August 25, 2012

The fourth birthday

The other week we celebrated DDs fourth birthday with a party. Four of her friends were invited and beforehand the question arose – what can we do to entertain them. And what gift can we give them as a take home present?
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I have a severe dislike of these standard bags that include too many sweets and stuff that breaks after three uses or just clutters up the kid’s rooms. So I put some thought into the whole affair. On Pinterest I found a picture of older kids painting pictures during a birthday party (yeah, I didn’t pin it and can’t find it anymore!). We liked the basic idea, but pictures? That would mean getting canvas somewhere and probably no room in the kid’s rooms to hang the pics. What to do?

Well, the answer was obvious, kind of. We purchased a number of white basic shirts from H&M and had the kids print and paint these – great fun during the party and a great memory afterwards, a memory the kids actually get to use! I bought long sleeved shirts, so the finished works can be worn during the coming fall and winter!

As I already own a good selection of blueprinting colours, there was very little else to organize: 
  •  Get some throw-away glasses for the colours to put in
  • Organize some smocks for the kids to wear
  • Get out my stamps and the colours
  • Some paint-brushs
The kids were a bit sceptic at first – painting shirts? Hm. How? Why? What? But they paid very good attention and loved the idea quickly.

They started out using the stamps and a stencil. Very quickly they decided to use the brushes and paint freely on their shirts. The next step, to print their hands, was a short one.

All five of them were very into it and loved what we had thought up for them. They painted for about 45 minutes in absolute silence and concentration. For me it was a very new experience. I have taught grown-ups how to blue-print. I have printed with DD alone. But I have never worked with a group of little ones. It was a bit of a frenzy sometimes when all of them needed a new colour AT ONCE or wanted to change their stamps. At around four they don’t always get the “First come, first serve” logic we grown-ups are used to.
The really amazing thing about this project was how the shirts show the character of the kids who made them! I don’t know the kids really well, it’s more like we meet at Kindergarten or on the playground. Only one of them is DDs exceptional friend whom we meet often and whose mother I’m friend with.
See the results for yourselves:

 This is DDs. She’s a bit extrovert and searches for rules to help her cope with life.

The kid that made this shirt is a calm and nice little guy, very guarded but when feeling at home he’s super-charming.

The kid that made this shirt I know as quiet and very orderly.

The one who made this shirt I know least. She was quite reserved and calm while visiting us, but thawed after some time.

The artist who made this shirt is outspoken, extrovert, a leader. And very down-to-earth.

It was a great experience for me. I think the kids liked it, too. And the parents were amazed at what their kids made. I hope to see some or all of the shirts come fall at Kindergarten.

The colours and stamps used were those of Blauweisschen. They are water-based and not toxic. By simply ironing them afterwards they are fused to the fabric and can be washed with standard laundry.