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With the warmer temps beginning this week I am looking forward to getting outside! However, it can be a challenge to get my kids outside. Once they are outside they will play, but I typically have to set the stage for them first. As a mom I am totally baffled by this. When I was a kid you could not keep me inside the house. I was happiest sitting outside under a big tree watching the clouds going by, or racing up and down the neighborhood street. Not sure how I ended up with two kids who need to be prompted to be outside.

I have discovered if I set a craft up outside they are more motivated to join me in the back yard and will likely stay outside longer. It can be a simple craft, or an entire project, but it helps transition to spending time outside.

By now you all know the benefits to getting kids outside. But just in case, here are 5 more reasons:

  1. Kids who interact with nature tend to engage their imaginations more and invent their own games. This involves critical thinking and observation of what’s in their environment.
  2. When kids are more physically active they are building gross motor and fine motor skills.
  3. Kids who spend time outside more tend to develop a lifelong love of nature and see the need to preserve it.
  4. Kids tend to develop more visual and spacial skills when learning to navigate natural environments.
  5. Anyone who spends time outside feels less stressed.

You may have heard the benefits of kids crafting. I like to be thorough so again, here are 5 more benefits:

  1. Crafting benefits executive functioning. Having to plan a project or craft and lining up each step helps kids with focus and memory skills.
  2. Develops fine motor skills. This helps with handwriting and coordination.
  3. Helps kids recognize patterns and sequence recognition.
  4. Crafting builds on long term academic skills like math and reading.
  5. Teaches social interactions like learning to share and use manners when sharing.

Why not combine these benefits and craft outside? The bonus is you can make a mess outside and not worry about having to clean it up right away, or any of the materials staining your nice dining set.

Outside crafts to do with your kids

If you are tired of the old standby of bubbles and sidewalk chalk try these 5 things to amp up your outdoor craft time.

Make colorful bubble art. Simply pour some bubble mix into a shallow bowl and add food coloring. Mix well and use the bubble wand to soak up the mixture. Blow bubbles right in front of the paper or canvas to be sure they land and splatter on the surface. This will make a really unique print for your house. Or turn the paper into personalized stationary.

Paint some rocks. You can paint rocks to add some color to your back yard, or create a fun tick tack toe set by painting three similar rocks to look like lady bugs, and another three rocks a solid color. If you really want to make a fun project sign up to paint some Kindness Rocks to leave around your community, or for friends and family to find in your back yard.

Make your own fossils. This was fun when we did it with cookie dough, now I can’t wait to try it with baker’s clay. Simply roll a small piece of dough into a ball and press flat between your hands. Then press a leaf, or pine cone, or blades of grass into the clay to create a fossil imprint.

Design a paint brush from nature. Simply dip flowers into paint and press flat against your paper to make a pretty print. You can also dip leaves, feathers, a bundle of pine needles or stems into paint and use them like a paint brush.

Re-imagine your water table. When my kids were really little we used the water table for more than just water fun. We filled it with things like shaving cream, a bubble bath for dinosaurs and cornstarch with water (it creates a really fun solid that melts into your hand).

Crafting outside has long term benefits for kids, and the combined benefits create life long skills sets. You don’t need to wait for summer vacation to give any of these ideas a try. As soon as the weather is nice enough to be outside skip the chalk and do something a little different! Your kids will always remember the fun you have together, no matter the craft.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

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What is fine motor skills anyway? Basically fine motor functions include the muscle groups needed for handwriting and hand eye coordination. Focusing on crafts and art activities that require kids to use small and coordinated movements helps build on those skills and develop those muscles.

My kids are still young and working hard on those fine motor skills. So we tend to focus on projects that help us work those small muscle groups and flex those fingers. When I found this project I thought it looks fun and like a great way for us to work some skills without it feeling like work.

heart-collage

Materials:

Paper plates

Hole punch

String or yarn

Scissors

Exacto knife

First you will need to cut out a heart shaped template. You can cheat (like I did) and print a heart shape to cut out, or simply fold a paper in half and cut out a heart. Next you trace around the heart shape, and last use the exacto knife to score (or cut depending on how thick your plates are) the shape. I did this part for the kids, but they used the scissors to cut out. If your knife does not cut all the way through use the scissors to cut the shape out of the plate.

heart-template

heart cut out.png

After you cut the shape, use the hole punch to punch individual holes around the outside of the heart (go through the inside of the heart).

heart holes.png

We taped one edge of the string to the back of the plate so we could push the other end through the holes. Zig-zag your stitches to allow for a more unique design. If the ends fray a bit, just wrap in tape to give it a sturdier end, or if you have a kid friendly sewing needle you can use that to guide the string through.

img_20170131_114122524_hdr

When you are complete this will make a really unique Valentines’ day decoration, or a fun piece of art to hang in your window to admire. How easy is this? You are done in ten minutes, no mess and your kids just worked on hand eye coordination.

