National Sorry Day, Australia – Aboriginal Art – Dot Painting

May 26 is National Sorry Day in Australia. It has been an annual event since 1997 to remember and atone for policies that ripped 50,000 Aboriginal children from their families, resulting in a “Stolen Generation.”

Image from GetUp , a not-for-profit organisation. See link for more information on National Sorry Day.

I thought today would be the perfect day for the kids (and myself haha) to try dot painting!

Image from Kirkland Museum.

Dot painting is a traditional visual form of storytelling by the Aborigines of Australia. Natural canvas such as leaves, bark and wood are painted with paint made of sand, ochre, and seeds. Paintings often depict elaborate patterns and symbols. These symbols often help create Dreamtime stories which taught about life and Creation. To read more about Dreamtime stories, the origins of Aboriginal Dot Painting, or to see more examples of Dot Painting, visit:

Didges We Doo

National Museum of Australia

Kate Owen Gallery

For our dot painting lesson, we’ll need:

  • Q-tips (cotton swabs or sticks)
  • Paint (we stuck with our Crayola Washable Paints but acrylics is preferred)
  • Construction paper (or you can use leaves, rocks, tree bark, etc)
  • Didgeridoo music

For our little gnomes, I first showed them some pictures of dot painting on the laptop. I explained to them the origins of dot painting and how the paintings were used by Aboriginal elders to tell stories to children. Then I found some symbols used in Aboriginal art.

Aboriginal Art Graphic Symbols and Meanings

Image from Aboriginal Art Shop

aboriginal symbols

Image from Didges We Doo

Then I drew an outline of a sea turtle on each of their white construction paper

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Then I helped demonstrate and explain the technique behind dot painting. Tell your child to gently dip their Q-tip in their paint and dot along the outline of their picture. If you push too hard, the dot will be wider. Keep your Q-tip as straight as possible or your dots will look more like inconsistent blobs. 🙂 This is a great way to practice our fine motor skills! It does take some concentration.

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So far so good….

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Uh oh! The temptation to use our fingers and hands was too great!

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Well, that escalated quickly!

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Haha I wonder what story this tells….of poor sea turtle.

Managed to save one. Here’s the unsullied version of a fish and an Aboriginal symbol for “meeting place.”

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Earth Day – Crumpled Recycled Paper Art Project

It may be hard to teach young toddlers the concept of Earth Day and recycling, but there are way to get them accustomed and familiar to it. Our kids usually comes with us when we take the rubbish out since it’s on the way to the elevators.

We have two garbage shoots. One is for general waste and one for recycling. They really enjoy helping us throw empty plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, etc down the garbage shoot. Near our mailboxes, there is also a recycle bin for junk mail (paper). They love helping me recycle the junk mail 🙂 Imagine your kids fighting over hot deals from Safeway.

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Today I wanted to do an Earth Day art project using up some of our used construction paper. They were previously used to doodle on.

Materials:

  • Used and/or new construction paper (Black, Blue, Green, Brown)
  • Scissors
  • Paint (White, Green, Brown)
  • Sponge (or paint brushes)
  • Glue
  • Sticky tape
  • Toothbrush

Music / Videos:

I looked up recycling music and found some goodies on YouTube!

Jack Johnson: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Going Green Song (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

Tom Chapin: Recycle Song

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I tried to find the biggest circle template to fit the paper. I ended up using a tupperware lid. Trace the large circle onto your blue paper. You will use this circle as your planet earth.

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Then I did a quick Google search for an image of earth. I searched for the Americas. You can choose your own view of earth of course!

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I found this from Fine Art America. I only used this image to help me draw my version of the Americas (no where as nice haha). You will see it further down the process.

Draw your continent onto a brown or green paper. Cut out your continents.

Have your child decorate the black paper with stars! We used an old toothbrush. Dip the toothbrush in white paint and spray paint the stars onto the black paper. Help little ones as they might not have the dexterity to do so. I had them hold the brush with one hand and scrape the brush head with the other hand’s thumb. Or you can guide them with your hands.

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After they’re happy with their stars, put it aside to dry and hand them their blue circles and brown/green continents to crumple! Take care NOT to rip the paper!

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After they are nicely crumpled, you can paint over them with your sponges or brushes.

