I’m haunted by memories of art projects gone awry. Glue soaked hair, glitter ingrained carpet, paint splattered new pants, and tiny shreds of colorful paper … so much paper.
That’s why preschools exist isn’t it? So the teachers with Prozac-infused coffee can deal with the mess. Can you imagine 20 toddlers doing crafts? The horror!
Because I don’t want to win “World’s Most Boring Mom” for the second year in a row, I was compelled to find sanity-friendly art projects, ensuring my child has a cup or two of creative juices each day. Preferably juice that doesn’t end up spilled all over the living room couch.
These are my top seven sticky, shiny, tiny-free crafts for kids:
1. Shadow Art
This is the epitome of good clean fun.
Needed Materials: The sun and your small person.
Instructions: Go outside (or stay indoors), coax your shadows out of hiding, and dance around. The more outlandish and exaggerated your moves the better. Think modern dance meets Barney.
2. Dirt Art
All materials are generously donated by Mother Nature.
Needed Materials: Dirt, a stick, and old clothes (or no clothes if your neighbors are cool with some nudity).
Instructions: Insert children into old clothes (or out of new ones), give them the choice of three not-too-pokey sticks, place them in front of a patch of dirt, and watch as the masterpiece ensues.
3. Inner World Art
It’s a true coup in the world of motherdom if you’re able to coax your child into participating in this project.
Needed Materials: A quiet space, closed eyelids, and your mama imagination.
Instructions: Have your child close their eyes, take deep breathes, and verbally lead them on a magical journey to a mythical world full of Silly Putty, rainbow glitter, confetti, cotton candy, glue, and if all goes well, a nap.
4. Chalk Art
Yes, yes. I know this is a no-brainer, but the genius of a child-friendly writing utensil that doesn’t stain, can’t stab anyone, and is washed away with the squirt of a hose deserves to be honored.
Needed Material: Guess
Instructions: Find a patch of pavement, preferably not in front of your grumpy neighbors house (or maybe that’s the perfect location, depending on your mood that day), remind your child that chalk is not to be nibbled on, and get down on your hands and knees and join the fun.
5. Word Art
Warning: This could potentially lead to the creation of the next Eminem.
Needed Materials: Your voice, your child’s voice, and a thesaurus so you can cheat.
Instructions: Start with an easily rhymable word and have your child make a sentence with words that rhyme. Then, it’s your turn to rhyme, and on it goes until your brain hurts, or your child finds a pen to draw on the wall with.
If you have a boy, here’s a starter word that’s guaranteed approval: fart. Case in point: “The odor of your farts makes my heart give a start.” Winner.
6. Water Art
This secretly gives you an opportunity to clean your child if you have an anti-bather on your hands.
Needed Materials: A hot day, a bucket of water, a naked child, and a dry slab of concrete.
Instructions: Dunk their feet and hands in the water and instruct them to create a wonderland out of wet footprints and handprints on the concrete.
If you’re feeling extra magnanimous, allow them to splash the remaining water on you at the end, they’ll love it. I would take a gallon of water dumped over my head rather than a tiny vial of glitter opened in my living room any day.
7. Play Date Art
This is my personal favorite.
Needed Materials: Someone else’s house, glitter, glue, tiny pieces of paper, permanent markers, and someone else’s mother.
Instructions: Drop off your child at their friend’s house, donned in the hand-me-downs your sister’s friend gave you, and go get a massage.
These “art projects” may make me a shoo-in for this year’s “World’s Most Lazy Mom,” but I’ll take lazy over boring any day.
Plus, forcing the imagination to take the place of messy, over-stimulating craft-store materials will raise the SAT scores of our children — at least that’s the excuse I’m telling myself.