Continuing our theme “Women Who Did” for this year, our second amazing woman from history is Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who suffered and survived not only childhood Polio, but also a bus accident that left her in a full body cast and bed ridden for two years. Despite spending the rest of her life in constant pain, Frida lived that life abundantly, boldly, and with an enviable strength.
“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”- Frida Kahlo
One thing to be said for self-awareness is that, with luck and a bit of effort, you’ll like what you see. Being good to others, kind to others, and loving towards others starts with being good, kind and loving to yourself. Frida Kahlo spent a lot of time on her own after the accident that should by rights probably have killed her or left her paralysed. She spent the rest of her life in a lot of pain, and as a result, a lot of it alone.
Frida Kahlo painted over 50 self-portraits in her life, many of them depicting her “message of pain” (read more about the stories behind her self portraits at ArtyFactory – it’s not all happy reading so I’d recommend a pre-read). Some of the portraits were about her, rather than of her – for example What the Water Gave Me is a picture of her legs and feet in the bath, surrounded by lots of other floating images.
“In the water Frida paints floating remints of her life; an island which holds a volcano that erupts a skyscraper, a dead woodpecker perched upon a tree, and small skeleton that rests upon a hill. From this island a tight rope begins which creates a diamond-like shape within the center of the tub and wraps around the neck of naked female figure who is floating, Ophelia-like. From this female figure that may in fact be Frida herself, the rope returns back into the hand of a faceless man that seems to be watching the woman he strangles as he lounges on the edge of the island. Also floating in this bathtub is an empty Mexican dress, a seashell full of bullet-holes, a couple that resembles Kahlo’s parents and from her earlier paintings My Grandparents My Parents and I and two lesbian lovers that can also be seen in her earlier painting Two Nudes in A Forest” 1.”
“About Me” Activities
I’m really blessed to list among my friends, the fantastically talented artist Donna Jones MBE. I asked Donna if she would be happy to come over and show us how to paint some self portraits (which she did, but I had to go out so I didn’t get any pictures of her painting with the kids, which is a huge shame!)
Donna, knowing that we’re learning about Frida Kahlo and surrealism (which Frida didn’t believe she was, because “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” 2 turned up with the 3 activities for the kids to do.
1. Self-portrait painting
For some reason the kids weren’t keen on looking in the mirror, so Donna drew outlines of faces for them, and they painted/coloured them. Between you and me, you wouldn’t be able to identify the kids on the street using these as self-portraits but that’s not the end of the world. They did the activity and are quite happy with the results.
2. Message in a bottle
Donna has a whole art project around poems in bottles which have been sent all over the world to be buried and ‘found’ at some point in the future. She brought some bottles for the girls, and got them to write about themselves: who am I, how old am I, what’s my favourite colour, my best friend and so on. I thought that’s a really good activity for self-reflection. It’s like a time capsule you can look back on later in life. What a sweet and simple idea. You can bury it somewhere, if you like, (I’m not so keen on throwing it in the ocean these days!) and add a phone number or email address, to see if anyone ever unearths it!
Ours is going into the memory box where the girls can look back on it one day.
3. Picasso faces
Not strictly Frida, but still a self-portrait and still surrealist, Donna cut out parts of faces and had the kids arrange theirs into Picasso-esque self-portraits.
Interestingly, during all this self-portraiting, the kids were talking to Donna about bullying and what to do when you’re being bullied and so on. I thought it was an interesting lead-in, reflecting on self, and diverting to external opinion.
These final two activities weren’t with Donna, but I’m adding them here as they fall under the ‘self-portrait’ and ‘about me’ category of activities.
4. Frida Khalo Shadow Boxes
We don’t have a lot of magazines that are good for cutting up, but I had the kids go through the ones we have and choose images that resonated with them – that said something about who they are. They chose things from the two magazines I could find, and then I printed a bunch of pictures from Google and let them choose which ones they felt were relevant to them. We used square deep box frames from The Range and I printed one of our recent photos (for each frame) then the girls used regular Bostik White Glu to stick the pictures to the wooden frames.
