Tuesday, 28 June 2011

All About Me Collage Craft Activity - for all ages!

I first used this craft as part of an “All About Me” themed session where we also made a fingerpainted house and created some fantastic self portraits on the painting table!

It's really simple idea and craft but very often the most simple ideas are the best!

It was such a popular craft for younger children that it’s one I’ve taken out and about again and again. Kids love to make their whole family so it’s worth printing out quite a few extra templates – and it’s a craft that can be used as a great learning tool for colours, families and body parts as well as exploring different textures. Older kids can also use it as a scissor practice exercise!

This is what you’ll need
Stiff a4 card
Pens or crayons
A box of different materials – fabric, card, papers,wool, tissue……..
Firstly, print out the A4 template below onto card – like I say it’s a good idea to print out a few! You should hopefully be able to copy and paste this template and then resize it if needed - if not then you can download templates elsewhere or just draw your own person!

Let your child get creative with the template, materials and glue – dress it, colour it in, add hair (or not!).
You can either leave the person as he/she is on the card – or try cutting it out to make a cardboard doll!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Brum brum beep beep - Transport crafts Part 1!

My 3 year old Isaac loves anything with wheels so here’s a couple of my favourite car themed art and craft activities –

Car Painting
We love to get a huge piece of paper down on the floor, a plate full of paint and some toys cars, trains, diggers – whatever you’ve got in the toy box! Drive through the paint and them vroom vroom around the paper leaving paint tracks behind! Great fun and makes fab and funky patterns, especially if you use lots of different colours. This activity works especially well with a group of kids!

Bubble car craft (for ages 12 months +)

Kids love this cute bubble car craft - it works well for a wide age range as they can put as much detail into it as they like so it's a craft activity I often do for something like a family fun day when I know there'll be lots of different ages along to join in.

Basically all you need is a piece of stiff card, some paper and pens and lots of bits and pieces to decorate the bubble car. I have a big box full of odds and ends of scraps of paper, fabric, sequins, ribbons.. ideal for this type of craft!
Draw or print a bubble car outline onto the card then cut it out.
Cut two window shapes for the window and then two round shapes for the car, I use this as an exercise to get the children drawing round a round object to leave a circle shape.
Have fun decorating and personalising your bubble car!

Egg box bus
I’d love to be able to take credit for this one but it’s not one of my own ideas – I found it on a fab site I came across while  browsing the internet called dlkt kids -  http://www.dltk-kids.com
Grab a large egg box, paint, some glue, paper (including black for the tyres) and pens/crayons. You might want also to use magazine pics for the passengers.
Firstly cut the lid off the egg box as that’s the bit you’re going to be using for the bus.  Cut out some squares along the egg box for the windows. Then let your little one paint it whichever colour he/she wants.
Cut some black circles out – these will be the wheels. Then cut out some magazine pics of faces and stick these on the bus behind the cut out windows for the passengers – or even better, get your child to draw their own passengers which you can then cut out and stick on the bus together!

Happy motoring!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Making a Magic Craft Box

If you plan on getting crafty with your kids at home then it's a great idea to make a designated craft box and stuff it full of craft essentials so you've got everything in one place ready for when you hear the cry "Mummy, I want to make something!".

As I hoard more and more stuff our Magic Craft Box has turned into the Magic Doodle Drawers (we nicked that term from Cbeebies Mr Maker LOL!) - a set of drawers I bought from Ikea which live in the playroom. I also love the idea of making the craft box itself from a plain cardboard box and getting your child to decorate and personalise it him/herself. We also have a little childrens table and stools in the playroom and all of the craft stuff is accessable for them to use whenever they like - apart from the glitter, I'm not brave enough to allow free reign with that!

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to have a list of those bits and pieces that I think are essential if you're starting your own magic craft box at home......
  1. Construction Paper (slighty rough surfaced coloured paper - cheap, buy in bulk, fab for childrens crafts)
  2. Scissors
  3. Glue - glue sticks and PVA glue
  4. Sellotape
  5. Things to write and draw with - felt tips, pencils, crayons, pastels..
  6. Googly Eyes
  7. White plain paper bags - can buy in bulk on ebay really cheaply
  8. White Paper Cups - as above!
  9. Lolly sticks
  10. Pipe Cleaners
  11. Stickers - what child doesn't love stickers?!
  12. Bits of coloured wool
  13. Cotton Balls
  14. Paper Plates - I buy Smartprice ones from Asda
  15. Ruler
  16. Washable Paints - I buy the squeezy bottles
  17. A variety of brushes and sponges
  18. String and ribbon
  19. Bits of fabric, tissue paper, foil, foam sheets, textured paper for collages
  20. Empty cardboard tubes
  21. Glitter/sequins to add a touch of sparkle
Whilst this list might seem long and expensive - lots of the stuff can be picked up really really cheaply, or for free by recycling! As you might have gathered I'm a bit of an ebay queen and I get a lot of my session materials via ebays Wholesale section as I'm buying in bulk for large numbers of children. Shops like Poundstretcher, the Pound Shop, B and M Homestores and good old Asda are also fantastic for crafty items at great prices. Google searches will  produce a vast list of online craft suppliers.

