One of the best parts of my job at the museum where I work is teaching a weekly preschool art class called Doodlebug Club. This week, we made fishbowl art, painting with food color-dyed corn syrup. It was a lot of sticky, blue fun! I got the idea from this fantastic hands-on parenting site that I’m sure *A* and I are going to return to again and again for ideas.
Here’s what you need for Fishbowl Art:
- A fishbowl cutout on thick white paper – I free-handed a bowl shape with a lip at the top on white watercolor paper
- Light corn syrup
- Blue food coloring
- Paintbrush and cup for holding paint
- Fish shapes (cut from color construction paper or card stock)
Step 1: Make the paint
Pour approximately 1/4 cup (eyeball it) of the corn syrup into a cup. Add 6-10 drops of blue food coloring. Mix it up to make sure the color has blended.
Step 2: Paint
Corn syrup paint is pretty thick, and it’ll take quite a bit of it to cover the whole fishbowl. Sometimes preschoolers have a hard time understanding how much to paint – I usually encourage them to paint until they can’t see any more white spots. This paint is fun because it can kind of make little dark pockets (where extra was globbed on) and little air-bubbley pockets (where the fish will be breathing…duh!)
Step 3: Add the fish
Pre-cut 10 or 20 paper fish in different colors. How many, which colors, and where to stick them are up to your little artist.
Step 4: Letting the fish swim around and get used to their new home (otherwise known as letting the paint dry) while we read a story
We read the Dr. Seuss classic One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, a book I’m pretty sure my dad read to me a thousand times when I was little. I don’t think I ever realized how very LONG this book is, especially for squirmy four-year-olds! But it’s Dr. Seuss, and reading it (using funny voices for all of the crazy characters, of course) is as funny for grown-ups to listen to as it is for kids. All that alliteration and rhyming! And (thank you, Dr. Seuss) the story’s not linear, so you can…ahem….skip a few pages here and there and no one will be the wiser. 🙂
We got out some of our sillies (preschoolers have infestations of the sillies, as we adults know) by playing a game with a big cube, each side of which has a different activity (hop on one foot, spin in a circle, touch your toes three times, that sort of thing). When our artwork was dry, we hung it up on the bulletin board to show off. One little guy (the third fishbowl from the left) was trying to see how many fish he could fit. His conclusion – LOTS!
The corn syrup needs to lay flat for a while to dry, maybe a couple of hours, and it will be mostly dry to the touch (only slightly sticky). Unless you get it out in the humidity, as I learned the hard way! This was a fun little project – it’ll go in the dad-tivity files for sure.
What are these things I’m calling “dad-tivities“? They’re ideas I’ve been collecting for a long, long time – they are dad-inspired projects for the whole family to tackle together. Nature hunts, art projects, Montessori-esque learning games, active play, sensory play, backyard building projects, all kinds of ideas. So, while we wait, I’m building my list, and every Tuesday, I get to try out a few of the art-focused ones on the Doodlebugs. It’s a win-win!
What is Doodlebug Club?
I work at an art and history museum, and one of the best parts of my job is working with kids. I teach a weekly preschool art class called Doodlebug Club, where I get to try out all sorts of ideas that will become some of the fun things that we will do with our Littlest Brooks-Livingston. I’ve never had any real art training, but I think it’s a lot of fun, and to me, it’s very important to make art more approachable than it ever seemed when I was a kid.If you’d like to read about more of the projects we’ve done in Doodlebug Club, click here. Check out my Doodlebug Club Pinterest board here.