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Artist Camp Guide • Week 1

We're bringing camp home to you this summer with themed activities straight to your inbox. Enjoy a new guide each week as we explore select curriculum from each of our seven summer camps, recommended reads, and inspired videos.  Gather your materials, and let's get started...


  • Have fun!
  • Explore different art styles and tools
  • Build fine motor skills
  • Inspire creative expression in young children


  • Sandwich bags
  • Paper or canvas
  • Cardstock or other thick paper
  • Oil pastels 
  • Toothpicks 
  • Chinet paper plates
  • Tempera paint
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Plastic beads
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Paint brushes
  • Air-dry clay


The amount of prep work required will depend upon the age of your child.  We encourage you to have your child do as much of the work as possible.  The learning takes place through the process.

#1. Natural Watercolors

Using flowers to make your own paint

  1. Select several flowers from your yard, a local park, or your neighborhood with permission.
  2. Separate the flowers by color and make predictions about the results.
  3. Remove petals and place in plastic sandwich bags according to color.  Add 1/4 cup warm water to the bags.
  4. Use a rolling pin or cup to smash the petals.  Let sit for a couple of hours.
  5. Transfer the liquid to a cup to use for painting.  Use a paint brush or fresh flower petals to paint a masterpiece using your handcrafted watercolors.

#2. Scratch Art

  1. Select a thick white piece of paper like card stock, index cards, or old business cards to use.
  2. Use a variety of colors to create a rainbow of sections on the paper with oil pastels.  Be sure to fill the entire paper.
  3. Cover the rainbow completely with black oil pastel.
  4. Select a "scratching tool." Examples include a bamboo skewer, toothpick, craft stick or plastic fork.
  5. Use the tool to gently scratch off the black oil pastel layer and create a colorful design.

#3. Weaving Loom

  1. Use a sturdy paper plate, like Chinet brand.  With tempera paint, paint a colorful background on your plate.
  2. If making multiple projects, use a second paper plate to create a template for spacing a serious of slits around the outside of each place.  To make the template, cut off the outer ring.  Then make 19 evenly spaced 1/2 inch cuts around the edge.
  3. Place the template on the painted plate loom.  Cut 1/4 inch notches around the pate, following the template as a guide.
  4. Cut a 3-foot piece of yarn.  Place the string in a notch with about 3-inches behind the plate.  Pull the piece of yarn across the plate to the opposite notch.  There will be 8 empty notches to the left and 9 to the right at this step.
  5. Next, loop the yarn behind the plate,  one notch to the right of your first notch.  Pull the yarn all the way across the plate again to the left of your original start point.
  6. Flip the plate 180 degrees and repeat the pattern:  move your yarn one notch to the right and all the way across the loom, to the left of the other strings.  Repeat this pattern until the loom is full.  Tie your original starting yarn that is loose in the back to another spoke.
  7. You will weave the rest of the yarn in and out of this loom you have created, to create a design in the middle.  Incorporate new colors by tying new yard to the original piece using a square knot.  Weave by going "over and under" the strings.  Add plastic beads to your weaving as desired.
  8. We suggest weaving a circle in the middle to 4 inches in diameter so the painting underneath can be enjoyed.  Double knot the end of the yarn to a spoke.
  9. Tie a piece of yarn to the top from which to hang your beautiful masterpiece.   

#4. Abstract Art

Inspired by Music

  1. Abstract art is comprised of three elements:  lines, shapes, and color.
  2. Select your canvas and your art medium.
  3. Turn on music and create abstract art using lines, shapes, and colors.
  4. How does the music inspire your art?
  5. Did you change the music?
  6. Did you use lines and shapes to create a picture or is it a free form design?
  7. Where are you going to display your art?

#5. Neighborhood Art Gallery

Social distancing inspiration

  1. Use one block of sidewalk to create your masterpiece with sidewalk chalk.
  2. Leave sidewalk chalk out with an invitation to add to the gallery.
  3. Take a picture of the complete gallery, post on social media, and tag Gilbert House Children's Museum. 

Our favorite books about famous artists:

13 Artists Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky

Katie and the Mona Lisa by James Mayhew

Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg

My Name is Georgia by Jeanette Winter


Explore famous works of art:

Louvre Museum Tours

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Prado National Museum

Photo credits and resources:  Learn Play Imagine; Babble Dabble Do; Cassie Stephens

Gilbert House Children's Museum

116 Marion St NE Salem, OR 97301