2018 Art Camp: I Made It All!


Hi, friends! Lately I've been busy with non-photography work. I was preparing and teaching two art camps in June to children ages 6-8 and 9-12. The theme of my camp this year was "I Made It All!" because I wanted students to see that they are able to make things that we often think about needing to purchase from a store or factory. I wanted to give them unique technical experiences as well as provide opportunities for them to have their own voices and tell their own stories.

I'm going to share our schedule, the artists that inspired our work, and photos of both finished products and in-process steps. We had a blast and the students were amazed at what they were able to make!


Small Introduction Activity:

We talked about logos and I showed examples of logos from businesses that the children would interact with. They were only shown the image (no text) and had to guess what the business was. We talked about what made a successful logo and how after a business was known for something, that knowledge and experience and even some emotional responses became connected to the logo as well. We set off to design our own logos for ourself as artists. Limited to about 3 colors and sticking to simple shapes and lines that also represent the artist, we designed our artists logos.


Main Activity:

We made paper! This took most of the class as I let each kiddo make two pieces of paper sized 6x8". We used old greeting cards and they got to see how we can really recycle to make something new. They also learned how it can look completely different than what its original look was. It was such a hands-on project with blenders going and 10 work stations that I did not have time to take photographs of the in-progress work, but I do have photographs of the air-dried paper! Check them out below. They are beautiful! It was a success for every student. 


Artist Inspiration:

After we made paper, we learned about how an artist might approach a utilitarian process like paper-making and turn it into fine art. We studied the work of Arlene Shechet through the amazing video resources of Art 21. Students really connected with her work because they were still drying their hands off from their own paper-making experiences!      


Station Activity:

Each day, I plan for a main activity, a smaller activity, an artist focus and a station activity for children to work on when they finish something early. For Monday, we made our own envelopes with a template and simple directions. We ended up using these to make invitations for families to come to the end-of-the-week gallery day.


Small Activity:

We Tie-Dyed t-shirts that the students brought in!  This is labor-intensive but so much fun. I have students bring in shirts for Day 1 so I can go home and wash them all in my own washer and dryer with no fabric softener. (This can ruin the way the dye is absorbed by the fabric.) They sit for at last 8 hours and then I bring them home to rinse them until the water runs clear and then run them through a washer and dryer load at home. My husband is instrumental in helping with this because I had stitches in my hand the previous week and still couldn't' do the "wringing" motion! Yikes! My husband is the best!

The kids LOVE the moment when they get their shirts back!


Main activity:

Today was story creation day! I created wild worksheet idea pages for kids to get ideas on story development. These are just quickly hand-drawn but I don't think art camp should feel like school with boring worksheets, so these feel a little unusual. We were making our own storybooks! I remember being about ten years old and writing my own books and wishing that the finished product could look really real. So, I found these blank books of amazing quality at United Arts and Education. We used the 8x6" size which was more than enough for a one week art camp. I think this 



I opted to do something unusual here. I shared an episode of Story Pirates with the kids for our artist slot on Tuesday. I did this because the premise of the show is that children send in the storylines that are developed into good quality podcasts that are meant for the ears of other children. I thought it was the perfect way to lift up the creative efforts of children as well as give the children in my camp the information that they could enter this!


Station Activity:

Today we turned our logo sketches from yesterday into invitations to be delivered to the children's families so that they had all of the details for Friday's art gallery day!


Main Activity: Favorite Place Puzzles

I bought plain puzzles from Oriental Trading. Students laid out basic lines on their puzzles to illustrate their favorite place. They brought in photographs of their favorite places on Monday so they would have them ready to use as a resource. 

I found that these puzzles have a shiny surface that doesn't accept colored pencil very well as-is. So, I decided we would use thinned acrylics as a base to solve that problem. After students drew basic lines, we did two coats (quicker kids did three coats) of thinned acrylic paint to get base coats on everything. These coats of paint really took up a large portion of our day. 


