Ultra-Creative Project Ideas Your Kids Can “Maker” Themselves! Just Gelin’ – An Edible Art Activity!

Take a break from the summer heat and get creative with an art activity you can eat! Kids love creating custom designs out of Gelatin shapes and you’ll love the brain-boosting benefits of this out-of-the-box project, including inspiring creativity and imagination, building fine motor skills, introducing key early math concepts and vocabulary, and more.

Patterning is a basic early math skill and lays the foundation for learning the building blocks of addition, times tables, and skip counting (counting by 2’x, 5’s, 10’s etc). A pattern is really only a pattern when it repeats at least twice. Follow the instructions below and encourage your child to pattern the colors and shapes – try an AB, AB pattern, then ABC, ABC, then ABAB, and so on. Then let your kiddo get creative, designing their own abstract shapes or creating recognizable objects like houses and cars, using the mosaic shapes you’ve cut out of gelatin!

Let’s get started! Follow the instructions below, using the materials below, and be sure to post a photo of your fantastic creations on our Facebook page. And, if you enjoyed this activity, be sure to check out the rest of our DIY Creativity Camp activity blog posts!

(For our kid Makers who are reading this, make sure to ask a parent to help you with these projects!)

Jello Gelatin Art

Download PDF: Picture Perfect Gelatin Art Steps

Just Gelin’: Picture Perfect Gelatin Art!

Materials:

  • 5 pouches (1 oz each) of clear gelatin
  • 3 small boxes (3 oz each) of flavored gelatin (my daughter chose red, orange and blue)
  • 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
  • Water
  • Plastic wrap
  • 3 Containers/pans for your flavored gelatin (4″ x 4″ or bigger)
  • 1 Large container/pan for mosaic making
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups

How To:

STEP 1: MIX GELATIN AND LET SET

Jello Art - Step 1Jello Art - Step 1

Line your containers with plastic wrap so you can easily remove the gelatin.

Mix one pouch of clear gelatin with 1 cup of boiling water in a bowl. Stir until dissolved. Then add one box of colored gelatin to this mixture, stir until dissolved, and pour into one of your containers. (Note we recommend less water than stated on the gelatin package so the gelatin blocks are firmer and easier to work with.)

Repeat step two for the other two colors. Refrigerate all three containers for at least three hours.

STEP 2: CUT GELATIN INTO TILES

Jello-Art-step2bJello-Art-step2

Remove all colors from the fridge, remove the gelatin from the containers, and cut each color into 1” x 1” square tiles, about .5 thick.

Return cut cubes to their containers and put them back in the fridge.

STEP 3: MAKE MILK GELATIN 

Jello-Art-step3In a mixing bowl, mix two pouches of clear gelatin with 1/2 cup of cold water.  Let this sit and thicken for a few minutes.  Add 1.5 cups of boiling water to this and stir until dissolved. Then add the can of condensed milk and stir until smooth.

Pour a thin layer of this milk gelatin (no more than 1/4″ thick) into your large pan, place in the fridge, and let chill a few minutes – until it thickens up a bit. Leave the rest of the milk gelatin to cool on the counter top – do not put this batch in the fridge.STEP 4: CREATE YOUR ART

STEP 4: CREATE YOUR GELATIN MASTERPIECE

Jello-Art-step4When the milk gelatin has thickened a bit, remove it, and your cut, colored squares, from the fridge and place it on the counter or table where you’ll be working. Then use the colored tiles to create patterns, designs, or pictures by placing them directly into the milk gelatin pan. When you’re done, return the milk gelatin to the fridge for a few minutes.

Tip! Try cutting your tiles into different shapes to help with your designs, like the blue and orange below:

 

STEP 5: SPOON MILK GELATIN BETWEEN TILES

Take the pan out of the fridge and carefully spoon some of the extra milk gelatin left in the container on the counter to fill the spaces between the gelatin tiles.

Jello-Art-step5

STEP 6: VOILA

Refrigerate until set and “Voila!” Picture Perfect Jello Art!

Jello-Art-step6Jello-Art-step6B

Brain Boosting Benefits:

  • Encourages imagination and creativity
  • Enhances fine motor skills
  • Introduces basic geometric shapes and vocabulary
  • Introduces patterning, a basic early math skill

 

DIY Instruments That Really Rock!

