When was the last time you got your hands wet with finger paint and
rubbed them all over paper?
This activity was a favorite of mine in my childhood
The entire family can share the creative process: mixing the paint,
preparing the area where
you will play, creating the art, cleaning up, and
deciding where and how to
display or otherwise use the finished products.
Perhaps you will prefer ready-made paint. But if you would like the added
activity of having your
children read or listen to directions, here is a recipe for
making some of your own:
Mix together one cup of corn starch or laundry starch with enough cold
water to make a smooth,
thin paste. Add one cup of soap flakes and a half cup
of salt. Put this in the
top of a double boiler and add a quart of water. Cook until
it is thick. Beat with an
egg beater. Add a teaspoon of glycerine to make it more
pliable and gentler on the
A quicker no-cook method (that may not last as long) can be made by
adding dry tempera paint
to liquid starch.
Have the kids spread out newspapers to protect the area where you will
be creating your art. A
good cover-up to keep clothes (relatively) clean is a
large t-shirt; I use these
in my classroom rather than old dress shirts, as they are
easier for kids to put on
and take off by themselves.
Kids can create their art on plain paper. Finger paint paper is available
many art supply stores.
One possibility for the fisinished products is to display
them intact around your
home. Alternatively, you can cut up the large sheets to
add an artistic touch to
plain note cards - either home-made or store-bought -
by affixing them on the
In this way, you can share small samples of your familyís art with people
whom you write. Itís also
a fine way to have the kids write a few words to their
grandparents, cousins, and
other loved ones when you send out notes.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís Advice to Parents.