I had sooooooo much fun doing this monster art project in my son Elliot’s kindergarten class recently! I chose to do this project because Elliot LOVES monsters and he LOVES using his imagination to make characters come to life. We have enjoyed using popsicle stick puppets for many many years and he always enjoys both creating his monsters and using his imagination to play with them later.
For this project, I wanted to guide the children in using details to create their monsters with texture. I made this dice game to give the project a fun aspect that would give them a variety of options. (*Note: I searched Google images and Pinterest to get the ideas I used to create this project.)
Introducing the Monster Art Project: I always like to start by showing children what my version of the final product looks like. That way, when I start explaining all of the steps, they will understand what the big picture will be. Also, by first doing the project myself, I have a good understanding of what things were easy and what things were more challenging. 🙂 So first I showed the children my monster popsicle puppets, we talked about what texture was, and I explained that adding details makes any project more interesting.
Monster Popsicle Stick Puppets
Guided Practice with the Monster Dice Game: It is so tempting to just give directions and launch right into independent practice, but by starting any new skill, lesson, or project together with guidance, children will have a much deeper understanding of what they can do. To start this project, I rolled a die and had children follow along with me as we created our first monster together. For the next monster, I rolled the die again, but let them choose to either follow me or choose their own. After that, they created one or two more monsters on their own.
Create a Monster Dice Game
Coloring the Monsters: After everyone had drawn their monsters, I handed out my monster templates. One set of templates has features missing and the other set is completed monsters that I had drawn earlier. It was nice to be able to give children a variety of entry points into the project. One aspect was drawing their own monsters, but with the other aspect of adding texture, I wanted to give them a variety of more completed options.
Monster Templates with Missing Feature
Completed Monsters Coloring Page
Adding Texture: It was so wonderful to see what the children added for their texture pieces. Some really wanted to copy the ideas I showed them (like unrolling cotton balls to put under the feet like smoke or adding tufts of hair using the yarn), and others really thought outside the box, especially with the foam pieces and texture scissors. One thing I didn’t do but think kids would have really enjoyed is to offer colored squares of construction paper that they could use to cut out for the shape of the body.
Popsicle Sticks: I used a hot glue gun to attach a magnet to the back of each popsicle stick so that children could keep their monster popsicle sticks on the fridge, but really this is optional. The popsicle sticks alone are fun enough!
Jumbo Popsicle Sticks with Magnets on the Back
Continue the Fun: This is a great ongoing project to keep set up in your classroom or home. I love having little stations set up around the house where the kids can continue to work on projects that I’ve introduced independently. Children could continue to draw more monsters using the dice game, add color and texture to monsters, or use their monster popsicle sticks to play imagination games.
I have an art teacher friend who explained to me that when you give children too open ended of a project, it can be hard for them to get started or know what to do, but by introducing a specific focus (like adding details and texture) it gives children the freedom to be creative within the parameters of the structure. I totally saw that in this lesson. All children were working on adding details and texture, but their monsters all looked very very different and matched their own specific interests and personalities. Not only that, but I heard from several parents that their children had fun continuing this art project at home.
I think that’s the beautiful thing about art, or any lesson for that matter. If children are excited about what they are learning, then they will continue the learning on their own.
Julian (2) Coloring Some Monsters
Ruby (7) Playing the Create a Monster Game
http://embracing-motherhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/monster-art-project.png400810Stacey Maaserhttp://embracing-motherhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/EmbracingMotherhood_Color-281x300.pngStacey Maaser2017-02-07 22:29:582017-08-26 09:58:03A Monster Art Project
We are always looking for quick and easy art projects, and this one fit the bill! Ruby actually found this recipe on YouTube Kids, and we just so happened so have all of the ingredients to make it laying around! This recipe was an instant hit with the kids, and after playing with the first batch, they wanted to make a variety of colors. This was quick and easy to make and the kids have really enjoyed playing with it…which is a win, win, win!
Dump out the glue into the bowl. Tip those bottles upside down and get out as much glue as you can!
Elliot Dumping Out Glue
Mix in the food coloring. Start with a few drops, stir, and then add more as needed to achieve your desired color.
Adding the Food Coloring
Make the borax mixture. Fill up a cup with warm/hot water and mix in about a teaspoon of borax. Let it sit/stir it until it dissolves.
Mixing Borax and Water
Add the borax mixture to the glue. *This part is really tricky and very easy to mess up! If you add too much of the borax mixture, it will turn to a hard blob, if you don’t add enough, it will stick to your hands.
Adding Borax Mixture to Glue
You want to add just a little bit, stir, stir, stir, add a bit more, stir some more, mix with your fingers (about 2 minutes), then only add more if it’s still sticky. Trust me, add less than you think you’ll need and you’ll be just fine.