With your blue planet, you will want to use the white paint to make clouds and storms! Tell your littlies that it is OK not to have your planet completely covered because you want to leave gaps for the ocean!

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Once they are done painting clouds, set these aside to dry and start painting the continents.

If you have a brown continent, you will want to use green paint. If you have a green continent, you will want to use brown.

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We didn’t have any brown paint, so I mixed yellow with purple. You can basically mix any primary color with its complementary color. Other colors you can mix: blue + orange; red + green

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Once these are done, set these aside to dry as well.

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While waiting for them to dry, I’ve cut out 3 arrows for each planet to represent the 3 Rs of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Once everything is dry, glue your blue planet onto the black starry backdrop. Then glue your continent onto your planet. Have it at an angle so it looks like it’s on it’s axial tilt. More realistic that way! To geek out your kids, you can explain that the Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5° away from the plane of the ecliptic. And it’s because of this tilt that we have seasons here on Earth! Whether you’re tilted towards or away from the sun! Ok, quick lesson over.

To finish the project off, I glued and taped my arrows (with a twist to make it 3-D and look more like the recycling symbol). I wrote the 3 R’s of Recycling on each arrow.

Note my initial typo….”reduce, reuCe, recycle.” The horror!!

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OK fixed!

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Mummy brains….

Happy EARTH DAY everyone! Please teach our children to help look after our beautiful planet.

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Erupting Salt Art – Name Recognition and Learning Numbers

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I saw a post from one of my frequently visited sites Learn Play Imagine where they made Erupting Watercolor Art. I loved the idea and really wanted to try it with our little gnomes. As mentioned by LPI, it is a fun activity that also helps develop fine motor skills. Tots are strengthening the muscles in their pencil-holding hands, practicing concentration skills by controlling the flow of the liquid through the eye droppers.

Meanwhile, as if that’s not a sensory overload as is…I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice name recognition and numbers. I remember reading that designs with lines work better with this so I thought letters and numbers would be perfect!

Materials:

  • Salt – I used 1/4 cup of salt
  • Baking Soda (bicarb) – 1/4 cup
  • Pipettes or eye droppers
  • Containers – to hold your colors
  • Food coloring
  • Vinegar – 1 tbsp per color
  • White glue – Elmer’s
  • Paper – thick watercolor paper preferred

Quick note: I didn’t end up using all of my salt+bicarb mix so you can definitely use less. Just use 1:1 ratio. It just depends how much you plan on using.

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I wrote out their names with the glue and also drew some simple pictures. You can have your child do this part too if you’d like.

Then I had them sprinkle my salt+baking soda mix (premixed in a small bowl) onto the glue. I helped them make sure it’s completely covered.

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Watch out! It does get a bit messy 🙂

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Then I helped them shake off the excess back into the bowl. Once that’s done, I had them start piping colors onto the glue. I taught them by demonstrating it’s better to drop a little bit of liquid at a time. You can see the colors being absorbed into the lines of glue. However, kids will be kids and they are still practicing their fine motor skills. They will end up squeezing all the colors out at one point! With my 23mo, I just put less liquid colors in her dropper. 🙂

It helps to keep paper towels handy to help absorb the excess liquid.

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Here are the numbers! So pretty!!

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As mentioned earlier, have paper towels nearby to blot the excess water. Place them somewhere safe to dry. I hung ours up on a string to dry outside 🙂 If it’s still dripping, make sure you have something below to catch the drips! Food coloring can still stain!

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Easter Egg – Eggshell Mosaic

1. Easter Eggs – eggshell Mosaic 

I really want the kids to try egg decorating this year but I’m not quite sure if they have the patience or dexterity to do it just yet. I still might try!!

Meanwhile, I’ve been breaking a lot of eggs lately (for breakfast). On top of that, the kids saw an episode of Mister Maker where he made a pretty mosaic out of dyed eggshells. The only thing I noticed is that he didn’t use vinegar! Vinegar helps the color stick to the shells more permanently (and vibrantly as I had noticed). Also he used brown eggshells where I used white. I just figured it’d look more vibrant with my pastel food color gels.

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Here are my CLEANED eggshells. Try and get rid of all the papery membrane inside the shells.

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I crushed the shells (by hand or with a metal spoon) and added them to separate bowls of food coloring + water + vinegar. I eyeballed it but you can probably do about 3 drops of gel with 1/4 cup of water and 1 tbsp of vinegar. I put in more drops of the pink one to achieve the color I wanted so it’s adjustable! I soaked them overnight to get a deep pastel color. It’s up to you what color you want to achieve!