5.Expressing Feelings in Healthy Ways – from Heroine’s Club book
This activity requires a conversation about feelings and healthy ways to express them. It’s one of those nice activities where you can work and talk at the same time. The book suggests starting with the body outlines already drawn, and then using a marker pen to write the feelings we feel in the head and heart spaces. Around the body write down ideas on how we can express our feelings in healthy ways.
It’s a fantastic talking activity to do with children.
There’s a lot of power in being self-aware, so giving kids the tools to know who they are is a valuable life skill.
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The next craft project for our Frida Kahlo learning was to make a bold and colourful beaded necklace from oven baked clay. How do these beads tie in with our Frida Kahlo based theme? Well, we’ve taken creative licence, for sure. What we know is that Frida Kahlo liked wearing bright, bold colours, and liked bringing the essence of Mexico to the world. Have a look on Google for Mexican art and you’ll see a lot of prime colours (we added green) and a lot of delicate patterns. That’s what we were going for with these bead necklaces. If you look at images of our current heroine, you’ll see that she often wore big, bulky neck adornments too, so I reckon she’d have approved of our finished product.
We’ve been super busy the last few weeks with lots of activities and things keeping us on the go, so we haven’t had much time for anything educational or even all that much crafty. The last book we read together was a short little one, Peter Rabbit, which I’ve been surprised to realise contained a richness of literary concepts in a short amount of sentences and pages. One of the activities we did around Peter Rabbit, using our #BostikBlogger theme for the month: Nature, was to create a diorama scene from the Peter Rabbit story.
The kids chose a generic “Peter Rabbit frolicking through the fields” image for the diorama, so we set about using the contents of the Bostik box to make our Peter Rabbit Scene.
We made flowers using pipe cleaners and little flower confetti bits.
I’ve often seen fairy gardens made out of old tyres, but on trying to find out how to paint a tyre, I’ve found so much conflicting advice!
One site had a thread where people were discussing the best paint for your tyre with person A commenting that he had 30 years’ experience as a paint expert and that you should use an exterior oil based paint.
The next comment was from someone who had tried it and an oil based paint didn’t work. For every person suggesting a particular type of paint, another was refuting it and recommending something else. It was rather overwhelming, for something that was supposed to be a fun task.
Another site recommended washing then sanding then washing the tyre again, then using a primer before using one or another paint – that seems like hard work for a children’s fairy garden project!Read more: Used Tyre Fairy Gardens
We’re participating in the Bostik Bloggers campaign for a few months, which means every month a box of crafty goodies arrives in the post and my children’s faces light up because they know what’s coming! This month the theme was ‘snow’, and in our box of tricks we received something that among the other Bostik Bloggers we didn’t know what to do with! It turns out that it’s actually a Hama Bead Mobile Ring but since we don’t have Hama Beads, we decided to make a different mobile out of it, featuring all sorts of wintery bits.
For this mobile we used:
- Hama Bead Mobile Ring
- Opalescent ribbon
- Polystyrene stars*
- A large foam snowflake*
- Wavy Trim Bias Binding in shades of blue and purple
- Glitter paint*
- Silver bead string*
- Bostik Foam Squares
- Christmas embellishments*
To start with, prepare all the parts – paint the stars and snowflake with the glitter paint and thread the ribbon through the holes on the mobile ring. You can determine your own pattern, but ideally stick with the one you start with. (So e.g. through the hole, to the left, across, or through the hole, across and through the hole on the opposite left etc) This creates a nice woven look, but also gives an area for things to hang from the centre of the mobile from.
Around the outside of the mobile ring, attach the sticky squares and attach Christmas- themed embellishments to each sticky pad. The pads work well here with a flat surface to attach to on each side. They peel easily too, so though a little tedious going all the way round, it works without hassle.
