MAKE ART A PART OF YOUR CHILD'S LIFE

Some of my friends are quite amazed at how the kids do art regularly. There is serious space constraint and I've no helper to clean up the aftermath. Sometimes when I look back at what we've done, I'm quite amazed too! Here are some of the ways which we make it fun and yet keep our sanity at the same time!

REMEMBER THE ARTIST IS A CHILD

I can focus about a stretch of 2 hours when I'm doing art. I am 33 this year. My children are 4 and 1, so technically, they only have an attention span of 15 minutes to 45 minutes. At the beginning, I was rather disappointed that after all the set up, Noe just dabbled at circle stamping for just 5 minutes! And then I've to spend 15 minutes cleaning up the mess. But I realise it's all baby steps to improvement and creating a process that the children are familiar with and as they grow, they can focus better.

 

 

 


EASY CLEAN UP THROUGH CONTAIN AND CONTROL

Clean up is the number one concern with most parents, especially those without a helper. I've found the following methods useful. The main principle is to contain and control. I make sure there is a boundary when the children do art. If it's at the table, they will sit on chairs that's of a comfortable height and the table will be cleared completely so that there's ample space for their art materials. If it's on the floor, they will be sitting on a mat. If it's at the high chair, a mat will be placed below it. When Nat and Noe were younger, I used to put them in the playpen when we were doing majorly messy art. Sometimes a masking tape to mark the boundary is useful. Nat and Noe understand that they can only use the art materials at the table or at the mat. At any time, they decide to run around, the materials will be kept.

make art a part of your child's life

Other tips I've is to use a box to contain all the materials needed, so at the end I just dump everything into that box and bring it to the bathroom to wash. Some art work can be done on a big tray as well if it's very messy like shaving foam or monoprinting. it's always handy to have a few pieces of cloths at hand for interim clean up if someone spills the water.


BRING THE ART OUTDOORS

I must say the next pressing concern is space. My house is a tiny 69sqm. It only takes like 30 minutes to vacuum and mop the whole house. I do not live in perfect world, I've had a few heart attacks like paint on the couch, paint on walls, paint on the floor. So sometimes to calm my heart, I bring them to the park to paint. I just pack a disposable container, small bottles of paint and off we go. We've collected leaves to do printing. Sometimes I bring along bottle caps or cut up sponges that are easy to pack. I bring a small bottle of water and a piece of cloth for clean up. Recently, we made our own paintbrushes by collecting leaves and branches! Art is everywhere in nature!

 


DRESS COMFORTABLY

Nat and Noe like to wear a ginormous bib when they do art, it works like an apron for them. I do not really like those art jackets, I find it very hot to wear. Better still, I just let them wear the clothes that I'm okay with getting paint stains and and I keep making them wear those whenever they do art. It will be good to schedule art lessons near to bathing times, because I'll just whisk them off to the bathroom right after they paint. And usually I plan to cook a meal that's a one pot dish so I don't go absolutely mad.

 

 

 


HONOUR YOUR CHILD'S ART WORK

make art a part of your child's life

I've set up a corner to display Nat and Noe's art to create a sense of ownership of their artwork. Sometimes during meal times, Nat and I will talk about the artwork he has done. Sometimes he will just mention random thoughts he has and I think it creates opportunity for creative conversations. There was once, he tried to mimic or replicate a certain style because he remembers the artwork so vividly even though I've taken it down.


TAKE TIME TO UNDERSTAND THE YOUNG ARTIST

I've heard parents say that their children are not interested in art because they cannot sit still so they do not involve their child in any art activities. However, I believe all children like art but there are so many different aspects to art rather than just painting at the table! Sometimes they may not be ready for certain forms of artwork. Perhaps the fine motor skills required are way too advanced. Maybe they're more sensitive to different textures or they're just not interested in that particular activity. Noe doesn't enjoy getting paint onto her fingers but she loves doodling! She can doodle for 15 minutes straight but can't stand painting for even 5 minutes! Nat loves all kinds of sensory art activities like finger painting but he doodles so haphazardly. I find that it is good to explore various kinds of art with them to see what clicks.


Most importantly, I constantly remind myself that art is a process and it takes time for a child to understand the boundaries and how to use the various materials. During this process, It is most wonderful to see a child's creativity develop, how he/she brainstorms and explores the all possibilities of art!

GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

Nat's class is made up of just about 10 children. It's nice to see the children playing in a close knit group. Sometimes he brings home interesting drawings he did informally with his classmates. One day he brought home a hand-drawn map that his classmate gave to him and told me they played treasure hunt during the break in school. He started drawing his own maps for about a week until I couldn't take it anymore and told myself that I must capitalise on his enthusiasm and we have to do a real treasure hunt outdoors! The house is way too small for an adventure!

