Paintings, drawings, coloring, and other art “projects”… My, oh my, how it all adds up!
One option is to use it to make greeting cards and gift wrap.
We’re all about process-based art, which means letting the process be the main focus, so that children can learn the most and do it for themselves, rather than the product, which is the end result. In my house, this now means one of two things:
1. Sweet Pea can sit and paint nicely at her table by herself with minimal supervision (stay in the room, but no need to hover). Or…
2. If I let Sweet Pea (2.5yo) paint long enough without intervening, especially if I let her sit on the floor and paint, she’ll often be COVERED in paint because she experiments with painting her arms, legs, etc., mixing colors, and doing various “prints”- hand, feet, forearm… you get the idea.
BUT, either way, she learns, has fun, AND produces nice abstract art. Ok, maybe I’m biased, but her color blends, mixtures of brush work and prints are nice.
But, what do I do with them? Especially when we have PAGES and PAGES after one sitting? Surely I can’t save them all…
Once dry, I cut out hearts (because they’re easy and go with a lot of occasions) and glue them on blank note cards. Sometimes I write “happy ___” or another salutation on the outside, but oftentimes, I save that for the inside.
Of course, other shapes could be used. I could even use my fancy scissors with the different edges and just cut out lines and glue that on the card. The options are endless. Now that Sweet Pea is a bit older and learning how to use scissors and glue, this would be a good project for her to do instead of only doing the painting part.
Another option is to have your child paint directly on the blank notecard, but I typically don’t do this because Sweet Pea sometimes uses a lot of paint, which will wrinkle the paper/card and because she doesn’t always remember to paint only on the outside of the card (and on the front), or that moving the paper means she gets paint on it (remember, she’s 2.5 and her hands or workspace are often covered in paint).
A third option to make your own greeting cards is to let your child paint on whatever paper you’re using (we use a big roll of “butcher” type paper) and to take prints off of what they painted before the paint dries. To do this, choose the wettest section with the most paint gobbed on and lay the blank card over it as evenly as possible. Lift it straight up and lay flat to dry. Pretty!
Since we use a big roll of white “butcher” type paper, sometimes I just leave this alone and use it as wrapping paper when needed. The recipient appreciates the uniqueness of the paper and I don’t have to worry about finding wrapping paper to fit the occasion. Another option would be to get blank gift bags (or even brown paper bags without the store logo on it if you’re fortunate enough to have such a store near you) and let your little artist paint on them, or use one of the processes above for the cards to decorate the bag.
Of course, markers and crayons also work for decorating cards and gift wrap, but in my experience, they’re not as “fun”, don’t give as much room to experiment and be creative, and aren’t as much of a learning opportunity. But, they’re WAY less messy and are great in a pinch or if you want to let your child draw a picture for a specific person.
So, that’s how we turn our art into greeting cards and gift wrap. I think it makes the gift a little more personal for the person receiving it, and if not, oh well. Most people toss the cards anyway, gift bags are sometimes reused, but wrapping paper is always tossed anyway, so why not reuse the kids’ art and make it a uniquely wrapped gift?
To include babies in this process, put paint in a bag and let them squish it around (not good for paper, but good for painting objects). You can make edible paint (such as condensed milk and food coloring) because babies are still often all about tasting the paint. There are “safe,” non-toxic paints, so those might be something to look into as well for little ones who are still in the tasting phase.