Watercolor Illustrations -PlayGround Book Review

This week my daughter and I found a new book at our weekly Library visit that I have never seen before-Crazy right!? I was surprised too! I feel like I know most children book authors quite well. The book below is called Playground by Mies Van Hout, an amazing Dutch illustrator.  The pictures in this book, and many of her others are all  done in oil pastels and ink-very much my style:) I love monsters and watercolors! We checked it out with the rest of our books and this particular one we decided to keep for another week.  Thats when I thought it would be  great project book.  #littletreebookreview

So here are my thoughts....

This book is great for all ages.  Reading it with my daughter was easy, she loved the animals/characters, the magical watercolors, thoughtful designs and game like story line.  Its a great book to tie into a project.  With her we explored liquid watercolors and ways to play with the paint using salt, water, rubbing alcohol, blowing through straws, pom-pom and hammers.  We kept the project more process based.  I then put together all her paintings and wrote a story, by adding black sharpie to accentuate the watercolor shapes of what I saw pop out of the designs.  If it was a class project I would sit with all the students at circle time to talk about what we all saw in each others paintings and write a story together, and then the artists would design their black Sharpie designs on their page in the book.

With older students I would do the same activity on a higher writing  level and have them create their own full series, not just one page.

Wet on Wet.


Straw Blowing

Pom-Pom Splatter

Drip Painting

Using tools, Roller.

Oil Pastels

Final Drawings and Story...

Wanna take a trip?  Climb aboard my magic rocket ship!

We’ll blast off on an exploration! 5, 4 , 3, 2, 1 !  Here we go….

We will have to fly through the purple galaxy, which planet should we land on?

Wow, this planet makes me feel super small.  How are we going to find our way?

Let’s ask these ladybugs for directions.

Oh no, its starting to rain, lets run!

Look we can hide in this butterfly cave. Look there are Geodes!

We are almost through, whoa there is a swimming hole in here.  Lets’ follow that Blowfish!

Look I found a map! Which path should we take home?

We made it! Just in time for cupcakes!



See you at the Next Studio!

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Spin Art

After Gymnastics today I had my daughter demonstrate one of her favorite things to do in our studio-SPIN ART. She's only two years old, but all ages really love it!   I never thought of sharing this, but it was brought to my attention recently because a parent, after being in the studio, bought one for her daughters school classroom! So I thought I should share with all of you how cool this salad spinner from IKEA could be, and a few activities to do with them.  -Its much cheaper than the art kits you would see in the aisles of your art store.  

You could pre-cut a variety of leaves for fall, different shapes the children are learning about, or circles or squares to fit snug on the spinner is usually what I will have out for the kiddos.

Watercolor paper is fantastic, but you can use cheaper art paper for it absorbs too but will become soggier quicker. Many kids find they can keep spinning with just one piece of paper over and over and they can  get multiple layers of swirls and color mixing!

*Autumn Leaves can be used on a bulletin board Tree or put into a mobile.


The droppers I fill with liquid watercolor from Discount School Supply-They also make metallic watercolor!!  Choose your droppers wisely, some can squirt far and a lot of paint.  So to not waste, I have droppers that have a tighter drip to them and I teach children to put in only 'baby' drops.

I keep only a few rules for the kids around the use of the spinners for the process is a great experience.  Because you do end up with lots of work, that often doesn't get used I will say to them that after 1-3 spins they need to take the paper to another station and "create" another project with it.  Below are a few activities.

White Sharpie pens for Zentangles and Dots

Oil Pastels drawn on first

For a silly project,  you could have them draw their faces and use the spin art for their hair!-cut and collage it together. Or with a sharpie and Googley Eyes,  turn the swirls into monsters.

Color mixing day- Only have out  two colors or the primary colors. Many children will use them to make cards for parents birthdays or even to frame other artwork they have made in their free time.

See You at the Next Studio!









