Take art outdoors and help your child explore colors as you create a tablecloth together.
What You Need:
- plastic squeeze bottle
- water and food coloring
- old white sheet
What You Do Together:
1. Fill several squeeze bottles with water. Then let your child add a few drops of food coloring to the bottles, using a different color for each. Encourage your child to have fun shaking the bottles until the water is brightly colored.
2. Outside, place an old white sheet on the ground. Ask your child to find four rocks and to place one at each corner of the sheet to hold it down. Then ask your child to take off his shoes and socks.
3. Let your child choose one of the squeeze bottles. Ask him to walk around the sheet, squeezing the bottle and squirting the colored water on the sheet as he goes. Point out that if he keeps squeezing the bottle, the colored water will mark his path.
4. Invite your child to do the same thing with the remaining bottles of colored water. Ask him about the different colors he's using. Do any of the colors mix to form new colors? What shapes and patterns has he made?
5. Talk with your child about the colorful design he created on the sheet. When it's dry, you can use the sheet as a picnic blanket or tablecloth. Or hang it on a clothesline and watch it billow in the breeze!
More Ways to Learn
Create a crushed-chalk design. Collect pieces of chalk, a hammer, pie tins, liquid starch, a paintbrush, and an old white sheet. Outside, place the chalk in the pie tin. Help your child press the hammerhead against the chalk and grind it until it's crushed. Then let him dip the paintbrush into the liquid starch and paint a design on the sheet. Guide him to pinch bits of the crushed chalk and sprinkle it on the design. The chalk will become bright and colorful!
Make a rainbow. Cut five strips from an old white sheet. Each strip should be one inch wide and as long as your child's height. Mix water and food coloring in plastic containers, and soak each strip in a container. Then remove the strips and let them dry. Help your child tie a strip to each finger on one hand. To make a rainbow, he can wave his arms in an arc over his head. Then he can move hit hands to the rhythm of his favorite poem or song - or run free - and watch the colors dance along.
This activity originally appeared in the April, 1998 issue of Early Childhood Today.