Hi, I'm Amy! I live in coastal New England with my three kids, ages 2, 7, and 9. I blog about our artistic adventures at kids in the studio and my own crafty pursuits at Salamander Dreams, but now that it’s finally summer, I'm looking forward to spending time digging holes and making sandcastles with my kids at the beach.
I’m really happy to be guest posting here while Mama Pea Pod spends some time with family! I’m sharing an activity my two-year-old, G, and I did several months ago. I’m passionate about providing my kids with opportunities for open-ended creative exploration, so I’m always on the lookout for new ideas to try.
Sometimes those ideas are hidden inside a more typical craft project; that was the case here. Family Fun’s February issue included instructions for a yarn heart. I thought, how fun would it be to run your hands along that sticky paste and put those yarn scraps any place you wanted, instead of being confined to a cookie cutter shape? So that’s what G and I did.
Materials: Yarn scraps; cornstarch glue; and some type of strong paper, cardstock, or cardboard (we used vellum paper). To make cornstarch glue according to the Family Fun recipe, stir ¼ cup cornstarch and ½ cup water in a small pan until it’s smooth. Heat over medium heat until it's thick and clear-ish. Let it cool so it doesn’t burn little fingers.
As a knitter, I have no shortage of yarn scraps. Whenever I weave in and cut those pesky ends, I save them. I can’t help it. They might come in useful some day. So I have overflowing bags of yarn ends, in any color you can think of. I cut some down, but I left the bag on the table, and G let me know if she needed a color that wasn’t already in the pile.
I demonstrated first to cut down on frustration: Put the yarn in the glue, run your fingers down the yarn to wipe off extra glue, and put it on the paper. As she worked, she repeated these instructions out loud to herself. She told me what color she wanted, and she let me know if the piece was too long and if so, where I should cut it for her.
Look at those wonderfully messy hands! They belong to a girl who is in charge of her creation!
Towards the end, G indicated she needed a particular small ball of yarn. At first I thought she was asking for the dark grey portion, which was in the middle of the bundle (it was a scrap ball from a self-patterning yarn). But no, she wanted the balls themselves, and she glued them on. Here’s her finished piece.
I never would have thought of gluing on whole balls, and I wasn’t sure they would stay, but who am I to place limits on ideas? They stayed put just fine, and she took her yarn art into another dimension!
This activity can be approached in various ways. I like the abstract image my toddler created, but older kids might want to try making a more representational picture or specific designs with the yarn. You can experiment with different textures (a fuzzy wool, a smooth mercerized cotton, a thin string or rough twine). Once the glue has dried, try making crayon rubbings of the yarn art or, if your child doesn’t mind painting their yarn art, some prints. Have fun!
(This post originally appeared at kids in the studio in a slightly different form.)