Stuffed Animal on a Stick




During this Friday Project with my Daughter we created a Stuffed Kitty on a Stick, that you can ride-old school toy :) Inspired from the playful children book, Matildas Cat,  byEmily Gravett.

You will need;

  • Sock, Dowel,Ttacky Glue and Hot Glue, Fabrics, Stuffing and all the add ons-Buttons, google eyes, pipecleaners, ribbons, sequins, watercolor and puffy paints and felt.

First Sibby stuffed a tube sock with stuffing. -Lots of fun! After we gathered ourselves back together we then started to paint the faux fur hair blue and purple using watercolor paints. We started with this since it would take a bit of time to dry. Once dry, we then glued it on the back for a tail and added a small head tuft on top.

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Next, I tied the sock closed on the stick and Sibella started to decorated the fur by gluing on sequins and painting on puffy paint front and back. This was done quite quickly, this process can be done in many ways and over a few days if you wanted to spread out the activity- if you have larger groups especially.

*You could print or the-dye your fabric or sock before starting to add an extra cool textured effect. Making a chameleon, dinosaur or giraffe were other ideas that we thought of.

* You can talk about animal coverings with preschoolers during this project too- Feathers, shells, scales, fur etc- Why do these animals need these types of coverings? Also Talk about animal parts-tails, shapes and different ears ect. Also talk about the different pets you can have at home or on the farm.

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Sibella picked out her googley eyes and buttons.-Tough toddler decisions:)The whiskers and a button nose were hot glued onto the upper portion of the sock with the eyes.

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I would prep the felt ears  for younger groups, unless you are working with a smaller group or one-one and could take the time to work with your children to teach them how to hold and use scissors- I totally believe young ones can learn to use scissors correctly and safely.- I helped Sibella hold and cut with the scissors holding them with her to cut the ears and tail.

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Hot glue on the ears, fur tail and head tuft .


Ribbons are a great addition to the stick. You could also wrap it with patterned Washi tape or colorful yarn.

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Excerpts from the book-its so cute!

*Another teaching connection to this project could be centered around the topic of TOYS. How are they made, why, how, Which ones are timeless, How have they changed from past to present?

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Heres our cat, Sadie, she's just like Matilda's cat.



See you at the Next Studio!

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A Toddler and Her Obsession with Shoes can be an Art Inspiration

So as most toddlers you will find that they are obsessed with putting on adult shoes.  And if your child is like my daughter is in love with rainboots and wearing seasonally the wrong shoes-sandals in winter and boots in summer?! Crazy Kid. IMG_9203

Here is a book, simple but has become a favorite to read and talk about her favorite shoes. Usually leads to her running to the closet and trying on a specific style. There are many shoe books out their but in terms if reading to a young child to get information this is a good one. Boots, Sandals, Heels, Sneakers, Slippers and you can even go into talking about traditional shoes from other countries and shoes that certain jobs require you to wear like Scuba Fins, Fireman Boots, Ballet Shoes,  and Track Shoes. *As a teacher I would resource these shoes from friends and family to have in my dramatic play area so that kids can try them on and play.


In doing this project at home you can take the time to make a bunch of styles and add a lot more detail.  Though as any teacher knows you can make detailed work if you take the time to prep the activity appropriately and think about how the child's developmental age will use the materials in front of them.

*How will they use the glitter, glue, sequins paint etc. How will you guide them through the steps? Whats the time frame for the group if kids.  Are there specific needs needed for certain kids in the group.  Maybe you want to try to so this project with multiple ages. If you can try to answer these questions ahead of time you can prevent a failed project.-Though they can happen to the best of us!

This project requires you to raid your piles of art materials because everything can be put on a shoe!

  • Ric-Rac, Wahsi Tape, Yarn, Cardboard -THANK YOU AMAZON!
  • Beads, Pom Poms, Tassles, Buttons, Sequins and Gems, Pipe Cleaners and lots of variety of fabrics
  • Hole Puncher, watercolor, hot glue and tacky glues will be needed too!