Mix it By Hand
Final Slime Putty: The consistency should be soft and stretchy, but not sticky. (Although, if you do what Elliot is doing below, pieces WILL get stuck in your hair, and watch out, because this stuff can get stuck in carpet and on clothes too if you’re not careful!)
Elliot Wearing His Slime Putty
Play with your goo! Stretch it, pull it, roll it, and have fun! Store it in a ziploc bag when you are done so that it won’t dry out.
When I was researching a fall art project to do in my daughter Ruby’s 1st grade classroom, I came across all kinds of wonderful ideas to try. I found some that worked, many that didn’t, created some of my own, recalled the ones I liked to do as a child, and came up with a pretty good hodge podge of fall leaf art activities to choose from. I also wrote an article about why fall leaves change color if you want to check it out here.
1. Make a Tree
I chose this as the activity to do in my daughter’s classroom, and I even did a little mini-lesson on why leaves change color (link coming soon). It was so fun to channel my inner teacher, and the kids had a lot of fun with it too. It was fun to encourage the students to be creative and to think about ways that they could integrate art and nature at home. They were very excited to try these new ideas at home!
Tree Made Out of Leaves
An assortment of different colored leaves
Large piece of paper
Brown crayon (or paint, or shredded brown leaves – for the trunk)
Collect a variety of leaves. They can all be from one type of tree for a more uniform look, or you can collect leaves from a variety of different trees. *Note: Do not collect leaves, put them in a bag, store them for a week, and then try to use them. They will all be brown! (I had to learn this the hard way!)
Draw a trunk on a large piece of paper using crayon paint, or even cut up pieces of brown leaves.
Using glue, add the leaves one layer at a time starting with the green on the bottom, then any yellow green, then yellow, then orange, then red, and then purple. I like layering them like this because this is the way I’ve noticed that trees typically change color. *It makes it a little easier if you can remove the stems. As an adult, I just used my fingernail to snap it off, but this was too hard for the kids so they just used scissors.
Add a few brown leaves to the bottom of the paper.
Lay flat to dry.
Making Leaf Trees in Ruby’s Class
2. Leaf Printing
This was one of the activities on Pinterest that looked MUCH better than what I could actually do, but I still think it turned out pretty cool. I really had a hard time deciding between this art project or the tree making project to do in my daughter’s classroom. I brought these examples along and the kids begged me to do this project next time I come in.
Using a paper plate, squirt a $0.50 piece sized dollop of each color of paint around the paper plate.
Dip the bottom of your leaf into the paint and then press onto the paper. *The first time you do it, it’s going to be a bit gloppy, but the more times you press it, the lighter and more detailed of an impression it will leave. If you really want to capture the shape of the leaf, gently press down on all parts of it with your hand.
Layer the colors however you’d like. I went with a green, yellow, orange, and red motif.
Add a few falling leaves and some leaves on the ground.
Lay flat to dry.
*To take this idea to the next level, you could create a template in the shape of say a butterfly for example, do the leaf printings over the top, and then remove the template for a really cool design.
3. Leaf Rubbing
I remember doing this activity when I was a kid! I remember being simply amazed at the amount of detail that came through. (I still am!) I had the kids in Ruby’s class who finished early make these leaf rubbings, and they LOVED it! They were shoving leaves in their backpacks so that they could go home and do this some more.
Peeled crayons, assorted colors
One or more leaves
Gather at least one leaf or more for variety.
Lay the leaf under the paper upside down (bumpy side up).
Peel the paper off from a crayon and rub it sideways over the leaf.
4. Magnet Leaf Characters
This activity definitely took the most materials and preparation, but it should last for a really long time and provide many opportunities for imaginative play. My son Elliot loved helping me put the eyes on. (Notice the number of cyclops!) He keeps bringing them around the house and sticking them to doors, doorways, washers, dryers, refrigerators, and anything else he can find that’s magnetic!
Take the stems off from the leaves, position them in the laminating pouches, and run them through the laminator. *Make sure there is plenty of room between each leaf so that you can leave a laminate border.
Laminate Border for Leaf Magnets
To affix the googly eyes, you can just buy the stick on ones, you can use a hot glue gun, or you can use regular white glue. *If you use a hot glue gun, you’ll have to immediately hold the leaf upside down so that the little black part in the eye ball doesn’t get stuck to the bottom. It’s a little bit of a hassle, but it dries right away and will stay attached no matter what!
Stick some magnet tape on the back.
*You could also attach these to popsicle sticks to make little puppets. (Just like my popsicle stick figures!)