If you're a bit of a novice at childrens craft activities the list above should stand you in great stead and get you on your crafty way - you can begin to add to your magic craft box by saving everything from old magazines to yoghurt pots, cardboard boxes to egg boxes and then you'll never be stuck for things to do on a good old British rainy day!

Happy crafting! x

Sunday, 19 June 2011

10 Reasons why art and creative activities are so important for children

I have always spent a lot of time doing art and crafts with my two children from a very early age at home - here's a pic of my youngest Isaac when he was 12 months old after a fun but very messy painting session!!

Now I know that many parents are put off doing art and crafts at home with their little ones because of the mess - which is why classes like my Little ARTventurers pre school sessions are so popular as you can leave the mess behind for us to clear up! - but here's a little reminder of why it's so important for us to get our little ones involved in creative activities from an early age :
  • Children learn by using their senses and art is a great learning tool from a very early age
  • Art stimulates both sides of the brain
  • Art promotes self expression and self esteem
  • Art and craft activities develop hand-eye coordination
  • Art helps to develop creative thinking and problem solving abilities
  • Art and craft activities aid concentration
  • Studies show that children who participate in art activities read better and get higher grades in maths and science
  • Art encourages children to think more about their environment
  • Art is a great social activity for all ages - encouraging frienships and strengthening relationships 
  • Art and craft is rewarding and fun!

    Experimenting with splodgers, dabbers and other painting tools and spending some quality time with mum at one of our pre-school sessions!
    For more information regarding our art and craft classes for children of all ages in Sunderland and surrounding areas visit our website http://www.artventurers.co.uk/ or email us at mail@artventurers.co.uk

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Kids crafts for Fathers Day!

It’s Fathers Day tomorrow – so here’s a few suggestions of some Fathers Day crafts you can do at home – suitable for all ages! All tried and tested at our sessions…
Handprint Boat Fathers Day card
For this cute card you’ll need
-         Stiff A4 card
-         Some other coloured card or paper
-         Glue
-         Pens and paint

Fold the card in half and cut some shapes out of the paper – a half circle and two triangles. For older kids it’s good scissor practice, for tiny ones get them to pick out the shapes. Glue the shapes as pictured to form a boat shape then get your child to make a handprint on the sails using the paint. On the pic I’ve printed the message on the front of the card but you could get your child to write it out. It’s a simple card to make but looks very effective!

To make this bookmark we cut a long strip of card and glued to the top of it a car outline shape. We then decorated the bookmarks in the session using paint dabbers but you could try finger painting, gluing on some embellishments, whatever you like….
Printed football
Something the smallest artists can produce – a potato printed football for dad!Really easy to do – just cut out a large circle from white card and squeeze out some black paint onto a plate. I then cut some potatoes into hexagonal shapes (roughly!) to print onto the footballs – and bobs your uncle! It’s a good idea to have a spare piece of paper nearby to get rid of any excess paint before you start printing on the football. Really popular activity!

Paperweight or small plaque
Use air dried clay to create a paperweight for dad. Shape the clay and then you can press stones or pebbles into the clay to create a design. Leave to dry according to instructions and then you can also varnish it for durability with a couple of coats of clear varnish

Stone paperweight

I love doing this craft with my two kids! We can spend hours on the beach picking stones – simply clean, paint and then varnish with a couple of coats of clear varnish. Bound to brighten up dad or grandad’s desk

Hope everyone has a fab Fathers Day! x

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Yum Yum Yum - paper plate pizza craft!

Yum Yum Yum – paper plate pizza craft!
This craft was a great hit at a Food and Drink themed c raft session where we also did printing with various fruit and veg and decorated sensory gingerbread men (details to follow….!)
This is what you’ll need
-         White paper plate
-         Red paint
-         Sponge
-         Yellow tissue paper
-         Card or foam in different colours
-         Glue and scissors
-         Green glitter (optional)
First thing is to put the tomato sauce onto the pizza – when I do this craft I just squeeze the paint onto a big dinner plate and let the kids dip into the paint with sponges and sponge paint the paper plate (pizza base). Uses less paint than brushes and less chance of the plate going soggy – no one likes a soggy pizza!!
Whilst the paint is drying let the children rip up some pieces of yellow tissue paper – this will be the cheese. I always like to get the kids ripping their own sheets up – much more fun than adults sitting and cutting it out for them and I think a good exercise in coordination and strengthening those arm muscles for the littlest ones!
Then stick the cheese onto the pizza with the glue and begin to add the toppings using whatever card you’ve got or foam pieces. Pink can be ham, black = olives, green can be peppers (or peas!)….. a good chance to talk about likes and dislikes and even introduce the concept of a few things they mightn’t have tried before.

The pizza pictured is missing the Italian herbs – green glitter of course!
Happy pizza making!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Summer's here - a sandcastle craft!

