Sometimes the best laid plans don’t materialize… and well, you’re left to improvise. And the improvisation makes things even better.
For this activity, I had plans for us to take a canvas, some red and blue paints, and a few paintbrushes out into the grass. I envisioned a toddler’s take on plein air painting, perhaps with even some Jackson Pollock style paint throwing allowed. Doing the painting in the grass would make cleanup easy, and the activity would cultures creativity and self-expression in my toddler son.
Here is the list of supplies we ended up using for the activity (#afflinks). Links will open in a new window for your convenience:
- Funky Brushes, Set of 3
- Windsor & Newton Watercolor Easel
- 16×24 Canvas
- Assorted Acrylic Paint
- Mealtime Floor Mat
- Heavy Duty Sponges
Foiled By the Weather
Well, on the day that we decided to paint outside, the weather did not cooperate. I had checked the weather forecast, and miscalculated how much time there was before the storm came.
We saw the storm clouds rolling in as we were setting up to paint (on the driveway, with a splat mat — our lawn needed mowing).
The rain held off for a time, but eventually it came — first a few sprinkles, then a gentle shower. Since Toby wanted to keep painting, I got out an umbrella and held it over him. But, the rain came down harder, and eventually the raindrops started washing away all the paint that had been applied. It was an exercise in temporal art, to say the least.
In the spirit of a true child-led activity, I let things go where they may. Toby started pouring water into his paint bowls, and scrubbing away at the canvas with the watered-down paint (well, at that point, colored water). It was fun for him, although didn’t leave us with a lasting painting.
An Unplanned Diversion — Rain
We watched the rain wash away the colors, and saw pools of purple form on the painting mat we had put down, then streaks of purple water ran down the driveway, carried away by the rain. Finally, the downpour was enough that I decided to put the painting supplies away. Toby, at this point, was filling up his water cup with raindrops, and getting wet.
The pragmatist in me thought “let’s go inside before we get any wetter” …but the free-thinker responded “no! now is a perfect time to play in the rain — we’re already wet anyways!”
So, the next time he darted out from under the umbrella for a few seconds, I suggested it might be fun to run around in the rain and stomp in puddles. Given the okay, Toby gleefully ran out into the rain, screaming in delight. He was getting soaked, and loving every minute of it.
Finishing Our Patriotic Painting
In the garage, before heading inside, we spent a few minutes mushing around what paint remained in our paint bowls — most of it went on the canvas. So, we didn’t end up with a nice piece of patriotic artwork to show you, but I think the point of this summer survival series is all about trying to adapt and find ways to get through the summer with kids. And adapting our activity… well, that was a good learning experience for me!
After the rain stopped, we came up with another idea to finish the painting so that we could have something patriotic to hang on our walls — adding stars! Initially I thought about cutting out stars and decoupaging them onto the canvas, but the more practical solution was to make a star stamp and use white paint. So, while my thrilled toddler looked on, I cut out a kitchen sponge into the shape of a star, and we headed back outside to finish our patriotic painting.
As I’ve mentioned before, my son is dubious of making messes for some reason. So he wasn’t too thrilled about getting paint on his hands while using the stamp. After a few stars were placed on the canvas, my mess-averse child became more relaxed, and we even covered his hand with paint to add a handprint to the patriotic painting! The smile on his face was priceless, and later that night he bragged to Daddy about how it was fun to get his hands messy with paint.
Creativity, Adaptation, And Letting Go
Sometimes the thing about parenting is we have to adapt our plans, let go of our schedule, and let what was unplanned occur. The best memories are sometimes created when we don’t try to keep an experience “under control.”
I will always cherish the memory of watching my son, his clothes drenched, run around our driveway and stomp in puddles. I’m so glad I didn’t make the rational decision to head inside, and instead thought to do the unexpected. Play in the rain, without boots, a jacket, or an umbrella. Clothes and shoes get wet, true, but they can be taken off inside, put in the dryer, and washed.
Kids today aren’t afforded enough opportunities for free play, to get messy, to enjoy being kids and be free from restrictions and limitations.
Patriotic Craft + Recipe Ideas
Here are some other patriotic ideas for your Independence day (or week) celebrations. Links will open in a new window for your convenience. Also, make sure to check out the other posts in the Summer Survival Series (this week’s focus is patriotic-themed, hence my patriotic painting activity).
- Patriotic Artwork Craft Activity for Kids
- 101 Red, White, and Blue Ideas
- 20 Perfectly Patriotic Recipes + Meal Ideas
- 10 Patriotic Songs for Children (Free Printable)
- 13 Patriotic Painting + Crafts for Kids
- Patriotic Painting – Fireworks
- Patriotic Painting with Ice Cubes
- 15 Patriotic Painting + Crafts for Kids
- Thirty+ 4th of July Crafts and Activities for Kids (including some neat patriotic painting ideas!)
- Red, White, and Blue 4th of July Sugar Cookie Tart
This patriotic painting activity is part of the Summer Survival Series For Boys.
Every weekday through mid-August, you will find a new craft, activity or idea to keep your kids entertained when boredom strikes. You can also check out the summer survival for moms of boys Pinterest board!
Please note that while the series is geared towards boys, girls are welcome to join in the fun too!