This is probably the most "crafty" thing we did all summer, and I'm conflicted because I hate the word "craft." Makes me think of all the ugly useless junk my youth leaders used to try to get me to make. However, the point of art with children, and really any art or craft or hobby, is the process. Finished products are nice, but people build models, or scrapbook, or do crosswords, or sew, or bake, or work on cars because they enjoy doing it. Which is why I hated crafts like puffy fabric-covered photo albums as a girl - they weren't my kind of process. Then I started manipulating my clothes - changing buttons, adding trim, fraying, dying, and who can forget the skirt I made out of ties? (Yes, I wore it. Often.) And I found my thing. I found my process.
These days it's baking. And doing arts, and yes, sometimes crafts, with my kids. And finding out what their processes are.
Another reason I loved this project was that I got to clean out all my craft supplies! As you will see near the end of this post, we used lots and lots and lots of stuff! It was tactile. It was 3-D. There was coloring, sticking, gluing, sprinkling, cutting, stringing, twisting. And I won't deny the fact that I took the opportunity to get a few new things, like Crayola's telescoping towers of crayons and markers:
And a paper crimper (with a 50% off coupon at AC Moore) to make "shutters":
Setting up for the project was almost as much fun as doing it!
Everybody's house was completely different (see pics below). That's how it should be. Then just to drive the point home we read "The Big Orange Splot" by Daniel Pinkwater, which I've had for years and used to use in my speech-language practice. It's about Mr. Plumbean who lives on a "neat" (= cookie cutter) street. When a seagull flies over and dumps some orange paint on his roof, he takes the opportunity to decorate his house to fit his dreams, and one by one his neighbors follow suit. A simple story about individuality, tolerance, being true to yourself, and artistic creativity. And, yes, even about the artistic process. Cereal Box Houses
What you need:
(I love this supply list - it's like those new back-to-school Target commercials, have you seen them? My favs are the kindergarten teacher - "so much glitter!" - and the music teacher "denim, denim, more denim...")
an empty cereal box for each child
colored/patterned duct tape
patterned scrapbook paper/cardstock
paper crimper (optional, to make shutters)
glitter (if you're up for it)
What to Do:
1. Take your cereal boxes and open the two ends. Then cut up one corner to create a totally flat piece of cardboard. You're basically going to be turning them inside out.
2. Lay out all your awesome supplies and have everyone go to town! We also cut some pre-made windows and glued yarn on them for the panes. And crimped some shutters - see above. We also told everyone to draw a door so we could cut it for them - other than that, whatever!!!3. When everything is done but the roof, cut a piece of packing tape the length of the box and use it to secure the cut corner from the inside:
4. Leave the bottom open to help it stand, and to be the "yard." Angle the top pieces to make a roof and secure with with tape on the inside, or we used patterned duct tape on the outside.
Instead of houses, you could also make a whole town or city - post office, church, library, etc. Or use different kinds of boxes for real variety.
Here are some of our finished products:
"Our houses are us and we are them. Our houses are where we want to be and they look like all our dreams." -from The Big Orange Splot