The Children's Playhouse

Daily Art

The activities offered in the art room change weekly, so there is always something new to do! We always have open-ended opportunities to try drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, as well as activities that challenge kids to explore cause and effect and their senses. 

In 2010-2011, our art room activities are sponsored in part by the N.ncartslogoC. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Watauga County Arts Council.


Summer Art/Sensory Activities

A rich variety of art and sensory activities are available at The Playhouse all day, every day we are open. Here are some of the weekly highlights:
June 1-5: Fingerprint Fruits and Flowers, Plant Green Bean Seeds
June 8-12: Strum Spokes of Wheel, Tire tracks Painting
June 15-19: Oobleck, Beading
June 22-26: Texture Table, Moon sand
June 29-July 2:  Tissue Paper Collage, Spaghetti in sensory table

July 6-10: Stocking Prints, Digging for Dinosaurs and Fossils
July 13-17: Baking soda and vinegar, Bug prints
July 20-24: Beach mosaics, Sun prints
July 27-31: Scratch art, Invention Station

August 3-7: Washing Babies, Sheet Mural (outside)
August 10-14: Oobleck, Blot Painting
August 17-20: Golf Ball Painting, Paper bag puppets
August 24-28: Sandy painting, Wood Scrap Constructions

Try at Home

Here are some examples of  our favorite activities—you might like to try them at home!

Playhouse Playdough Recipe

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tarter
1 tablespoon oil (any kind)
4 cups water
(food coloring)
(cinnamon or lemon extract, etc)
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a
large pan. Then add the water and oil. If the
dough is to be one color, add the food coloring
to the water. Mix well. Then cook
over a medium burner, stirring constantly,
until the mixture changes texture and
forms into a ball. This will take up to 15
minutes. Turn out and allow to cool. May
divide and knead in colors now if desired. It
will keep for several weeks if stored in an
air-tight container.

Note: if you only desire one color, it is easiest to add it to the water. We use Liquid Water Color from Discount School Supply which has the advantage that it is washable and allows you to create vivid colors, but food coloring will also work.

Click here to download a pdf of Playhouse Playdough recipe (prints two to a page).


Tissue Paper Collage à la Eric Carle

  • Colored and white tissue paper
  • Child safe scissors
  • White glue
  • Tempera paint or liquid watercolor or food coloring
  • Paint cups or shallow cups such as baby food jars or yogurt cups
  • brushes
  • Tagboard or heavy paper

Cut or tear up pieces of colored tissue paper. Mix up 2-3 cups of white glue with colors added, such as blue and yellow. Dilute glue slightly with water. Place collars on paint cups and put one brush in each cup. Encourage children to combine the tissue paper with the glue “paint” on the tag board. The thin white cardboard used for packing stockings or shirts is perfect for this activity. Or you could even use the inside of a flattened cereal box. Before or after this activity, you might enjoy looking at some Eric Carle books with your child such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and examining his collage technique.

Playdough Mosaic

  • Dough made from 1 part flour to 1 part salt with enough water to reach a good consistency.  (optional: color dough with liquid watercolor or food coloring)
  • Small paper pie plates, shoe box tops, or pieces of cardboard.
  • Shells, stones, beads, dried beans, or buttons

Make the dough by mixing equal parts flour and salt. Slowly mix in water until the dough is moist but not sticky. Encourage child to pat dough onto a pie plate, then make a mosaic type collage by sticking shells, etc into the dough. This is a great use for broken shells or stones found on a walk outside. Older children will enjoy making  faces or designs with the items, but even the littlest toddler will liking sticking beans in the dough. Let the dough mosaic sit out at room temperature.  After a few days, it will dry into a sparkly mosaic. The salt helps it resist mold.
Adapted from Peggy Davison Jenkins, Art for the Fun of It: A Guide for Teaching Young Children. New York: Prentice Hall, 1980


Drawing with Imagination Paper

To make “imagination paper” cut paper into a variety of shapes—triangle, circle, trapezoid, free form. Or, you can cut shapes (circles, squares, rectangles, diamonds, etc) out of one section of the paper.  Offer the paper with colored pencils, markers, or crayons. For young children, taping the paper to the table top or a tray may make it easier to draw.  Let your child explore incorporating the strange shapes into his or her drawings.  Notice how the shapes spark new ideas or force her to solve problems. 

Secret Pictures/Crayon Resist

  • White paper (the heavier the better but not glossy)
  • White crayons
  • Liquid water color (Depending on age: either several colors in small cups or 1-3 colors in large, spill proof cups. Experiment with diluting w/water.)
  • Brushes
  • (plastic tray—helpful if they slosh on a lot of watercolor)

Draw on paper with white crayon. Then paint over it and watch secret pictures magically appear. To get started, you could draw a picture for your child and he could “develop” it and vice versa. Colored crayons can also be used to neat batik effect but they won’t be “secret.”  If you don’t have liquid watercolor, you can use regular watercolors or diluted food coloring.

Marker/Crayon Table

  • Butcher paper
  • Markers in a cup or marker stand or several crayons bunched together with rubber bands
  • Coffee Table or Child-size table

This is so simple, but kids love it. Most toddlers and preschoolers have difficulty drawing on a small piece of paper. This activity allows them to move their whole arms as they draw. Cover low table completely with butcher paper. Let kids draw over the whole table. Keep you eyes peeled for large sheets of paper—sometimes shipping companies use them. Large pieces of cardboard will also work. Try playing different types of music as you draw together.


Eco Foam Painting

  • Red, yellow and blue tempera paint
  • Biodegradable packing foam.
  • Brushes
  • Paint cups with spillproof collars
  • paper

“Eco-foam” are packing peanuts made from cornstarch or wheat paste. When you get some in a package, try making this fun paint. You can test to see if they are the right kind by holding a packing peanut under running water. If it melts, you’re in business!  Fill a paint cup with the Eco Foam peanuts  and a small amount of paint, then add water, a little at a time and stirring until the peanuts dissolve and mix with the paint. This will create a bubbly, no-run paint. If you’ve made it too thin, add more packing peanuts. Your child will enjoy creating the paint as much as the painting the picture! If you don’t have tempera paint, try adding food coloring.

Blot Painting

  • Sheets of white paper, folded in half
  • 3-6 colors of tempera in small squeeze bottles
  • A plastic tray is helpful to contain the mess

Squeeze blobs of paint on one side of the paper. Fold over and press down. Open up and admire the symmetrical design. Let your child tell you what he or she thinks it looks like—it doesn’t have to be a butterfly.  She might see a face, a rainbow, or something that surprises you! Have fun exploring the effects of squeezing and folding dots of paint versus squiggles and what happens when two colors mush together.