Let’s Play: Bonding Through Art Bombing

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Free Play, After School

We’ve all heard of Yarn Bombing… how about Art Bombing? Read on for Carrie’s Art Bomb idea, a fall version of her Play Bombs spread throughout the community in the spring.

We made the switch again. Library Monday. Music Tuesday. PE shoes needed Wednesday and Thursday. Art Friday. Nightly reading. Pack the lunch. We are in the school routine but missing something.

Third grade could not come quick enough for an 8 year old at our house. Third grade means being on the top floor with the big kids, having the teacher she wanted and more freedom and responsibility for herself and her school work. Third graders earn a second grade buddy in the spring. She is even excited about the tests in March and April. The school makes a big fuss over the third through fifth graders during testing. She wants the fuss. Curious.

“Mom, can I add blank paper to my backpack tomorrow?”

“Mom, can we just play after school today?”

“Mom, can we just draw all day Saturday? Both of us at the kitchen table?”

The answers are, “YES!”

I see what is missing. I realize the social and academic bonuses to school but September always leaves me with the feeling that the hours of 8:50am to 3pm are an obstacle to my fun time with my kiddo. I grow accustomed by October. September is my transition month as the mom with a kid growing up, quickly. We will transition together.

What can I put out for this Saturday drawing marathon?

I head to the art shelves. Big paper. Table size paper. For us, drawing together means working on the same paper and working on each others’ drawings while making a huge, crazy drawing collage. Pencils. Erasers. Tape. Markers. A book about how to draw cats. Pens. Color pencils. Snacks.

What can I put out to make sure we have some summer fun during September?

Tub crayons. I will get the “mom these are for babies glare” but after a few nights of them sitting on the edge of the tub, she always gives in. I find a rainbow of doodles scattered on the walls.

Sidewalk chalk on a stick (duct tape chalk to a long stick) and chalk paint (recipe below). We draw as we walk home. Other walkers join in.

Drawings. Here the art is finished so we sort through the stack looking for fun and silly things to make people smile. Art bombs. In the spring we spread play bombs so why not art bombs in the fall? I put the smaller stack in my handy mom bag so while we are out and about we can leave drawings on a table after coffee or resting on a swing at the playground for someone to find.

These things will get us started and inspire fun and play in the school routine. Things to help mom transition into fall from summer. Things to do so I don’t miss my third grade big kid too much.

Chalk Paint Recipe

Ingredients & Steps

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Combine with a fork.

  • 1/4 cup water

Stir until well mixed.

  • Add one small bottle of Crayola washable craft paint.

Mix well. Pour into a squeeze bottle. Let the kids paint outside. Before the paint dries, spray it with white vinegar. The drawings will bubble and come alive. A little baking soda and vinegar science.

This recipe is best when used shortly after mixing. Over a few hours the cornstarch settles into a clump and becomes difficult to remix.

Source: Carrie St. John; HilltownFamilies.org


Carrie St. JohnCarrie St. John

Carrie was born, raised and attended university in Michigan. As a child she rode bikes and explored her rural neighborhood freely with siblings and neighbor kids. Mom and Dad never worried. The kids always made it home after hours wading in the creek and climbing trees in the woods. After college she moved to Kyoto, Japan to study traditional Japanese woodblock printing. In 1995, she began a career at a small Chicago firm designing maps and information graphics. Life brought a move to Northampton in 2001. Carrie completed her MFA at UMass in 2004. Her little love, Sophia, was born in 2005. The two live in downtown Northampton where they constantly make things, look forward to morning walks to school and plan each spring for additions to their plot at the community garden. Carrie continues to do freelance work for clients here and in Chicago.

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