Small Activity: Book Covers

We focused on creating beautiful covers for our books and using colored pencils to illustrate the cover designs. I encouraged younger students to draw the book covers without planning a title on the cover and to save that for the title page so that they could plan and draw more independently and not worry about spelling errors until we were all ready to spell and write the title. Older children were fine to plan text on the cover design. Some were very excited to write the title on the spine like a real book!


Artist: Faith Ringgold & Tomie dePaola

I had planned to read Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold to the students. I think her storytelling ability coupled with the visuals are a perfect pair for this lesson. However, my younger students were having trouble planning a book with no words. (Many students were six years old and not ready to write so independently.) so I read Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola to the children to demonstrate how much an illustrator can convey without words. This was a good fit too.


Station Activity: Homemade Crayons

I used small summer-themed candy molds and a toaster oven and used chopped up old crayons to teach children that crayons were made of wax and that the wax could be melted and remade into new crayons when old ones were broken. If I had time, I would have liked to show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood crayon factory visit to the children to illustrate that even the factory uses the broken wax pieces to make new crayons. They were so excited! 

These needed a special volunteer at the station because of the focus on the time and the heat danger. I also had pot holders and lots of foil covering the pans under the silicone mold because they tend to bend when you pick them up. Having a covered pan under the mold is helpful in putting it in or taking it out of the oven. 

"Hey! This really works!"

Students were so excited to use them! One used the crayon when it was cool and exclaimed, "Hey! This really works!" It was perfect to hear that in relation to the theme of "I made it all!" because he was so surprised that he had made something typically bought in a store.


Small Activity: Finishing Puzzles

We used colored pencil over the paint to finish the details. I love this combo. It also helps younger children to be able to give more detail in the areas they'd like without being frustrated at their lack of ability to paint with small detail brushes without smearing the paint, etc.


Main Activity: Book pages

We used colored pencils for this as well. Normally I wouldn't do so much with one medium in a camp, but both the books and the puzzles turned out to be made of such materials that it was the best choice to get the best results. Older students took their books home to work on them that evening because they had so much to do to tell their stories and fill their pages. They were happy and proud of them. The younger children needed much more coaching and encouraging to tell the parts of their stories. We had fun and the students were all proud to be authors and illustrators!


Artist:  Corinna Luyken

I read the students The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken. They had been worried about making mistakes on their books and this book is both beautiful as well as has a wonderful message about how our mistakes are how we become. I highly recommend this book!


Station Activity: Puzzle Boxes

We made boxes for our puzzles! I took photographs of the nearly-finished puzzles on Wednesday evening. I went home and printed them in a small format to fit onto the boxes that I purchased. I had students design an advertisement. Some students added a pretend bar code. Others wrote things like "Fun for hours!" as blurbs to sell their puzzles. They enjoyed thinking about these as both products and as special puzzles that they couldn't wait to put together with their families!


Main Activity: Potato Prints

We used our handmade paper (one sheet) to do some potato printing on the last day. After studying the intricate potato prints of Diana Pomeroy, inspired students set out to make their own wildflower potato prints. Having it finished on the paper that they had made was pretty amazing!

Potato printing


Artist: Diana Pomeroy

We examined and read the book Wildflower ABC: An Alphabet of Potato Prints by Diana Pomeroy. This book is currently out of print but used copies can still be found. This was the inspiration for our potato printing activity.


Small Activity: Thumbprint Comics

We used two colors of paint to do two thumbprints and let it dry while we washed our hands. When we returned to our art tables, students used black markers to illustrate the thumbprints into a small one-scene comic. 

This was done after the gallery was set up for parents. I had about 15 extra minutes and this was a perfect activity that was quick and fun for students and also fit our theme of "I made it all!" 

Gallery time!

Gallery Time:

We ended our camp by inviting friends and family to come in and see everything that we made. Students wore their tie-dyed shirts as they lead them through the show. They were very proud to show off their own creations and explain the processes we used throughout the week.

I usually make announcements to review what we did and the books we read. I also like to thank the organization that make our camp possible - Hollidaysburg Area Arts Council! We are so lucky to have this wonderful group in our area. 

Getting Connected:

My business is about providing art opportunities in the community as well as portraiture photography work. If you would like to follow along, you can check out my last blog article or join my newsletter! 


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