Tiny Houses


We just finished up our all-school auction project. Last year I made a quilt with the kids, with the children each dyeing a piece of fabric. I paper pieced that quilt and it took many, many hours. So this year, we decided to try an art project instead. Since I’d always wanted to make a quilt of little houses, we decided to make a project with tiny wooden houses, each cut from balsa wood in varying shapes. The finished piece is 36″ x 48″, so each house had to be around 2″ wide and tall to allow 386 houses to fit on the wooden background.

Once I’d cut the houses, I passed them along to our school art teacher Kelley, who had each grade use a different technique to design their houses. Techniques included Pollack splatter painting for the youngest kids, Kandinsky houses with pastels for pre-K, Mondrian houses for kindergarten, plus pointillism, tissue paper overlays, paper mosaics, acrylic and sharpie, and black and white Zentangles. Some of the houses were representational and some abstract. Kelley did an amazing job with the kids and we were both surprised at how much detail they were able to get on these small houses. Then I painted the background with acrylic paint, glued each house on with wood glue and varnished the finished piece. I think that all of the individual and unique houses coming together in one project is such a sweet metaphor for our school community.


Auction Projects: check.


It’s good to get things done. I just finished up the two auction projects for my daughter’s first grade class. Neither of these projects was my idea. The first is a scratch foam printing project that I saw at Glitter Goods. Ours is a night time scene of Atlanta to fit with the auction’s Starry Night theme. The children made drawings, traced them onto styrofoam and I printed them. Hint: Remember that words will need to be mirror image for the prints, so you can scan in the drawing, reverse it and print it out again for the kids to trace. I forgot this, so had to make some fixes. Or you could just skip the letters in your project.


And the wall hanging/table runner is a batik project that I saw on Swallowfield, but the tutorial can be found at That Artist Woman. The kids glued on the fabric, let it dry for a day, painted it, then I washed off the glue and sewed the pieces together. I gave them some ideas about patterns, but they mostly came up with their own designs. I debated if each square should just have one color, but in the end I let the kids decide. As you can see, most kids decided to use multiple colors. Hint: These first-graders found it tiring to squeeze the glue bottle and you do have to squeeze pretty hard. For younger kids, you could cut the tip off the bottle to allow the glue to come out easier. Also, I was going for a brighter color palette, but the fabric paint does fade a bit so be sure to go darker with the paint.


Both of these were manageable projects for kids and weren’t too overwhelming. Good auction project ideas. Thanks to Glitter Goods, Swallowfield and That Artist Woman for the creative inspiration! I can’t wait to show these to the kids today. For those of you with younger children, I have found first-grade to be sort of a magical year — they can do things for themselves, can understand much about the world, and they get jokes. But they’ll tell you that sarcasm is rude and that you shouldn’t use the f-word. Everyone needs a first-grader around.