These school holidays, as I have
complained mentioned here and all over various social media, were spent mostly just trying to get well. That meant that we did not have a lot of motivation to do anything that required us to get off the couch. Finally the virus had its way with all of us and left in time for us to do some of the things we wanted to do. First on that list was at least one of the fantastic art projects in the new book, Time to Create: Hands-On Explorations in Process Art for Young Children, by Childhood 101 founder, Christie Burnett! Christie and I first got to know each other well when we were roomies on a blog awards trip in KL, Malaysia. We hit is off and since then, I have grown to love and admire her way of parenting and blogging. She combines her early childhood education skill set and parenting with such grace and ease. Now Christie has published a book that details her wonderful take on art exploration with children.
Personally, I did not consider myself as having a hard time introducing art to my kids as it has always been such a strong factor in my daily life. However, after reading through all the wonderful advice and theory presented in the 128 pages of Time to Create, I now see that I could really improve the way I approach creativity. If anything, I certainly could expand on the mediums we use! With that, I opened myself to getting messy (don’t worry, there is advice in the book on how to minimize the mess and even tips on how best to get the kids to contribute to the cleanup efforts!) and let Gemma and the twins pick the projects. When we narrowed it down, sculpture was the winning section and Salt Dough the chosen art.
The ingredients for their chosen art range from cheap to free (water being one of the three things you need) and are supplies most would have in the pantry already!
Seriously Simple Salt Dough!!!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 cup salt
We decided to skip the food colouring as the kids wanted to paint all the final pieces afterwards.
Mix in a bowl and then knead until smooth.
I had the oven set to the recommended 200 degrees Celsius, but found that due to the uneven nature of these creations, I had to lower the temperature to about 170 or the thinnest ones would burn. In the end, I decided that I would keep checking on the progress and remove the ones that were done as they baked. The densest ones only took about 30 minutes or so to harden.
Making sure that each child had a job to do, all three were given equal amounts of the dough to work with. Then they were on their own to play. I provided the instruction on how to actually make the stuff, gave them many different tools to use and the space to be free to do with it what they wanted. I also did all the hot oven stuff.
Some interesting things happened. While I stood at the counter with them as they worked, Gemma immediately came up with all sorts of ideas for American Girl doll accessories she could fashion out of this stuff. That led Clover to decide she would make food for her stuffed guinea pig. Clover started out hand rolling big balls and then found better and more efficient ways of making the “kibble” with the tools in front of her. It was absolutely fascinating to watch her problem solve through creativity.
Another lovely thing that happened was that Gemma decided to repurpose the empty vitamin bottle when we ran out of rolling pins. That led to more experimentation with the lid for circle shapes and ridged textures. On the advice of the book, I asked open question that led the kids to discover this for themselves instead of my normal inclination to just solve problems for them.
With Kieran’s sensory issues, I worried this would be too much for him to enjoy himself. The excitement was what got him invested in the experiment, but he did notice the tiny grains of salt in the dough during the kneading process and asked for my help to get it a bit more smooth. Kieran was only interested in using the cookie cutters and would get upset if his shape was not perfect. He was also the first of the three to declare that he was done and since he still had dough left over, split that between his sisters. After rushing off to wash his hands (it actually was not all that messy as the dough is pretty dry) he was happy to sit with us at the counter and watch the rest of the creating.
After the pieces “cooked” and cooled off, the kids got out every single marker they own and coloured their art. I was required even less at this point and after 3 hours of undivided attention to them, I was able to pour myself a glass of wine. Not even a bathroom break was had (except for Kieran’s early hand washing) and all I heard was cooperation peppered with “This is SO MUCH FUN!”
All three kids have been playing with their art since the day they made it. The American Girl Dolls have had many picnics now that they have pizza, fruit, waffles, a burger with lettuce and donuts all made for them by Gemma! We will be making more of this soon and I might even try it again at Christmas time to make our own ornaments!
I am giving away one copy of the book (either Kindle or paperback) to a reader anywhere in the world! In 25 words or less, please tell me what you and your kids would make with only three ingredients! Most creative answer posted here (or even over on Facebook) by Tuesday the 22nd of July will win a copy of Time to Create!
While this is not a sponsored post (and I am buying the prize book myself), Christie did give me a copy to review with absolutely no strings attached.
Time to Create: Hands On Explorations in Process Art for Young Childrenis now available internationally through all major online booksellers, including The Book Depository, Amazon, Fishpond and Barnes & Noble.
Want to know more about Time to Create? Keep an eye on the following blogs for upcoming stops along our international blog tour…
Picklebums . An Everyday Story . Learn With Play At Home . Octavia & Vicky . Sesame Ellis . Nurturestore . Simple Kids . Our Everyday Things . Rainbows Within Reach . Teach Preschool . At Home With Ali . Go Explore Nature . Not Just Cute . Lessons Learnt Journal . PreK+K Sharing . The Imagination Tree