WASHINGTON — Every kid loves a good art adventure, and if you’re in search of a project beyond the basic crayons and colored paper, look no further.
Children’s art instructor Anne Freeman, also known as Anna Banana Arts and Crafts, shares some of her favorite activities for your budding artist.
Before you plan an art-filled afternoon, make sure you have some staples on hand. Freeman says you don’t need anything fancy — you likely have what you need around the house, already. Everything else, you can pick up from a grocery store.
Here are a few of her must-haves: plain white paper, glue, scissors, markers, colored pencils, tape and crayons.
“They just get so creative with simple things like tape and scissors,” Freeman said.
If you’re near an art store, watercolors, pastels and glitter are also nice to have stashed away.
“One thing I really like is you can get a stack of black paper and give kids colored chalk or white chalk and see where they go with that, because it makes it really bright and the contrast is really nice.”
A few empty egg cartons and aluminum foil baking trays also come in handy for holding paint and other art supplies.
Shaving cream — a secret ingredient
One of Freeman’s favorite art activities involves shaving cream and food coloring, and it’s an activity suited for youngsters and older kids, alike.
Fill an aluminum foil cookie tray (the disposable trays you can purchase from the grocery store) with foamed white shaving cream. Have your child squeeze small drops of food coloring onto the shaving cream, and then using chopsticks, swirl the colors.
“And it’s fun to use red and blue, and then they’ll swirl that and see a little purple coming, so it’s good for color theory,” Freeman said. “You can swirl yellow and blue and have them make green, or red and yellow and have the orange.”
Freeman advises against stirring the mixture up too much, otherwise you’ll be left with one color.
Instead, you want the swirls to stay in tact. Then, place a piece of thick paper on top of the shaving cream and pat lightly. You’ll see a little bit of the color start to come up. Then lift the paper, scrape the shaving cream off using a dull knife or putty knife, and you’re left with a colorful, “swirly” piece of art.
Leave it in one piece or fold it and cut out a butterfly.
Water bottles make great snow globes
No need to go out and buy a snow globe. Freeman says they’re easy to make at home using an empty water bottle (she recommends the 11-ounce Voss water bottles since they have a wide mouth). Squeeze enough Elmer’s glue to cover the bottom of the bottle, then put about two spoonfuls of glitter into the bottle.
Fill the bottle to the top with warm water and superglue the top on. (The key to this activity is super glue: If you don’t superglue the top shut, you’re likely looking at a mess.)
“And then shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, and it turns into one of those glitter volcano kind of fun things where the glitter swirls around,” Freeman said, adding that some parents even use the homemade glitter globes as a tool to help their children calm down when they get worked up.
“They’re beautiful and they’re really fun.”
For older kids, Freeman recommends getting a piece of watercolor paper and a few liquid watercolors. Using droppers, put a few drops of the color on the paper, and with a straw, have them blow the paint.
“And that turns into this beautiful abstract artwork. And they can mix the colors by blowing and you can turn the paper so it goes in different directions,” Freeman said.
Young kids can also explore with watercolors using coffee filters. Wet the coffee filter, drop some food coloring on top and watch the color spread.
“And that’s really beautiful,” Freeman added.