Tag Archives: art

Wire Sculptures for Spring!

3 Apr

With weather the little ones can finally enjoy, we thought we would treat you to an activity both you and the children in your care can do outside to say hello to spring! Are you familiar with Wire Sculptures? If not, author MaryAnn Kohl does a great job of introducing them in this blog post. We thought we would get a little more hands-on to show you how every activity can be adapted to the appropriate season! Get ready for:

 How to Make a Wire Sculpture for Spring

What kids will learn:

  • color coordination
  • cooperative play
  • improved fine motor skills
  • creative expression

To give you a visual, we made a tutorial video to show you just how easy having art time with kids can be:

Basic Steps:

  1. Push the pipe cleaners into the base, or wrap around a base such as a rock. If using Styrofoam, push the wires in deep so they will be strong and hold up well.
  2. Bend the wires into designs and shapes, or leave straight. It’s inspiring to cut the wires into different lengths with scissors.
  3. Add decorations! Buttons will thread right onto the wires, and it’s easy to sandwich the wire between two gluey scraps or two stickers. Pony beads thread well onto the wires as do macaroni noodles and hardware “nuts”. Have fun choosing from whatever is on hand. You can always add cotton balls or even lumps of playdough! No rules! Wide open ideas.
  4. Wiggle or blow on or shake or otherwise enjoy the movement of the wires and decorations. Movement = Kinetic.

Note: One of the brain-challenges of this sculpture is bending and arranging the wires so the sculpture will not fall over.

-We hope you enjoyed making spring wire sculptures with your little ones! Feel free to share their art with us on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We would love to see their creations!

-Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway this week for our newest release by Paul Young, “Lead the Way,” 24 Lessons in Leadership for After School Program Directors.




Last-Minute Valentine’s for Kids!

13 Feb


Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Feeling the love, yet? If you have kids or you’re a teacher who spends the majority of the week in a classroom with students, you know how excited children can get around holidays. While they toss around casual terms like “boyfriend,” “girlfriend” or “special friend,” it’s up to you to find a way for them to channel their loving spirits in the right direction. Valentine’s can be a great time of year for children to show appreciation, and yes, love, for people of importance in their lives. Whatever activities you are looking for, whether it’s making a gift for a parent at school, or making a gift for a teacher at home, we have a few simple, fun Valentine’s crafts you can do with your kids to share with the people they love.

1. Glittery Photo Jar


-Giving pictures is a classic. Add to the sentimental value by letting children put their face in a jar full of glittering goodies! (This is also a great activity to do when you don’t feel like making a run to the art supply store since it can be done with a variety of items.)

What to do:

  1. Fill the bottom of a large, clean jar with a soft material, like fluffed cotton, shredded paper, shredded foil, feathers, tinsel, or Easter grass.
  2. Glue a favorite photo to colored paper or poster board to make it stiff. Blend it slightly and slide it into the jar, “planting” it in the soft lining. (You can glue a photo on both sides of the colored paper if you wish.)
  3. Add glittery or fluffy items to the jar, like shredded foil, bits of foil wrapping paper, feathers, or tinsel. You can also glue sequins to the inside wall of the jar with just a small dot of glue. Make sure you can still see the photo!
  4. If the jar has a lid, tape curled pieces of foil paper or length of tinsel to the lid so they can hang into the jar without hiding the photo. Put the lid on the jar. Then cover the lid with aluminum foil and more collage materials.
  5. Paint a bit of glue on the jar here and there including the opening, and roll in glitter for a final glittery effect!
  • Hint: Instead of a photo, you can use an original drawing or small painting.

Did you like this activity? Find more just like it in MaryAnn Kohl’s “Art with Anything.”

2. Valentine Dancer


-Children like characters. Let them make their own in the form of a Valentine Dancer!


