How to

How To: Bathtub Snow Graffiti

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator

Follow-up to “Winter Wonderland” Playdate, Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

When ice storms block your children from going outside, you can still give them the opportunity to be spontaneous and creative with nature by bringing the outside in.

Snow.  One of the most elemental, memorable art mediums from your childhood.  Recreate those memories for your little ones by making your bathtub the canvas!  With easy clean up and minimal effort, your child can be the bathtub graffiti artist of your household.

Materials needed:

  • Large empty container for carrying snow
  • Spray bottles filled with water and various colors

Note: Dilute a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor into each bottle.  Crayola poster paints watered down will also work. Test surfaces for staining first before painting.

  • If spray bottles are unavailable, use old ketchup or mustard bottles, squeezable jelly containers, a turkey baster or ear and nose syringe
  • Bathtub full of snow
  • Apron and towels
  • Extras: Popsicle or craft sticks, marbles, toy people and animals, sand toys such as small buckets and shovels, stuff from the kitchen such as measuring spoons and rolling pins, essential oils such as lavender or peppermint, and, of course, glitter.
Bathtub Graffiti

Bathtub Snow Graffiti


For starters, I like to mix up three bottles of primary colors: red, yellow and blue.  That way, your child is not only creating, but learning about color mixing and combinations. The more colors, the better.  But even one bottle of colored “paint” will do.

For an educational yet playful experience, try lining up the bottles on the tub’s edge.  Refer to the spray bottles as your child’s “artist tools,” the colored water as the “color palette,” and the white snow as “your canvas.”

Now…start spraying!

Additional Idea Prompts:

Remember, you can adjust the spray nozzle for a lesson about lines – fat, thin, wiggly.  Or create a splatter effect and discuss street artists who use graffiti as a form of expression.  Use the toy animals to make painted animal tracks.  Arrange random toys to make a collage.  Hide items and take turns counting how many your child finds.  Spell words in the snow using magnetic letters or alphabet blocks.  Create a LEGO Arctic landscape. Once the fun starts, there are endless opportunities for spending meaningful time playing in the snow together.

If the snow is too cold for little hands, try an alternative:

Shaving cream and baking soda.  Stir equal amounts of each until the snow becomes a thick, mousse consistency.  This “snow” can also be combined with food coloring or watercolor paint.  Try fingerpainting with it on sturdy paper plates for a snowy masterpiece you can keep – as it will air dry and harden overnight.


Kids Studio: Lego Landscape
Saturday, February 15, 2014

Give your “mini figures” their own mini world by creating a diorama—an entire landscape in a box that you can carry with you.  The imaginative world you design may appear as a freeze frame in history or tell a story about the future, or both!  Build your dream-like diorama using a blend of mediums and materials, including: Lego bricks, acrylic paint, clay, plaster, found and recycled objects and wire.  Key sculptural works in the Museum’s collection as well as the current exhibition of artist Diana Al-Hadid’s “Nolli’s Orders” will be explored.

Studio class is 12-3 pm.  Cost per class $10/member child, $15/non-member child.  Registration is required. Ages 5-7. 

Story Time in the Galleries
Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Quilt, by Ann Jonas: A small African-American girl is overjoyed with the new patchwork quilt her parents have made. As she sleeps, it comes alive, turning into a fantastical dreamscape she must enter in order to find her beloved stuffed dog. Travel to the studio after the story and share stories with local quilters while you make your own “no-sew” story quilt.

No registration required.  

Story Time is 11:15 am – 12:15 pm on the third Thursday of each month, when the museum offers complimentary gallery admission to all visitors. No registration required.  ALL AGES welcome!

Family Day: Printmakingpalooza!
Saturday, February 22, 2014

Have you ever used a rubber stamp or peeled silly putty off newspaper?  If you answered yes, then you’ve created a print.  Experimenting with printmaking allows young artists to try out different techniques and to see cause and effect in action more dramatically than with simply painting or drawing. Your budding master printmaker will enjoy testing unusual mediums like Jell-O and shaving cream at our printmaking “buffet,” which includes: mono-printing on the tabletop, gyotaku, or Japanese fish rubbing, printing with wheels, mirror-image string prints, Styrofoam, bubble wrap, and muffin tin printing, and macaroni collagraphs.

12-4 pm. Admission is free for families. No registration required. ALL AGES welcome!

Lego Landscape


Guided Visualization for Children, or How to Take a Trip with Your Kids Without Leaving Home

Follow-up to “Sunshine Playdate,” Thursday, January 9, 2014

Photo by Drew Smith Photography

Photo by Drew Smith Photography

Grown-ups and children alike are affected by the weather in Ohio.  Gray, cold days can take hold of anyone’s moods and when it’s too cold to go outside for days on end, your child’s abundant energy needs an outlet! Creative visualization is one way to take a trip while enjoying the warmth of your pajamas!  Let your child be the captain as their imaginations drift away by using simple storytelling and props on a fun, guided journey in the comfort of your living room. 

Materials needed:
A designated seat, preferably on the floor, such as a mat, cushion, blanket, pillow or soft throw rug.