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After I was happy with the coloring, I drained the liquid out and dried the shells in trays lined with paper towels. I sat mine at a sunny windowsill. Make sure you don’t forget them and they might fade a bit under the sun! Check on the regularly and make sure they are dried completely.

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After they are dried, I broke the pieces up some more so it’s like confetti. It’s easier for toddlers to sprinkle than to glue the shells piece by piece. It’s totally up to you! The benefit of smaller pieces is that there are less gaps. Older kids would be better at gluing larger mosaic shell tiles and filling the gaps.

I helped my kids to paint the glue onto the egg I drew for them (with a very easy pattern or design). J wanted to paint himself so I let him but it was going everywhere so I ended up wiping the bits that went outside the lines and finished painting it for him.

I said “paint” the glue because I colored the glue with a little bit of tempera paint. Just to add a bit of coloring to the background 🙂 You don’t have to of course. Your glue will just dry clear which will still look great!

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After your child is done with one section / color, pick up the artwork and give it a little shake to rid of any loose shells. You or your child can patch up the gaps. Then start with another color / section.

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Even mummy got into it!

I used a decorative egg I had bought from the shops and did the same thing.

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Mine had a bit of gap in it since I used bigger shell tiles. I thought it looked pretty neat that way. I might try one with smaller pieces later on.

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St Patrick’s Day – 5 fun activities with toddlers

1. Leprechaun’s Gold Hunt

I did a simple activity with the kids searching for piles of gold our little leprechaun friend has hidden in our house.

I cut up some green clover stickers

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Then I made a little rainbow pompom and green clover trail that the leprechaun has left behind.

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Then hid piles of gold

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Easy, simple and lots of fun for the kiddies. They loved counting their loot!

2. St Patrick’s Day Edible Sensory Bin

Our kids. No, KIDS love jelly (aka jello). Bonus: it’s got a color for EVERY occasion! Green jelly it is!

What I’ve added into our St Patrick’s Day sensory bin:

  • Green Jello
  • Whipped Cream
  • Green sprinkles
  • Marshmallows
  • Gold coins (we used chocolate gold coins – none was eaten though)

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Instructions: Put everything together and let them go nuts! It is a bit of a sugary treat. So be warned if you worry about having hyperactive children in the house! Yet, what’s the big deal if it’s only once in a while if you can allow it? I, personally am borderline diabetic so I’ll be watching THEM with a careful eye they don’t “sample” too much!

A good tip is to feed them right before the activity so they’re less likely to gorge themselves with sugars and lollies!

Another good tip is to let your child know they can only taste 1 of each (limit is up to you of course). J was really good about that and N was just not interested in tasting!

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The first sampling haha

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Josh found all the coins and sorted them. We also counted his loot together

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We even tried to stack the marshmallows. Do you want to build a snowman?

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Then Josh wanted to make small bowls of Leprechaun breakfast.

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3. Rainbow Pot of Gold – mosaic using paint sample tiles

If you child need some guidance with the rainbow colors, I’d start them off by putting a few color tiles on the paper for them. I even showed the kids pictures of rainbows on my laptop as a visual example. You can even draw lines across the page so the kids know where to glue their tiles in. Label each line with the colors of the rainbow if you are teaching them to read.

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4. Green Puffy Paint Shamrocks and Mosaic Shamrocks

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Instructions can be found here in our previous post.

5. Attend Local St Patrick’s Day Festivities

We live in Dublin, California and they have an annual St Patrick’s Day celebration. This will be the city’s 32nd annual festivity and it will be held on the weekend of March 14, 15 (10 AM – 5 PM) we are really looking forward to all the fun!

Festival, parade and other details can be found at the Dublin official website.

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Five Colorful Days – arts and craft

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Day 1: Robot and Clover Sun-catchers

A fellow Instagramer had trouble making a plastic robot out of plastic beads and metal cookie cutter. It inspired me to make more sun-catchers out of Elmer’s glue! Here are the instructions from previous post.

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Day 2: Lowe’s Build and Grow Monster Truck and Pull Back Race Car

I found these little gems at Lowes. They were only about $6 each and was quite easy to put together by my husband (with J’s help hammering)! The kids had a blast painting it and they are such sturdy toys.

