And for once I was SuperMom

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kid's Art Craft

Emma completed six paintings today. Usually I cut her off at two. I give her two dishes of Crayola Kid’s Paint, with one color in each. That way she learns about blending colors and she doesn’t end up with compositions the color of mud over and over again (remember mixing paint when you were a kid?). She also does watercolor; she has completely gouged out the red. When I look over and see that she has only used one color I will ask,
“Can you find the green?” She happily complies and we end up with more color discovery. There have been a few times where she just points to the green and continues on with her red. Oh well, I try.
So far we have not had any unholy messes and the paint truly is washable. Every now and then I glance over and see Emma sucking on a paint brush and hope that Crayola’s promises of non-toxic are really true. I give her scratch paper so in my head I tell myself that we aren’t wasting resources.

As a consequence of this I have a six inch stack of paintings. I saved the very first one. Then I started to toss them in the trash. Then I thought better of it. As an elementary art teacher I knew that most of the work that I sent home got thrown away. I feel deeply that I need to plan several tree planting excursions to repay the earth for all the deaths of construction paper that stain my hands. I know that parent’s throw away art, I’m sure I will continue to, but it haunts me. I don’t like it. Every time I did at work I would stand there and eyeball the trash can for a second and feel just wrong.

So what does one do with a stack of paintings completed by a two year old artist?
This Valentine’s day I made valentines for the grandparents, Emma’s daddy, and a friend we were having dinner with that night. Of course it didn’t occur to me to make Valentine’s out of them until Valentine’s Day so the grandparent’s did not get them until about a week later. Because I am awesome.
So I set Emma up in her booster seat completing more paintings, and while she did I employed the third grade girl trick of folding paper in half and cutting hearts out of them. First I made very large hearts from an entire painting and then smaller hearts with which to decorate the composition. I didn’t have any Valentine’s day themed stickers or else I would have given Emma stickers to further decorate the paintings. One thing that I learned while teaching art to small children is that a fair amount of letting go is involved. If you want something to look a particular way, do it yourself. Do not invite the children into the process. So I thought I would cut out hearts, apply glue to the back and allow her to put them on the Valentine’s, getting some of that great, upside down, toddler feel to it. I held out a heart, narrated what I was doing, demonstrated how to put one down, and then tried to get her to do it. She completely didn’t understand, she tried to put the heart down with the glue facing upward. I realized that I did actually want these Valentine’s to look a particular way so I finished them. I consoled myself that I was using her art in the first place.
I mounted the big hearts on construction paper and cut them out. Then glued a typed greeting on each one. I have wretched hand writing, so I prefer to type for any cards or signs that I make.
I had Emma give one to her Daddy when we picked him up from work. She was so excited and happy to present him with a blue heart. I also had her give the one to our friend, again she glowed with excitement to present her hearts to people.
Of course one may ask why I am writing about a Valentine’s Day craft in April, it’s because I am awesome.

Of course I like to tell myself that maybe I am inspiring readers to come up with ideas for their own child's art because they can't do this one right away. Right?

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