5. Stained Glass Leaves
This is my mother’s tried and true, one and only, fall leaf art project! I remember doing this all the time as a kid and now she has taught my children how to do it too! It’s a really fun and simple way to make some art with fall leaves.
Lay down a piece of wax paper and arrange some leaves on top of it.
Sprinkle crayon pieces all over the leaves.
Cover with another piece of wax paper.
Set the iron to a medium-high setting, and quickly iron over the wax paper. The wax should stick together and the melted crayon pieces should really hold things together. *Before ironing, you might want to put down a protective layer over your ironing board, like a paper bag or something.
Crayon Sprinkles on Leaves and Wax Paper
6. Open Ended Leaf Project
I think that having an open ended art project that lets children use their imaginations and creativity to do whatever they want is really the best. This works especially well after you’ve showed them a bunch of different techniques. By letting children follow their own intuitions about what looks beautiful and what is art, that is what being an artist is all about.
I would recommend gathering a big pile of leaves of assorted colors and shapes, and setting them out with an assortment of other supplies like glitter, glue, stickers, crayons, markers, pencils, cotton balls, yarn, and whatever else you can think of and let them go wild! They will probably have the most fun of all doing this!
http://embracing-motherhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/fall-art-projects.jpg400810Stacey Maaserhttp://embracing-motherhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/EmbracingMotherhood_Color-281x300.pngStacey Maaser2015-10-17 13:22:592017-08-26 09:58:406 Fall Leaf Art Activities
Why would I write a post about coloring? Because it’s really that important. Coloring keeps kids engaged in a creative activity, it helps them learn how to properly hold a writing utensil, and it is a gateway to learning about so much more. Especially during the summer, I like to make coloring part of our daily routine.
Have a Designated Place for Coloring
It’s so great for kids to be able to do an activity, especially something as basic as coloring, without needing your help. Even though my oldest is in public school, we have a designated “Homeschool Table” full of baskets of coloring books, coloring sheets, blank books, blank paper, activity books, and all kinds of markers, crayons, pencils, and more that the kids can get to on their own whenever they feel like it. This is part of how I create an environment that encourages independent learning.
Homeschool Table and Computer Station
Invest in Some Good Markers
Crayons are cheap and fun, but nothing colors quite like a marker. With our younger ones, I’ve always struggled with them not putting the caps back on the markers or little ones getting ahold of them and coloring things other than the paper (like the table, the wall, the bathroom door, and of course their bodies). But I feel like this is a fine price to pay for the joy that markers bring. If you’re worried about your children coloring on things (other than the paper), you can get some washable markers and they will easily wash off from anything.
If you’re worried about them losing the caps, just buy a bunch of cheap markers like these and create a “marker system”. I do this by having two boxes of markers and one marker stash. For my marker boxes, I just cut the flaps off from my Amazon boxes and put labels on them. One box is labeled “Good Markers” and this is where I put new markers. Another box is labeled “Old Markers” and I put all extra caps, any markers that have lost their caps, and any markers that are starting to not write so well. Then I keep a stash of new markers in the package tucked away that I can use them when I color with the kids and supervise their use. Lately, however, I’ve been keeping my good markers out in a nice office supply organizer with a handle that makes for easy transport since the big kids have been so good about putting the caps back on.
Good Markers, Junky Markers, and a Marker Basket
I have a few Sharpie markers and Ruby has recently really loved coloring with them, so I bought her a 24 pack of colored Sharpie markers and some thick paper to color on. At first, I was really afraid of what would happen to my house and home when I unleashed permanent markers, but she and Elliot have been very careful with them. (I keep them well away from our 2 year old, Ophelia!) Ruby is obsessed with coloring now and wants to color all of the time!
Ruby Coloring with Sharpie Markers
Coloring books are great, and even though I don’t ever recall buying any, we have a ton! (I think we get a lot as gifts!) I try to rotate them so they stay exciting and fresh. I have a bookshelf where I keep all of the coloring books accessible, but not within easy reach, and a fresh stash of coloring books that the kids are most interested in in baskets (actually, my baskets are being used elsewhere these days, so I’m just using repurposed Amazon boxes) on our homeschool table. (These are the baskets that I usually use, but these are cheaper and look pretty good too.)
Coloring Book Box
Here’s a blog I wrote about how we use some of our favorite coloring books written by my own dear mother and sold through my parent’s product website Amazing Michigan, the Michigan product line from their fundraising company Great Lakes Promotions. (If your school needs a fundraiser, look them up, they’re amazing!)
