Nothing can ruin a summer's day more than the cries of, "Mom, I'm bored." And often if you suggest they get out their art supplies, you are greeted by groans of "that's boring, too," or "I colored yesterday." With a little effort on your part, you can help your children step-up their creativity to an "art-astic" level.

Imitate the artist/illustrator

Years ago, I was an art docent at my children's elementary school. Each month I would teach the class about an artist and then the class would produce an art piece in the style or genre of that artist. For example, Henri Matisse created art work by cutting colored paper into shapes and using those to create images.

Choose an artist and then have your child imitate them. Scholastic Books has a series of Art Activity Packs that are perfect for this art project. Each focuses on a different artist such as Cezanne, Von Gogh or Monet. Each tells about the artist, how they created their art and then provides project material.

Make mosaics

As a Girl Scout Leader, my troop made mosaics using old greeting cards. First, you cut up old greeting cards (Christmas, birthday etc.) into small squares. You want to have a variety of colors. Next, have your child draw an outline of the design they would like to create, such as a sunflower, a sailboat (whatever they want). A piece of cardboard or cardstock would work great for this. Then have your children create a design with the "tiles" they made from the greeting cards.

Construct robots from recycled materials

When the co-op preschool where I taught learned about recycling, we made these robots. The kids loved them. Simply save up boxes, paper towel or toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, plastic bottles and any other items that might work as robot-making materials. Then have them create their own "robot" from these materials.

Create concrete stepping stones

Let your children add their art to your yard or garden. You can purchase a stepping-stone kit at a hobby or craft store or create your own using foil pans as your form. They sell the concrete mix in small boxes at craft stores as well. Mix the concrete, pour it into the form and then let your children add shells, fake jewels or colored pebbles to create their design. They can also write their names or a phrase into the wet cement as well. Or pressing their hand prints creates a small time capsule keepsake.

Host a chalk art contest

Organize this event with the neighborhood kids. Have each child bring his or her own sidewalk chalk (or provide a large container of sidewalk chalk). Assign each child a section of the sidewalk or driveway. Set a time limit and then let them go to work on their own masterpieces. Arrange to have some parents or neighbors without children at home to be the judges. Be sure to create certificates for everyone and give awards for the most creative, funniest and most artistic.

Create wearable art

This project can be done on T-shirts, aprons or hats. Have a variety of fabric paint, sponges of different shapes and even fabric markers. Everyone can make the same design (for example, my Girl Scout troop made American flag T-shirts) or let them be creative. Put a small amount of paint on a paper plate and let them dip their sponges in the paint and then press onto their shirt. They can add writing or more design elements with the fabric markers.

Another variation of this is to cut fruit or vegetables such as oranges, apples or potatoes and use them to create designs on the shirt.

With a little forethought and planning, your children can take their creations to the next level. And your kids will think you are a super genius.

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