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Day 3: Rainbow Pot of Gold – paint sample tiles

With St Patrick’s Day around the corner, here’s an easy project to do with the kids. If you child need some guidance with the rainbow colors, I’d start them off by putting a few color tiles on the paper for them. I even showed the kids pictures of rainbows on my laptop as a visual example. You can even draw lines across the page so the kids know where to glue their tiles in. Label each line with the colors of the rainbow if you are teaching them to read.

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Day 4: 3-D Hands Keepsakes

I saw this neat YouTube video showing you how to make 3-D hands! I’m sure you can do similar with other tracing like: feet, shapes, etc

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Day 5: Rainbow-Colored Finger PRINTING / Painting and ABC Stenciling 

The kids are loving their magnifying glass and I thought it’d be neat to have a look at their fingerprints with them. Then I had J tried fingerprinting! I let N go freestyle finger-painting 😉

Then we tried out the new stencils daddy bought for us to learn our ABCs.

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What will you do with your week??

Homemade Fizzling Easter DINOSAUR and Bird Eggs!

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As some of our readers already know, our kids are big dinosaur fans. They both love the excavation kits they have at kids toy shops. J has been super obsessed with eggs lately. I guess if you think about it. It’s pretty magical to a child. Such a pretty, fragile, yet sturdy thing can possibly hatch into a little creature such as a bird, lizard, or FLYING REPTILE! Not to mention it’s quite nice as breakfast 😀

To make the fizzling dinosaur / bird eggs, I used the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup bicarb aka baking soda (keep it handy in case you need more)
  • 1/4 cup corn meal (to add grainy texture. Some site suggest instant coffee but I didn’t want my eggs to look brown)
  • 1 tsp dish detergent (make EXTRA bubbles)
  • 1 tbsp conditioner (I had apple scented ones yum)
  • water (if necessary)
  • food coloring (gel if you want it to have a marble affect)
  • small dinosaur and/or bird figurines

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After you mix all (not food coloring and the figurine!) the ingredients together in a large bowl, see how you like the texture. You don’t want it too crumbly or it will be hard to mold and hold the shape. You will need to add a touch of water if that’s the case. If it’s too wet, then add more baking soda and corn meal.

Then I take a small handful out of the mixing bowl and into a smaller bowl to create one egg. I flatten it slightly and add a drop of each color I wanted. I used colors similar to the creature I’m placing inside the egg. Then i start mixed each color separately and then together. Get ready to have rainbow colored hands! Wear a glove if you prefer.

MAKE SURE you wash your hands and dry then between each egg so there’s no color transference!

If you don’t have gel coloring, normal food coloring works too but it will be a more even color instead of marble. I tried that with one of the eggs and that’s what happened.

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After I’m happy with the coloring of my egg shells, I flatten out my dough like a fat, oval pancake and place my creature in the middle long ways (think egg shape). I can’t remember which dinosaur this is…

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Then I fold and mold the dough around my creature. This one below is a kookaburra 🙂

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Keep molding and molding making sure it’s completely covered and nothing is poking out. Add a bit more dough from your main stash if you need to. Shape it like an egg with your hands. Place your completed eggs on a baking sheet and place it in a dry spot to harden overnight. My perfect location had been above the fridge for many projects. It’s also a good spot to hide from my little gnomes with their gnome-heights.

If your dough is a little more damp, it will take a little longer to dry. Just have a feel.

Tada! Aren’t they pretty?? The pastel colors are very Easter-esque!

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Easter Egg Hunt!

Here comes the fun part with the kiddies!

While my husband distracts the gnomes, I went and hid the eggs in the family room (pretty easy locations for little tots). As it can get a bit powdery, you may want to keep the eggs off furniture that is hard to clean off of.

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After finding their eggs, they brought it out onto the balcony where I had a plastic tray and some tools ready for them to excavate!

The eggs are pretty easy to break open and they loved feeling the sandy texture. We use spray bottles filled with vinegar to make them EXPLODE!

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Watch the colorful foam grow!

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In the end, we dumped the foamy mixture down our kitchen sink. Acted as a drain cleaner!

Bonus 😉

Then N surprised me and found the book in which the little dinosaur figurines came from and was pointing at the baby dinos hatching from eggs!

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