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Creative Family Fun PDF Print E-mail

By Alyson Carlson
Art Instructor

Hey all you fanatical sports parents!! Did you know that you can actually increase your child’s athletic potential by doing art projects with them? Crazy, huh! But so true!
By giving kids the opportunity to use the muscles in their hands, their fine-motor skills, and a little bit of upper body strength, you are helping them gain the strength they need to grip, bounce, pass, swing and throw and ball.
Sounds sort of ‘elementary’ to most adults who spent childhood days jumping rope, playing ball at the park, riding our bikes to the ends of the earth, and kicking the can until way past dark on long summer evenings. Times are different now.
Today’s kids spend their free hours playing video games or flipping through the endless channels on the cable network. Sad, to say the least, when you consider that all the while kids are sitting, their God-given muscles are atrophying.
Neat handwriting is becoming a thing of the past, and the ability to throw, bounce and pass balls has become a difficult chore for many kids. By simply working some muscles in the hands, we can help our kids improve in these areas. And, of course, while we’re at it, we’re building ‘muscle’ in the very important – and often neglected - right side of the brain.
We can’t change what’s happening with our children and their obsession with technology overnight, but, the good news is, we CAN offer some alternatives.
Playing with Play-do, making Marshmallow Taffy, and finger painting are a few easy and fun things you can do at home with some basic kitchen ingredients. Best of all, the only ‘tool’ you’ll need, is your hands!
Find a few minutes during the evenings or on a Saturday mornings before you do your weekend chores to try one of these fun activities with your kids. I think you’ll enjoy yourself. Good luck using those ‘muscles’!

Cornstarch Fingerpaint
3 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
Food coloring
Directions: In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Dissolve cornstarch in a separate bowl with water. Remove boiling water from heat and add cornstarch mixture. Return to heat, stirring constantly. Boil until the mixture is clear and thick (about one minute). Remove from heat.
As the mixture is cooling, divide into separate bowls and add food coloring. Let the children carefully mix in the coloring.
Hints: Add one tbsp. of glycerin to make the mixture shiny. You can find glycerin in most drugstores or pharmacies.

Kool-Aid Play-do
(my favorite!)
Things You’ll Need
1 cup salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cream of tartar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups HOT tap water
2 packages unsweetened Kool-Aid drink mix (any color you choose)
Medium sized mixing bowl
Air-tight container
Combine all dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add oil and hot water.*
Stir the mix with hands or a large spoon until it forms into a pliable ball. The mix should not be sticky. If it is, add more flour. Knead until soft and smooth.
* Parents, you may want to do the initial mixing because the mixture will be hot for a short while.
Store the dough in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator. It will stay soft for up to one month.

Marshmallow Taffy
(one of my kids’ all-sticky-time favorites)
Take two large marshmallows. Using ONLY your index fingers and your thumbs, press, squish and pull apart the marshmallows. Continue this process for several minutes. Your hands WILL get tired, and your kids WILL complain of their hands aching before you’re done.
Believe it or not, as you continue pressing, squishing and pulling, the marshmallows will become smooth and will actually ‘pull’- and taste like real taffy.