  • Construction paper
  • scissors
  • 1″x 6″ strips of paper (4 for each child)
  • makers
  • glue
  • hole punch
  • 12″pieces of yarn

What to do:

  1. Cut out large hearts from construction paper and give one to each child. Give each child 4 1″x 6″ strips of paper.
  2. Encourage the children to draw a face on their hearts.
  3. Show them how to glue two strips for arms and two strips for legs.
  4. Have them punch a hole in the top and tie yarn through it (see illustration above).
  5. Encourage them to watch their valentines dance by jiggling the string!
  • Extra: Make the Valentine’s Dancers even more special by having children write a message to whoever they’re giving it to on the back of the heart!

Did you like this activity? Find more just like it in “The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities.”

3. Heart Flutters


-So many cute mementos can be made by simple heart designs! Check out this simple way to make them hangable in home or classroom!


  • one sheet of wax paper, folded and opened
  • white glue in a dish, thinned with water until milky (add a few drops of liquid detergent to prevent beading.)
  • big paintbrush
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • art tissue
  • newspaper covered table
  • yarn or rubber bands

What to do:

  1. Brush thinned white glue on half of the wax paper.
  2. Stick heart shapes or pieces and patterns of torn or cut art tissue in any colors all over the sticky wax paper. Valentine colors would be effective for a fluttery decoration!
  3. Brush more white glue over the hearts or tissue designs.
  4. Fold the rest of the wax paper over the design.
  5. Dry overnight.
  6. Cut the dry tissue collage into long skinny shapes or strips–snakes, lightening or other shapes.
  7. Punch a hole in the top of each strip.
  8. Loop a rubber band or piece of yarn through the hole.
  9. Hang the heart flutters from a stick, a hanger or from pins in the frame around a window.
  • Extra: make bookmarks instead of flutters. Frame the tissue collage instead of cutting it into strips.

Did you like this activity? Find more just like it in “Everything for Winter.”

4. Label Puzzle Craft


What to do:

  1. Completely cover a sturdy piece of paper or cardboard with peel-and-stick labels.
  2. Use large labels for beginning artists, and smaller ones for more accomplished artists.
  3. Draw a Valentine’s picture (hearts, children holding hands, etc.) on the entire sheet of stickers, ignoring lines and sections.
  4. To make a puzzle, cut the sheet apart between labels.
  5. Reassemble the puzzle picture.
  6. When finished, store the puzzle pieces in a resealable plastic bag, envelope or small box.

Did you like this activity? Find more just like it in MaryAnn Kohl’s “Art with Anything.”

-Looking for even more opportunities to get your hands on great early education resources? Gryphon House will be promoting important early education topics up until Valentine’s Day in the form of candy hearts. Tell us how you incorporate each theme into your home or classroom and you’ll be entered into our book giveaway for that day!

Fun with Festive Swab Garland

12 Dec

Our featured author MaryAnn Kohl is sharing with us today from her book, “Art with Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff.” MaryAnn enjoys sharing fun and easy festive art ideas for you and your child to create together.


Let’s Get Started!

If you turn to page 39 of the book, you will find an activity labeled “Festive Swab Garland.” This is a great project for a child to do alone or for the entire family/childcare group to do together. The garland is a bright, fun decoration to drape over a window, hang on a Christmas tree, or drape around an entire room! Children have come up with a variety of creative names for the cotton swab design, including “stars,” “snowflakes,” and “crosses.” One creative thinker even called them, “Fireworks!” What names can your kids come up with?

Festive Swab Garland

What you need:

  • Cotton swabs (Q-tips, cotton buds) Note: discount varieties often come in pastel colors
  • Liquid watercolors, tempera paints, or food coloring mixed with waterqtip garland
  • Jar lids or paper plates for puddles of paint
  • Newspaper drying area
  • Yarn
  • Scissors

To do:

  1. First dip cotton swab ends into paint or food coloring to color the white tips. Be prepared to use a lot of cotton swabs! (Kids can also stain the sticks with color if made from paper; the plastic sticks won’t accept color well.) Consider leaving some swabs white for contrast. Dry swabs on newspaper.
  2. While swabs are drying, cut yarn into 6”-12” lengths. Use one color or many colors.
  3. To create “stars”, cross two colored swabs like an X. Tie the center where they cross with a strand of yarn. Having plenty of extra yarn hanging from each star is good for joining them later. Repeat this process, making as many swab stars as you wish.
  4. To make the garland of stars, tie one to the next with the yarn strands until you have a continuous garland of colorful swabstars!

