Large Tipi

This craft is project that is more fun to build together, as details will occur to you as you work. The first step is a trip to the forest to gather 5 strong but light sticks, as straight as possible.You might also want to grab some moss and pine cones while you are out there. You tipi can be as large or small as you like. Aside from the sticks, here’s what you’ll need:

Strong rubber elastic, various twine or string from around the house, various coloured paper, scissors, tape and any bibs and bobs you might have hanging around-pompoms, beads, paint etc. The first step is to decorate your sticks; paper is more painless than paint-cut some long, skinny strips of paper and secure one end with tape, wrapping it as you go to make stripes and securing with more tape at the end. Once all your sticks are decorated, hold therm all loosely together in one hand and arrange them on the floor or tabletop from the bottom-attempting to make sure all the branches touch the surface kind of evenly and also that they are spread apart in a circular tipi. Once balance is ok, wrap the top branches together with the elastic, or bind with twine. Now your basic shape is built and you can think about fun details-moss observatory? Hammock? Personalised flags? You can weave as much or as little as you like onto your basic structure using string, paper or extra malleable branches like cedar. 

Posted on July 24, 2017 .

Ink blot bugs

This is good activity for all age groups-from toddlers to adults because its always a thrill to see what happens when you unfold your paper. You will need:
4-5 eye droppers, acrylic paint or liquid watercolours, standard white paper, scissors, glue heavier card stock and transparent papers (optional)

First fold a bunch of the white paper in half. Then in several small cups, dilute the paint until it can be pulled up easily with the eyedropper while still staying vibrant. Runny is no good, the paint has to have flow-y yet have blobby consistency. Mix the colours well for each cup and place an eyedropper in each one, explaining that this dropper is just for this colour. Open your paper and with your eyedropper draw out a bug in lines and blobs on one side of the paper only. Include insect details like antennae and spots.The coolest bugs we made had both light and dark colours next to one another. Draw out your bug in careful blobs and lines without using too much paint. When you are ready, squish your bug by folding the dry side onto the wet side and open to reveal your pattern. Make 3-4 at a go, because it will take about 30-45 min for them to dry. After that you can stick them on the heavier card stock if you chose (looks nice with a 1/2 inch edge on it) or just get out the scissors to cut out your bug and add legs and transparent wings or any small details. 

How does your garden grow?

How does your Garden Grow?


This is craft for everybody and kids really respond best when you get involved. Begin by challenging yourselves tocover the whole paper and if you can, leave it up for some time and add to it-it's a great exercise for kids to not necessarily think of art having to be finished or perfect.

What you’ll need:

A roll of paper, craft or white

scissors and glue stick

cupcake liners, plain or decorated

various coloured bits of paper-construction paper, leftover wrapping, magazines, etc

Paint-Watercolour or acrylic and small brush or corks for stamping


Either tape up your big sheet of paper on the wall or lay it out on the table.  Cutor draw a few plant stems onto the paper to start. Begin adding leaves, dirt, blossoms and bugs in any media. The cupcake liners make great 3-D flowers. Keep adding until you are happy with the result.

Hot Air Ballon mixed Media

This is a versatile craft that is fun even for toddlers, just explain to them that the colourful side the paper has to be facing out :)

you’ll need:

Strips of coloured paper, cut into 6-7 inch strips, different thicknesses

scissors and a cutting knife/blade,

large sheet of white or blue paper

glue stick


With a pencil, draw out the outline of a hot air balloon; make it big, it will be the focal point. Use the blade to cut out the interior of the balloon.  Cut out the balloon part only and save the interior bit. D Colour in the sky and draw he basket of the balloon. Encourage your kid to think about what time of day it might be and what could be in the sky-sunset, night, birds, plane,etc. When the drawing is done, flip it over and starting at the top of the balloon, begin to glue the strips of paper, coloured side facing out, over the empty space until it is completely filled. Flip it over and you are ready to add whomever will be riding in the balloon. Use the leftover paper from the interior to draw a small figure or animal to go inside the basket and glue that on as well. I used old fake-wood drawer-liner material for the basket but you can use any interesting paper.


Posted on April 13, 2017 .

Natural brushes and process painting

Natural brushes


This activity has it all. Its interactive, as kids will search for their own materials to make the brushes. It engages them in a way that is immediate and very freeing and it encourages them to be curious about all kinds of mark-marking. Here’s what you’ll need:

Some long-ish sticksfrom the forest/park 

sturdy string

roll of paper, any color

ink or acrylic paint

small buckets/bowls for the paint

a large open space, preferably outside


If inside, tape down your paper, kids should be able to paint from all sides. If outside, weight your paper down with small stones on the corners.

