Archives for January 11, 2011

Just me and the girls (homemade scented paint)

Today, for the first time in ages, I spent the day with only two small children, Larkspur and Beatrix.  I was pretty excited about it, just to have all that time to spend totally focused on them.  I wondered how the day would play out, how the girls would behave, and how they would interact with each other and me with no big brothers around.  I planned one structured activity, and then made sure I had my kitchen cleaned and ready for it.  (This photo also gives you a peek at our kitchen cabinets-the ones we discussed painting a vintage green color for about five years before getting up the nerve to do it.  We just finished a couple of days ago.  The color is a bit richer in person.)
Larkspur frequently asks to paint, but then only spends a few minutes actually painting.  It always seems to me that it takes more time for me to get set up, than she spends painting.  But, if we actually make the paint ourselves (which I totally prefer with kids this age) painting becomes more of a process and my girls seem to enjoy themselves for longer.  So that was my plan for today:  to make homemade paint with a recipe I have been wanting to try, and then paint with it.
The girls claimed they were freezing, and I didn’t protest when they climbed on the kitchen  table with blankets.  I brought the pot over and let them add and stir the ingredients.
They both tasted as they mixed (sugar and cornstarch.)
While the paint cooked on the stove, the girls made a bed on the table.
Once the colorless paint was ready, we assembled jars, dye, and a last minute addition of essential oils.
I thought it would be fun to add essential oils to each color.  It worked out that we had fragrances on hand that matched up with the colors pretty well.  Larkspur is actually the one who lined everthing up on the table in rainbow order 🙂
Purple:  lavender
Blue:  peppermint
Green:  eucalyptus
Yellow:  lemon
Orange:  sweet orange
Red:  clove bud
There was a lot of sniffing!
Once the paints were all ready to go, I placed them on a tray and moved them to the counter so I could add another sheet to the table.
I was totally in this state of mommy happiness over how well things were going and how much the girls were enjoying themselves (and maybe feeling a little to good about my idea to add the essential oils) when a little disaster struck.  I was busy anchoring the second sheet on the table when Larkspur decided to pick up the tray of paints on the counter and bring them to the table.  They were too heavy for her and she spilled them down her face, body, and all over the cabinets and floor.  It was totally one of those moments where I could have gotten really upset, but I didn’t.  There was an initial little shriek/gasp as I watched it happen, but thankfully not an angry one.  Larkspur is really cute when she has an accident and goes into this “everything’s allright, I can take care of this” mode.  I helped her remove her clothes and sent her to the bathroom to clean herself up.  Beatrix and I cleaned up the kitchen mess, and then I added fragrance and dye to the extra paint I thankfully still had in the pot.
The whole process of making paint probably took us about forty five minutes.  Then it was time for the process of painting.  This type of painting is really all about the sensory experience, rather than the paintings that are created, although I don’t know if my children realize that.
I have a bag of sponges cut into all different shapes for painting, and Larkspur wanted to use those more than she wanted to use paintbrushes.  Both girls really got their hands into the paint.
Lark and Bea actually painted for far longer than I expected, so I guess that means the paint was a success.  When we were finished it was relatively simple to clean up.  I always use plastic trays to contain supplies, I cover the table, and try to have an empty sink waiting for the dishes and paintbrushes.
Here’s the paint recipe, from an older book that my sister gave me ( I Can Do It! I Can Do It!: 135 Successful Independent Learning Activities) :
3 T sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
4 cups water
food coloring or other dye (I mainly used the colors pictured above.  I bought them at Michael’s about a year ago, and like to use them because the are washable.)
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and water and “cook til clear.”
I then let the paint cool a bit and divided it among jars.  We added coloring and two drops of essential oil per jar.
p.s.  According to the book you can double the cornstarch to make fingerpaint, and you can also use the basic recipe for paste.
Later in the day after an unsuccessful attempt at naptime, I made the girls a little tent.  I only share this because of the following funny picture:
Trudy just looks so goofy-I swear she’s always trying to get in pictures!
And finally, I thought the girls and I should have an afternoon treat.  They used the Apple Peeler  (ugly but pretty great-even Bea can operate it-with supervision of course) to peel some granny smith’s (about six of them) and then I sliced them and put them in a casserole dish.  I drizzled them with maple syrup (about 1/4 cup) and sprinkled them with cinnamon.  I put a lid on the dish and baked them at 350 for about an hour.  So good!
My girls and I really did have a great day.  Things did get tough around 5 p.m. but that’s to be expected.
Now I have just got to figure out what we are going to do next week!