Art Blast! Fun Lessons for Kids and Aliens #10

Your Own Secret Code


Can you solve a famous art mystery? If so, please tell me what this says:


Give up? I give up, too. It’s a painting by the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky, in which he made up his own symbolic language. Did he tell anyone what it means? NO! So frustrating. And without a key, like the Rosetta Stone which was used to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, we may never know…

However, I DO know what this one below says. Can you figure it out? Hint: each thing represents one letter. (spoiler alert: answer key below)

Did you decipher it? Try this one:

Like Kandinsky, I’ve created a code of my own (mostly using symbols based on book and movie characters I like). Technically, it’s a cipher, not a code, because each symbol represents one letter. Possibly the most famous cipher in history is the Caesar Cipher, in which each letter of the alphabet shifts over by the same amount (A=B, B=C, C=D, etc. or A=C, B=D, C=E, etc.)

Ready to create an alphabetic cipher/code of your own? Here’s a key to fill out (or draw a grid or rows how you like):


You can make it kind of easy (like mine) or nearly impossible (like Kandinsky’s). The main trick is to come up with a symbol or letter to replace each letter of the alphabet. The symbols you use can be regular shapes, made up shapes, things that start with that letter, characters, or anything that works for you! Note: don’t make it too hard to replicate, you’re going to have to draw each symbol many times if you want to write something. Do you know an alphabet other than English/Latin (A, B, C…)? You can make a cipher for those letters too!

The final step is to share with a trusted friend, so you can write to each other in code. If you want to write me in my code, here’s my key (can you figure out why I used each symbol?):

My two codes said: ART IS THE BEST and BE GOOD TO EACH OTHER.

If you like codes and ciphers, here’s a cool article by children’s book author Kevin Sands.

Always Be Creative and Have a Blast!

Beep Says Yay to You!


Another Art Blast soon….

Art Blast! Fun Lessons for Kids and Aliens #9

Make Art with Stuff


True or False: You need expensive art materials to make art? And the answer is: FALSE. False, False, FALSE!

Art doesn’t come from having fancy paints (though fancy paint is nice). Art is born when you put your creative mind (your imagination) to work (effort).

I bet you can create some fun arrangements using ONLY objects you have in or around your home right now. (Important note: As always, safety first! And please get permission before you collect things, and put them back just as you found them!)

Here are some examples that I made. Can you name all the objects? What can you make?





Hey, mini-Beep wants to try the skateboard, too! YES, you can also use stuffed animals, toys, Legos, blocks and so on as part of your artistic arrangements!


Can you also draw as part of your art? OF COURSE! Check out this awesome slideshow that art teacher Kimberly Mueller made of her 3-6th grade students’ found object illustrations:

Finally, what about natural objects, like rocks, shells, sticks and so on? GO FOR IT! One of my favorite artists in the world, Andy Goldsworthy, makes most of his art when he goes outside and is inspired by natural materials to arrange and build ephemeral sculptures (ephemeral means they aren’t meant to last). Here are a few of his artworks:



Pretty amazing, huh? Just remember: You can make art anywhere!

Always Be Creative and Have a Blast!

Beep Says Yay to You!


Another Art Blast soon….

Art Blast! Fun Lessons for Kids and Aliens #8

Weave Off!


Last week, you learned how to weave on to a cardboard loom. Now, if you wove to the end, it’s time to take your weaving off the loom. Weave on, weave off, weave on, weave off, wax on, wax off (huh?). Have no fear, even Mini-Beep, who’s all tangled up, can do this if he follows the steps!


1. First, a tip: if your weaving is bending in towards the middle, it may because you’re pulling too hard at the end of each row. Pull gently to keep the guitar strings straight.



2. If you get all the way to the end, congratulations! If you look closely though, make sure you don’t see any of the guitar strings poking through. If you do, it means you didn’t smoosh enough. Do that now, and keep weaving!


3. Now you’re at the end! Great job!


4. To take the weaving off the loom, turn to the back and peel off the three pieces of tape.


5. Next grab and pull one of the loose ends of yarn out of the slot. Then pinch the loops and pop them over the tab (teeth as I called them before). They may be a little tight, it’s okay to pull hard and bend the cardboard.



6. Once you’ve popped the loops off, the weaving should pull free from that side. Now pop the loops off from the other end. There’s no tension, so these should be easy to remove.



7. And now it’s off!


8. But wait: a few more tips about how to neaten your weaving. The first thing I like to do is to push (smoosh) the yarn up to the top of the loops so it covers them.


9. You can also tie the little ends from your last piece into a knot if you want, and you can trim the loose ends. However, be very, very careful to NEVER, EVER, EVER cut the loops or the guitar strings inside. Those are holding your weaving together.


10. Good news: the cardboard loom can be reused. If you make another weaving, you can tie the loops from one end to the loops on another to make your weaving longer. Keep going and you’ll make a scarf!


Even with only one, you can wrap it around your wrist and tie it to make a wrist band. Or even a little blanket for your little friends! Super bonus if you keep weaving and make a blanket for you!


Always Be Creative and Have a Blast!

Beep Says Yay to You!

More soon…

Art Blast! Fun Lessons for Kids and Aliens #7

Your Secret Underground World


Quick, if you could dig straight down underground, name ten things you might find.


I’ll start: soil, clay, water, worms, pipes, rocks, moles, my lost socks (sorry, Beep, I thought you had eaten them), caverns and the Earth’s core (that one starts about 1,800 miles beneath all of us!) But there’s lots more than that! There may even be secret hangouts. Under my school, for instance, they built a bunch of special rooms for teachers to relax (No Students Allowed!). But kids thought that wasn’t fair, so they dug down and started their own side, too! (Is this true?)


Do you want a cool underground hangout? What would it look like? What features would you have?

Start by drawing a horizontal line (across) for the ground:

Next decide what to dig under: your house, apartment building, backyard, school, Egyptian pyramid, Moon base, anything. That goes above the line:

Under the line = under the ground. Start a little realistically, maybe a basement, some pipes. But then hide a secret elevator, or stairs or hatch so you can go deeper.


Have it lead to your own game room, play space, art studio or Olympic size heated pool!

Then start tunneling away! You can add a food court, a movie theater, buried treasure, a disco cave or ANYTHING!



Should you add traps and high security? Probably. Dungeon for your younger siblings? Maybe. Bathrooms? You better! You can also color with crayons, colored pencils, whatever you like.

Want to make it even deeper? I’ve seen students create underground drawings taller than themselves! You can do this too by simply taping more paper at the bottom as you go (hint: put tape on the back). Check out this book, The Street Beneath My Feet. It folds out longer than a table!


This type of drawing is called a cross-section. Cross-sections are very helpful in showing what is inside things, especially big things like buildings, planes, even Star Wars vehicles.


Like your underground design? Excellent! Next up, how to construct it. First you’ll need a shovel


Always Be Creative and Have a Blast!

Beep Says Yay to You!


Another Art Blast soon….