It's a lovely June sunny morning, I opened my curtains this morning and the sea was sparkling and I'm feeling all summery! So what better than this fab and simple sandcastle craft activity  – grab yourselves the following
-         A piece of stiff A4 card (or bigger if you like!)
-         Some glue – PVA with a spreader or brush is best
-         Sand, either play sand or beach sand
-         Some small pebbles and shells
-         Lolly stick and card
If you’re lucky enough to be able to get to the beach it’s great to go out and collect all of the things you need for this craft together and then you can have tons of fun reminiscing and chatting about the beach when you do this craft. You can buy craft lollisticks (they’re dead cheap and useful for tons of different crafts) – but I prefer to use it as an excuse to get the ice lollies in!

Firstly, draw a simple sandcastle outline on the card. Now this is why the spready glue is better for this craft – get your little one to paint inside the shape with lots of glue. Good practice for older toddlers at trying to keep within the lines – but if they go outside of it no worries!!

Now for the fun/magic bit. Sprinkle lots of sand over the gluey area, count 1-2-3 then shake off the excess sand leaving a sandy sandcastle shape. Use the leftover glue to decorate the castle with the  pebbles and shells and make a flag using the lolly stick and some more card or paper.

For older kids adapt this craft by using kitchen roll tubes and a paper plate. Cover the tubes with glue and roll them in the sand so they're completely covered - then stick to the paper plate with sellotape. More glue and sand on the plate gives the sandcastle a sandy base, then decorate with stones, shells and a flag in the same way!

Happy sandcastle building!!!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Let's start with paint........

All children love paint. The brighter, the bolder, the messier the better! With youngers children especially, painting is more about the process than the end result - experimenting with tools, brushes and colours and just having fun seeing how it turns out!

You can use a painting session at home to encourage your child to look at everyday things in a different way - ditch the brushes and use fingers, sponges, fruit and veg, toys.....I know though that many parents are put off by the amount of mess they think painting at home creates so heres's my top tips before you get started :
  • cover the work surface before you start. I have a huge plastic table cloth I bring out for all our painting activities. Really cheap from Dunelm Mill, local market etc.
  • cover up clothes and roll up sleeves! A big old T shirt, plastic pinny etc
  • get the wipes handy for spillages
  • squeeze out the paint ready to use - I use old dinner plates at home instead of traditional palettes or pots. That way we can mix, squish, print with large objects.
  • run a bowl or sink full of warm soapy ready so you can wash hands straight away when needed and get a towel handy
Now you're ready to get started!

Use the session to talk about colours - what happens if you mix blue with red? Or white or black to a colour? Try mirror painting - fold a piece of paper in half then open it, paint on one side leaving the other blank then fold the paper and give it a good press down. Try painting with toy cars - whizz the wheels through the paint and onto the paper (this is a great way to get boys engaged in the process as often toddler boys are less keen to engage in art and craft activities than boys). Or give bouncy ball painting a go - one of my personal favourite and pictured below at one of our sessions! Get a shallow tray, pop a piece of paper on it and dip some small bouncy balls in some paint. Get your child to hold the tray and roll the balls accross the paper making a fab and funky pattern. It's a great experiment in cause and effect (what happens if I tip it this way?....) as well as great for coordination skills. And if the weathers good and you've got a big roll of paper try this outside with tennis balls or a football!

Bouncy ball painting!

Hopefully this might give you a few ideas to get started - more painting ideas and techniques to come including ice cube painting for the summer we're expecting (!) and adding smells and textures to paint!

Hello - and intro and my very first blog!

Hello and welcome to the very first ARTventurers blog post!

This is in fact my first ever blog so please bear with me while I get the hang of it.....

ARTventurers is an art and creative events company for children based in Sunderland. We're pretty new as ARTventurers is just getting off the ground in the area, but it's an area of business that is very familiar to me! Re-wind time by 5 years or so - we were living in Yorkshire, I'd just had my first baby and decided to leave the legal profession and launch a business running art and craft classes for pre school children. Although I qualified as a solicitor my passion has always been art and crafts and over the years my spare time has been spent doing courses and teaching myself ceramics, life drawing, card making......I wanted to do something that indulged my creative side and allowed me to be my own boss to fit in with my growing family.

I was really fortunate in that the business took off big style from day 1 - in a short space of time I was running a number of jam-packed sessions for pre-schoolers each week as well as doing lots of crafty birthday parties, running sessions at Childrens Centres and other events. I loved designing and planning each weeks activities and helping the children have fantastic fun exploring and creating with new materials and mediums.

About 18 months ago though our family situation changed - my husband was made redundant and we decided to move back to our home town of Sunderland to live by the sea and be nearer to our families. The pull back to the north east was too strong to resist! I was lucky enough to find a fantastic girl to take over my precious business down in Yorkshire and so 18 months later I find myself with a lovely sea view every morning, two children now settled in their new area and relaunching myself into the world of childrens art and crafts!

We've loads of exciting things planned over the next few months and I just can't wait..... in the meantime I hope to use this blog to post pics and ideas of some great art and craft activities that you can try at home with your kids and have fun exploring and creating together!