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Beads for the Win!

Beads for the Win!
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by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Many years ago – when my mom (Jantje) and I first started visiting schools – one of the workshops we offered was maskmaking. We would show the children how, using some poster paper, papier mache, paint and a few found objects, you could transform simple items into wild and wonderful masks.

Razzle Dazzle Masks

Sure, the kids enjoyed the designing, cutting and construction of the masks, but what they loved (more than anything else) was digging their hands into the box of “found objects”.

We were lucky enough at the time to work with a public art gallery who often had items donated for the purposes of artmaking. One fantastic woman was known to regularly drop off bits and pieces of old costume jewellery and beads — lots and lots of beads.

It was a good lesson for us to learn. While it is always great to make art using top of the line supplies that can be purchased, creating with bits and pieces of found items that may or may not have been intended for artmaking, is far more exciting.

One day, when my daughter was a toddler, I came across a little container of old bits of stuff. Inside were lots of small shells, foam blocks, wooden shapes and lots of beads – including big wooden ones from old car seat covers that my mom and I had carefully cut apart years before. When I showed my 2-1/2 year old this container, I was reminded of all the happy little faces I had seen in the schools.

My toddler was over the moon and for the next hour, she and I looked at the items in the container. We counted them, rolled them around in our hands, took them out of one box and placed them in another, strung them on a piece of string and categorized them by size and color.

It was a delightful, creative experience.

I highly recommend starting a collection of found objects for your home or school classroom. Of course, you need to be careful with younger children so tiny objects don’t make their way into little mouths. But, as my little artist discovered – you don’t need to paint or glue with your supplies in order to “make art”.

If you are looking for great activities to do with your toddler, visit HERE.

If you are looking for the maskmaking lesson I referred to above, visit HERE.

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