Variation Challenge: Use 6 or more swabs per star!

This post was contributed by MaryAnn F. Kohl. MaryAnn is the renowned author of over 20 books about art for children. Her books are published both by Gryphon House and by her own company, Bright Ring Publishing. MaryAnn invites you to connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and her own blog.

We Can Make Art with ANYTHING!

14 Dec

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for “rookie” parents, “third-time’s-the-charm” parents, or even “been-there-done-that” grandparents?  You’re in luck! Gryphon House is counting down our favorite picks for parents. Whether you’re looking to spice up a holiday road trip, explore some exciting art activities, or bring out your baby’s “baby smarts,” we’ve got a book for that!

Day 12:

Art with Anything Cover

Art with Anything

Can we really make art with that? According to MaryAnn Kohl and her book Art with Anything, the answer is always “Yes!

With a year’s worth of creative art activities that combine easy-to-find household items and simple-as-can-be instructions, you and your child will have a blast as you redefine the meaning of recycling!

Have some extra cotton swabs or Q-tips® lying around?  Then you’re ready to test this theory!

Cotton Swab Snowflakes


  • Cotton swabs (Q-tips®, cotton buds), a handful per snowflake
  • Waxed paper
  • White glue in squeeze bottle
  • Glitter
  • Paper clip
  • Thread, embroidery floss, or fishing line for hanging from paper clip

What to Do:

  1. Spread a sheet of waxed paper on a flat surface. With a handful of cotton swabs (10-20 and probably many more), create a snowflake design on the waxed paper. Swabs can be used whole, bent or broken, but should always connect and touch. Real snowflakes are six-sided, but feel free to be creative with these snowflakes.
  2. When the design is ready, squeeze plenty of glue over each joint. Don’t worry if the glue blobs out or looks messy, because it will harden clear and look more crystallized that way.
    • Optional: Sprinkle glitter on the glue before it dries. Allow the snowflake to dry on the waxed paper overnight or for at least four hours.
  3. When the glue has dried completely, very slowly and carefully peel the snowflake from the waxed paper. If the snowflake breaks, put it on the wax paper again and add more glue. Dry and peel again when dry.
  4. Hang snowflakes with thread, embroidery floss, or fishing line. An unbent paper clip makes a simple hook for hanging.


For more art projects you can create using just about everything, visit the Gryphon House website to purchase your own copy of Art with Anything! Happy crafting!

Don’t forget to enter our 5 Days of Great Gryphon Giveaways on the Gryphon House Facebook fan page. Join us as we give away 5 books (as mentioned in our 12 Days of Great Gryphon Gifts for Moms and Dads blog series) to 5 lucky Facebook fans each day this week (Monday-Friday)! You still have 2 more chances to win!

Making “Crazy, Wacky” Art with Pebbles, Popsicles and Plungers

9 Dec

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for “rookie” parents, “third-time’s-the-charm” parents, or even “been-there-done-that” grandparents?  You’re in luck! Gryphon House is counting down our favorite picks for parents. Whether you’re looking to spice up a holiday road trip, explore some exciting art activities, or bring out your baby’s “baby smarts,” we’ve got a book for that!

Day 9:


101 Easy Wacky Crazy Activities for Young Children

What do plungers, popsicles and pebbles all have in common? They’re easy, crazy, wacky materials that can be used to create beautiful art! The quick and simple activity ideas (like the ones we share below) in 101 Easy, Wacky, Crazy Activities for Young Children will foster your child’s creativity and provide the perfect cure for a boring, rainy weekend afternoon!

