Marc thinks that my brain short circuited when I decided to do a summer art camp for Ben, Shira and four of their friends. He might be right, but be that as it may, it was a huge amount of fun.
It was incredibly good for my soul to do an activity with these children that was full of sheer, unbridled fun. No one was expected to learn a thing, this was just about feeling the paint and clay between your fingers, smooshing it all about and creating with all the exuberance we could muster.
I've promised the children that we'll do at least one afternoon a month of "Ooey, gooey, messy art fun". Shira is already putting on her thinking cap for our next adventure.
As I've mentioned more than a few times before, I am a huge fan of MaryAnn Kohl's. I love how she puts an emphasis on the process involved in doing art. Ben and Shira love the messiness involved in the process and I suspected that their friends would as well. it turns out I was right. Benny, Sadie, Martina and Jillian had a blast.
We started off the camp on Monday doing the messiest things I could think of (or I should say, the messiest things that MaryAnn Kohl could think of).
We started off with by putting paint onto rubber bands that had been put around photoframes. Then the fun started. The kids pulled at the bands and let the paint splatter - everywhere. I have no pics because far too much paint was flying everywhere. It's simply amazing how much fun the kids had. Shira ended up plunging her hands into the paint and smooshing it all over her paper. You could see little tactile Shira reveling in the sensations.
My friend, Shell, wrote about an interesting syndrome, Shining Object Syndrome (or SOS for short). I was amused to see that Sadie suffered from SOS after we cleaned up from the paint splattering. She found the glittery bits in the clean up bucket far more interesting than the art projects.
At one stage she was standing in the bucket watching the sparkly bits.
After we cleaned up, we moved onto that old simple standard, marble painting. We haven't done it since Ben and Shira were around 2 years old. I was surprised at how much the kids enjoyed it.
Martina said this was her favorite activity.
Shira says that one of her favorite activity was the fly swatter painting.
I gave the children each large pieces of butcher paper, fly swatters and a few bottles of paint. They squirted paint onto their fly swatters and then swatted away.
I had planned on spraying shaving cream over an area of the back yard, drizzle paint over that and then letting the kids swat it with fly swatters but time ran out. I am planning however, to do this project on another day. After seeing how much enjoyment the fly swatter activity engendered, it would be criminal not to resurrect it in some form or other. Adding shaving cream makes clean up so much easier.
I messed up the "Pow Painting", but nevertheless, the kids enjoyed it. I put baking soda into little paper towel pillows, placed those pillows into baggies and added vinegar and watercolor. We then sealed the baggies and placed them on sheets of paper. The baggies were supposed to blow up but I didn't put enough baking soda into the pillows. The resultant foam was gorgeous and the kids amused themselves for a long time playing with the baking soda and colored vinegar. Tina tried this activity when she returned home and worked out the right proportions, so now I need to try it again.
On day two we had fun with plaster of paris, masks and soap clay.
I was very pleasantly surprised by how the plaster of paris creations turned out. We put three scoops of powder into gallon sized ziploc bags and then added water until we had a nice, thick paste. The kids really got into smooshing the plaster of paris through the bags. Once they had a smooth paste, they worked the paste into a design of their choosing and held it until it started to set. Once the plaster had hardened, we removed the creations from the plastic bags and painted them.
Shira decided hers was a "rich woman's" handbag. (as against mommy's that is always black)
Ben made a canoe and Benny, the most interesting abstract creation.
When we started the camp, I made plaster tape impressions of all the kids', except Sadie's, faces. It was wonderful to see the children unleash their creativity on their masks. I enjoyed seeing how the same blank canvases were turned into very different art works.
Martina working on her mask.
Sadie made a pair of "spectacles" instead of a mask.
While I was greatly impressed by the creativity shown by all the children in their mask making, I have to admit that I found the masks rather creepy.
Jillian in her wildly colorful mask.
Benny in his tribal mask.
Ben in his "third eye" mask
Martina's sunny mask.
Shira's metallic mask
I loved watching how differently the children approached this project. Shira and Martina took their time and worked meticulously, while the younger girls and the boys worked at breakneck speed. Their goal was get the project finished, while the two older girls' goal was to create the best mask they could.
We finished the day with an incredible modeling clay project. I placed 2 cups of Ivory Snow into a large bowl in front of each child and gave them each a cup with colored water. They slowly added water (4-6 tablespoons) until they had a stiff dough. it's a messy process but you get a wonderful dough. Then they proceeded to make sculptures.
Watch the sheer joy of working with this medium
Martina made a snowman with a difference.
Shira made a blue duck
and Sadie made a pink snake
Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of the Benjamin's creations. Benny made a "soapfa" i.e. a sofa and Ben made a curled snake with eyes on both his tail and his head.
Today, our final day, was an absolute blast. I made up body paint using liquid watercolors, Pond's Cold Cream, cornstarch and water (I used a blender that was hellacious to clean afterwards).
Before the children started painting their bodies, they made signs for the parade we were planning on doing. Sadie and the big girls formed one team and the Benjamins and Jillian another. it was wonderful to watch them collaborating with each other in the design of their banners. Not one disagreement was heard.
Then it was onto the main business of the day. Painting their bodies.
Once the banners were dry and the bodies painted, we embarked on a parade around the neighborhood. The kids were as cute as buttons. They made a racket with noisemakers and chants and got the biggest kicks out of all the passersby who waved to them.
Notice the difference between the two banners.
I had to become creative with clean up as I had experienced how difficult it was to clean my blender this morning, that cold cream is very, very greasy. Never let it be said that I shy from a challenge. The solution turned into the highlight of the camp for Ben. I pulled out two cans of shaving cream that I had bought for the fly swatter project and not used and sprayed it all over the children. Then I let them loose with the shaving cream - all I can say is that a few cans of Dollar Store shaving cream and a bunch of kids makes for a wonderful activity.
Then I switched on the sprinkler and let the kids play.
The end result - clean kids.
It was a lot of work, but it was worth every minute. I got to spend really good time with Lydia and Tina and more importantly , our children had boatloads of fun. What could be more important than that?
It felt really good to be able to do something for Lydia's children. During this last year Lydia has done amazing things for my kids. She introduced them to the scientific method before they did their science fair projects, taught them about simple machines for Lego League and inspired them for the egg drop contest. We should not forget Ben's epic adventure with her in the Treasure Island bookclub at the co-op. Lydia is one of the most inspired teachers I have ever met and my children are very lucky to have her in their lives, heck, I am lucky to be able to count her as one of my friends.
Shira told me that she was happy that I did crafts with Martina as Tina had done such great crafts with her during her Felicity bookclub at the co-op.
One of the beauties, to me, of homeschooling, is how we mothers form loose cooperatives and associations that play out in such wonderful ways.
After Lydia had left for her kids' dance recital rehearsal and Jillian had gone home, Tina, the kids and I all went for a swim. It feels like ages since Tina and I have been able to have a long, slow visit. It was a real treat. She's long been my parenting mentor and I love opportunities to be able to bounce things off her. We often have very different educational philosophies, but seeing as she has grown 2 delightful and successful children to adulthood, I tend to take what she has to say very seriously.
Ahh,this was a splendid week.
Based on my experiences with this Ooey, Gooey, Messy, Summer Art Camp, I want to encourage every homeschooling mom out there to run one of their own. There is something so very liberating for moms and kids to do something this wonderfully messy and gooey.
Weekly Wrap-Up: The one with the clean garage
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