Amazing Michigan Coloring Book
Watch Me Draw
I’ve never ever considered myself an artist of any sort, but I am pretty good at looking pictures and drawings and copying them. What I do is look at the way the lines are formed in one small section at a time and do my best to get the same angles and curves on my drawing.
A Drawing of Pinkie Pie
The kids love, love, LOVE watching me draw things. They will typically ask me to draw something that they really like like monsters or My Little Ponies, and so I will look it up on Google images and do my best to copy it. As I draw, they watch me with baited breath making suggestions as I go along.
Then there’s the few things that I enjoy drawing freehand like rainbows, flowers, t-rexes, brontasauruses, stick figures with word bubbles, and other really simple things. I like to draw these with a dark Sharpie marker and the kids enjoy coloring them in.
Ruby Coloring in My Outline Drawing
Kids Free Draw
It’s amazing to see Ruby’s progression with drawing. Only a year ago, she was scribbling pictures, and now she’s carefully free drawing intricate pictures.
Elliot, who is four years old, has never really liked free drawing at all. Only recently has he been inspired by Ruby’s love of drawing to draw his own pictures. It’s really cute because he only likes to draw monsters and so he’ll kind of carefully scribble an exterior and then add a bunch of arms, or a beating heart, or lots of teeth and blood, and he’ll be so proud.
Elliot Free Drawing
Ophelia, who is two, loves drawing careful lines with multiple colors. But she will draw on everything in the house and throw all of the markers and caps on the floor when she’s done, so I have to supervise her!
Ophelia’s Coloring Pages
Elliot’s absolute favorite thing in the whole world is to sit on my lap and do Google image searches for printouts. While I type in whatever they want to color, like “monsters” and then add the words “coloring pages”, the kids will point to the images they like. (Sometimes I have to say “free coloring pages” if a lot of paid subscription pictures come up.) Then I open up the image, right click on it and select “copy”, open a word document, right click, and select paste, make the image fit the page, and print. Lately, I’ve been printing our pictures on card stock since they are using Sharpie markers these days.
Elliot Loves His Monster Printouts
Things My Kids Like to Color
My kids are into different things at different times, and it’s always fun when a certain topic, genre, or set of characters sort of permeates their minds. I like to use their interests to find coloring pages, books to read, movies to watch over and over, imagination games to play, and more. Here are some of the obsessions my kids have had.
Land Before Time (Did you know they made NINE movies in this series? We have purchased many many dinosaur toys that have been a part of numerous imagination games.)
Dora (All three of our older kids still love watching Dora over and over. I think it’s a great show.)
Superheroes (Superhero Squad to be exact.)
Spiderman (We like watching the 1967 or 1980 versions on Netflix.)
My Little Pony (Ruby loves the Friendship is Magic series. I always buy little ponies at garage sales and thrift stores and the kids spend hours playing imagination games with them.)
Princesses (Ruby loves finding princesses with really pretty dresses.)
Monsters (Elliot has been obsessed with monsters for as long as I can remember. I use them to make his Favorite Things books and ABC books. Look for more on these in a future post.)
Mario Brothers (My husband plays these video games with the kids, and they love the characters and the story.)
Sharks (Do all boys like sharks or what?)
Octopuses (or octopi)
Minecraft (Elliot absolutely loves playing this game.)
Angry Birds (Another Elliot favorite.)
Great Resources for Printouts
Usually, I just do Google image searches to make printouts, but these are the sites that pop up over and over again that have been great portals for finding more coloring sheets.
The Color – You can color these online or you can print out the pages and color them. We love the interesting pictures and simple drawings.
Hello Kids – These drawings have more intricate details and require more precision to color, but they are very interesting.
AZ Coloring Pages – This page has all of the favorites like My Little Pony, Batman, Hello Kitty, holidays, animals, and more.
Coloring Book – This seems like the most comprehensive collection of character coloring pages. I love how they are organized by pictures of the characters.
Coloring Tips and Tricks
Don’t Force Coloring in the Lines: At Ruby’s first kindergarten conference, the teacher told us that one of her goals was to work on coloring in the lines, and while I knew that this was the next natural progression for her, I didn’t pressure her to do it. She is the type of personality that always does her best, and I didn’t want to discourage her from coloring just because she couldn’t stay within the lines. Now, when she sees Elliot “scribbling” and tries to chide him for it, I remind her that he’s doing his best and scribbling is just what he is working on for now. 🙂
Color the Edges First: When I’m coloring, I really think about all of the little things that I do that help me to color neatly. One of the things I do is color the edges carefully at first before delving into the middle. (Sometimes I even like to do my edging with marker and color the inside with crayon.)
Use a Variety of Colors: While it’s perfectly fine for children to scribble a picture using only one color, I like to encourage them to use a variety of colors and talk to them about the color names in the process (magenta, midnight blue, aquamarine, lavender, etc.).