Plungers Aren’t Just For the Potty Anymore!

Just take:

  • Plungers (new ones!)
  • Tempera paint
  • Paper

Plungers come in many sizes. Let children paint by dipping new plungers into tempera paint and stamping the shapes on paper. The more choices of paint and paper, the more individual the art will be. Plung on!

Popsicle Art

Just take:

  • Ice cube trays
  • Tempera paint
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Paper

Freeze tempera paint in ice cube trays. After 15 minutes, insert popsicle sticks. Continue to freeze until solid. Let children paint with these frozen treats. The more the popsicles melt, the more paint is applied.

(These popsicles are for art processes only. They are not currently recognized by the USDA as a significant source of nutrition. And they certainly don’t taste good, either.)

Rock ‘n’ Roll

Just take:

  • Rocks and/or pebbles
  • Shoebox with a lid
  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Rock ‘n’ roll music

Put on your walking shows and head outside to fill those pockets with rocks. Empty the rocks into a shoebox. Add a little bit of paint and a slice of paper. Place the lid on the shoebox, and turn on Chuck Berry, and rock ‘n’ roll. Children will enjoy shaking their boxes to the rhythm of the music. Take the lid off and discover what a little Rock ‘n’ Roll can do for you.


For more easy, wacky, crazy activities (like the ones in this post), visit our website to purchase your own copy of 101 Easy, Wacky, Crazy Activities for Young Children.


Making Pumpkin Piñatas

17 Oct

Get your classroom in the spooky spirit with this fun arts and crafts activity!


  • Large balloons (one per child)
  • Newspaper
  • Plain newsprint paper
  • Glue
  • String
  • 4-5 bottles of orange paint
  • 1-2 bottles of green paint
  • Black tissue paper
  • Utility knife (adult use only)
  • Strawberry baskets (one per child)
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent marker

What to Do:

  1. Ask a parent volunteer to blow up one balloon for each child in your class. The balloons should be approximately 4″ to 6″ inches in diameter.
  2. Cover the tables with newspaper. This is a messy project!
  3. Make papier-mâché using water and glue (two parts water to one part glue).
  4. The easiest way for young children to cover their balloons is to paint a whole sheet of newspaper with the glue/water mixture, place the balloon in the middle (knotted end up), and wrap the paper around the balloon.
  5. Help the children pull up the ends of the newspaper to cover the knot (stem) on their balloons (pumpkins).
  6. Help them twist the ends of the newspaper to form a handle (stem) for the “pumpkin” before putting on the second layer of newspaper. Demonstrate how to wind string around the balloon with the ends coming out at the top so the piñata can be hung up, then apply another layer of newspaper.
  7. Use masking tape and a marker to make a name label for each pumpkin. Attach one label to the string hanging out and one to the strawberry basket. Place the pumpkin on top of the strawberry basket to dry. It will take about a week to harden.
  8. The next week, repeat the process, substituting blank newsprint paper for newspaper. Have the children put two more layers of newsprint around the pumpkin (no string this time). Allow it to dry for one week.
  9. The next week, have the children paint the handles green and let dry.
  10. The next day, have them paint their pumpkins orange. Let dry overnight.
  11. Ask a parent volunteer to make holes in the tops of the pumpkin piñatas (to put goodies inside).
  12. Cut out shapes from black tissue paper. Encourage the children to glue the shapes to their pumpkin piñatas to make jack-o-lanterns.
  13. At your classroom Halloween party, have the children fill their piñatas with goodies they brought for each other from home and take them home.

More to Do:

Bring in a “real” piñata for the children to explore.

Related Book:

Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington

This activity was provided by Linda Ford, from Sacramento, CA for inclusion in the GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities for Children Ages 3 to 6 from Gryphon House. To purchase your own copy of this book, visit our website.


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