Mothers Day activity for Kids. Art and Literacy combined

Apr 26, 2016

With Mother's Day coming up for another year, we took advantage of the opportunity to delve into some language learning and make a special keepsake for Mum at the same time.

(I did find doing this activity a little amusing as I was doing it with my own children. We used the word Mum in the example but talked about how we could substitute in "Nana" or "Grandma" and make a gift for them).

To start the activity we had a brainstorm of all the different words that came to mind when we heard the word, "mum."

This was great for developing language and increasing our vocabulary. Many words made us think about other related words and we took the opportunity to learn more about grammar as we discussed whether the words were nouns, verbs or adjectives (best for ages 6-7+).

For example:

Nouns (people, place, thing, event, object): Mother, family, friend, nurse, driver, Super Mum, Mama, role model, etc.

Adjectives (descriptive words): strong, beautiful, brave, loving, amazing, cool, funny, etc.

Verbs (actions or “doing” words): love, help, kiss, trust, hug, teach, etc.

We found that the majority of the words that were thought of were adjectives, especially when considering the sentence, "My Mum is..." which can be a good starting point if children are stuck. 

We also discovered that many words can be altered slightly to change a verb into an adjective, such as love & loving, help & helpful, etc.

Brainstorming and writing the words together on a whiteboard gave us the opportunity to work on spelling and handwriting (with my 7y/o) and letter sounds and letter recognition (with my 4y/o).

When we had enough words, we decided to turn these words (or our favourites) into a keepsake, using a favourite art method, oil pastel and water-colour resist.

  • Watercolour paper (for best results - otherwise regular thicker paper will work too)
  • Watercolour paints
  • Oil pastel (we used white which provides an extra challenge. You can use any colour)
  • Water and brushes

Start by writing the word "MUM" (or Nanna, Grandma, etc.) in the centre of your piece of paper, using your oil pastel. We loved the surprise reveal by using the white oil pastel but some children may find it too frustrating or difficult to write without seeing clearly what they are writing. Any oil pastel colour you use will repel the watercolour paint over the top. You could use a variety of different colours. Let the children decide for themselves.

When you've finished writing your words about mum, paint over the top with watercolour paint. You may need to go over it  couple of times to get the vibrancy that you want. (The more water you use, the less vibrant it will be. The less water you use, the more vibrant the colour will be). You can use a watercolour pallet, liquid watercolours or even just some food colour in water.

We found that the more vibrant the colours, the more the words stood out on the page. Let your creation dry and then pop it in a frame for a beautiful creative and personalised gift for mum (or grandma).

Handy Tips:

Simplify for younger children by only focusing their artwork on one word from their brainstormed list, along with the word, Mum (or Mother/Grandmother etc.) Assist them to write the word where needed or instead try a sticker-resist painting by sticking letter stickers of their chosen word/s on paper or canvas, painting over with water-colour and then carefully peeling the stickers off.

Extend this activity by:
  •  Encouraging children to sound-out and spell the words themselves. If they can't figure out how to spell them, where can they look? (Hint: the dictionary!)
  • Using a thesaurus to look up synonyms to further the brainstormed list and extend their vocabulary 
  • Attempting to think up a word for each letter of the alphabet.

Mix it up by:
  • Painting on canvas instead of paper
  • Using coloured chalks and pastel on black paper
  • Writing huge "bubble" type letters for "MUM" using the whole page and then writing your chosen words inside
  • Using different styles and fonts for the words on your masterpiece

- Check out more ideas for Mother's Day below

- Buy a special gift for mum and support childhood literacy at the same time!

As someone passionate about education for all, I'm honoured to be an Ambassador for the Ardoch Youth Foundation's Own A Word campaign.  For just $25 you can buy your Mum or Grandma one of your favourite words that best describes her or how you feel about her, giving her something really unique whilst at the same time helping provide support for childhood literacy and language development in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities.

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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