Sunday, 30 October 2011

Spooky Halloween crafts!

It's been a fab couple of weeks at ARTventurers with some great spooky art and craft sessions with different age groups - Halloween is a great time to really go to town with colour and paint! Thought I'd share with you a few of the things we've been doing this fortnight.....

Pop up ghosts/monsters

These were really popular with all age groups - its a great craft which can easily be adapted for different ages and abilities. You'll need - a polystyrene or paper cup, a craft stick (or lolly stick), some tissue paper, card, sellotape, pens

 One of the pop up ghosts from a toddler session

The first step was to decorate the cup - in the toddler sessions we did this with tissue paper (orange of course!), halloween stickers and pens. I try to get the little ones tearing up the tissue paper rather than cutting it for them - great for coordination and strengthening muscles!

For the littlest ones I had then pre cut some ghost shapes which they sellotaped onto the sticks. With the older groups they let their imaginations run riot and created their own scary monsters (just make sure they're not too big to fit inside the cup!)

The last step was then to push the stick with ghost/monster attached through the bottom of the cup so that the ghost could then fit inside the cup and then "pop" out. We used thin craft sticks which could easily be pushed through the base of the cup but if you're using lolly sticks then just snip a slot in the bottom of the cup with scissors.

Scary spiders

A really easy but effective toddler craft is these hanging spiders - really popular with little ones, can be used as spooky decorations, and we danced around with ours at the end of the sessions!

All you'll need is a circle of black card, some white card or paper, some coloured strips of card and some wool. I don't think I need to put any instructions with this one as hopefully it's self explanatory - for the littlest ones I pre cut all of the shapes, the older ones could cut out their own legs and features.

Spooky spider at the top of this pic!

We tried to concertina fold our spider legs - not necessary but just another skill I was trying to introduce into the activity. We also used paint dabbers to add detail to the eyes but again not absolutely necessary - I just know they're always popular at my classes :)

Eyeball painting!

I think I've blogged before about bouncy ball painting - one of my all time favourite painting activities and this is just a spooky variation on it! I bought some eyeball bouncy balls in the pound shop and set them in the middle of the painting table with some large trays, black paper and plates of paint (we used Halloween-y colours). The children put the paper on the tray and then dipped the eyeballs into paint and placed them on the paper. Moving the tray around and therefore the balls around the paper makes some really great patterns, plus its great exercise in hand/eye coordination plus lots of fun too! I think the paintings produced looked quite spiders web like - once dry you could get your little one to make a spider to stick onto it!

 A spooky eyeball painting!

Pumpkin lantern craft activity

Another paper based craft which works well with different age groups - just black and orange paper required!

We decorated a piece of orange paper with a pumpkin face made of black paper shapes - for the youngest I provided some pre cut shapes but for the older kids it was a great chance to get scissor happy and produce their own scary faces. We then sellotaped the two edges together to make the lantern and simply added a black paper handle. Simple but cute - I've got a family of these dotted round my kitchen  and they look great!

You can see a pic of one of the lanterns made in the spooky spider picture above!

So what else did we do??

We made haunted house cards with paper shapes, cotton wool and Halloween stickers..

We painted Halloween pictures with stamps and stencils......

We made spooky spider biscuits with Oreo cookies, strawberry laces and coloured icing - yum!

With the older children we created our own Halloween masks!

Phew - what a fantastic, busy Halloween it's been! Well done and thanks to everyone who's been ARTventuring with us this past fortnight :)

So now its onwards and upwards into a new half term and the countdown towards Christmas begins....we're already taking bookings for our super sparkly Christmas art and craft sessions so get in touch if you want to reserve a space! And this week sees the launch of our new Thursday morning class at Washington Arts Centre! This week is "Fireworks" so join us as we create glitter firework pictures, bonfire collages, make rockets, try string painting and lots more!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Clay Monsters!!

We recently made some fantastic clay monsters at the Saturday Diddy Art club - some of you who follow me on Facebook might have seen the pictures. The children really enjoyed the creative process of modelling the clay and then bringing their monsters to life with facial features etc!

We used air dry clay for this project which we did over 2 weeks - making the models the first week and then painting them the second. You can buy air dry clay very easily online or in craft shops - we used the natural "stone" coloured clay as we were going to paint our monsters.

The main body of the monster was made using a cardboard tube. We filled the tube with scrunched up newspaper to make it firm. The children then rolled out a lump of clay and wrapped it around the tube to cover it. Extra pieces of clay were added to the top of the tube if needed to cover the top completely then we smoothed the clay out using a damp sponge to get rid of any lumps and bumps and smooth the joins.

