Normally, kids’ art gets hung on a wall. You might talk about it, praise them for it, but it eventually gets forgotten. This activity gives kids a chance to create some art they can use over and over again in their play. This lets kids see how productive art can be and encourages imaginary play.
What You’ll Need:
- White glue
- Glue gun and glue sticks (optional)
- Washable tempera (we used red and yellow)
- No-spill paint cups
- Paint brushes
- Craft sticks
- Fabric scraps
- craft paper
- Tissue paper
- Utility knife
- Stickers (optional)
Step 1 – Set up the campsite
Make the frame of the tent using craft sticks. This step goes faster if you use a glue gun. Glue two sticks together in an upside-down “V” , extending the top ends about ¼”. Repeat to make another “V” (or a lopsided “X”). These are the front and back of your tent. Stand the “V’s” up on your cardboard, pushing the ends down into the cardboard to help hold them upright. (You can even mark where the ends of the craft sticks touch the cardboard and make slits to help them stand up). Glue a craft stick from front to back, parallel to the ground, on both sides. The craft stick that forms the top of the tent can be laid on the top of the lopsided “X”.
*Tips for Parents: Have your child watch you assemble the tent. Talk about shapes (the “V”, or lopsided “X”). Explain how you can “build” a tent by assembling sticks in this manner.
Step 2 – Cover the tent
Cut a strip of craft paper so that when folded, it can rest on the center stick of the tent and the edges touch the cardboard below. This will be the tarp that makes the tent canopy. Pour White glue into a no-spill cup and add ½ tablespoon of water. Mix with a paintbrush. Have your child paint the glue onto the craft paper and add scraps of fabric to cover.
*Tips for Parents: Encourage your child to cover the entire piece of scrap paper with fabric. Describe a camping scenario as they work: “If you were in a tent and the tarp on top wasn’t thick enough, what would happen if it rained?”
Step 3 – Make a campfire
Break a few craft sticks in half (it helps if you score them with a utility knife first). Pour glue in two more no-spill cups, adding some red washable tempera paint to one cup and yellow washable tempera paint to the other. Have your child glue the craft sticks to the cardboard to make a campfire. Add yellow, red, and orange tissue paper to bring the campfire to life.
*Tips for parents: At this point, kids might want to paint the entire piece of cardboard with the colored glue or add craft sticks in other places. Resist the urge to help and let your child place the glue and sticks wherever he or she wants. My 2-year-old son even ended up using some craft sticks as people by adding circular stickers to one end for the head. Add some stickers to really personalize the play-set. Once the play-set is dry, grab some tiny animals or dolls and begin your imaginary camping trip!