Select bias binding in different shades and tie to the woven ribbon on the ring, spreading it out so that they appear to hang randomly. I used three lengths, but feel free to add more.
Finally attach a giant snowflake to the centre, quite high up, and do the same for the stars.
I didn’t find the glue foam pads to work too well on the stars. Either my glitter paint was still a bit wet or there just was’t enough flat surface space, but the Bostik glue dabbed on then left till it was properly dry did the job.
Attach a string or more of the ribbon to the centre and sides of the ring to give the mobile something to hang off and hang the mobile somewhere that the light can catch the glitter – if it refracts the kids can pretend to catch falling snow! 😉
Marble art is a lot of fun, and if you use large enough sheets, you can use them for gift wrapping your Christmas presents. If you’re a little concerned about marbles with small children, then you can use non-toxic water beads instead. They do the job the same way, but if they are softer so they are a little more small-child-safe.
You will need:
- Marbles/water beads
- a large box, dish or roasting pan
Dip the marbles or water beads into paint and lay them down on paper.
Lift the sides of the tray or box and tilt it so that the marbles run around the page. Replace the beads as they require new paint, and fill the page with fun, bright colours.
Set aside to dry and soon you’ll have lovely coloured paper that you can use to wrap your Christmas presents.
You can also do this with glitter glue. It takes a while to dry, but it’s really pretty!
I saw an ad recently that asked for bloggers who did a lot of crafts, and since that’s us, I signed up. A few weeks later a box full of Halloween Craft goodies arrived in the mail, and we had a fun time sifting through all the supplies that arrived. I decided that rather than simply do parent led crafts (there is one!) I’d allow six year old Ameli to decide what she was going to make with the supplies that arrived. She decided on a spider and a clock, and then we worked together on a
For this craft you will need:
- Black Felt
- 4 Pipe Cleaners
- A paper plate
- Bostik Glue Dots
To start with, prepare all the parts. The spider body looks like an 8 without the centre holes cut out, and the legs should be cut to eight equal sizes. Bend the legs into a square root symbol () which you’ll turn upside down.
Take your spider body and add glue.
(The Bostik Glue Dots are great as you simply lay the felt onto the dots, pull it back up and lay it down onto the paper plate, no mess, no waste.)
Stick the spider body to the middle of the plate.
Next, stick the two flat parts of the pipe cleaner ‘legs’ to the glue dots, then onto the plate, trying to get the bit that attaches to the body as close as you can to the body.
Continue this till all eight legs are in place.
You can fold a strip of ribbon double and attach the two ends to the plate (again, the glue dots work well here) to hang it up with or just leave it as a freestanding spider – on – a – plate.
I wanted to add some googly eyes too, but my daughter thought that was too scary.
Witching Hour Clock
Ah, this craft brings new meaning to the words witching hour!
Ameli has been learning to tell the time recently, so she decided she wanted to make a Halloween clock.
For this you will need:
- Pumpkin images or ribbon
- A paper plate
- A felt tipped pen
- A pipe cleaner
- Bostik Micro Glue Dots
Using the glue dots, stick pumpkin images or ribbon to the key parts of the clock – 12, 3, 6 and 9.
Use a felt tipped pen to write the times on the clock
Pierce a hole roughly in the centre and fold a pipe cleaner in half. Make a knot in the back to keep it from slipping out, and cut the front facing parts so that you have a long hand and a short hand.
I called out times, and Ameli set the clock to the right time (mostly) before deciding that the clock had stopped, and with it, the game.
Pop Up Ghost
For this craft you will need:
- White paper/tissue paper
- Googly Eyes
- A cone
- A polystyrene ball that fits inside the cone
- A stick (bamboo works well here)
- A white pipe cleaner
Cut a hole in the top of the cone, just big enough for the stick to pass through.
Apply glue to the polystyrene ball and wrap the paper around the top, allowing the bottom to hang loose in the way ghosts are pictured.
