I have to admit that the quality and complexity of our household art project ambitions have really taken a nosedive since the new guy moved in. Poor Harper! But I mean, it’s hard to craft a play-dough baby while holding an actual baby (though not, as I’ve learned, impossible). Still and yet, there are still rainy days, and beautiful days when Mama cannot emotionally handle the stress of the playground, and thus: art projects. A clean one, for the very lightly-functional days, a messy one, for when baby’s studiously drooling on the exersaucer, and a REALLY messy one, for when baby’s solidly napping and daddy’s home just in case.
First, the clean one: painting with water on a chalk board. This is a great little trick I stole from, where else, The Artful Parent. Love her! It’s a super-easy, zero-mess project a 2 year-old can do “all by herself on her own,” as is Harper’s way. All (well, most) the satisfaction of painting, but if this “paint” spills, the floor actually gets cleaner.
Next up: play-dough. I also got this play-dough recipe from The Artful Parent. I should note that mine was a bit messier than necessary. Turns out if you don’t include as much salt as the recipe calls for it actually makes a difference! So it was a little mushier and softer than it should have been, which actually made for a very enjoyable sensory experience but also more little schmutzy bits everywhere. We made lots of different colors. It was Harper’s innovation to run little trains through them. Bonus points if you wear only a bathing suit that you call a “play suit.”
The smushing-play-dough-on-the-chair move is a good one too. I call it, “Why not to have fancy furniture.”
Finally, the mother of all messy art projects: finger paints. That’s right, I went there. Harper saw an art project in her beloved High Five magazine that involved cutting vegetables and making stamps to use with finger paint, so we tried it (finally, a use for that wilting orange pepper!). After some initial hesitation – “I’m a little worried the paint will fall down,” she said, and the process-oriented creativity-advocate in me said, “That’s ok! Get Messy!” as the mother-who-was-about-to-have-finger-paint-all-over-the-kitchen said, “Huh. Wait what?” – she was OVERJOYED. Again Harper whipped out the little Ikea trains and I realized she’d gotten the idea from the wonderful Julie Brunner, aka Miss Julie, who teaches the wonderful Get Messy art class at our local Y that we go to when it’s not so crowded we can’t get in (!). Miss Julie is so smart!
Anyway, the vegetable stamps turned out not to be as exciting as the glorious goopy paint itself, which of course was not nearly as exciting as washing hands/playing in the sink. Here the orange pepper (and Harper’s shoes) became buckets, and the red paint became medicine for some hypochondriac plastic polar bears. Good times.