Some of my favorite art projects for young children include canvas fabric and liquid watercolors. There’s something magical about watching the watercolors bleed into the canvas and children are usually mesmerized by how beautifully the colors mix. Ever since seeing Meri Cherry’s lovely Mother’s Day Banners (head over to her website to see how they’ve made their banners and get a list of the supplies) I wanted to give them a try myself. Since my toddler art group was into drawing and/or color-mixing this project seemed like the perfect opportunity for an open-ended art exploration while possibly ending up with a lovely present for mom!
Instead of just black sharpies we used colored sharpies and my favorite canvas fabric to draw our special Mother’s Day messages. Looking for inspiration we asked questions like “What is Mother’s Day about?”, “What do you like doing with your mom?” (“When I was at the doctor my mom bought me an ice-cream, she always does!”), “What is something you love your mom does?” (“I really love it when my mom kisses me good night” etc.), “What is your mom best at?”, “What would you like to tell your mom?” and “Is there anything you’d like to say thank you for?”.
Most of the children wanted to tell their mom’s how much they love them and drew a heart. Some children drew one of their favorite activities that mommy does with them. Other’s decided to draw themselves and mommy and then their whole family, using mommy’s favorite colors. One child drew a butterfly because it’s the very best she can draw and also, it’s her mom’s favorite animal. No matter what each child drew, much love and consideration went into these banners and everyone found at least one good memory or something special that mommy does that makes them feel oh so loved!
Tip: When drawing, make sure to wear smocks and remind your children to handle the Sharpies carefully, trying not to touch skin or clothes. Sharpies are permanent markers that won’t come off your clothes. Also, some children might start to color their whole banner with Sharpies. Leave it up to them but explain that we’d still give our banner a watercolor wash which let’s the Sharpies shine through and that they won’t need to color everything in and might want to leave some space. Most children won’t resist the watercolors once you put them out.
Some of the younger children really wanted to draw a heart for their mommies but got frustrated with their drawing abilities. Drawing can sometimes be frustrating for children but it’s important that we give them the opportunity to work through challenges themselves and/or to come up with new solutions. Read more about what you can do when children ask you to draw something for them in this post. Since none of my usual responses seemed to help the children in our mixed age group that were still frustrated with their unrecognizable hearts, I simply cut out a heart template that they could tape to their canvas to trace which everyone seemed to be happy with. Plus, we got to practice those fine motor skills along the way.
Once the children were done drawing, I set out cups of liquid watercolors and put a foam brush in each color (mix some water with just a few drops of liquid watercolors until you like the hue and intensity of the color). I also use these trays to keep our tables clean which makes clean-up much easier. Take one color at a time and paint right over the sharpies which will still shine through. This is a perfect opportunity to practice sharing and for asking each other for turns with the colors. Point out how the colors bleed into the canvas, how beautifully they blend and which colors make brown together. To encourage color-mixing I sometimes say things like: “I wonder what color that would make with…?”.
To complete our banner we attached wire and beads to our canvas. I already strung the canvas to the wood dowels ahead of time so we were able to finish our banner in one session.
Since there’s nothing better than a nicely wrapped surprise we also made some handmade gift wrapping. For that I simply set out colored paper bags and a few inviting and nicely displayed decorating supplies (tissue paper, feathers foam shapes, sequins etc.) as well as some round gift tags with wire to attach beads and draw on. I showed the children how to use all these materials (e.g. I put the school glue in cups and explained how to make a little glue dot for the decoration and press one item at a time into it before the glue dries etc.), left the materials on our gift wrap table for the day and let the children decide when they wanted to come over to make their gift bag. Let dry briefly, fill with your Mother’s Day gift and staple your gift tag to the bag, voilà!
Happy Mother’s Day!