While brainstorming your “adventure plan” (see below) you will create a list of “supplies” you may need on your trip.  Note: props can also be used to create special sound effects!

Examples of recycled props:

pillow = vehicle (boat, car, plane)

cardboard toilet paper tubes  = binoculars, telescopes

flashlight = lantern, headlight

aluminum foil = thunder

frisbee = steering wheel

scarf = sail

wooden spoon = oar

drinking straw = snorkel

toy blocks = dumped in a pile, arranged to look like a campfire

wax paper = ice

Extras: Sunglasses, hats, keys, umbrella, seasonal clothing and don’t forget your travel companions: stuffed animals, dolls or even the family pet!

HOW TO:  First, plan your adventure

Start off by brainstorming a far away (or even imaginary) place your child would like to visit.  Perhaps somewhere sunny and warm with a waterfall and a cabana nearby!  Ask your child to think of his/her adventure as a story web.  Start from the center (the main idea or setting of your adventure), then gradually branch out into the details, like a travel agent arranges the “where,” “what,” “why” and “how” of a trip.

Sample questions to generate ideas: “Where would you like to travel if you could go anywhere – and why?  How will you get there?  What will you do when you arrive, when will we come back home and how? Who might we meet there?”

…Enhance the mood or tone of your child’s storytelling by including background music as an added effect, and try speaking into an empty tin can as a microphone!  Your child will be entranced and transported to warmer climates in no time!


Story Time in the Galleries
Thursday, January 16, 2014

“Kokopelli & the Butterfly” by Michael Sterns is a book created for sharing with your children as we approach an important peacemaker’s birthday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Be part of the magical, tribal adventure of Kokopelli as he sends children a message of kindness, love, tolerance of diversity and peaceful conflict resolution then travel to the studio to create clay peace trading beads and terracotta coil pots to keep them in. Story Time is 11:15 am – 12:15 pm on the third Thursday of each month, when the museum offers complimentary gallery admission to all visitors. No registration required.  ALL AGES welcome!

Kids Studio
Saturday, January 18, 2014

Did someone say “Minecrafting” in the museum? Construct a 3-D “tilted” landscape, in which nothing is what it seems.  “Mine,” deconstruct and reassemble as you work with traditional and non-traditional architectural materials to create your own mini model environments while making aesthetic decisions about form, proportion and balance. Key sculptural works in the Museum’s collection as well as the current exhibition of artist Diana Al-Hadid’s Nolli’s Orders will be explored.

Studio class is 12-3 pm.  Cost per class $10/member child, $15/non-member child.  Registration is required. Ages 8-12. 

Family Day
MONDAY (Yes, we’re open!!!), January 20, 2014

Enjoy those closest to you while spending some time together working on peaceful, multicultural art activities in the Museum lobby.  Contribute to our 100 Acts of Kindness stained glass window art, celebrate skin color with painted portraits and create a “Hands Around the World” chain to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Join in a collaborative music ensemble then tour the galleries. 12-4 pm. Admission is free for families. No registration required. ALL AGES welcome!

How To: Have your own Messy Playdate at Home

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator

Follow-up to Creative Playdate: Messy Playdate, December 5, 2013.

Kids love to feed their curiosity by making a mess and using their senses in the creative process. Research for the education of the young child shows that more mess-making leads to higher forms of learning.

Homemade Peppermint Playdough:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp cream of tartar (for smooth texture)
1 cup water
1 tbsp oil food coloring (cake decorators paste or liquid makes great colors)
1 tbsp peppermint extract (easily found at craft stores in candy-making section or grocery store in baking section)

Ziploc bag or airtight container


  1. Mix together flour, salt and cream of tartar.
  2. Add water and food coloring, whisk until smooth.
  3. Cook over medium heat until playdough is nearly set (not sticking to the sides of the pan).
  4. Add peppermint extract and stir until blended. Remove.
  5. Knead when cool, add glitter and continue to knead.
  6. Store in Ziploc bag or airtight container for up to three weeks.

Extension activities: Fill an ice cube tray with small trinkets (buttons, coins, beads) and hide the trinkets in the playdough for your child to discover.  Older children may enjoy using tweezers to “dissect” the dough.  This is a great way to develop fine-motor skills.

Dinosaur Stamping:

If your child likes the idea of painting, but the concept of using brushes or fingers is not so appealing, then incorporate the objects he/she loves into a lesson not soon forgotten.  Try using an assortment of dinosaurs, animal figures and even Little People to trample through the paint and make “footprints” on paper.  Use cars and trucks to roll through red and right into yellow to engage your child in a mini color-mixing lesson. Have a warm soapy dishpan full of water or shaving cream nearby – and watch your children’s eyes light up as they give their painted toys a color “bath.”

Coffee filter painting:

A great way to use up old food coloring on a rainy day is to experiment with drip painting and color saturation on a porous coffee filter.  Be prepared to use a large stack of filters, as your kids will be entranced by the way the colors appear to “crawl” and “stretch” across the filter, creating beautiful tie-dye masterpieces when dry.

Rolling prints:

Old spouting, PVC tubing and roof edging (with safe edges for children) cut in half length-wise make wonderful ramps for rolling balls, cars and marbles.  Line your ramp with paper, dip your ball in paint – and, voila, you’ve made a rolling print!

