Under the Bed Kid Curated Art

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Elaborate Lego imaginative play made by my daughter.

I have been reading a fascinating book called, How Children Make Art: Lessons in Creativity from Home to School by George Szekely. There is a fascinating section in the book about pre-service teachers making home visits to document and discuss their students’ collections in their bedrooms, as a way to help future teachers balance the study of adult and child art.

The author points out that all young children start off as artists and collectors, and that their bedrooms are the home to rich and varied, yet carefully curated collections. The author argues that children lose this passion and love of art when they come to school and find no connections between their home art and school art. So, as art educators, what do we do to encourage the connections? How do we as adults honor their playful and un-adult eye for design?

I started by looking at my own two children’s rooms for ideas on what I can do to encourage their collections.

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Objects from my childhood treasures.

This book has been a timely read, as I recently helped to take apart a childhood collection site of my own – a glass case shelf where many priceless treasures were stored.  I did not photograph this lovingly curated shelf, before taking it apart.  Items had been in certain locations for so long that I can still close my eyes and see the arrangements.

My children sat with me, in absolute amazement, picking up each object one by one, treating each thing as sacred and precious.  They asked question after question, cataloging my responses as insights to my own childhood experiences, making connections that their adult mother was once just as imaginative as they are are now.  Revelations to my little humans!

My 8-year old daughter has a more elaborate system of set-ups, comprised of animal figurines, dolls, dollhouses linked together, scarves, washi tape, rocks, glass beads, shells, wrappers, and prize bin items. There are constantly items all over the floor, which at first appearance may seem random and messy, but upon closer inspection, they are set up in a deliberate and playful manner. She HATES the weekly floor clean up, in order to avoid her precious collection from being vacuumed up.

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My son’s collections are housed in old cigar boxes.

My 5-year old son, on the other hand, likes to keep his collections stored in a series of boxes, which are then in turn put inside his nightstand drawers and on his book shelf. If given the opportunity, he will pass on letting friends play in his room, because he likes the floor clean and free of items.

Enter a solution that comes from my hybrid roles of mother and art teacher – under bed platforms for each child’s room.  They can hold train tracks, cars, Legos, fairies, ponies, dolls, furniture, or whatever is being curated at the time.

We just so happened to have two nice pieces of plywood in the garage, casters in the basement, and kids who wanted to help in this process.

Eric had both kids help him to measure, mark, and screw in caster wheels to the bottom.  We left the wood natural, knowing that at some point they may paint them, tape paper on, or layer their own playful surfaces.  Now their curated collections can be safely stowed away to be returned to again and again.

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Two recent thank you notes made by my children.

This book has been an on-going source of ah-has for me and has helped me to honor the creative ideas and art making of my own two children.  My next step is to find more authentic ways to bridge the home art and school art of my students.

Egg Carton Wreath

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As I got out spring decor this year, I realized I did not have an egg carton wreath for my own front door, even though I was certain I had one somewhere in the basement.  Nope.  No luck, the wreath was absolutely, nowhere to be found.

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It was then that I realized I had assisted my students in making a few of these wreaths for a school fundraiser silent auction, and forgot to keep make one for myself.  As this was two years ago, I will chalk it up to post-baby-then-toddler mommy memory loss.

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So, what is a DIY mama to do?  Make a new one!  I set to work cutting up a paper egg carton, trimming them into semi-flower forms.  I used the ring of an extra large take and bake pizza box as the circular shape of my wreath.  I simply cut around the circle hole to make my wreath shape.  Otherwise, using a compass, large mixing bowls, or a pencil tied to a string are all great ways to make circles in your cardboard.  Then, I painted the cardboard ring blue.

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The kids needed an on-going project this week to work on.  March has been rough – sickness, snow, rain, freezing rain, more sickness, cold weather, mud, and time changes.  Ugh.  It’s enough to drive any teacher or parent mad right now.  So, we spread out newspaper and the egg carton eggs, divide up some different size brushes and started painting.  We always use liquid tempera paint for kid craft projects like this.  It is washable, bright, and easy to dispense and mix.  I personally like Crayola liquid tempera paint.  The 12 bottle set is a great array of colors and will last!  Actually, if it lasts too long, it will start to stink, FYI.  If you do not plan on doing a lot of painting, or are painting a smaller project, the 8 oz size bottles might be a better choice.

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After the flowers were dry, we simply glued them onto the blue wreath ring.  We just used liquid Elemer’s glue, so the kids could help.  If it falls apart, I will fix them with hot glue.  The leaves are made from green construction paper and origami paper squares.

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After attaching the leaves with liquid glue, I also decided to add some embellishments on the flowers with some of the printed origami paper.

Vegan Blondie Bars

I love a solid baking or cooking challenge – veganizing and freeing of gluten are two that I do frequently.  With food allergies and diet preferences abundant in my circles, I have come to embrace this style of preparing food.

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I made these during the month of crazy-busy April.  I wrapped up a grad class, an art class, a presentation at work, and working on some other big changes all in one month.  I made time for some fun around Eric’s birthday weekend though.  We got together with some friends to grill out one evening, and I brought these lovelies along for dessert.  The swapping of a few ingredients made them no less delectable, I promise!

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To make these vegan, I swapped out butter for coconut oil and chia seeds for eggs.  I decided that while I was it, I may as well swap out the brown sugar for coconut sugar.  It made them a little less sweet tasting but kept the chewy goodness.

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This is the fantastic meal prepared by our friend, Ben, which preceeded the dessert.  I’m drooling just looking at this image – please start a food blog!

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Q proceeded to work on his tag – making these diagonal pink lines all over the sidewalk, steps, hose, himself… Yup, those are my wedding shoes, they are still going strong.  More on the rest of April later – I have been busy creating, just not posting/sharing busy.

 

Vegan Blondie Bars – adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook

  1. In a small bowl combine: 2 tablespoons chia seed with 6 tablespoons water.  Stir and allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour or till thickened and gel-like.
  2. Grease 13x9x2 inch baking pan with dairy-free shortening.  Microwave 2 cups coconut sugar and 2/3 cup coconut oil until oil is melted.  Stir until mixture is smooth.  Cool slightly.  Combine with chia seed and water mixture and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
  3. Stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups Cup 4 Cup mix, for gluten-free option!), 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon baking powder.  Mix in 1 cup semi-sweet, vegan chocolate chips.
  4. Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes or till a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool slightly.  Cut into bars while still warm.