Be Creative: Sometimes it’s fun to color a picture with the exact colors that it should be, but more often than not, it’s more fun to be creative and use whatever colors we please. I tell my children to color what they see in their minds.
Add More Details: I also like to encourage my children to add more details to pictures. Especially when we’re coloring our printouts, I encourage them to add a background. (What’s the setting? Where is this taking place?)
Color What They’re Into: Whatever children are into, you can find a coloring page for their interest. Just type whatever they are into from sharks and princesses, to viruses and biology. If you add the words “coloring page” afterwards, you will find something.
Bins For Coloring Pages: I have a place to put printouts that the kids can easily grab when they want to color, a place for finished coloring pages, and a place for pictures that they are still working on. When the “Finished” bin is full, I take the best ones and decorate our “Homeschool Room” with them.
Coloring Pages Ready to Grab
Finished Pictures on the Wall
While coloring seems like a basic and insignificant childhood activity, it is actually a very important developmental milestone. By encouraging children to color and giving them plenty of opportunities to do so in a way that is fun and exciting to them, children will thrive in this area. In doing so, it will help them to express their creativity, get prepared for writing, and stay busy doing something productive. By giving value to coloring and the things children color, we give meaning to this precious activity, and children will see it as something important instead of just something we use to keep them busy for a little while.
http://embracing-motherhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/coloring1.png400810Stacey Maaserhttp://embracing-motherhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/EmbracingMotherhood_Color-281x300.pngStacey Maaser2015-06-13 11:25:462017-08-26 09:58:24Yes, This is Really a Post About Coloring
My three children (ages 1, 4, and 5) love doing projects together, and coloring is one of their favorite things to do. These Michigan coloring books are the perfect way for them to be able to work on a shared project in a way that keeps everyone entertained.
Learning From Each Other
Ruby (5) loves to spend hours and hours doing quiet activities like coloring and reading. Elliot (4) would rather be moving, dancing, or playing video games, but he loves to watch his sister work. These two are as different as night and day, but they love the heck out of each other, and it is a true delight to watch them play together.
Elliot is Entranced by Ruby Coloring her Michigan Coloring Book
Working at Their Own Levels
After watching Ruby color for a bit, Elliot decides that he wants to give it a try. You can see that he is a total lefty! While Ruby enjoys coloring with detail and staying in the lines, Elliot likes to scribble with big lines using single colors. This is very developmentally appropriate for his age. Ruby was the same way when she was 4. Even though her kindergarten teacher made it a goal for her to “color in the lines” at the beginning of the year, I never pushed her to do it. I knew that she would do it when she had the dexterity and desire. I also knew that if she never learned how to color in the lines, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.
Ruby, Elliot, and Ophelia Color the Michigan Coloring Books Together
You can see how Ophelia (21 months) loves watching her big brother and sister at work. I tried sitting her down in her own chair with her own coloring book, but she decided that she wanted to get up on the table and see what was going on for herself. She’s got her crayon in hand and “helps” Elliot color his picture by adding random marks on his page. She knows that her big sister will not appreciate her page being colored on, so she avoids it! Smart girl!
Great Michigan Coloring Books
I like using these Michigan coloring books because they have simple pictures that are easy to color and they also teach interesting and important information about Michigan. It makes it fun for me as an adult to color with them because I can learn something too!
Ruby Coloring her Michigan Coloring Book
Elliot Coloring his Michigan Coloring Book
The book we are coloring in these pictures is the Maki Coloring Book from a local Michigan author, Diane Napierkowski (also my mother!), and local Michigan Fundraising Company, Great Lakes Promotions. There’s some great information in here about the Mackinac Bridge, and the kids love finding Maki the Mouse on every page. These would make a great teacher gift! Teachers and schools might also enjoy checking out their wholesale prices to get a copy for students in certain grade levels or for the whole school. Coloring is a great transition activity and with these books you can learn about Michigan at the same time.
They also have an Amazing Michigan Coloring Book that has 80 pages of high quality illustrations with state facts, notable Michiganders, and locator maps that would appeal to all ages.
Coloring is a great way to do an activity with children of multiple ages that doesn’t cost a lot of money or take a lot of time to prepare. All you need are some crayons, some interesting coloring books, and an imagination.
http://embracing-motherhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/embracing-motherhood.com-16.png400810Stacey Maaserhttp://embracing-motherhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/EmbracingMotherhood_Color-281x300.pngStacey Maaser2015-04-08 14:05:502017-08-27 09:54:26Michigan Coloring Books are Fun for Children of All Ages