Last week my kids had a day off from school but were too tired and cranky to go to a museum or out for a hike or even to the library. They also couldn’t just have “alone time” (seriously do anyone’s kids both want alone time at the same time, ever?). Just as the pitch of their bickering reached a dangerous level, I happened upon a super fun idea. I told them that we were each going to draw a creature and then we were going to do a series of art projects using those creatures.
Thus, Sparkle the Unicorn, Bluebell the Bluejay and Fran the Faun were born. This project worked really well for a few reasons. First, we could each do parts of an animal but we found that we liked having someone else do another part. So, I sketched a unicorn, Little Girl made it rainbow, Big Girl added the purple, I outlined it, and Little Girl covered it in glitter glue. Same process for Bluebell and Fran too (though minus the glitter!).
Doing it that way meant that we were working together… which means there was no competition. (A dramatic improvement from how our day had been shaping up before that.)
This approach also had the benefit of getting us all thinking about how we might want to use our creatures. What sorts of scene they should be in and how they fit together.
We decided to create a water color scene for the original animals but also to create alternate versions to fit with our bigger story. For one picture, Big Girl had the idea that we should trace the creatures so we could make multiples. I loved that idea and proposed that maybe we could use scraps of colored paper to make it work. For another version, I thought it would be fun to scan our coloring creations to resize, reprint and reuse.
We wrapped up our day by putting our creatures into scenes, a few of which I hope to frame and hang in the house.
We also ended the day happy, relaxed and feeling like friends. It is so tempting to think that when kids are cranky we need to get them out of the house to provide some stimulation. Of course, we can all end up stir crazy so sometimes getting out of the house is what is needed. But, sometimes, staying in, working together and building closeness is what we really need.
One of the best parenting books I ever read (Raising Your Spirited Child) proposed that when your kid is most monstrous and infuriating and you are most tempted to yell at him/her, the best thing you can do is give them a hug and try to reconnect instead of letting anger take over. This project did that for us.