Gather some long,straight sticks and put them in a pile. Together, search the outdoors for natural elements that you could tie to the end of your sticks that you think might make an interesting mark- pick things that leave wispy, feathery marks and things that will leave more blobby, thing-like marks. Some things we tried were: feathers, berries (still attached to their branch), pine tips, small bouquets of flowers,etc. Cut yourself a length of string that will allow you to wrap it around the stick quite a few times. As you are wrapping it, keep some tension as you want to give it them as sturdy a base as you can.  If its a bunch of things, like berries or flowers, try to thread your string through a few times to give it more even stability. Tie a knot and the brushes are ready.

Between 1-3 pots of color is enough to work with-try to encourage painters mot to double-dip colorsas this makes the colors muddy faster. Other than that-let them go for it.

Note: The only real drawback to doing this inside is how much kids love to splatter with their brushes so…just something to keep in mind.

Posted on April 13, 2017 .

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Trees


This craft is always a hit- suitable for ages 5 and up. You will need:

Heavy white paper

large straws


ecoline ink or acrylic paint


small sponge for painting, or late brush, H20

chinese black ink

Optional: pink tissue paper 

With either ink or acrylic paint, make a degradee from dark to light blue. Using your sponge,paint a intense band of color at the top of your paper, and then dab with a little water to gently soften the color all the way to the bottom. Let it dry.

Chinese ink is intense black, the same ink calligraphers use. A little goes a long way. Before we use it, first trim your straws down to less than 4 inches. Next, using a paint brush, make a small resevior of ink where you want the base of your tree to be. Working quickly, sort of get behind the ink blot by blowing at the bottom of it with the straw. Blow in an upwards motion. The ink will create thetrunk of your tree. Follow the line as far as you like, and where you want a new branch to begin, do the same as before-begin with a small ink reservoir and blow to create new growth. The results are random but you can manipulate it somewhat with practise. Let dry. Put out a dollop of both red and white paint and drip your cork into each.Without blending, stamp where you would like the blossoms to be. If you like, add extra depth by gluing on twisted bits of tissue to bring out the flowers in your cherry trees.

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Posted on March 2, 2017 .

pop bottle planters

Pop-bottle Planters


This is a craft that’s easy for toddlers and older artists too. Here’s what you’ll need:


empty plastic bottle

carpet knife

acrylic paints and brushes

water, rag

soil, sand or rocks 

light gage wire or s-hook

plants-basil, nasturtium, etc, either from seed or as seedlings


Cut the top off your bottle with a knife as cleanly as possible. Assemble your paints and brushes. You can paint two ways: for a more finished look, decorate the inside of the plastic bottle. Little ones will find it easier to paint the outside. Let dry. Poke a hole about 3 inches down the side of the bottle and thread through with the wire or s-hook, so you can hang it later. 

For the plants-all plants need drainage. Pour a handful of small stones or sand in first, then follow with soil. Plants that drape over the sides of pot will look the best. The Summer is over but Belgium has a very mild climate, so you can really grow plants at almost any time of year. Hanging herb gardens are great and you can vary the sizes of the bottles to make a nice display when hung together.


Posted on March 2, 2017 .

Edible paint and Balloon painting

Spring is definitely a time to explore creatively and to get your hands dirty. With that in mind, the focus this issue is on exploration and process rather than results. The results can be lovely but it’s really about having fun. Both these activities are great for toddler and older kids.


Edible Paint Car / Dino Wash


You’ll need: some things to paint that can easily be wiped off; little cars or figurines

                   several small plastic bowls, some small paint brushes, plain or vanilla yogurt, food colouring, spoon, small tub of warm water and towel

The recipe is simple: plain yogurt and a few drops of food colouring. Drop a bit of each color into separate bowls and encourage your child to paint the items. Leave the spoon out to let them experiment with color mixing. Kids always gravitate towards water and they love scrubbing the things off. Give them a small rag or an old toothbrush to scrub with. Note: you can also do this activity with shaving foam, just a bit of foam in each bowl and a few drops of food colouring. 


Balloon Painting


You’ll need: small balloons, heavier paper, some pie-tins or paper plates, some acrylic paint or the shaving foam paint in the above recipe

Blow up a few balloons in various sizes but small enough that they can be dipped in the paint easily. Set out a few plates with a fair-sized dollop of paint in the middle of each. If using acrylic, it can be nice to add some white to all the colors, as the effect becomes less muddy. Show your child how you can dip, roll, and even bounce your balloon on and across the paper to achieve different effects. Have fun!


Posted on March 2, 2017 .

Salt Dough ornaments

Salt Dough Ornaments

Children of the 7o’s: do you remember this? Salt dough is a simple dough made of equal parts cooking salt, white flour and half the amount of water. (a standard batch is 1 cup flour, I cup salt, 1/2 cup warm water). It will be a little grainy but its basically the recipe that many of our Mom’s used to make standard play dough. Here’s what you’ll need for the craft:

the salt dough mixture
rolling pin (or wine bottle :)
baking sheet
cookie cutters
straw (to punch a hole to thread through)
acrylic paint and some small brushes
variety of household stuff to emboss the dough with-buttons, lego, forks, toothpicks,leaves, lace,etc-anything that makes an interesting mark
ribbon or twine
On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to about a half-inch thickness , cut your shapes with the cookie cutters and punch a hole in the top. Sit together and try out all your tools, experimenting with what marks you like best. Pop them onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake them at 120 degrees for about an hour, turning them once. After they cool, decorate with paint or glitter or decorate with crayons while they are still warm to get vibrant results. String and hang.

