It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Fishy craft

I’m a sucker for those foamy stickers. We have tubs of them littering my craft cupboard. Red, white and green Christmas foamies in stockings, trees, snowflakes; pink, lilac, and yellow ones in Easter bunnies, tulips, and eggs; primary-coloured party-themed foamies — cakes, hats, and sunbursts. Fun!

Most recently I picked up a bucket of Sea Creatures foamy stickers.

Which, of course, obliges me to find a craft for them. Something a wee bit more creative than slamming them onto a piece of construction paper, not, of course, that the kids object in the slightest to this as a craft. They would be thrilled to take home page after page after page of stuck stickers. Most of them piled up in the same three square inches of the page. Woo!

It’s me who craves … something more. I have no idea what, though.

If you’ve ever wondered how I come up with the crafts I do — the majority of which I make up on the fly — come with me on an annotated tour of Mary’s creative process. It starts with gazing…

I consider the tub of brightly coloured fish, whales, dolphins, frogs and turtles. Hmmm… They all swim. They need water. Water! Let’s make water. We can make something waterish and then stick them to it. They can be ‘swimming’ in the waterish.

And we can make something watery with… plastic? That’s nice. Light shines through plastic. I could use paper sheet protectors, I have a couple of boxes of 50 of those. Light shines through the plastic, but it won’t through the foam. That’ll be a nice effect. Sort of silhouette-y.

And for the colour… how about blue tissue paper torn into bits and glued to one side of the plastic? Or maybe shoved somehow into the sleeve? Nah. Too hard to get the tissue distributed evenly inside the sleeve, and they’d probably only crumple the plastic all to heck trying. Gluing is better, and if I water the white glue down a bit, I’d get a lovely shiny translucent effect…

Except the only tissue I have on hand is orange. Boo. Not that, then.

Paint, maybe? Hmmm… the tempera beads up on the plastic. Acrylic paint works like a charm, but it also stains like a bugge rather badly. So, not acrylic. Back to the tempera…

Which means I can’t use the plastic. What can I use? It needs to be transparent, to give that watery feel. Transparent, or translucent. Translucent, translucent… (I am opening doors and drawers in my kitchen as I mull this over)… Waxed paper! Ha!

And, yes! Tempera sticks just fine to wax paper. Paintbrushes apply it too liberally, though. The light won’t shine through, and the kids will just saturate the paper. We’ll produce nothing but sodden blue wax paper shreds. Fingerpainting? No, same problems. How about sponge painting? Ooo. That might work. Because you dab with sponges, see, instead of scrubbing (as toddlers do with paint brushes). Dabbing is less damaging to the paper. Ha! Sponge painting, then!

I have no sponges. I threw the last bunch out when I forgot to wash them and they went moldy. I remember now.


Well, then… paper towels! Half a piece, wadded up a little, dipped in a small dollop of paint, and dabbed on the paper.

All toddlers can wad and dab! (Why does that sound vaguely disgusting?)

And it works like a charm! Tape the wax paper to the table so it doesn’t slide. Dab one side of the paper with blue and green tempera. Flip the paper and stick on your sea creatures foamy stickers.

(Total time elapsed in “creative process” getting to this idea? About 4 minutes.)





Pretty cool, huh?

November 20, 2008 - Posted by | crafts | , , , , , , ,


  1. I, too, am a sucker for those foam stickers! I’ve just “graduated” from early childhood education and am now teaching “big kids” in middle school.

    However, your thought process looked very familiar to me! I often found my best art projects and crafts were the ones that I had to come up with after running out of supplies or leaving something at home.

    I do the same thing now with my English classes…my best classes have been off-the-cuff, last minute activities.

    Comment by paige horst | November 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. The worst thing about daycare for me is doing art. I hate crafts. I even spend money to buy monthly curriculum and we don’t do half the projects because I hate it! You make it look easy and fun. I wish it stayed that way when I actually tried to do it. Wears me out!

    Comment by kelli in the mirror | November 20, 2008 | Reply

  3. That is a fantastic idea! I might have to copy it for a fall or Christmas craft for the grandparents this year!

    Comment by Jennifer | November 20, 2008 | Reply

  4. Mary, that’s great. I can see I will have to put Tempera and foam stickers on my shopping list. And I love the little blue-stained fingers 😀

    Comment by Merrilee Faber | November 20, 2008 | Reply

  5. This is great!

    I love foam stickers and sealife, so we might try something like this. Thanks for the idea.

    Comment by Lady M | November 21, 2008 | Reply

  6. i love the way you scalloped the edge of the wax paper adding to the water effect! very cute!

    Comment by Dana | November 21, 2008 | Reply

  7. Very cool! Could I send you a list of my craft supplies and you give me some ideas? We are snowed in and I am, of course, one supply short on every idea!

    Comment by MJH | November 21, 2008 | Reply

  8. I love those things too. You know all those little pieces of crayon the kids don’t want to use any more because they are small and some mysterious force removed the paper? Use a grater set aside for art,grate them onto wax paper (the blue and green ones in this case) put another piece of wax paper on top, and iron with a low iron. Put a thin cloth over it first to keep the wax off the iron. There’s your background, now stick on the stickers. And for those of you who are craftily and artfully challenged, look for books by Marianne Kohl, and “Don’t Move the Muffin Tins” by Bev Bos. And remember, it’s Process not Product for preschoolers. Nothing should have to look like anything, or a model.

    Comment by jwg | November 21, 2008 | Reply

  9. What a great mural. Love the wax paper idea.

    Comment by mamacita tina | November 22, 2008 | Reply

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