Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tennis Ball Painting

A while back I bought a new container of tennis balls and set them aside for when summer came. Today, wanting to hit the courts and play a few rounds with my kids, I went to pull them out. However, they weren't where I thought I had left them. After looking around I eventually found
them. They were a bit worse for wear as they appeared to have been gnawed on and were slobbery. My Sherlock skills tell me that our Great Dane found them to be rather appealing. So today's plans ended up being changed.

Instead of hitting the courts, we used the tennis balls (minus one that we let the dog keep) as paint brushes....sort of.  Here's what you will need to replicate the project:

  • Tennis balls
  • Paint (we used acrylics)
  • Very small Screw Eye Hooks ( I got mine at Fred Meyers-the smallest size they had)
  • Yarn or some sort of string ( you might use thing rope as the yarn frays and breaks after a while)
  • Canvas or Canvas Boards or something to paint basically
  • Some place to hang your tennis ball
  • container for your paint
  • Paint Brushes (for painting tennis balls or adding details to your canvas)
  • Scissors (for cutting the yarn)

Once you have everything ready, you are going to screw in a small screw eye hook into each of the tennis balls. Then tie the yarn to one of the eye holes in the screw (like the image on the left).

Once that is finished you can take the tennis ball and yarn out to where you want to hang it. You need to make sure that the string is long enough after you tie it for the tennis ball to hit your canvas. I figured this out the hard way.  It also needs to have room to swing. We tied our tennis balls to the monkey bars on the play structure.

 And used an old trike to hold the canvas. It worked pretty well.

Now pour your paint into a container and either use paint brushes to paint your tennis ball or dip the ball into the paint container. It's fun to experiment and see what different types of marks you get when you apply the paint differently. We used a different tennis ball for each color so as to not mix the colors until they were on the canvas. However you could paint rainbow tennis balls or mix colors on the tennis ball. We also only tied one at a time, but it might be fun to tie several up and use all at once.

 The last step is the most fun. Pull the string back and let it go! The tennis ball will fly into your canvas and create one of kind marks, lines, dots and splatters. :)

This process can get pretty messy, especially for younger artists. So I would recommend using paint clothes or old clothes, that way when they end up covered in acrylic paint you won't be upset or stress over trying to wash it out. Or you can have kids wear an apron or art smock to protect your clothes.

I personally didn't mind paint getting on the lawn or the old trike, but if this is something of a concern for you, you might think about putting an old sheet or tarp under where your canvas is.

You can also hold the tennis ball and drop it onto a canvas laying on the ground (like the image to the right) or throw it at a canvas that's secured (and not just propped up). The possibilities are endless!
As always, we would love to see any variations you may have on the idea or your beautiful works of art.
Happy creating!  ;)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Exploring How Water Moves

 With the temperature in the high 90s lately, I thought we could use some fun outdoor cooling down activities.  However our sweet doofus of a dog and high energy cats make a lot of activities unavailable to us. Case in point, last summer our dog ate the water balloons and the cats, who were running from the dog, leaped onto the inflatable pool. Next thing I know there's 2 cats and a dog sitting the middle of what used to be a pool. So this year called for something different.

At the preschool I had been working at, we did an exploration of how objects move in water. I had thought this unit should have started with the question, how water moves? So I decided to find a way to watch the movement of water.  Levi, loves water. He can sit and watch water move for hours. Well, maybe not that long, but far longer than I can.  So I thought why not let him show us how water moves.

I handed him the hose and the next part was sheer magic.  Levi created a water slide.  The simplest action made into a days worth of fun and exploration.  And I found myself thinking, why hadn't I thought of that?

The water slide then became rain as the girls took turns spraying the water high into the air while the other two, not with the hose, held umbrellas and waited for the water to cascade down upon them.

The kids' ideas for using products we already had and creating a new spin on them inspired me as well. So after lunch I pulled out the marble tracks.  We filled up a series of different sized buckets and containers and I placed a series of different sized cups by the track. Then I posed this question to the kids, How do you think the water will move through the marble tracks? Do you think it will make a difference if you used different cups to pour the water in?

The kids set out building their track for the water. Levi, who was more interested in pouring the water on the track made the process a bit slow, but eventually we had our track built.

The kids changed the track several times. Eventually we put a dash of food coloring in the water buckets to watch how the colored water would meld together to create different colors.  It was a great experiment and lots of fun. And best of all, it kept us cool during the hot day.  :)