Kindergarten self portraits

Every day at CAPI's journal time, the kindergartners take out their boxes of crayons and draw whatever they want. Sometimes they draw ninjas, Darth Vader, or Power Rangers. Sometimes they draw princesses, Angry Birds, or their mommy. Their worlds are filled with their favorite things and they see themselves in the middle of it all. The most popular subject to draw is pictures of themselves. How do they see themselves? They see a kid who is not a baby anymore. They see themselves as a brother or sister, a daughter or son, a smiley happy heart shaped ball of love, a mis-shaped blob, a wide-eyed face without a body, a pretty face with a pretty dress and curly hair. They can be any color and every color. They are confident to say "This is me!". I nod and encourage them, "that looks just like you!".



CAPI love

I pretty much love anything that is bright red, pink, and cute, so I pretty much really love Valentines Day. I love doing Valentines art projects with the kids at CAPI. Doing a kids Valentine art project makes you think about love in the purest and most innocent way. The kids cut out awkward shaped hearts and proudly declare  how much their mommy or daddy will love it. It is the sweetest thing. This year I did 2 art projects to celebrate the holiday of love. We made collage cards featuring robots and fake cupcakes made out of tissue paper. 


holiday gift tags

Decorating tags is a fun project for any age. This is a quick way to make a gift more personal. I found these blank tags 2 years ago at the Rhode Island recycling center and I stocked up on a bunch. Because the tags start off completely blank they are good for any holiday or any friend or relative. At Capi we designed our own white circle stickers to add to the tags. This project was so laid back, which made it especially enjoyable for me all of us. We talked while we drew, we discussed missing teeth, grandma's toes, and the great molasses spill. Kids helped each other draw tiny snowflakes and sound out long words. The tags look great!

Cute as an ice cream cone

Cambridgeport is such a diverse school; some of the students will be celebrating Christmas, some will celebrate Hanukkah, and some will not be celebrating either holiday. At Capi we have to be careful with our holiday art projects. We must stay away from projects that are too Christmasy or religious in any way. No Christmas trees, no Santa, no Rudolph, holly, or wreaths. It is a challenge to think of creative alternatives.

I came up with an idea for a homemade non-offensive ornament decorative hanging. We made mini ice cream cones out of pom-poms, brown paper, and a little glitter. Each ice cream cone has a cherry on top and ribbon to hang it. They are absolutely adorable and have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. They would look great on a tree, but they could be hung anywhere. I'm looking forward to making some of these with my own homemade pom-poms!



Piñata: step four

After the Halloween Piñatas were painted and decorated there was one final step.

We cut a hole in the back of the piñatas to fill them with candy, then we duct taped the opening closed. We got a little help from a handy father to hang our finished piñatas. Each one was so strong and heavy- probably about 15 pounds! We hung the Piñatas one at a time over a basketball net in the school gym. 

All of our hard work was finally ready to be destroyed. At the CAPI Halloween party, kids took turns hitting the piñatas with a pole, hoping to let loose a flood of candy. Princesses, ninjas, witches, and skeletons, held their empty bags and waited for candy to fall. No one was upset about ruining our piñatas, because it is well known that this is the purpose of a piñata, and because everyone loves candy. 


Piñata: step three

This step was a lot of fun! We painted and decorated our piñatas to look like eyeballs! 

We began by painting pupils, corneas, and veins. We looked closely at each others eyes to observe how the colors and shapes looked. We did not have to use real colors; we could make a red eye, or green veins. The next step was to add details made out of fabric, feathers, foam, and other glue-able items. It took two different days to create this evolution. You can see the two steps with this monster eyeball.

We wanted each eyeball to have its own personality. We decided to create 4 different types of creepy eyeballs. The monster eye (above), would have bugs crawling on it, extra googly eyes, and translucent green ooze spilling over it. The zombie eye would have a hypnotized swirl, spider webs, blood splatters, and scars made of red ribbon.  The pink eye would wear rose-tinted glasses and have a pink bow.  The cat's eye would have sparkly makeup, tear drops, and long feathered eyelashes. Each eyeball needed a few details to make it special. Take a look at our finished Piñatas!

There is still one final step, perhaps the best step of all! Look out for step 4!


After 4 days of messy and sticky paper-mache-ing, the CAPI kids had created 4 strong giant piñatas. As the paste dried the balloon shells became harder and stronger. 