Now for the fun bit - giving our monsters their features and personalities! We added eyes, beaks, mouths, hair, feet..... I brought out feathers and wiggly eyes which the children could press into the clay. I showed them how to make sure that any pieces they attached would stick firmly to the main body by using the score and slip method - making small marks (scores) on the pieces of clay to be joined together and then using a very small amount of water to dampen the clay and help it stick together. The challenge when doing this type of modelling with kids is to try and ensure that they don't use too much water and end up with a soggy mess - you only need to use the tiniest amount!

Making the models took up virtually the full 1.5 hr session - a lot of the children got really into it and made whole families of monsters, pets for the monsters, accessories like tables and chairs.....!

Some of our unpainted clay monsters on a drying rack

Love this one's long beak!

We then had a week to leave them to dry. As some of the pieces of clay used were quite thick they definately needed the full weeks drying time. Don't be tempted to rush and paint the models too quickly as the paint won't take and will flake off - you can see how the clay lightens up as it dries.

The following week we painted our monsters. We used ready mix paint for this but you could also use acrylic paints for a really bright result. With the combination of the brightly coloured feathers and the paints the results were fantastic!

How fantastic is this one? Painted with a camoflauge effect!

Some of the children then went on to make houses for their finished monsters!

This activity was done at my Saturday class which is for children aged 5+. However I've also done monsters with air dry clay at my toddler classes which has also been really successful - in the toddler sessions we've just used a piece of clay to model with and then stick googly eyes, feathers and sequins into to create our creatures rather than modelling around a cardboard tube.

The response to this activity from the children was so positive that I definately plan to do more modelling work with them this next half term - newspaper modelling next!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Autumn Crafts!

Last week at Little ARTventurers our theme was "Autumn" - I am a huge fan of autumn crafts and our kitchen is already covered in them!

I asked all of the children to collect some autumn leaves and bring them to the session - we then tipped them all out into the middle of our circle and the kids loved showing each other the leaves that they'd brought and rustling them around.

Then we created some autumn art using some of our leaves......

We made Autumn Tree collages - this was great fun! I'd drawn a tree trunk outline on a large piece of coloured card for each child and had also pre-cut some tissue paper leaves in autumny colours. The children had loads of fun gluing and sticking the leaves they'd collected onto the tree together with the tissue paper leaves, they looked fantastic. Lots of glue was needed and we pressed each leaf down well to make sure it was stuck down (I use glue sticks in my session as they are so easy for the littlest children to grip hold of and use but PVA might work best). We finished with a good old sprinkle of gold glitter!

We also used our leaves for leaf printing. I've done this activity many times before but it isn't always the most succesful, especially for toddlers. This time I revised my technique and we made the prints using rolling pins which was lots of fun and worked really well. We painted the leaves first them places them flat down on the paper. We then popped a piece of newspaper over the top and then rolled over the top with a rolling pin - then peeled the leaves off to reveal the prints. Like I said, the prints came out really well......

We also made scarecrows on sticks (very cute!) - a really simple activity but took a bit of prep. Basically I cut out all of the pieces - the scarecrow head, jacket, hands and drew the face on. The children then stuck it together and added texture through the buttons and hair (I found adding a hat made him too top heavy and floppy). And then we stuck the scarecrows onto sticks. The children really seemed to love them - we ended the session with a game of Musical Scarecrows!

I also run a Saturday art club for older children and I found it tricky to find autumn crafts that weren't going to be too "babyish" for them. However one autumn activity that did go down well with them was doing some linear autumn leaf drawings. I had pre cut some leaf shapes which they drew round on a large piece of paper (or they could just draw their own leaf shapes) - making the outline in thick black marker. They then drew in the veins of the leaf using the marker, taking the lines right to the edge of the leaf to divide it up into different sections. I then asked them to use lines and patterns (no shading) to fill in each section of the leaves. Some of them did find this quite challenging - thinking of different combinations of colour, lines and pattern to fill each space. We finished the pictures by drawing energy lines around the leaves themselves. I think the finished results look great, really effective!!

Long time no blog!

I've been quite neglectful of this blog of late - running the business on a day to day basis while juggling it with family life is quite a challenge in itself!

The ARTventurers summer classes went really well and I can't believe that we're already on the countdown to half term! We've got some great Spooky Halloween sessions lined up for October half term - on the Tuesday at Ashbrooke and the Thursday at Washington Arts Centre. Think pop up ghosts, creepy spiders, big black bats and eyeball's going to be lots of creative (and sometimes messy!) fun! And if you're coming along to one of the sessions please feel free to come along in Spooky fancy dress (I will be!!)

Talking of Washington Arts Centre, I'm thrilled that we're going to be running a weekly Little ARTventurers class there from November. This will be in addition to our Tuesday class at Ashbrooke. The centre is such a vibrant, creative space in the heart of the community and it's great to be part of it in a small way. The Little Potters course there over the summer was a huge success and I also hope to run some more sessions for older children (6+) there in the run up to Christmas so watch this space!

Some of the handprint tiles created at the Little Potters summer sessions - fab work!