My kids discovered this bonus craft. Punch holes around the outside of the heart shape you cut out of the plate. Attach a piece of string to the back and use it to lace around the outside edge. Viola! A homemade lacing card! It’s amazing what your kids will think of when you get them creating!

heart lace card.jpg

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

These gloomy days really help the colors of spring pop don’t they? In my neighborhood we can see the bright yellows and pinks jumping out against the green backgrounds. They seem so much brighter and bring a little color to the dreariness.

This week my girls and I are inspired to create something different. We want something colorful and expressive. Like everyone else these days I ran to Pinterest for inspiration.

I know what you’re thinking. What on earth is this woman going to make with tin foil, paper plates and a handful of colored markers? Well, keep reading to find out!

mayan supplies

 

First,  I pull out enough tin foil to cover my dessert sized paper plate. (You can use any size plate you have on hand). Next, I fold the edges of the foil inward (on the side of the plate you would normally eat). After the plates are wrapped, I flip them  over to use the bottom side for our drawings.

mayan materials 2

mayan plates

 

Before we start drawing with our pencils, I Google some images of Mayan Tin Art. The girls are inspired by the colors and the use of shapes and designs.  It is hard to duplicate the fullness of the colors used in the original art with just markers, but what else do your parents let you color with when you are 5?  We learn that many Mayan Art pieces were commissioned by Kings to commemorate a moment in their lives; and artists created large masks as portraits of the gods or kings. Of course now we need to make some masks!

Once we have our designs in mind we use our pencils to very lightly imprint the drawing into the tin foil. Then, we use the tip of the marker to fill in the lines with color.

mayan drawing

 

Here are our finished creations. My favorite part of this project (besides the low cost) is how invested the kids were in creating their designs. This is such a different project than our usual water colors and pastels. It was fun to watch them really put thought into making these. Plus, we learned a whole lot about Maya art history.

When we were done with our tin foil creations we decide to just draw on the paper plates. Why not? This was such a cool project and I love the color they bring to our little art gallery!

mayan tin art.jpg

These are so super easy to make and  I’ll bet you have all of the supplies you need for this project already. So give it a go to pass the time away with your kiddos on this rainy day!

Do you have a unique art project representing different cultures? We’d love to see some pics!

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter.

During my last visit home my mother handed me this haphazardly filled box of some of my old artwork and collectibles. Not everything fit and it was spilling over the sides of the box. I dropped most of its contents on the way to the car. I was excited to see mementos of my childhood but overwhelmed by sorting through it.

My sad little box.

My sad little box.

This made me think about how to store my kid’s little creations. Now that they are in pre-school they bring home new art projects each week (times 2). I went in search of ways to  organize and store their creations. I wanted something to last through their school years.

Some time ago I found a nifty and thrifty way to display our weekly creations. I fashioned a very simple and inexpensive hanging gallery using twine, 3M Command hooks and clothes pins. All items I already had on hand. This hangs close to our entry way so the girls can clip their art as soon as they walk in the door.

Our gallery line

Our gallery line

Simply apply the Command hooks according to directions and tie the ends of a piece of twine to each. Clip artwork to the line with a clothes pin. You can get as fancy as you’d like by using colored ribbon and colored clothes pins, or just keep it simple and use what you already have.

3M Command Hook

3M Command Hook

Artwork stays in the gallery for about a week (when the next round of art work starts coming in) before I sort through which pieces to keep and which pieces to toss. I am a ruthless chucker. I only keep the pieces that are really special. I’m a sucker for hand prints, projects made for mom and dad and anything that looks like more than practice scribbles. We haven’t had any over sized pieces yet, but I am already planning to toss those (unless my children are prodigies in that case I’ll keep them).

For storage, I purchased two plastic file bins at Walmart for less than $20.00. I re-purposed some file folders I already have and downloaded some free printables I found online. I like the simplicity of someone else doing the work and then downloading to print.

File storage bins

File storage bins

I don’t have enough storage for each child to have their own file bin, so I am doubling up. One bin is marked for preschool through sixth grade. The second bin is marked for seventh grade to twelfth grade. I will drop keepsakes for each child into one file folder and let them sort it out (10-20 years) later. Each folder is pre-labeled with the school year and inside each folder is a cover sheet to include school picture and school info. Since everything is labeled I can just drop keepsakes into appropriate school year and be done.

Pretty little tabs all in a row

Pretty little tabs all in a row

I save myself years of organizing time, and I save my kids the hassle of dragging toppling boxes to the car one day. The whole project took me less than 30 minutes. The most time consuming part is cutting out the labels and putting in the tabs. A project you can do easily in front of the TV.

How do you save your kids artwork? Are you a ruthless purger, or a keepsake queen?

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