We've read the book, "We're going on a bear hunt" and he has a fond memory of it. So just one morning of about 20 minutes, I randomly put together a 'Bear Hunt Kit'. There was really no time to think about the details and I thought I would just go along and try to be spontaneous :)

The Bear Hunt Kit: Cap, shovel, magnifying glass, binoculars, secret code booklet to solve the location of each clue which will lead him to the bear and the final treasure (gummy bears, puffs and some new construction vehicles), and most importantly the MAP!

going on a bear hunt

And then we were off to Toa Payoh Town Park.  He was very diligent in refering to his map all the time. It was kind of hilarious because I would ask him to close his eyes and then hid the items along the way. He was a very good sport but sometimes I can see him trying to peek. I made sure each item was hid differently so that he is able to use his different tools. First I hid the bear in some soil among bushes, so he had to use his shovel. Then on the spot, I gave the role of a guide to the bear, to give him clues to the next location.
 

going on a bear hunt

Secondly, I rolled up the secret code and hid it among some branches in a tree so he needed to use his magnifying glass. He was extremely studious in solving the secret code. Finally, I hid his treasures near a pond and also up in a tree so he had to use his binoculars.

going on a bear hunt

After he got his treasures, he kept bugging me to hide more things! I had nothing left to hide! And so the hunting continued at home for the next few days :)

DIY TOTE BAG

I look for simple practical bags. I need one then I'll get one. Recently I started going for Pilates and I needed a bag that I could just put a towel, keys, handphone, water bottle and umbrella. Every single bag I had was just too big so I decided to make one. It didn't have to be glamourous, I just needed it to put all those things in and Pilates is just a 10 minutes walk from home to the nearby community centre. And the pile of old t-shirt was starting to glare at me again. A quick Google search on how to make a totebag from a t-shirt from Mommypotamus got me a bag of just the right size that I needed :)

diy tote bag

I really love t-shirt material, it's so versatile! If you will like more t-shirt inspiration, check out my other posts under Addicted to T-shirts.

COOKING INSPIRATION: BUTTERMILK OVEN 'FRIED' CHICKEN

After I completed the online course, I told myself I must revive an old habit - to get a to-do-list going again. I was very motivated to get the items struck off the list, so I disappeared from blogging for a while.

Today's cooking inspiration is my husband, WX. In the past, WX has been more of a discouragement than an inspiration. He's rather fussy about food, i.e. he doesn't like a lot of kinds of foods and he likes Chinese food that requires a lot of prep work and stir frying/deep frying, e.g. sweet and sour pork, salted egg pork chops, ginger and spring onion stir fry beef. While I on the other hand ain't no cooking expert nor foodie so most of the time, I just throw stuff into the oven or the steamer.

Now he's an inspiration because after many years, he finally understands my struggle with cooking and sometimes he will even lend a hand. His palette is also getting healthier so he is getting used to my food that has minimal or no salt. I, on the other hand, have started putting a tiny bit more salt in the food, and I've also been looking out for dishes he will enjoy. At the end of the day, as cliche as it sounds, it's all about compromise, even in the kitchen.

One common food we both love is fried chicken but usually it is deep fried and I won't cook it for the oil splatters everywhere, and anyways it is super unhealthy for the kids. So this recipe of frying chicken in the oven is a god-sent for our family and for me - simple prep and minimal clean up :)

(Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 4 chicken drumsticks (about 3 1/2 ounces each), skinned
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon

Coating:

  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup crushed cornflake crumbs
  • 1 tbl grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. For the chicken: In a medium bowl, season the chicken with the salt, paprika, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and black pepper. Pour the buttermilk and lemon juice over the chicken and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a rack on a baking sheet.
  3. For the coating: In a shallow bowl, combine the panko, cornflake crumbs, Parmesan, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and olive oil.
  4. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and dredge each piece in the crumb mixture. Put the chicken pieces onto the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake chicken until golden brown and cooked through, 40-45 minutes.


FINE MOTOR FUN

My 1.5 year old little gal has a very unique character that is almost not influenced by her brother or by us. Initially I thought she will enjoy playing her brother's toys but she shows very little interest in his activities! She prefers to play by herself and read story books. Hence sometimes I take her independence for granted and tend to be more relaxed in engaging her. I've trying to be more purposeful in scheduling my time so as to make sure I've quality one-to-one time with her in the mornings. Here are 5 fine motor skills activities that we've enjoyed together using everyday materials. We didn't really need to buy any toys for her :)

POM POM SCOOP

Just with a simple spoon to practice scooping pom poms from a bowl for self-feeding. Noe also balanced the pom pom on the spoon, walked to another bowl and dropped it in there. We had lots of fun with this relay!

 

 

 

 


STRAW THE COLANDER

I didn't really have a small colander, so I used a basket with holes. And then Noe tried to stuff as many straws into the holes. Interestingly she was more interested in poking her fingers through the holes instead.

 

 

 

 

 


MINI TREASURES IN A BOTTLE

Surprisingly this is her favourite. I've no idea why and I get bored with her wanting to open the bottle, take out the little treasures (like pebbles, glass beads, pasta), putting them back again, closing the bottle. And the cycle goes on!

 

 

 


PAINTING WITH EVERYDAY TOOLS

For a kid to manage a paintbrush at this age can be rather boring and difficult. Your paintbrush will also end up spoiled. So I gave Noe random tools like old toothbrushes, sponge and bottle caps to paint a milk carton box when her brother was painting one as well (for the DIY Flower Pot Holder).

 

 


MILK CARTON WINDOWS

This has been an all time favourite with Nat and Noe. Although Nat loved it more than Noe. Noe had to try to fill the milk carton with straw pieces by putting them through the windows and doors that I cut out. The fun part is trying to shake them all out again!