To set up for a class project I would separate this into a few days.  I would bring in a math lesson and graph all of our sizes of feet.  In doing this we will trace around our shoes on cardboard and measured with rulers and then compared to see the differences in growth.  Growth is another great topic to pull into a lesson-How fast do people grow? Do you wear the same shoes every year?).  Older groups of kids can then use these as the templates for cutting our their fabric and cardboard for their shoes.  I would allow the older groups to choose their style of shoe and the toddlers to make one type-the Flip Flop. (I would cut the cardboard shapes if its a toddler group)

Then I would set up the tables with all the supplies and prep the fabric for the toddler flip flops.

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Finished Pieces; House slippers (made by Momma) Flip Flops and Strappy Sandals (made by Sibby and Momma).


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Her favorite for today are the Flip Flops, probably since she's never worn a pair before. * made from the kite fabric, pom-pom and star beads, Washi-tape and Pipe cleaners.


See You at theNext Studio!

An Extra fun dancing game an be tied into the pre-k class by wrapping their feet in bubble wrap. See my past post Bubble Wrap Dancing 

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New Step for Little Tree Studios

As many of you know my family and I have moved out of San Francisco a year ago and are now relocating the art studio as well from its 6 year location in the Mission into the Marin area. The  new space needs to be bigger and also a good fit for our new addition an a.m. art based preschool :) IMG_8896 IMG_9064

In the meantime, while waiting for that perfect space to open up  I've decided to start blogging about my daughter's Friday morning art activity that we have been doing each week. As well as other helpful kid ideas that I feel you may be interested in too!-I should have a few good helpful nuggets of  wisdom to share after 13 years of teaching little preschoolers ;) Right?!

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My daughter Sibella,  is 2 years, and like her father and I obsessed with art.  So she  is my tester for activities, activities old and new that I am now compiling  into a photo/instructional book.  -A great resource for teachers and homeschoolers!  My hope is to have the curriculum built around all my favorite children books and famous artists.  Ill share a few of these ideas here in the blog but the instructions will come later in the book of course!






Hope Your Summer Vacations have been enjoyable!

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And your back to school days are off to a great start!


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See You at the Next Studio!


Plaster House

  During this week of camp Little Artists created a plaster house from a milk carton, popsicle sticks and cardboard.  Artists were given a set of wooden pegs that they would turn into a family who would reside in their plaster house-Many chose to make there family as others created animals or robots.  There are a ton of detailed photos in this blog of the creative ideas kids has -hammocks, Christmas yard lights, balconies, smoke in chimneys, welcome mats, jacuzzis, bunk beds miniature clay  food and even toilets! The possibilities were endless.

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See You at the Next Studio!

3-D Canvas Art

During this week of camp Little Artists created their own 3-d Canvas art.  Choosing a topic of choice they planned their work.  The  backgrounds were spray painted first and then the backgrounds were made; many using paint mediums and other fabric and materials for texture.  The foregrounds were then planned and executed with the goal to have there work pop out from the canvas in shape and texture. This week was full of creativity and so many hard workers!

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See You at the Next Studio!

Textile Art Camp 2017

In this Summer camp we learned how to knot Macrame bracelets, decorate a Door Knob Garland with braids, hassles and pom poms, and Wet Felted Pencils and made a Felt Wall  Garland. IMG_4406 IMG_4431 IMG_4401

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Busy Bees......

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See You at the Next Studio!

Koi Kite Camp 2017


One of my favorite projects! Koi Kites.

Little Artists carved their koi scale stamp and sewed the kite together adding long tails, once their painted eyes and scale patterns were dry.

Final kites are amazing!

Special thanks to Chloe, Charlotte, Kai and Milo our young  camp counselors who volunteered this week!


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See You at the Next Studio

Animal Triptych

This Month Little Artists in the older Painting and Drawing studio worked on Animal Triptychs.Using three canvases they designed an animal to cross the three panels. IMG_5576



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Final Work...

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See You at the Next Studio!