Sunday, June 21, 2009

Two Great Art Books for Kids

I love books about art for children. Reading and thinking about art outside of craft time helps kids put creativity in a larger context. It's fun for them to realize that other people love to draw and paint, too -- even some grownups! In "Drawing Lessons from a Bear," David McPhail adopts the persona of a (now grown-up) bear to essentially tell the story of how he became an artist. His bear character recalls how, as just a young cub, he loved to draw on the floor of his den; he'd wake up during hibernation to draw; in the summer, he'd draw all day long. Eventually, the bear grows up to become a professional artist. He is offered awards like houses and cars, but, being a bear, has no need for such things. All he wants to do, even as a grown-up, is draw. The message is that drawing makes him happy and he uses it to make others happy.


The drawings are warm and engaging, and I like the message that you can tell what you really have a passion for if it's what you want to do all day long! But my favorite part of the book is at the end, when the bear asks his child readers if they love to draw, too. And, if so, they can become artists. All they have to do is shout, "I AM AN ARTIST!": "There. Now you are an artist. Forever and always."

"Lucy's Picture," by Nicola Moon, is a great introduction to the genre of collages (one of our personal favorites). When Lucy's teacher sets up the paints for her students during art time, Lucy asks if she can make a collage instead. She gathers materials like feathers, sand, and other items to assemble a beautiful collage. At the end of the story, it is revealed that she's made the collage for her grandfather, who is blind, and he can "see" the picture by feeling it. It's a great way to explain the idea behind a collage: a picture you can feel!

I found both of these at our local library.
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Monday, June 1, 2009

Story Craft: 'Owl Babies'


Owl Babies is such a sweet and simple book. Three baby owls -- Sarah, Percy, and Bill -- wait anxiously for their mother to come home from a trip to fetch them food. When she does, it affirms their knowledge that Mommy will never leave them!

Your child can make her own little owlet just like the ones in the story. (Nora wanted me to know that this one was "Bill.")

All you need is: A pinecone; a small stip of polyester fiberfill (like for filling stuffed animals); two googly eyes; and a scrap of yellow, orange, black, or brown construction paper. Also, glue or a glue stick.

First, have your child wrap the poly-fill around the pinecone. You don't even need glue for this part. Just help her tuck the poly-fill into the pinecone all snug and nice, so the brown part of the pinecone is covered.

Have your child glue on the googly eyes. Then, cut a teensy diamond shape from your piece of construction paper and fold it to make a beak. Put on a tiny dab of glue and have your child affix the beak.

There! An owlet to read the story with you! Of course his mommy would come back for such a cute little thing!
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Story Craft: 'It Looked Like Spilt Milk'


The childrens' book It Looks Like Spilt Milk lets kids find all kinds of fun shapes in the clouds. What shapes can come about accidentally when kids make their own paint "clouds?"

This is a simple craft. Pour some white kid-safe paint into a paper or plastic cup. Add enough water, gradually, so that the paint is thin enough to dribble off the spoon, but still opaque.

Give your child a sheet of blue construction paper. Let her dribble and dab the paint wherever she wants. (This craft is more about the process than the result -- as all kids' crafts should be. Nora got really into dabbing and dribbling the paint -- she wanted to do three of these. I'll admit, I tried it myself and there was something fun about it.)

When your child has dribbled and dropped to her heart's content, fold the paper in half and have her rub the sides together, then unfold. Does she see any shapes in her "clouds?"

Nora saw "a dribbly dog."

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