an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

Simple Arts & Crafts – Oct. 2011

This type of art is achieved by putting dots of tempera paint on the bottom of something like a foil pie pan, flat plate, flat bottom jar…..

Place the bottom with the paint down on a piece of paper and turn the plate/pan/jar. The more you turn the more blended or I think sloppy the paint will get. The kids usually do a quick turn and then look at what they have done.

Experiment/explore to see what happens with more colors, color spacing, multiple twists, and sliding twists……

Science and Art –

Start with something with a circular opening – glass, bowl, recycled glass jars….. place your fabric over the opening and using an elastic get it tight. Tight is important. We do our design work now. You could do that first and then place over the opening. Use permanent ink markers – love the multi-colors available from sharpie. Design can be as simple as just dots of color which works great with really young children.

Now take rubbing alcohol and using a dropper start with just a few drops in the center. Watch how it spreads. add more drops of alcohol for the colors(inks) to continue spreading.

Needs to be heat set – hot dryer for 15 minutes works best. Can iron or rinse with a blend of vinegar and water.

You can do this flat also if you use a piece of cardboard under a single layer of fabric. We like the cups best. Some are even twisting, tying up with elastics and coloring the exposed fabric with the markers, adding alcohol and then removing the elastic – more traditional tie-dye look.


These are pattern ideas for getting different beads from rolled paper. The beads here are made from heavier paper and recycled cardboard from cereal boxes. The cardboard makes a chunky bead. Make normal way by rolling around a skewer, straw, pencil. We spread out glue on the backside starting 1/4″ from the top so we can just roll and press together. To get shine spray with clear spray varnish – like gloss. We also like to use pencils to roll around. Even though the opening is larger it’s easier for the kids to handle.

These are one of those older crafts, but the kids love to do them.




1- Place small piles of tempera paint on your paper and something like a credit card spread it out. The paint spreads really nicely on a smoother paper. You can also prime recycled cereal box cardboard on the printed side. Any paper will work with slightly different color density in the finished piece.



I added #2 here to frame up the finished piece. I think it’s important to show children you value their creative work and a great way to do that is to frame the work. Here the original idea was to cut up the finished piece and glue it down on a background to make the frame look. I adapted 2 ways – gluing down cut strips to make the frame or cut out shapes from the paper you want for your frame and just glue it down on the art piece.

Framing out pieces with a look like this and not just the outside edge frame a piece with an interesting twist/result


For this project I had my school age kids draw a picture using whatever medium they wanted – most chose oil pastels. I then copied the piece, so we had 2 of the same picture.

First we turned one picture over and measuring about 1″ down from the top draw a line horizontally across the piece. You will not be cutting through this line. Now draw vertical lines from the bottom up to that top line which are about 1″ wide. Cut. Now cut the other paper into 1″ strips – horizontally draw lines from top to bottom.

Now line up your cut strips to match the picture (like a puzzle) take the top one and place off to the side. Start weaving with the second strip from the top, continue until done. Glue all the loose ends in place. You will end up with one finished piece that has some dimension.

Textured scissors will add another look. This project looks better if lines are straight and not wavy.



   Toilet paper tubes are great for printing especially with 2-3 yr. olds.

For older preschoolers I like to cut up one end of the tube to get printing that looks like flowers (wider cuts) or fireworks (close cuts and some narrowed or angled cuts).


   Use tubes to make bracelets. Just cut to make a bangle bracelet shape. Then decorate as desired. You can paint before cutting or after. Possibilities are endless.


I love collage projects with kids. They are so open-ended. I also love making textured papers to use with the collages. Another great look is to paint blocks of color on newspaper. You want to use watercolor or watered down tempera paint, so that the print shows through. This is the texture.

Here you cut flower shapes in graduated sizes from painted newspaper, glue together and center with something like a button. You get a 3-D flower. The background is made by gluing strips of paper onto paper. These strips can be from textured papers, recycled magazine pages, newspaper  or just plain construction paper. They can be straight strips of wavy – whatever look you want. They can also go vertical or horizontal – totally different looks. explore and have fun discovering.

Here the painted newspaper has been torn into smaller pieces that are then glued down collage style to form known shapes/items.


Paper Plates make great templates/ stencils. The plate gives good coverage around the shape you are stenciling. Easy to handle for small hands. Also store really easily. They are also really easy to cut the shape out on.


One paper plate makes a great dinosaur. I like to pre-paint the plate first before cutting, but you could paint it after.

To make moveable – use brass fasteners. I like to staple, not glue for stability. Google eyes add that little extra.


One tissue box, scraps and an imagination = 

Tissue box monsters are all over the internet. The variety is endless. You can paint the box or leave as is. You are only limited by what you can find on hand to embellish it.


A great detailed tutorial for turning a knit t-shirt into yarn. It’s pretty simple with great usable results. I love using this yarn for all kinds of projects. You can knit with it. You can weave. Use for lacing cards. String necklaces. Make shapes for floor games…..



I’m always looking for interesting buttons to use for projects, but I really need to keep costs down so this item caught my attention and imagination. These can be made from paperboard egg cartons. Cut the shape you want, make your holes by drilling with a skewer.

Paint with tempera paints then embellish with markers, glitter…..

These are not to be sewed on, but glued on. They are just for the button look.


Opaque Bottles/Jars (A Tissue Paper Votive Alternative)

I buy Mod Podge with my art store coupons because even though you can make your own with white glue (50% glue/50% water, mix well, store in air tight container – screw top jar works best I’ve found)- I just like the gloss I can get with the real stuff. This project really needs the real stuff. Remember Mod Podge is not water proof, so whatever you make can not have water held in it.

For this project I use recycled jars and bottles that I find interesting. Take some Mod Podge add a few drops of food coloring to get a color you like. There will be some difference as it dries, so experiment. I paint the outside of my jars, because I think it’s easier and looks really nice. I like to take a fairly stiff brush and pounce the paint onto the jar. This way I do not have brush strokes, but an interesting texture. You can add sparkle by adding glitter. I add after I’ve completed the painting, so I can control where it goes.  I usually use these as votives, but with painting outside can hold water and be a simple flower vase.


Removing crayon wrappings ~

You need paper free crayons to do so many of the melted crayon projects that we do with young children. There is a SIMPLE way to remove those paper wrappings easily. I haven’t found a crayon this does not work on yet.


  • Place the paper wrapped crayons in a container of cold water.
  • Let them sit a short while.

The papers will peel right off.

(If not, soak a little longer.)


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