Add the googly eyes
Stick the wooden stick through the bottom of the cone, then attach the pipe cleaner to the stick. With bamboo you can glue the pipe cleaner into the bamboo, leaving it to dry so that it is secure.
Stick the two loose ends of the pipe cleaner into the bottom, uncovered part of the ‘ghost’.
Cover the cone part with black felt.
When all the glue is dry, pull the stick away from the ghost so that it lowers into the cone.
Walk up to an unsuspecting victim and with a ‘Boo’ push up on the stick so that the ghost jumps out of the cone.
It’s really quite more fun than it sounds 😉
We were sent a box of tricks from Bostik and tasked with making Halloween themed crafts.
One of the lines I really loved from Roald Dahl’s Matilda movie was
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.“
I didn’t realise this at first, but that’s not actually in the book. The book actually says,
“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.
The very soul of me relates to this quote. I may not have read Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling as a 3 year old, but in junior school I read Famous Five, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, and a bunch of others you would only know if you were Afrikaans, like Trompie en die Boksom Bende. At one stage I was reading them at a rate of a book a day, in school time. Really, I thought school just got in the way of my reading time!
Well I am on the way to instilling the same love of reading in my girls. Their dad has a big part to play in that – he has read to Ameli almost every night he’s spent with her. On her sixth birthday, they finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia.
Anyway, while preparing our current Matilda theme, I couldn’t get “ like ships on the sea” out of my head.
Matilda is also full of metaphors, it’s a fabulous book for introducing the concept too, with metaphors like:
Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful
Is the child actually a disgusting little blister? No. But what does it tell you about the appearance of the child?
It’s quite fun actually, talking through some of the metaphors in Matilda.
But, the one we were focused on today was that of ships on the sea.
For this craft you’ll need:
- shells, driftwood or other flat objects, cleaned so that the glue will stick
- a glue gun
- a toothpick, skewer or lollipop stick
- printouts of your favourite book covers, or you can use ours. We have Matilda Ships Triangles, Matilda Ships Square Sails and Matilda Ships Sailboat Sails.
This craft couldn’t really be simpler. We printed some of our favourite book covers – Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and so on – and cut them into squares or sail-shape (if you know the word for that, let me know!)
For the square – pirate – sails (clearly not a sailor, am I!) thread the large, then small sails through the toothpick. For the others, glue the sail to the skewer.
Apply a healthy helping of glue to the shell or driftwood, and place the skewer, holding it for a few seconds so that it can dry in place.
It’s quite a quick craft, in the end, and before you know it you’ll have a literary armada.
It’s coming up for Pumpkin Time, so it’s time to decorate our learning space with something a little different for the new season. Our current house really doesn’t have the space for things like nature shelves and loads of sensory play – like last year’s autumn sensory box or the indoor fairy garden. What we do have though is a lot of wall space in our high ceilinged Victorian house, so wall decorations are always a good thing.
For this activity you will need:
- orange cardboard
- yellow cardboard
- market pens
- a printer (optional)
You can either use our templates, or if you’re artistically inclined, you can draw your own pumpkins and faces, otherwise just print them off.
If you print these pumpkins on A4 you’ll get 6 pumpkins – two of three styles – per page, so print as many as you’d like to use.
Once printed, cut them out.
I also printed faces from craftbuds.com – printed as is they make half an A4 page, and they are the perfect size for the pumpkins. I printed three pages of pumpkins and two pages of the faces, but knowing full well the girls wouldn’t glue the faces on 18 pumpkins and I’d be left doing it after three or four each, I used a marker pen to draw some of the faces on quickly.
Once all the pumpkins have their features added, turn them round and space them out equally, then drop/squeeze glue over the backs, where you want the string to appear.
This is a lovely Lidl string that they do once a year and I can’t seem to find anywhere else. If you know where we can pick up extras, let me know!
Make a loop on both ends so that you can hang it around pins, with tac or whatever else you use on your walls.
Be as creative as you like, and have fun with it!