Paper roll Reindeer
Save some toilet roll spindles to make this easy christmas craft. You’ll also need:
christmas wrapping paper
pipe cleaners
clear tape
construction paper in brown, white,red felts or crayons
mini pompoms and google eyes-you can make both with paper but Hema sells them and kids freaking love them-optional
white glue or glue stick
Start by trimming the wrapping paper to the size of the roll. Secure it with tape in the middle so it covers the roll. Then cut out a triangle proportionate to the size of the roll. Apply glue to the back and glue it on the top of the roll to make the head. Cut out paper ears and (white eyes with pupil drawn in and add them. Trim the pipe cleaner and old them to look like antlers and tape them on the back of the deer. Add a nose and any other festive details. Bits of ribbon can look nice on top. 

Posted on March 2, 2017 .

Sunny Lions and Ice Painting


Sunny Lions

This craft can be a bit of effort to prepare, but it makes up for it in its its accessibility for toddlers to much older children. The trick is making a lot of textures available to create the mane, so they can customise their lion. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
-paper plate ,non-waxed

-red, yellow and black tempera or acrylic paint, a med size brush, some water
-glue stick and scissors
-construction paper in yellow, black, white (optional) and either green or blue
-an assortment of colourful papers-anything goes here; from old wallpaper samples to gold foil, raffia, get the idea-anything that we can use to make it interesting. Hema sells some great patterned scrapbook paper that will give you lots left over for other projects. Papers in the red- orange-gold range look best but the wilder the better.

First we will paint the plates and let them dry. Make a sunny yellow middle, ringed with orange and set aside. Next we will cut the papers. If your kid is big enough to use scissors, she’ll probably want to do this part on her own: but what we are making is a bunch-approximately 15 or so -pieces of colourful and patterned paper to make the mane. Cut the paper out in strips no wider than 2 inches or so, and not much longer than 5. Now for the nose, ears and eyes. Cut out two 3 inch paper squares in either green or blue for the eyes . Cut out an fat almond shape for the eyes, stacking the 2 papers to get eyes that are the same size and trim them to fit your plate and liking. Ditto for the ears. Cut out an extended triangle for the nose in any color you fancy-I had some nice old textured wallpaper lying around, but it can be anything. The bottom part of the nose we’ll fill in later. Now the fun part! Your plate is probably dry by now-flip it over and paint a generous ring of glue with your glue stick, in an arc on one half of the back of your plate (otherwise your sleeves’ll get gooey and the glue will dry out). The arc should be on the edge of the plate, about 2 inches wide for easy gluing. Encourage your artists use as many different kinds of papers as they can, and never to put two of the same kind together. For the littles it can take some repeated demonstrating about the back and the front-as they get excited and forget what they are gluing down will actually be facing the other way! Do the other side of the plate next so eventually you have a fringe the full way ’round. Flip it over and glue on your nose, eyes and ears. Using black paint (or a sharpie, if your artist is not yet so manually inclined), to make pupils for the eyes, and a cartoon-y “w” for the mouth and an upside down triangle to finish the nose. I cut out teeth for fun and many of the older students I’ve taught like to add raffia for whiskers.

Ice Painting

When your kids are little, the best thing you can do is astound them with the wide variety of tools there are to make marks. Ice painting is one of those ones that little kids get bright-eyed over. The materials are cheap and accessible and its the perfect activity for a warm day. You can make them ahead of time to save your skin when you need something to engage them for awhile, or do it all with them to teach them about color mixing. Note* Do try to use heavier weight paper, like manilla or card stock-it’ll save the work from sogging out too much. You’ll need :

Ice cube tray, 3 small plastic bowls or cups, plastic spoons, food colouring, paper, wooden craft (popsicle) sticks.

Start out by making with the 3 primary colors-red, blue and yellow- in small plastic bowls or cups. Start with about 6 or so drops of food coloring added 1/4 cup of water. Use more food coloring if you want the colors to be more intense. Mix well and test on blank paper till you get the intensity you want. Leave a spoon in each cup. Next get out your ice tray and start spooning the colors in. The primaries first, and then make the secondaries-orange, green and purple. Put the tray in the freezer for about 35 minutes and they are half slushy so you can add your popsicle sticks as handles. Pop them back into the freezer to harden completely. When you want want to use them,

take them out and let them stand and room temperature a bit,then loosen and ease them out. Give them some paper and let them go! 

Posted on June 19, 2016 .