Check out all our fun kids classes and playdates at

How To: Make a Thankful Tree

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator

Follow-up to Story Time in the Galleries on November 21, 2013

Bridging language connections to art-making deepens a child’s understanding of and appreciation for literature, the arts and the world they live in.  Carry out the message from our reading of “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,”  by author William Steig, through creating “thankful trees” at home.

Paper, cut into small, individual pieces
Ribbon or shortened pipe cleaner
Small terracotta pots
Small Styrofoam ball to fit snugly inside the pot
Cotton batting to cover the Styrofoam
Artificial pine branches or floral sprigs with spreadable branches

Hole puncher
Embellishments to decorate the tree: buttons, pony beads, ribbon, foam shapes
Fabric scraps to decorate the outside of the pot (watered-down glue or Mod Podge is a great collage medium)


  1. Place the Styrofoam ball into the pot.
  2. “Plant” the artificial pin branches or floral sprigs in the Styrofoam and cover it with the cotton batting (will look like snow in the pot).
  3. (Optional) Decorate the tree and pot.
  4. Ask your child what they are thankful for.  Write down their thoughts on small, individual pieces of paper.  Hole-punch each piece and tie a ribbon through it, or simply use a shortened pipe cleaner.
  5. Tie your child’s notes of thanks to the tree’s branches and celebrate a moment of gratitude!

How To: No-Sew Lavender Eye Pillow

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator

Follow-up to Creative Playdate: Yoga for the Young

Help your child relax while crafting this simple no-sew lavender eye pillow.

1 tube sock cut down to 10 inches long (cut off foot portion and elastic band near knee)
1 cup dried lavender flowers or 6 drops essential lavender oil
1 ½ cups buckwheat hulls or uncooked rice


  1. Close the sock at one end by typing with a ribbon.
  2. Fill the sock with the lavender and buckwheat hull filler, allowing enough room to close the other end of the sock with a neatly tied ribbon.
  3. Now, snuggle up in your favorite cozy place and relax with the eye pillow across your forehead while listening to music or a good book.

Check out all our fun kids classes and playdates at

How To: Plantable Art

Making plantable art.

Making plantable art.


Used paper

Warm water



Liquid water colors OR colored tissue paper (bleedable)

Flower seeds (small)

Plastic stitchery canvas


Plastic tracers and/or cookie cutters


1. Rip and tear pieces of paper, do not use scissors because the rough edges are necessary.

2. Place pieces of paper in a warm bucket of water. Once paper has been in the water for a few minutes, tear pieces into smaller shreds.

3. Add liquid water colors or bleedable tissue paper to the water/paper mixture.

4. Drain the water and fill blender half way with the paper mixture. Add one cup of water and blend on low speed. Paper pulp will be created!

5. Take the paper pulp out of the blender and add in flower seeds.

6. The paper pulp can then be molded to create a 3-D form or you can flatten the pulp out, forming it with cookie cutters or plastic tracers.

7. Allow pulp to dry. Then the shapes can be planted to grow flowers or sprouted in a ziplock bag.

Between ArtCamp@Dusk, Story Time, children’s art classes, workshops, tours, lectures and art, there is always something to do at the Akron Art Museum.

How To: Plastic Bag Fabric

Inspired by Untitled by Alvin Demar Loving Jr.

Making fabric out from plastic bags.

Making fabric out from plastic bags.


Plastic bags (variety of colors, patterns)
Parchment paper


Sewing machine


1. Collect plastic shopping bags. Look for interesting colors, patterns and designs.

2. Cut the plastic bags into shapes. Holding the bag taught makes it easier to cut.

3. Layer the cut pieces onto a larger shape of plastic bags. Create at least 6 layers but the more layers there are, the stronger the fabric will be.

4. Sandwich the layers between pieces of parchment paper.

5. Use a dry iron and press the layers together until they melt and fuse.


Make your fabric into a one-of-a-kind envelope with instructions at

Layout of fabric made from plastic bags,

Layout of fabric made from plastic bags.

Between ArtCamp@Dusk, Story Time, children’s art classes, workshops, tours, lectures and art, there is always something to do at the Akron Art Museum.


How To: Plastic Bottle Beads

Making plastic beads at the Akron Art Museum.

Making plastic beads at the Akron Art Museum.

Plastic bottles
Embossing heat guns
Permanent markers
Needle nose pliers (insulated)

String or wire

1. Collect and rinse plastic bottles. Try experimenting with different colored plastics.
2. Carefully cut the bottles into strips, varying the width of the strips will create different size beads.
3. Decorate the strips with permanent markers creating designs, patterns, or even writing a secret message.
4. Roll up the plastic strips and hold firmly with the pliers.
5. Heat the plastic with the heat gun and watch the plastic shrink and harden. When you are finished, let the bead rest on the pliers.

Showing off his plastic beads.

Showing off his plastic beads.

A whole bracelet of plastic beads!

A whole bracelet of plastic beads!


Between ArtCamp@Dusk, Story Time, children’s art classes, workshops, tours, lectures and art, there is always something to do at the Akron Art Museum.