bookmarks I laminated the hand-prints. I arranged the hand-prints so that A’s hands and Baby T’s hands were together to make a bigger bookmark each, while L’s hand-print was big enough as one. I also did a single print of my hand to make a bookmark for my mum. Once laminated, I carefully cut around the hand-prints so that there was a small amount of plastic laminate around each one. The kids were happy with their bookmarks.

One of the boy's bookmarks.

One of the boy’s bookmarks.

A hand-print bookmark in my latest read.

A hand-print bookmark in my latest read.

Secret Messages

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Crayons, wax and oil pastels are great at repelling water coulour paint. This property makes them a good choice for writing secret messages. White is the best colour to use on white paper as it is hard to see the writing before adding the paint! Unfortunately A chose to use a white oil pastel and our paper was more of a beige colour (blank newspaper print), so the messages weren’t quite as secret as they might have been 🙂

My message for L and A.

My message for L and A.

A wrote out all of the sight words that she is currently working on in white oil pastel. L drew a picture and wrote messages. Then the kids used their water colour paints to bring the messages to life.

Writing her sight words.

Writing her sight words.

Painting on the water colours.

Painting on the water colours.

We had fun writing messages to eachother, which were then ‘discovered’ by adding paint. This is also a great activity for practicing spelling words as well as sight words.

A word 'discovered'.

A word ‘discovered’.

Words appearing through the paint.

Words appearing through the paint.

 

Potato Stamping

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Potato stamps.

Potato stamps.

There were some potatoes going soft at the back of the cupboard. I used two of them to make some stamps. Each potato I cut in half, and then cut a basic shape into the flesh of the potato. I used a small, sharp knife to cut away the extra potato, so I had to be very careful.

We used giant paint pads to apply the paint to the potato. These kind of stamping pads are great because they prevent excess paint getting on the stamp, and also avoids waste.

Potato on the paint pad.

Potato on the paint pad.

A stamping.

A stamping.

A used the potato stamps to stamp randomly all over the piece of paper. It looked very interesting, and she had fun. We will save this paper as wrapping paper.

 

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Finger Painting

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Finger painting palette.

Finger painting palette.

In order to make finger painting available for Baby T, I tried making some home-made edible paint. It probably wouldn’t taste very nice, but I just wanted something that wouldn’t hurt him if he put it in his mouth! So I mixed up a runny mixture of cornflour, water and food colouring, making it thick enough to feel like paint but thin enough to spread. It’s just a runny version of the slime we like to have sensory and messy play with.

Dipping her fingers.

Dipping her fingers.

Drizzling paint onto paper.

Drizzling paint onto paper.

Finger painting.

Finger painting.

The kids had a good time spreading the paint around in the tubs, drizzling it to make patterns, and swirling it together. They squished their fingers through it, and then made some paper prints from it. The paper soaked up the coloured water from the cornflour, leaving pretty patterns on the paper. They also used it to paint directly onto paper.

Paint in the tub ready to use for prints.

Paint in the tub ready to use for prints.

Once they were finished, it all washes off with soap and water. This was an inexpensive, easy and fun activity for a lazy Saturday afternoon.

A print.

A print.

L's finger painting of a red sunset.

L’s finger painting of a red sunset.

Christmas Garland

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IMG_3248Tucked away in the craft drawers I found a packet of cardboard Christmas garland shapes. It consisted of ten pieces of alternating bauble and snowflake shapes that could be decorated and then combined to string across the wall or the top of a door or window.

Shaking on glitter.

Shaking on glitter.

Glitter was the only decorating material we considered, so we took the glitter tub and the cardboard garlands outside. The kids painted on glue with paintbrushes and then shook glitter onto the glue.

Creating patterns with the glitter.

Creating patterns with the glitter.

L made some interesting patterns on her baubles and snowflakes. She added glue in a swirl shape and covered it with one colour of glitter, and then blew the excess off. Then, she placed glue in the plain section and added a different colour of glitter to this glue. She also did some stripes using the same method. These look great.

Some of the garlands hanging up to dry.

Some of the garlands hanging up to dry.

Glitter patterns.

Glitter patterns.

A liked to use lots of different colours all over hers, which also look great. At least twice, the lid of one of the glitter tubes came off, dumping a heap of glitter onto the shapes. As there was a lot of glitter left on the muck mat, I painted glue all over the last two pieces of garland, and then pressed them glue side down into the excess glitter. The glitter colours were very mixed up, but I liked the way they came up, and we didn’t waste too much glitter!

Ready to be combined to make a lovely glittery garland string.

Ready to be combined to make a lovely glittery garland string.

Once the garland pieces were completely dry, I stapled them together, end to end. We tied the finished garland from the curtain rod on our large lounge room windows. It is quite festive!

Hanging from the curtain rod.

Hanging from the curtain rod.

Fingerprint Christmas Cards

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There were Christmas craft ideas in some of the email newsletters from Educational Experience in the lead up to Christmas. One of the ideas was to create fingerprint Christmas cards. We tried this out at home, making Christmas trees and candy canes with our fingers.

A liked to smudge her fingerprints together for her trees.

A liked to smudge her fingerprints together for her trees.

L carefully creating a tree.

L carefully creating a tree.

We started with plain white cards. The kids used green paint to create a triangle for the tree, and then brown paint for the trunk. The candy canes were alternating red and white fingerprints in a cane shape.

A making a candy cane.

A making a candy cane.

To finish the cards, we added sparkly star stickers to the top of the trees, and little Christmas stickers in the corners of the candy cane cards.

This was a quick activity with minimal mess. And the end result looked good. We gave these cards to teachers and staff at the kids’ school. The card’s recipients were very impressed. On the back of each card I wrote the name of the child that painted the card, along with the year and the class that the kids were in.