Project: Paper Mache

Here’s an art project that’s easy and such fun! You make one too, Mom. A lot of the fun for your kids is working side-by-side and watching Mommy create!


Paper Mache Bowl

This lightweight bowl can hold napkins, hair scrunchies, paper clips, candies for a gift, dinner rolls, and more. It can’t get wet, and it can’t carry a very heavy load.

Petroleum jelly
Acrylic paint (tubes in the craft section of Walmart, craft stores, etc. are about $1)

(This project is a bit messy, but very fun! Do it outside or cover the table with newspapers first. The flour/water paste washes out of clothes and off surfaces.)

1. In very large bowl, mix 2 parts water with 1 part flour (any type) and whisk until smooth and thick. This is your paper mache paste mixture.

2. Blow up balloon to desired size and set down into a cup (with the tied part of the balloon down) to hold it in place. Very lightly coat the top half of the balloon with petroleum jelly so the balloon will not stick to your bowl. (Do a lighter coat than the photo!)


3. Rip newspaper into 1″ strips. (Do not cut, you want ragged edges to smooth down more easily). Immerse strips into the bowl of paste mixture to moisten thoroughly. They can remain there while you work.

4. Pull a strip of wet newspaper through two fingers to smooth off excess paste mixture. Lay this strip onto your balloon and smooth with fingers to get out bubbles, wrinkles, excess glue. Continue laying strips of newspapers in every direction to form a thick coating, at least 4 layers thick.

mache2    mache3

Emily (17, on the right) and her friend Lizzie can't resist joining in the younger kids' fun!

Emily (17, on the right) and her friend Lizzie can’t resist joining in the younger kids’ fun!

5. Create a base for the bowl to sit on, and other features, such as little knobs (or a princess crown design, or a handle, etc.) by squishing up the wet newspaper and sticking it on the paper mache coating you have layered onto the balloon. You can cut a paper ring for the bowl to sit in and paper mache it onto the bowl or cut a circle out of cardboard and paper mache it onto the top of the balloon (so it will serve as a base).


mache5   mache6

6. Let dry for 24-48 hours in a sunny window if possible. When your paper mache bowl is completely dry, pop the balloon (and listen to the interesting sounds it makes as it pulls away from the dried paper mache!)

7. Put a big rubber band around your dried paper mache as a guideline to cut a straight edge for the top of your bowl. Cut with scissors.

8. Paint using acrylic paints. Two coats is needed to cover the newspaper print. Top with an acrylic glossy finish coat if you want it to look shiny.


Louisa’s pink princess bowl (with lots of glitter inside and out!)



Emily’s daisy bowl



Mommy’s green and lavender bowl on a base. (that’s me!) 

mache11You can create fun sculptures of animals or people using a foundation form of boxes, toilet paper rolls, empty dishwashing soap bottles, or whatever you can find around your house. Masking tape them together and paper mache over the top of it all. If you have a sturdy form, your creation can carry a heavy load, like the pencil holder below. Paper mache the outside of an empty tin can to make a pencil holder for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts!

Have a good time together!


May I recommend:

Project: Harvest Wreath

Feed Creativity!

Scribble Art

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Project: Twig Furniture

I shared with you the cozy country cottage that Louisa made. Come with us to build some charming twig furniture to go inside!


Here’s how:

1) Just gather twigs. (These are cherry and peach branches recently pruned from our orchard.)

2) Plug in a the low-heat glue gun and get your garden clippers.

3) Use the garden clippers (or kitchen scissors) to clip the twigs into short lengths.


To make a little chair, cut and lay out the pieces you need. Just estimate! Cut one twig and then use it to measure against to cut others the same size.

Just to give you an idea, here is the size I used, but I didn’t measure them when I made it:

2 long twigs (about 2.5″ high) for the back legs
2 short twigs (about 1″ high) for the chair front chair legs
8 twigs for cross bars (about 1.5″ long)
about 10 (2″) twigs for the chair seat


4) Glue gun the chair frame together. Add crossbars to make it stable.


5) Glue twigs across . . .


. . . to make a sturdy seat! I added a little “V” shaped piece of twig to the chair back to make it fancy!


Aw, that feels good to sit down and relax a while! To put our feet up, we’d need a footstool. That shouldn’t be too hard!



It would really feel good to lie down on a bed!


Make a bed just like a chair, except make the “seat” bigger, and closer to the floor. And spread out the twigs going across so they just hold up the mattress. This little bed measures 4″ long. The head bedpost twigs are 2.5″ high.


This bed just needed somebody to lay in it, so I quickly drew a little gal to nap there while I fold some cloth into a tiny mattress and pillow.

Now we are dreaming of making a little doll to live in this cottage.


May I recommend:

Feed Creativity!

