Sunday, September 18, 2016

Make and Take: Stamped Orchard Landscapes

I recently facilitated a “make and take” craft at a local orchard.  When looking for an idea I start with the theme of the event and look for something that would have a high success rate with a range of ages (in this case: preschoolers through elementary school and maybe a few middle schoolers) .  I also prioritize how messy the craft will be.  I prefer something that they can walk away from the table with.  Something that will go directly into their car and the interior won’t end up smeared with wet paint or glue.  So that limits me some, but the simplicity is really important to how successful the craft is and how the parents will remember it. 
                So this weekend I was at an apple festival.  The most obvious craft: apple printing…but paint is messy, maybe we could use some sort of stamp pad?  But also most kids have done apple printing in preschool or kindergarten.  So I moved on.  Many of the crafts I came across would require collecting massive amounts of soda bottles or cardboard tubes.  Another requirement for my craft is minimal preparation.  If I don’t have to spend hours searching for supplies or cutting out things all the better!  After all for this event I’m planning for 150 kids.

                I had access to crayons and markers (both washable and met my less mess requirement.)  I am going to be on a working farm with 300 acres of orchard trees and veggies growing.  This particular Saturday there will be hay rides, face painting and the corn maze will be open.  Most kids get excited about tractors.  I had a tractor stamp from a birthday party I did for my kids a handful of years ago.  That’s when it came to me: stamped orchard landscapes. 
                When I went to the craft store to buy paper I checked out their stamps and on an end cap I found some Halloween themed rubber stamps.  There was one with a gnarled tree silhouette.  Without leaves it was a spooky tree you’d see in the front lawn of a haunted house but I could imagine adding leaves and apples with crayons and markers and it became a friendly little apple tree.  Sweet!
As the kids arrived I had them either stamp a bunch of trees and then add the ground or start with the horizon line and then stamp a row of trees across it.  Then most kids added the tractor or two.  Some drew hay wagons behind the tractor, one was a double decker wagon and the kids on the top could reach out and pick apples during the ride.  Some of the littlest kids went stamp happy, some landscapes turned into patterns resembling wall paper designs.  No two pictures came out exactly alike.  That’s also something I enjoy about doing art with kids, there may be a few starting points but the kids add their creative take on it, I prefer if there is some wiggle room and the project is not completely planned out.
                The craft was successful.  I had 135 kids to test it.  They came in waves of about 16 at the most.  I had two long folding tables with markers and crayons spread on each.  If possible I would recommend having a tree and tractor stamp on each table.  But we managed pretty well by sharing the stamp back and forth between the tables.  It was a great day at the orchard and I may volunteer to take it to my son’s fall classroom party next month.  Hope this gives you some tips for your next classroom party make and take craft. 

                            White construction paper (1 per child)
                Washable Markers
                Tree rubber stamp
                Tractor rubber stamp

                Washable stamp pads (I used black, red and green)
                Wet wipes (for cleaning hands and rubber stamps)

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