Step two for the piñatas is a relief. We were happy to know that the hard work was done and that the end was in sight. "Now is the time" to paint our beautiful piñatas. We started with solid coats in 4 different colors. I chose light colors- gray, pale orange, yellow, and light green. The painting goes so quickly with 6 brushes helping at once.

The painted balloons make the the final piñatas easier to imagine. We decided that the piñatas will become 4 giant creepy eye balls. Look out for step three!

Piñata: step one

CAPI may be the only afterschool that has already began preparing for Halloween. It is Christine's (my supervisor) favorite holiday. All of our art projects are now in preparation for a highly anticipated Halloween party, complete with haunted house, costumes, piñatas, and candy!

An old tradition at CAPI is the Halloween Piñata. A homemade piñata takes many steps. We started by covering giant balloons with newspaper strips and a paper mache paste of equal parts flour and water. We worked as a group to cover the balloons, trying not to drip on the ground, trying to ask politely for more newspaper, trying to cover every little part that was peaking through. This is the longest step, as the balloons will need around 3 solid layers to support the candy and withhold the stick whacks. We are planning to make 4-5 Pinatas for the different age groups. 

This is the messiest step.

What should we turn our piñatas in to?

Look out for Step Two.

Dot Day

September 15th was International Dot Day. This is not a day that I made up. I had never even heard of it until my friend/roommate/fellow after school teacher told me it was a big deal at her school in Watertown. Dot Day gets it's name from Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot. The book is very popular among the kids- it is artistic, and promotes the importance of creativity and being true to yourself. All around the world, classrooms and kids celebrated dot day with creative projects. 

I was excited to celebrate with the kids at afterschool. Coincidentally, I had already planned and prepared a dotty art project for Monday! We used the eraser heads of pencils to paint dots on to paper bookmarks. It is a very simple idea, but the process is fun, and the outcomes are all unique. We used multi colored washable paint and brightly colored card stock. Little kids and older kids all enjoyed the project.

Along with the dotty art project I brought in one of my favorite books. Perhaps the original Dot book is The Dot by Cliff Roberts. The book is a story about peace and community, a lesson in drawing, and a study of graphic design, all in kid-friendly terms, with bold illustrations. I was thrilled to find the whole book online.

Felt board

For my first afterschool project of the year I made a felt board with the kids. This was a good first project because we worked as a group and because the board can be used all-year round. The board was made by stretching a large piece of felt over a cardboard rectangle. The felt edges are hot glued to the back of the cardboard then placed in a frame. We made a poster-sized felt board with a bright blue background. The kids and I cut out various scraps of felt to make an assortment of shapes in different sizes and colors. The shapes are used on the board to create images. A felt board uses the principle of friction to hold felt shapes in place. The shapes can be easily moved, rotated, or taken off of the board to create infinite picture variations. No glue is needed! The kids enjoyed cutting the felt, but especially loved creating pictures. 

In love with crayons

Crayons are an every day part of my life at afterschool. The kids know that I have my own philosophies about crayons. I’ve been known to take in a deep inhale of the crayon box (a square tin, that has probably been storing crayons for at least 5 years), and breath a sigh of happiness. The scent is strong and old, waxy and sticky. I imagine it is the scent of all those colors mixed together, like the colors can create a smell. If you are nearby, I’ll make you take a whiff. 

I love crayons because they are not precious- they last nearly forever, they don’t dry out, and if it breaks, well, now you have two! You can be rough on crayons. You can afford to toss a straggling crayon in the trash can. You can turn the little leftover bits into homemade swirly awesome crayons. 

Crayons are increadibly versatile. You can unwrap the paper and roll the crayon to create a rubbing. You can draw thick and heavy then scratch into the crayon to create another layer. You can use them in a resist technique, like when dying an Easter egg. You can easily blend colors or create bold outlines. Melting a crayon lends itself to all sorts of other possibilities.

As tough and complicated as a crayon is, there is still something very endearing about crayons.  They are the epitomy of innocence and childhood. The smell of a crayon, or the feel of a crayon in my hand, instantly brings back childhood memories. Drawing with crayons, when I was as young as 3 or 4, marks the very start of my lifetime love of drawing and art. 

The kids at afterschool are always asking me to draw them pictures. I say, “if you get the crayons, I’ll draw the picture.” Often, another kid will over hear us and offer a warning, “she draws really good, but she might break your crayons!” I say, “crayons are meant to be broken.”


Here are examples of Kindergartners crayon journals: