Interactive public art for kids

I’m always looking for innovative public art, especially the kind that is interactive. Just this week two caught my eye in my Facebook stream.


© Masaki Koizumi

Artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam created a crocheted gallery sized installation that kids couldn’t help but  interact with. Next thing you know, she and her husband Charles MacAdam established Interplay Design and Manufacturing in Nova Scotia, Canada, to develop the concept of play ‘sculptures’ on a commercial scale. Check out more here:

Then my friend, artist, and professor Wendy Maruyama shared work of her UC San Diego former students Lanie Gannon and Rob Oglivie. Here is a video of their wonderful interactive mechanical art installed at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, TN.

Interestingly enough both installations are low tech and are great examples of ways that artists really catered to the spirit of children.

Sparkly snakes

The kids were delighted with the making and the final results of these snakes. It began with twisting and scrunching newspaper into long bodies and covering “the guts” with masking tape “snake-skin”. I then helped the kids tape the forked tongues onto their snake heads.

The next class they painted their snakes with tempera paints and embellished them with glitter. In a third class they cut up pieces and strips of colored paper and glued these onto their snakes. I demonstrated the idea of adding the strips as stripes and wrapping the paper around the snakes. Some kids were able to do this and others chose to glue in smaller pieces. The embellishing can become more sophisticated depending on the age of the children.

The kids love their final snake creations and the classroom teacher appreciated their 3 dimensional quality.

minimal art by preschoolers

I love the shape placement and simplicity of these collages done by 3 and 4 year old artists in my preschool class. It doesn’t take a lot of expensive materials for kids to come up with terrific art – cut up colored paper , glue sticks, and colored pens. I provided them with already cut shapes in different colors and showed a couple of examples and they went to it.





“Dirty Wow Wow”, and other love stories

I have to say I just LOVE this book. From the title “Dirty Wow Wow” you may wonder what in the heck is this about?


It’s a lovely collection and stories about love affairs with childhood toys, mostly the cuddly threadbare kind we carried around with us and slept with. The images of these well loved animals are so heart touching that you have to take a look. Not only can you purchase the book, but you can also go to a site to check out the gallery

So the question is, what about your own stuffed friend? I had a humpty dumpty that my mother said I carried on whole baby talk conversations with in my crib and Ander had a Winnie the Pooh (but don’t tell him I told you so!)

Colorful valentine kids’ project


Maybe this would be a perfect Valentine Day project to do with your kids today. I came across this lesson “Heart Rubbings” on this wonderful site, everything preschool.

First I scrounged up a piece of recycled cardboard and cut it into boards about 7 x 10″. Then I hot glue gunned bunches of hearts on each board. I introduced the project to the kids as “invisible bumpy hearts”. They each felt the texture of the raised glue hearts (dry and cooled of course). I taped the boards on the table and then taped recycled white computer paper over the boards. The kids scribbled and excitedly the crayon rubbings revealed the hearts. They had a blast and most of them wanted to do at least 2 rubbings.

Learnings: texture, drawing pressure, movement.

I’m thinking of other subject matter to use for rubbings for more kids’ projects and in my own art. This would also be great for wrapping paper, collage backgrounds, etc.




Little footprint art

I often see kid hand print art, so I thought, why not footprints? I traced around each preschool child’s shoe and they decorated them. Some wanted the print to look like their shoe tread, others the top of their shoe. Some did their favorite colors. I drew along with the kids and some liked my multicolored design and added it in their footprints.

Kids’ learnings: their body, tracing, shapes, color choices, transferring from 3D to 2D.


Looking at the artwork later, it reminded me of images of Buddha’s footprints I had seen. Doing some research on this, I found out that long ago, when overt representations of the Buddha image were taboo, the main artistic way for symbolizing the Buddha’s presence was to show the Buddha’s “footprint.” I like how in my art lesson, each child’s presence is depicted in their footprint art.

Read more about the Buddha footprint art by clicking here.