To celebrate Earth Day this year, which falls on April 22nd, I decided to do this very process-oriented solar system mixed-media art project with my campers! It is truly perfect for every age, from preschoolers to middle schoolers. It is a two day process and an exploration of circular shapes, painting with droppers, and deep atmospheric colors.
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Supplies for Solar System Art:
~ Pipettes or eyedroppers
~ Embroidery hoop (at least 10″ diameter)
~ Scrap piece of fabric (old woven clothes works well)
How to make Solar System Art:
1. On the first day, set out the cotton rounds on trays. Fill some jars with warm and cool liquid watercolors and separate them into groupings. Blues and greens in one grouping, and yellows and reds in another. Most of the planets in our solar system fall into these two categories. Earth, Neptune and Uranus are in the cool blue family. And Mars, Jupiter, Venus and the Sun are in the warm orangey family (Mercury and Saturn are a littler browner). Depending on the age of the children, they can keep the colors separate, or they can mix them up. This is meant to be a fun process using pipettes so nothing is right or wrong. Let them explore just explore.
2. Let the cotton rounds dry overnight. In the meantime, put together the embroidery hoops. A very generous blog reader donated some car fabric materials to me, and I used those to place inside the hoops. They are thicker, more in line with a wool coat, but you can use any scraps of fabric. Old shirts or pants would work well. Cut a piece bigger than the hoop and secure it inside. Pull to make it even before tightening the hoop. Trim the excess fabric and glue it underneath with the hot glue gun.
3. Set out the big hoops and the dried cotton rounds with a plate of some black and blue acrylics along with brushes and water. Let the children paint in their atmospheric colors any way they please. You can encourage them to blend the colors to make new colors on the plate. Encourage them to paint the wooden sides of their hoop, too.
4. When the paint is still wet, give them some glitter and sequins to sprinkle on top if they want to.
5. After they have finished painting their atmosphere, give them some white glue to add their planets, placing them anywhere they choose.
6. When completely dry, add a wire loop to the top for hanging.
I love how each child had a different take on what they wanted to make. One of my older students didn’t want to add her cotton rounds, and instead was inspired by the grid on her fabric and painted geometric shapes.
This project is meant to be a loose interpretation of the solar system. Let your child make their own choices without too much direction. This is how they learn to innovate and really dig into their creativity. Support this experience even more with books from the library about our planets and the solar system.
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Did you like this post? Here are some more Earth Day art ideas: