Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crazy Messy Fun: Color Mixing - Summer Art Activities

This post contains affiliate links.
Whether you are a child or just a child at heart, a fundamental understanding of color will empower you to make confident decisions in your artwork and help create an order within the chaos of your creativity.
So, how does one go about "understanding color"?  Its a process. And analyzing a color wheel only gets you so far.  Most of us need to learn by doing...by seeing...by making...

This awesome color mixing activity requires only a few recycled items and is entertaining AND educational! 

Here are the items needed:
1. A clear (or white) plastic (or Styrofoam) egg carton, cut in half.
2. An eye dropper (or medication dropper)
3. (3) applesauce containers (or small cups)
4. Liquid Watercolor (LOVE this stuff!)
5. Paper (optional)
6. Copy of Color wheel (optional)

You can dilute the colors (and extend the workability) by starting with a bit of water in each of the egg carton spaces.
Fill the three small cups with the primary colors (red, blue, and yellow)

Model the proper way to use the eye dropper...taking color from the primary cups and joining them in the egg carton to create new colors.

 Discuss the color combinations before you allow them to begin (older children) or as they are mixing (younger children).

 If all the color spaces have been filled and your child is still interested in mixing, offer a second or third egg carton (either wash that original one and use again, or use multiple empty ones) .

If you or your little artist would like to use their new unique mixtures to create artwork, provide white construction paper (on a mat, washable surface, or outside) and let them use the eye droppers to create a colorful masterpiece (you could also use a paintbrush, of course...but squirting is very fun!).

Here's to a colorful summer!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Good Clean Fun: The Cardboard Box

How great are cardboard boxes??  From my early childhood development education, I know that simple, open-ended play items such as a box stimulate creativity, problems solving, and brain development.  From my own childhood, I know that playing with a box is SO MUCH FUN!!   We have a toy box full of toys from friend and relatives for my two year old. My daughter picks through it every few days and plays for a minute or two with each item.  But, a cardboard box.....that's more fun that a barrel of monkeys! Or a wind-up dog....or a singing duck...or any other complicated invention that has been created to "entertain" children.  Children are designed with their own built-in entertainment...it's called imagination!!  And an empty box seems to unlock it best. Next time you walk down the toy isle at Target, have the courage to walk right past the Rescue Heroes and Barbie dolls...to walk past the Tickle Me Elmos and the Leapsters....past the video games and dvds...past the Webkins and Bakugan cards...and go home and give your child an empty box!

 Look...a boat!!

A turtle shell!

  A house!

 A secret hideout!

A "cool bus" (school bus)

And Noah's ark!!

Here's to a child's imagination....and the courage to use it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Little Miracles and Big Celebrations - A Lesson from my Toddler

Our garden seems to be flourishing under the tender care of my little girl's green thumb.  She even got to taste the fruit of her labor (literally) last week when the first cherry tomato turned red!  

I don't know about you, but when I pour myself in to a task or project, I expect results, change, and progress.  I determine the worth of my efforts by the outcome.  I measure, judge, process, decide....and sometimes forget to enjoy. I water my garden every morning so that the plants will grow and produce a harvest. My daughter joins me every morning...with no intentions or expectations.  To me, I see the growth as slow and subtle...but to her, each change is radical and unexpected. She celebrates each new flower bud, then celebrates it again when it opens, and again when it bears fruit.  She points out each new leaf and every ant her eyes fall on.   I would miss most of those little miracles if it weren't for her enthusiasm.  It is a good reminder to recognize the sweet little miracles within every task, and to appreciate a project for more than the expected results.

We found a particularly large miracle in our herb garden yesterday...what a treat for my daughter. She was just bursting with excitment when she spotted this little guy. She celebrated his surprise appearance with squeals and giggles.

And she celebrated again when he blinked his eyes...and again when he popped out of the soil...and again when hopped out of the planter...and again and again....until he was out of sight. 

Here's to little miracles and big celebrations!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Power of Prayer: One Week, Many Blessings.

I’m learning to be patient and trust that God will eventually turn my frown upside down when I encounter an obstacle, or answer a prayer when I seek Him. Patience is really something that requires patience to learn: funny how that works out. However, God has been extra efficient in his delivery lately: no patience required.   Our blessings have been so numerous and His grace so mighty, I can’t type fast enough to share this weeks events:
Firstly, as my summer camp sessions approach, I have begun working on lesson plans, gathering supplies, and dealing with enrollment. However, the most important task, I had left up to God: To find someone to watch my daughter while I teach each morning.  Secondly, during our recent trip out to California for my sister’s wedding, we visited parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.  After an 8 day speed visit at 6 different locations, we returned to our beloved home, 3 states away.  We were so glad to be back home and were content with the thought that perhaps years from now our daughter would have extended family nearby.  Our little girl, however talked incessantly about her brief visits with the relatives. Her enthusiasm left my husband and I, once again turning to God with prayers. “We ask that in accordance with your will and your timing, we are surrounded with family to participate in our daughters upbringing and to support and encourage our family.”
And thirdly, and I share this, only to complete the magnificent image of God’s exceptional generosity, we have begun the practice of praying for objects of desire, rather than frivolously purchasing them with money we don’t necessarily have.  We figure we’ll try to live as simply as possible, but if God believes an item will truly be a blessing in our life, than he will find a way to deliver it to us.  Our latest prayers are for a chest freezer to store frozen meat and prepared items for easier meal management. 
As we read our evening devotional story early last week, we thought nothing of the theme: Honoring your parents and relating to your central and extended family.  Even though our family was distant from us, we prayed for opportunities for us to “honor our mothers and fathers” and went to bed. The next morning, 4 prayers were answered with 1 phone call:
My husband’s mother called unexpectedly and asked if she could come out next month to house hunt. Confused, my husband just stared at me. My mother in law continued with, “We found someone to do a short sale on the house and we have to be out in 2 months, so we are moving to Texas.”  My darling husband always takes a while to process news like that before he reacts….while he sat in shock for a moment, I laughed out loud and gave thanks for all our answered prayers: Extended family nearby, check. Opportunities for us to honor our parents, check. And a loving caregiver for our daughter during summer classes, check.  Once my husband was off the phone, we delighted in God’s efficiency.  How quaint: 3 prayers, 1 answer.  And even though we had prayed for those things, we were still bewildered that he had delivered them. How foolishly shocked we were.  So, I imagine, in amusement, God answered the last prayer just to see the looks on our faces: My husbands parents called back and asked, “When we move out there, do you guys want our chest freezer?”  Ha!

Also, this week our computer monitor faded to black and was not responsive to resuscitation. I accepted the loss and tried to accept our inability to email friends and family until we could afford to replace it (which would be a long while).  My husband came home from work and cleverly worked out a resourceful solution: connecting the computer to our television screen and using it as a monitor.  We were proud of our little arrangement and didn’t mind adjusting to using the television as a multipurpose screen, since we hardly watch TV anyway.  Three days in to the transition the entire computer died (it was 11 years old and had been ailing for quite some time).  We laughed at “our luck”  First the monitor and now the whole unit…in the same week.  O’well.  There was no more magic my husband could work that could make that situation work out, so we conceded to our circumstances and wondered how disappointed everyone would be that they couldn’t video chat with their grand daughter, or get photos and videos of her amusing antics on a regular basis anymore. I told my husband that I would go to the local library several times a week to keep up with all the correspondence as best I can.  I called my sister to tell her of the great tragedy, but just left a message. My husband decided to pack up our broken down dinosaur and take it to a local computer shop to see if it could be salvaged.  When we arrived, an employee inspected it and pinpointed the problem: The fan was broken, which caused a burn out on the motherboard.  He said the whole unit was pretty much a goner, but he might get it to work for a while longer if he can repair the fan (for $40).  Then he showed us refurbished units in the $300 range.  We did not have $300 and yet we were tempted. Tempted to put it on the credit card that we are attempting to pay off. Tempted to purchase something out of desire, rather than pray for it and let God decide if we really truly need it.   After a little back and forth we came to our senses and we decided to get the old computer repaired and just pray that it will last long enough to retrieve all of our important files from the hard drive. We walked out of the store a little disappointed, but hopeful that someday God would consider blessing us with a replacement.   We piled in the car and drove to our local used bookstore. After about 30 minutes of perusing, I got a phone call from my sister. Before I could greet her, she asked, “You know how you have Father up in heaven that wants to bless you.” I cautiously answered, “yes.”  She continued with, “Well, you have one here on earth too…and he’s gonna’ buy you a new computer. What kind do you want?”  This time I was the one with a dumbfounded look on my face.  “Dad called me and mentioned he sent you a Mother’s Day email.  I told him you probably wouldn’t get it for a while because your computer just died. He said, ‘Oh good, I was wondering what to get her for Mother’s Day. Find out what kind she wants.”  So, just like that we were restored. Our computer was replaced…in God’s time. (Which is pretty darn fast, sometimes!) Here is to the power of prayer…and all God’s miracles.