Let’s make some music! Music is a wonderful way for kids to express emotion, release energy, calm themselves – and so much more. Playing with beats and rhythms provides a fun, early introduction to patterns, division, and fractions. Plucking and strumming introduces the scientific concepts of vibration and amplification. Making music also enhances self-esteem, promotes discipline and practice, develops fine motor skills, and boosts short-term and long-term memory.

Sign you up, right? You just need one thing—an instrument. If you don’t have a piano or violin lying around, don’t worry! Follow the instructions below and we’ll show you how to make your own instruments with just a handful of rubber bands and objects from around the house.

What are we waiting for? Let’s rock!

For our kid Makers who are reading this, make sure to ask a parent to help you with these projects – and if you enjoy this one, be sure to try the rest of our DIY Creativity Camp activities.

Rubber Band Rock

Materials:

  • Rubber bands – a mix of different kinds (lengths, widths)
  • Shoe boxes, Tupperware, paper cups, and other receptacles to amplify/resonate sound

How To:

  1. Choose your first “resonator” (box, cup, container)
  2. Stretch your rubber band(s) over your resonator.rubber_rockband1 rubber_rockband4 rubber_rockband2
  1. Give each rubber band a pluck. Listen for different notes. Stretch them tighter (or use thinner rubber bands) for higher pitch notes. Leave them looser (or use thicker rubber bands) for lower pitch notes.

    rubber_rockband3

  2. Start strummin’! Try different configurations of plucking to make different tunes.

There! You’re not just a music maker – now you’re part of the Maker Movement! And Makers share what they’ve made and how they’ve made it so others can give it a go. Please be sure to share YOUR wonderful creations by posting photos on our Facebook page. We also encourage you to build upon these projects and make them your own – change the materials, try a different construction, add something new – and share again!

Brain Building Benefits:

  • Encourages creativity and imagination
  • Introduces early math and science concepts
  • Enhances fine motor skills

Add Some Smoosh to Your Summer With… Marshmallow Math!

DIY Marshmellow

Slip some learning into your summer with marshmallow math! Your kids will love this tasty take on construction play and the benefits of construction play are nearly endless, including the introduction of basic science, math, architectural, and engineering principals and vocabulary.

So go ahead – try a tasty twist on traditional building with this fun—and edible!—construction activity. Using marshmallows and toothpicks, follow the step-by-step instructions below for a sweet summertime activity guarantee to keep those school skills sharp.

For our kid Makers who are reading this, make sure to ask a parent to help you with these projects and don’t forget to post your results on Facebook. And if you enjoyed this activity, you’ll find other DIY Creativity Camp activities on our blog!

Snack-ometry

Materials:

  • A box of toothpicks (plain or colored)
  • A bag of mini marshmallows (white or multi-colored)

How To:

  1. Insert the toothpicks into the marshmallows to design your own, colorful creations. Practice making simple shapes first.
    Step 1 - Marshmellow Construction
  2. Once you’ve got the hang of it, try creating more complex shapes and structures.
    Marshmellow Construction 2
  3. Try breaking the toothpicks into different sizes.
    Marshmellow Construction 3

When you’re done – and before you start snacking – please be sure to share your edible constructions by posting photos on our Facebook page. We also encourage you to build upon these projects and make them your own – change the materials, try a different construction, add something new – and share again!

Brain Boosting Benefits:

  • Encourages creativity and imagination
  • Introduces simple engineering and architectural concepts
  • Introduces key geometric shapes and vocabulary

Bonus! If your kiddos loved constructing geometric shapes with this exercise, they’ll love the shape-shifting, cube-contorting challenge of RiddleCube™ the Game!

 

Make Your Own Fun! Totally Unique, DIY Arts & Crafts Activities That’ll “Maker” Your Summer!

DIY Calder Mobile

If you can dream it, you can make it! The Maker Movement is gaining steam, with imaginative-types around the world creating their own electronics, robots, metalwork, woodwork, traditional arts and crafts, and more. Using found or repurposed materials, creativity, and a little elbow grease, artists just like the ones in your family are digging in and making amazing things, all on their own.

This month’s DIY Summer Camp is inspired by Makers! A series of blog posts will each feature step-by-step instructions for totally unique and kid-fun maker arts & crafts activities you and your child can create together. Not only are these art, construction, and music projects a wonderful opportunity for some serious quality time, but they’ll also inspire creativity and imagination, instill confidence, enhance problem solving skills, introduce basic math, science, and engineering, and develop motor skills. In other words, they’ll keep those brains busy over the summer!

Many participants in the Maker Movement share what they’ve made and how they’ve made it so others can give it a go. Please be sure to share YOUR wonderful creations by posting photos on our Facebook page. We also encourage you to build upon these projects and make them your own – change the materials, try a different construction, add something new – and share again!

(And for our kid Makers who are reading this, make sure to ask a parent to help you with these projects!)

 

Poetry In Motion

The father of the modern mobile, Alexander Calder, is best remembered for his amazing kinetic sculptures, featuring perfectly balanced or suspended objects that moved by motor or wind power. Follow the step-by-step instructions below, using objects you have at home, to make your own Calder mobile and get some hands-on practice with the concept of balance.

Materials:

Calder Mobile Materials

  • 20 Gauge florist stem wire (wire hangers will work too, but are harder to bend)
  • Construction paper
  • Foam sheets (found at craft stores or in the arts & craft section at your big box store). Construction paper will work as well.
  • Glue stick or hot glue gun
  • String
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • 10- 15 Paper clips (you may need more depending on your design)
  • Optional – downloaded printouts of our Racoon Rumpus  and Sea Squad designs

 Seasquad Design

 How To:

Step 1

  1. Using your pliers, bend a loop in the center of the stem wire.Step 2
  2. Stack two sheets of foam or construction paper on top of each other and cut a shape for the end of the wire. You can also use Raccoon Rumpus and Sea Squad cut outs.

    Step 3 AStep 3b

  3. Place one shape on a table, cover with glue, press one end of the wire into the glue, and press the other shape on top.Step 4
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other end of the wire. The shape can be different, but if you want your mobile to balance, use a shape that’s similar in size to what’s on the other end.
    Step 5
  5. Hook three paper clips together, then hook the chain to the top of the wire loop in the center of your mobile. Now hook 3 paper clips together. Then hook the chain to the top of the loop.  This allows you to hang your mobile.Next, hook three more paper clips together and hook this chain from the bottom of the wire loop in the center of your mobile. You’ll hang the next piece of your mobile from this chain.

    maker7

 

  1. Use a wire cutter to cut another segment of wire in half, making a loop in each cut piece, and gluing additional shapes or characters to each side of each end.Step 7
  2. Using another piece of wire, make a loop in the middle and bend the ends into loops.
    Step 8
  3. Hang the two shorter pieces you just made (with foam or paper designs on the ends) from the two looped ends.Step 9

 

  1. Now, attach this structure to the paper clip chain hanging from bottom of the first wire piece.

Congratulations!You’ve made a Calder mobile. Now hang it in a breezy spot and watch it whirl! Experiment by hanging different sized shapes from the ends and adjusting the balance point away from the center. And don’t forget to share photos on our Facebook page. Here are some of ours!

DIY Calder Mobile 2DIY Calder Mobile 1

Brain Boosting Benefits:

  • Encourages imagination and creativity
  • Demonstrates cause and effect
  • Enhances fine motor skills
  • Introduces simple engineering concepts including balance

Hey, Look—it’s Pete the Cat®! Say Hello to Every Preschooler’s Favorite Feline

If you’re a preschool parent, you probably know Pete.  Pete the Cat® is the star of more than 20 New York Times best-selling books, developed by celebrated author and artist, James Dean.  Pete enjoys movin’, groovin’ and schoolin’…and his white shoes of course. And kids LOVE Pete!

Pete The Cat Connect the Dots

Get your kids’ creative juices movin’ and groovin’ with this Pete the Cat® connect-the-dots coloring sheet,  perfect for preschoolers!

And when your kiddo is ready for pretend play, our Pete the Cat® Puppet-on-a-Stick™ is the perfect prop!  Kids can put on a puppet show starring Pete, their favorite furry friend, or you can use Pete to make story time even more fun.

Pete the Cat Puppet-on-a-Stick

Carry on the creativity with a  Pete the Cat® Puppet-on-a-Pen™! Great for drawing, doodling, or practicing the A, B, Cs, these retractable ballpoint pens are working puppets, too! Just pull the lever to move Pete’s mouth.

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Pete the Cat® is always ready for fun, but he’s also there when it’s time for schoolin’. Let Pete help teach your kids fundamental preschool and kindergarten skills including reading, math, science, social studies, and more, with our Pete the Cat® Hot Dots® Jr. sets.  Each set includes two spiral-bound, interactive card sets with 200+ activities, an interactive Pete the Cat® pen, award certificate, and reward stickers.  Already love Hot Dots Jr. and just want the Pete pen? It’s available separately too.