At last week’s Creativity Lab, the freezing temperatures matched our frosty art project! We created a lovely wintry scene, using watercolors and salt to create texture and movement within the painting. Even the littlest learners enjoyed this project, learned about color mixing and composition, and were able to create beautiful finished products.
All you need for this project are:
Watercolors (Crayola or similar is fine- nothing fancy!)
Painter’s Tape (1/4″, or if wider, cut into 1/4″ strips)
Begin by laying thin strips of tape from top to bottom of the page, about 1 1/2″-2″ apart. These will be your birch tree trunks. Tear short pieces of tape and add these to create branches.
Next, paint the entire surface of the paper with plain water- you want your paper to be nice and wet in order for the paint to blend and work well with the salt. Then paint watercolors over top of the water, blending colors such as blue, purple, red or pink and even green to create a wintry color palette. After you’re done painting each section, sprinkle salt over the paint. It will give the painting a fun “frosty” look and texture, and your kids will be amazed as they watch the salt soak up the paint! If the painting is already too dry, the salt will not activate properly- so if this happens, just sprinkle a little more water over it until you get the effect you want.
Let your paint dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Gently peel up the painter’s tape. Using a black crayon, outline each trunk and the branches and make some short horizontal lines to show the texture of a birch tree.
Now for the final step: using a very diluted gray, paint the left-hand side of the trunks and branches to create the natural shadows and coloration of birch-tree trunks.
You’ve created a lovely winter birch-tree painting!
Here’s a beautiful example my student Joelle made:
Here’s quick recap of some of the fun we had last Saturday at our Choose Your Own Adventure program and winter reading kickoff! If you haven’t signed up for our winter reading program, there’s still plenty of time- the program doesn’t end until February 10th! Sign up today!
We had each kid choose their own path through our event, which took them to six different locations around the world, where they learned about the culture, did some crafts and activities, and then moved on to the next stop. In ancient Egypt kids could make their own cartouche in hieroglyphics, build a pyramid, and learn how to make a mummy. In the Alps they threw snowballs at the Yeti (Yes, we realize the Yeti is actually from the Himalayas, but he must have been vacationing in the Alps! That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!), they got to play with sensory snow made out of baking soda and white conditioner, and they were able to learn how fold mountains like the Alps are created with a hands-on experiment. At the Great Wall of China they made chinese lanterns and created their own version of the Great Wall by dipping packing peanuts (the kind made out of cornstarch) in water and stacking them up to build a wall on a piece of cardboard. In ancient Greece, they learned about Greek art and architecture by creating mosaics and exploring the post and lintel method of building.
A trip around the world wouldn’t have been complete without a stop in the Serengeti! Here kids went on a safari through the grasslands to find lifesize animals and identify some endangered species. They also made a stop in the Amazon jungle, where they had to cross the River without falling in, because there were some dangerous animals swimming close by. They also got to customize their own parrots, using bright colors and feathers to deck out their wacky birds!
Here at Moline Library, we love to put on amazing events! …but those events are a LOT of work! Here’s a sneak peek of what we’re working on for Choose Your Own Adventure, Saturday, January 13th.
We’ll be transforming our Children’s Department into an Egyptian tomb, A Greek temple, The Great Wall of China, the Amazon Rainforest, the Serengeti Desert, and the Alps for an around-the-world adventure.
Take a peek at our work in progress- …and don’t forget to come to Choose Your Own Adventure!
We will post photos after the event so you can see how it all came together.
Making coffee-stained “stone” for our Egyptian Temple
And yes, we know monkeys don’t belong in the Serengeti, but we stuck them up there to keep Mr. Zebra company! 🙂
In the midst of holiday chaos, it can be hard to find a minute to yourself.
The stress of getting everyone to and from school concerts and plays, trying to find the perfects gifts (let alone the time to wrap them!), decorating the house, baking cookies, and the guilt that you aren’t doing enough or doing it right…sometimes it’s all just a little too much. When the stress creeps up, or you hear yourself snapping at your kids, husband, or the well-intentioned neighbor next door, mindfulness can come to the rescue. The opposite of our usual autopilot, mindfulness challenges us to slow down, think only about the present moment and actively participate in our own lives. Believe it or not, that’s something we often forget to do. While we’re busy doing the dishes, we’re running through our shopping list, trying to remember to pick up that sweater for Aunt Kay, or even mentally re-hashing a negative conversation we had months ago, and those mental trails can lead to increased stress, shortened tempers and lack of connection with those we love. Mindfulness to the rescue!
The benefits of mindfulness are many, including increased empathy and gratitude, improved mental function, immune support, and many more. Many mindfulness or meditation advocates advise twenty to thirty minutes a day of mindfulness for maximum benefit. That’s all well and good, but sounds pretty impossible to most moms, who often struggle to find a minute alone in the bathroom. Carve out time in seconds. Focus on what your hands are doing. Quiet the thoughts. Quiet the breath. Give thanks for just one thing. This is practicing mindfulness too, and as you do it more and more, you will reap all those benefits and more. My kids and I love to do it together! We have a “Mommy and Me” moment several times a day, where we stop whatever we are doing and take a minute to snuggle on the couch, breathe together, and be thankful for each other. We talk about a favorite memory or something that brings us joy. A few short minutes and we go back to whatever we were doing, feeling calmed and connected.
Ideas for practicing mindfulness for moms abound. A handy book I just love is called Breathe, Mama, Breathe by Shonda Moralis, and we have it and many other mindfulness resources for you and your kids here at the library in our Parent-Teacher Collection. Did you know about this awesome collection? Jam-packed with positive parenting resources, parenting guidebooks, child development tools, social-emotional story books to read with your kids, and lots more, this section is a virtual treasure-trove of encouragement for weary Moms. Next time you come to the library, stop at the Children’s Desk (we don’t bite!) and ask us to show you this section. And meanwhile, when the holiday horror hits, just breathe.