Now that I am a mom I love making gifts for my husband that involve my daughters. These have many benefits: 1. They are a fun art project for my kids. 2. They are inexpensive. 3. They create and preserve memories. 4. My husband loves them. For Fathers Day a few years ago, I had my older daughter, who was 9 months old at the time, help me create a gift. I had her paint on a big white piece of paper and once it was dry I cut the letters D-A-D out of the painted portions. I mounted the letters on a blue background with a picture of her doing the painting and presented it to him for Fathers Day.
I have not recreated this project yet with my younger daughter, so I decided it was time to use this idea again for my husband for Valentine’s Day, with a few modifications. When we did the painting project a few years ago I made some homemade edible paint (you can easily find a recipe for edible paint online that uses water, cornstarch and food coloring). While this paint was edible, it tasted awful, which takes away half of the fun of being edible. The cornstarch recipes work really well and if my children were older and less likely to actually eat the paint, I would use it again. For this project, I decided to make something that actually tasted good and even had the bonus of having different smells–jello paint!
Making the Paint
To make the paint I purchased different colored boxed gelatin: blue, red, yellow, green and purple. I emptied the gelatin powders into 5 separate plastic containers and boiled water in a glass measuring cup. I wanted my “paints” to be relatively thick and still have a grainy texture so that it would be easy for my kids to grab it, paint with their hands and so that it was a fun sensory aspect. To get this texture, I slowly poured water into each container over the powder while stirring. For each container, I used approximately 1/8 cup of hot water. If you have older children, you could add more water and get more of a watercolor effect with your paints. I noticed that as the paints cooled, they thickened, so I just added some more water until I got the consistency I wanted.
Let the Fun Begin
We decided to have some friends over and have a painting party. It was really cold outside, so we laid out big pieces of paper on my kitchen floor and let the kids go to it. The older girls did a great job with the paint brushes and sponges and the babies had fun pouring the paints on the floor and squishing them in their hands. Everyone created a one of a kind masterpiece!
Once your paint is dry, you can either present the art work as it is, or cut out the pieces with more paint into letters, shapes (hearts are good for Valentine’s day) or just an abstract cut out. Mount the cut outs on a colorful piece of paper (one of our painting participants actually sprayed hers with Modge Podge to preserve it), include a picture of the work in progress and frame it for your loved ones.
Suggestions for Next Time
The next time we play with home-made paints, I think I will get some different shape sponges so that the girls can stamp the paper with the paints. For very young children, it works better to pour a few puddles of paint on the paper and let the baby finger paint from there. Before we started I ran a warm bath so that we could just move the kids from kitchen to tub to rinse them off, this worked out great! Because the gelatin is mostly sugar, clean up was pretty easy with just water, although I did have to mop the floor a few times. Mostly I was glad that the colors, textures and scents were fun and that the paints did not stain any of the kids clothes (diapers) or their skin.
What are your favorite DIY gifts?