Build a Cozy Country Cottage

Home Made

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Build a Cozy Country Cottage


Louisa had a great time building a cozy country cottage in miniature! All you need is cardboard, glue, acrylic craft paint and some tissue paper for flowers to bloom around your door! This doesn’t have to be a female craft. Boys can make a fire station (complete with second floor fire-pole) or a space station . . .whatever you can imagine . . .


Want to make one? Here’s how:


Cut a little front shape out with doors and windows. Our door measured about 3″ tall.


Bend a piece of construction paper, cardstock or thin cardboard over the house front to make a roof. Attach with glue or tape. Paint it. Blossoms can be made by squishing up little squares of tissue paper and attaching with glue stick.


Paint a cheery color in the inside (like yellow walls and ceiling). Louisa painted a wooden plank floor too. Glue it down onto a piece of cardboard which you can paint if you like. Louisa made daisies in the grass and a cute stepping stone pathway to the front door.

Next, we’ll build the furniture!

Ahhhhh. . . . it is very satisfying building a house!


May I recommend:

Project: Twig Furniture

Art: What to Teach?

Easy Breezy Kids’ Gifts

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Art: What to Teach?


Fine arts are often the first to be cut from public school curriculum when the budget gets tight. We want our children to be cultured! Art is a big part of cultural refinement, but do we start? Basically, 1) doing art and 2) enjoying and learning from art that was done exceptionally well over the history of our world.

Art Expression

Doing art is just that: experimenting with different mediums (crayon, chalk, paint, clay, etc.) to create something beautiful that conveys a message, meaning or mood. This is the “fun” art that children love and do so spontaneously, without any fear of censure. Almost all children love doing art!

As children grow up, our job as a mother is to protect that wonderful, free-flowing creativity that knows no embarrassment. This is done by our attitude, and also by protecting our children from criticism of others. Rejoice in what your children create! Be positive. Work along-side your children on your own art, so that you are their mentor in being spontaneous, not self-conscious or self-critical. Seek your children’s feedback in improving your own artwork, and give your children small doses of kind, careful feedback and instruction (after lots of enjoyment, praise and positive comments).

Don’t save “Art” for a special class. We use daily journal writing to help my children learn to write and express themselves in our homeschool, and this provides a time to sketch or draw daily to express themselves too. They write on paper that has a blank half page on the front so they can illustrate what they write. This habit promotes that ease and lack of embarrassment that enables artistic expression. It also frees them from the encumbrance of words! Do you know how much easier it is to draw the cave entrance than to describe it in words?! Both skills make a literate person.

There are many “how to draw” books available. Teach your children the basic skills while they are young, just like you teach them phonics. Once children are given the tools (either to read or to draw), the practice over the years just perfects those skills.

Art Appreciation

Who is Mona Lisa? Part of being culturally literate is to know the works of the great masters of the art world.

To plan your “Great Artists” class, start with a list. Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vincent Van Gogh and Raphael are great artists that you will find ample information about. I like to introduce Mary Cassatt because she mostly drew children, and Winslow Homer for his exciting outdoor scenes. For older students, you may want to teach by art movements or period. There is so much (too much!) information on the internet!  You’ll find color reproductions, plus many books on the market and in the children’s section of the libraries to help you too. Take one artist at a time: learn about his life and look at his great works. This can be a once-a-week 45 minute lesson per artist or you can delve deeper. Read commentaries on his most famous work. Try to replicate the artist’s style in a project in homeschool. This method is exciting and memorable to a child. I’m glad to learn it now, as an adult!

If you want an easy course already set up for you, try Discovering Great Artists which couples learning about the artist with instructions for an art project (in the artist’s style) to do yourself. Look at some color reproductions from the internet or books, and this course is wonderful and easy for mom to pull off without too much effort. It is geared for elementary-aged children, but can be used as a framework for 8th-12th grade by creating more detailed art projects and going into more depth in the study of the artist.

6959-150x150Another course I have used with  my children and truly appreciate for teaching children to recognize great artists is the Child Sized Masterpieces program.  Children learn art in a very hands-on, “do touch” these paintings way with postcard-sized masterpieces.

1483For “doing” art, nothing beats Scribble Art. It has every imaginable art or craft project, and is great for all ages!  This book alone will keep your children enjoying all the art projects you need.

If you are looking for an excellent “how-to-draw” book, may I recommend my favorites:

1885Drawing Textbook is an excellent handbook for the teacher to follow as she draws on the chalkboard or whiteboard and has the children follow along in each exercise.  A wonderful book!

Draw Squad takes the lessons in the Drawing Textbook and expands them in this write-in student workbook.

10129The Big Yellow Drawing Book is a fun step-by-step draw-in workbook that teaches basic drawing skills.

