Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Episode Fourteen: Drawing Competition

When I grew up there were four things I loved to do: play Lego, play Matchbox cars, jump on the trampoline and draw. Interestingly enough, I still like all of these things.

Drawing is such a cool activity for younger people. There is something about being able to create something from nothing on a blank page. A squiggle here, a squiggle there and you have a masterpiece. As you grow up, and you may notice this in your children, they start to think about how things should look and that magic goes away. 

One activity we do with our children is drawing competitions. It may sound weird; adding a competitive element to something so creative and so subjective, but for some reason it works. It's not a race, it's not about accuracy - it's about imagination and technique. Here's how we do it:

Each person takes a turn suggesting what everyone should draw. This may take a bit of practice because a great suggestion can make or break a round. Get as silly as you can. Get as descriptive as you want. I usually go first to give them an idea of what is a suitable suggestion. An adjective and a noun works great: A statue made of cheese. From there, everyone draws their own interpretation of the suggestion.

The winner of the round isn't who drew it first or who drew exactly what was suggested (although maybe if it's a abstract suggestion that would be worthy of a win) - someone could win for the colours they used. For their approach. It's all about encouraging your children to enjoy drawing. To show them it's not about whether your drawing looks realistic. It's about the fun of drawing. It's about showing your children that there is merit in every work and a good artist isn't necessarily a photo-realistic artist.

Go around in a circle so everyone gets a go making a suggestion. Maybe the person who makes the suggestion can also be the judge? I'm sure you can figure out something that works for your age groups.

Here are some rounds from a recent game we played to illustrate my point (ha!):

"A Space Chicken" (from L-R) Literal drawing by Dad. A chicken in a space suit saying 'Rawk' by middle boy. A colourful chicken with a rainbow head by youngest boy. Winner: Middle boy for awesome space suit and cool planet Earth.

"A Super Space Ship" (from L-R) A UFO wearing a cape because it's super by Dad. A humongous green and brown space ship by youngest boy. A cool spaceship with a power source and defensive shield by middle boy. Winner: Youngest boy for sheer size of the ship.

"A Parrot With A Robotic Body Part" (from L-R) Parrot with remote control beak by Dad. Liam the cyborg bird by middle boy. A bird with bugs around it youngest boy. Winner: Dad for imagination.

As you can see, the sky is the limit and that way, everyone kicks a goal! Give it a crack. The best part about this activity is that you don't even have to be good at drawing (which is a great confidence booster for kids in the 'I can't draw phase') and it rewards imagination and participation.

If you give this activity a go, please consider posting your results on our Facebook page. The boys and I love checking out artwork. 

Have fun!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Friday, Funday VI

Hey Team,

Here are some cool things to look at while you're waiting for the next idea...

Some awesome industrial robotics footage of the Tesla Model S being made. Some incredible robots in this one. Not to mention cars made out of aluminium. Start saving those Coke cans.

This video is crazy! Rally drivers in Italy going incredibly fast. A great first-person view of what the driver, and ever-important co-driver, see.

A neat little documentary on toy sculptors. Sounds like a pretty awesome job to me. Some very cool toys in this video.

Some really clever guys got together and made a real-life Wall-E! It moves, looks and sounds just like the real Wall-E. Very interesting and very clever people.

Finally, some nice slow-motion footage of mud pools from Rotorua. I don't know if you've had a chance to see the mud at all, but it's pretty crazy stuff. So gloopy.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Episode Thirteen: The Water Balloon Box

I feel like we've been doing a lot of philosophy-based ideas to begin with so this week I decided to try a tangible, make-able idea. I present to you, The Water Balloon Box.

For this idea you will need a shoe box, a nail, water balloons and two dozen knitting needles or, if you don't have thousands of knitting needles in your house like we do, you can use bamboo skewers. 

I don't know if you're familiar with the game 'Pop Up Pirate' but it is a game where you stick plastic knives into a barrel until one of them hits a trigger and a pirate doll pops up. Whoever makes the pirate jump out of the barrel is the loser. This idea is along the same lines but you create your own playable game from scratch. 

With this game we put a blown up water balloon into a shoe box with holes on the lid. The players take turns putting knitting needles or skewers through the holes in the lid. Whoever makes the water balloon pop, loses.

In this instance my middle boy and I went outside to enjoy the sunshine and I gave him instructions on how to put the game together. I think he enjoyed making the holes in the top of the lid with a nail more than actually playing the game. The holes are made in the top of the lid to make it easier for younger players to put the needles into the box. We made our holes in a grid pattern which ensured that the needles wouldn't all bunch up in one area and the balloon wouldn't be struck.

I recommend using water balloons because of their size. They fit in the box perfectly, they can be blown up til they're quite big and that makes them tight and easier to pop. If you use regular size (party) balloons you can't blow them up as big and that makes them soft and harder to pop. Also, blowing up water balloons can be pretty hard work so you're probably better doing this part of the idea for your children (pro tip: stretch the balloon half a dozen times before blowing and push your cheeks in with your fingers while blowing so you don't get that painful feeling in your jaw. Looks and sounds funny but it works!).

Once all the holes are made in the lid, the balloon has been blown up and the lid is back on, it's time to play! Divide the skewers/needles between the players and take turns putting them in a spare hole. Whoever pops the balloon loses the game. But if you're like me, popping the balloon is the best part. Just a word of warning here: for some children balloons can be scary, especially the thought of popping balloons. Explaining to them that the box will contain the balloon and it won't go flying into their face may allay their fears. Also, purposely popping the balloon and showing them that it's not as loud or as scary as they think might be a good approach.

The best thing about this idea is that it can be all packed into the box and put away for another session at a later date but please, please, please put the broken bits of balloons in the rubbish and away from young children as they are a choking hazard. Apart from that, it's fun times in DIY-ville: An easy idea which I'm sure your kids will get a kick out of.

Have fun!