Snow art

The cold snap has turned so many children and their families into sculptors, often working on the sort of giant scale beloved of contemporary artists (think the kiss at St Pancras, Paolozzi’s man with dividers at the British Library or Mark Wallinger’s planned white horse at Ebsfleet, Kent). This post is by Nicola Baird.

Walking around the neighbourhood my kids’ favourite ice art is this wonderful snow goblin guarding the dustbins. (photo by Lola). Obviously the traditional snowman remains a favourite but even before the media concerns about food running out, I’ve been perplexed to see people decorating their snowmen’s faces with cherry tomatoes and green beans. It’s not just that this is air-freighted food (ie, out of season), whatever happened to lumps of coal or pebbles and a carroty nose above a stick grin?

Turn an empty tin into a lantern

Inspired by an interesting American craft book The Best of Making Things by Ann Sayre Wiseman (Hand Print Press), I left a baked bean tin out in the cold, half full of water so it would freeze. Then when we had time Nell, 8, and I brought it inside and hammered a pattern of holes around its sides to create a rather brilliant candle holder. I reckon we can sell this upcycled tin as a lantern at fundraisers, give as gifts and generally use proudly around our house.

If anyone criticises our efforts I’ll just pretend it was made by Zimbabwean artisans (although obviously they’d do a far more skilled job than our efforts).

What you need is:
clean tin can, a hammer and one big nail
To make:
Hammer a pattern of nail holes into your tin, either in random fashion, or first let your child cover the tin in paint dots to create patterns like suns, fleur de lis, flowers, zigzags, copy from Henna (Mendhi) stencils etc and then when you are satisfied with the pattern hammer in the holes.

When you’ve finished turn the lights out (or just go outside if it is dark) and ceremonially light a low candle inside the tin. The light it throws will sparkle through those nail holes and look very pretty. It’s not very bright so think of it as a light for bathing by, not reading.

Tip: doing what the book suggests, and filling the tin with water in a bid to use the ice eventually created ensure that the tin keeps its shape as the holes get hammered was a dead loss. We had ice on the top, but underneath quickly sprung a leak. Also asking an 8 year old to do the hammering on her own was way too ambitious, but with adult help the result sparked plenty of compliments.

Has anyone got any other ideas about what to do in the snow with little ones? Or less manipulatively, any stories about what your little ones enjoyed doing in the snow without adult prompts? You can also find loads of ideas at the treehugger mum website about creative things to do with children, especially little ones.

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