I’ve used them all and love them!  I would start with the Drawing Textbook if you want to give your children drawing lessons all at the same time.  If you want one student to work on his own learning to draw from a book, Draw Squad is the most thorough.

905020 Art Lessons provides a draw-in workbook, using color also, that teaches some basic principles of art such as the color wheel, how to achieve texture in drawing, etc.



May I Recommend:

Watercolor Journaling Kit

Draw Squad

Art Portfolio

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Homeschooling Assignment #6

All finished with Assignment #5?

I’m excited ’cause this is so much fun! Your children are going to love it, and so are you!

Assignment #6: Let’s Sculpt!


First, you need supplies, so put this on your grocery or “gather” list so you’ll be ready to have a good time!

Ice cream sandwiches made of clay, look good enough to eat!

Ice cream sandwiches made of clay, look good enough to eat!

Supply List


(plastic $1 tablecloth or old vinyl tablecloth or plastic placemats–not your best ones)

2—colored clay

Sculpey clay or any playdough or clay that hardens when it bakes or dries is best. Make sure your clay is the kind that dries or can be baked to hardness. What fun is it to spend your time creating something wonderful just to smash it when you are done? If it is soft clay, even if you try to preserve it by not touching, it just doesn’t hold its shape that well, especially when bumped! If you don’t like collecting too much stuff, your child can give it their creations to someone as a little gift with a little card or scripture verse done in their best handwriting!

Garlic press, toothpicks, rolling pin, fat pencil to serve as a mini rolling pin, tweezers, kitchen utensils, chop stick, pizza cutter, fork, etc. The more the merrier, as this is where you can really get creative and expressive. A garlic press is hard to clean. If you can find a cheapy one and use it just for clay, you’ll be happier to sculpt more often! But it makes such great hair or fur that you really can’t deny yourself of the pleasure of squeezing clay through a garlic press!

Pick up an idea book at the library or get out some children’s coloring books that simplify objects and animals to black line drawings. These ice cream sandwiches are made from clay!  You’ll find lots more fun in this book: Clay Charms.image-1

Let’s Sculpt!!

Lay out a cheap vinyl tablecloth so you can have fun without making a cleaning job for yourself before lunch. You can fold it up and re-use it next time you play clay. If you feel more creative with classical music, put that on too! Start with a newborn in blanket. This will get everyone sculpting and ideas brewing. Think “small”. You only need a golf ball size of clay to create something charming! Remember, this activity is for Mom and teenage boys and middle sized girls and little babies and everyone.

Here’s how to make a Newborn in Blanket

Step 1
Take a marble sized ball of clay to roll the head. You can use white with a little pink blended in, or white with a little brown blended in or straight dark brown (depending on skin tones of your baby). Roll this into a ball and set aside.


Step 2
Get another marble-size piece of colored clay. In our sample, we mixed white with blue and green flecks of clay. When we rolled it out thin it looked like a blanket. Use a rolling pin or a pencil to roll out the clay very thin. Use a pizza cutter to cut a 3″ square shape.

Step 3
Scratch the back surface of the baby’s head ball to rough it. Scratch the inside upper corner of the blanket on the surface and then press the head on.

Step 4
Fold the blanket up from the bottom until the point touches the baby’s chin. Fold in the side of the blankets.

Step 5
Roll a little pinch of brown, black or blonde colored clay into a little curlicue. Poke a toothpick down to make a hole in the top of the baby’s head. Stick the piece of “hair” into the hold and pinch inside the hole with the end of a toothpick.

claybaby (2)Step 6
Make a little teeny ball for a nose and adhere it just like the hair.

Step 7
Using the end of a pencil or other tool, make a poke for the eyes and mouth of the baby. You can enlarge the mouth into a big crying mouth by wiggling the pencil around to make the hole bigger.

Bake your baby to permanence and you’ll have a little creation that makes everyone who sees it go, “Ooooh, how cute!”.


Now, try this!

claypig (2)Instructions for Sculpting a Pig 

You will need:
A small marble-size ball of pink clay
Scraps of pink and black
Toothpick or paperclip

Step 1
Roll clay into a ball

Step 2
Make the face parts:
Triangle ears
Round eyes
Nose: a flattened ball with toothpick-drawn nostrils
Curly tail (wrap around a toothpick or wire)

Step 3
Bake 30 min at 275 degF/135 degC

Now, when your creativity is spent, lay your objects carefully on a cookie sheet to bake or dry. FUN!

Your kids are going to be asking when you are sculpting next! Friday afternoon sculpting sessions can become a nice reward for a week of schoolwork done!

Let’s go to Homeschooling Assignment #7.



May I recommend:

Paper Mache

Sculpey Clay

Shrink & Link Jewelry

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