Hello, Friends :)
A lot of my very favorite memories of elementary school (both as a student and as a teacher) involve the arts. I miss the singing and dancing, painting and coloring, interpreting and acting out plays... All of it. I especially miss the silly, sometimes gaudy/sometimes beautiful/sometimes unrecognizable, gravity-defying craft projects. Mobiles, stockings, clay pots, crayon resists, lanterns, soup can pencil holders...etc.. You name it, I wanted to make it.
As a student, I couldn't wait for the day the traveling art teacher would make her way down the hall to visit our classroom. She would roll her cart-full of construction paper and other magnificent art supplies right to the front of the room. I remember gazing at whatever media she decided to bring that day, full of anticipation of which kind of magic she'd be showing us. I'd listen to her instructions and do everything I could to soak in all the colors and textures and techniques. Along with the others, I'd also hope that we'd complete our projects that day. A familiar question always was, "Do we get to take it home?", and then, "Can we take it home TODAY?"
As a teacher, I looked forward to any time I could share Arts/Crafts projects with the kids. I reveled in the satisfaction each child showed in their completed works. Smiles were wide, hands were filthy and the room was abuzz with sharing each little masterpiece.
In reflection, I think what I love(d) most about art, is that it is so subjective. I remember asking the teachers (as my students asked me), "Is this right? Does this look good? Mine looks different than yours, what did I do wrong?" The answer was always the same. "You didn't do anything wrong.", or ,"How do YOU like it?" "How does it make you feel when you look at it?" "Projects are not suppose to be carbon copies of one another." The pieces were about individuality. Creativity. Confidence. Art in whatever form can give each of us that.
Unfortunately, school is getting increasingly difficult for young children. The lack of play and time for the arts is being replaced with standardized tests and cookie cutter-minded behavior. There is hardly any time for children to express themselves creatively; individually or socially. I find this to be one of the most tragic mistakes in education today. Yep, I'm a bit passionate about it. Sorry. The point is, as a student or a teacher, I've come to know that the Arts give us wonderful opportunities to express ourselves.
So, the next time your child brings home something wrapped in yarn or glitter, beans or pipe-cleaners; (or all of the above), the next time something comes home strung on a necklace or dripping with glue or wet paint, take just a second to look for their little name at the bottom and know that what you hold in your hands is a one of a kind piece of art; made for you from the perfect, individual spirit of an amazing, artistic child.
I thought I'd share an easy winter craft you could make with your kids. Or your friends. Or just you. No matter. My youngest was bored out of his mind on Friday night, so I taught him how to make some cute snowmen out of socks. If you're a normal human who has ever done laundry, you know you have at least ONE orphan sock lying around the house. (I have a whole basket of them.) Really, where in the world could 30-some mismatched socks go?
As with anything I show you on this blog, feel free to add or take away anything to make this project yours. I've taught lots of kids how to make these over the years, and i can bet you, that like all snowflakes, no two are the same. Celebrate that individuality people- every chance you get :)
Ingredients for Sock Snowmen-
-One sock. Preferably plain white. Any size. I know I told you to use your individuality, and by all means, please do. But I must ask you at this time to NOT use yellow socks. (No one likes yellow snow, ladies. )
-Any kind of shredded fabric(thin strips), ribbon or string. You'll probably need about a foot of any of it. Mix and match..
-Rice. About 3 cups per large snowman, 1 cup for kid's socks.I use whatever I can find in a big bag. Yes, I craft AND I am Japanese. I Loves me the rice :)
-Craft Glue-Rubber bands
-Various buttons, beads, markers
-Pipe Cleaners. Preferably Brown for the stick arms, but the youngest bedazzled his out with gold :)
1. Fill the sock with the rice. I wrap my sock around a glass to make it easier to help the little guy.
2. Pull up on the sock and pat down on the table to settle. Tie a knot at the top of the sock.
3. Bend over the top of the sock to cover the knot and create a "Hat".
4. Wrap the rubber band around where you want the neck of the snowman to be. Make sure it's fairly tight.
5. Use any of your fabric or ribbons to secure the hat in place (Not terribly tight) and to tie a scarf around his neck. Use thicker ribbon or fabric here so you can cover the rubber band.
6. Choose buttons, beads or extra fabric to decorate your snowman. Use glue directly on the snowman and then add buttons...
7. This may be easier if you lay the little guy on his back...
8. Wrap a piece of pipe cleaner through the back of the snowman's scarf and then towards the side.
9. Add a mouth or a nose with a Sharpie to look like a smile. (My little guy's snowman is riddled with a loose tooth)
And there you have it. A cute snow family. I'm glad there was a little glare because I made the baby snowman out of the most dingy sock known to man.
I said I was artistic, not proud, people! :)
Have fun, my friends :)