Water balloons.

July 24th, 2014

Hello everyone! I have been hanging out at www.momsmanagingmedia.com (my other site) where I encourage families to balance technology use with childhood! Check out my summer series “30 minutes Outside” where I am posting an outside activity each day this summer to focus on a healthy balance between technology use and childhood…and there is a photo with every post! I will be catching up on our last party and our summer art camp photos here soon!

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It was hot today! The boys took a break from their fort building to make up some water balloon games, an activity that is perfect for ALL ages! This is another activity that keeps on giving as the job begins with filling the balloons, then making up the game (tag, catch, hunt etc.) then setting up a target and taking aim..

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…and trying to hit it over and over, then sometimes hitting it!

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This is a fun activity that will keep your kids busy fine tuning their eye hand coordination, working on their fine motor skills filling and tying balloons, practicing their aim, playing with others, cooling off  and having a blast! Encourage your kids to learn how to have a fun water balloon fight and be sure you teach them how to tie them off so you can stay in the cool indoors : )

Spy vs. Spy Party!

July 14th, 2013

 

The boys had their 9th birthday party at the backyard Hempe Spy Training Institute and it was the best secret agent spy party ever!!

The creative direction all began when I found this book…. the party planning took on a life of it’s own at this point! it wasn’t that the book had party ideas but the books was an inspiration and so fun I highly recommend it! The boys couldn’t put it down!

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The invitations were made complete with secret code and cypher key.

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Before the new recruits got to the training center there was work to be done:

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The bomb cake had to be made:

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sparklers were voted in as the best choice for the candles this year!

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and the Spy vs Spy figures made it to the cake, not on the top,  but around the bottom..

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The spy vs spy theme was too hard to pass up with the twin thing and the fact that Evan has been running around the house playing the White Spy and keeping score against the Black Spy for weeks.

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Cake is good but the menu had to be filled in with cup cakes too; we knew we would have hungry spies!

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Baby bombs were added to the menu (chocolate droughts with red twizzlers).

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I try to get this shot every year showing how old they are…

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Once the recruits arrived, the first order of business was to get them fingerprinted at the Recruiting Station:

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The spy names were their first name backwards!

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James Bond was there to assist with the background check and prints.

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Once the background checks and fingerprinting was complete the new recruits went to the training stations where they learned many spy skills:

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Once all the training stations were completes the final task was a visit to the Spy Supply

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All the recruits were fed and we lit the bomb!

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I feel safer knowing that we have a new group of well trained spies ! Don’t you?!

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Tips: my biggest tip for birthday parties is simply remember to shoot pictures! it is easy to get so caught up in the party that you forget to get the shots. When I am outside and there is plenty of light I will set the camera on the green box to get the quick shots. But, before the party starts I do try to get some good manual shots of the kids. Learn how to shoot manually it gives you so much more control of your exposures!

Have fun with your next party!

Basketball!

February 4th, 2013

It is time for winter basketball and I am having more fun than ever with these shots! I am setting my ISO to about 1600-2400, my f stop at 2.8 and my shutter around 1/600.. higher if the light will let me.

Gotta get that action!

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and those shots..

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and the ‘direction’…

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and the naps!

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and the little sister!

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and the ‘watching’…

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and the ball…

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even when it is bigger than you are 🙂

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and the hug..

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and the handshakes…

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and the victory!

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and the swoosh!

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And…don’t forget the …

looks on their faces and the magical moments that only your ‘mom ‘ eyes can capture…so be ready; because once those moments are gone..they are gone forever.

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Get  your camera ready for the new year and for your kids next sporting event! You can do it!!!!

Happy shooting!

The Turkeys vs. the hams

December 6th, 2012

The last few weeks have been a whirl with a very fun Thanksgiving, fun Christmas decorating and a house full of fun Company!

Here  is a look back at the priceless Thanksgiving memories!

We joined the fabulous Slattery family for our day of thanks – –

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They wanted me to snap a pix for their Christmas card this year – -easy to do with such a handsome group! I picked the dark green background and worked with the sunlight. The white shirts are always a challenge for the camera but I think this worked. If you ever get asked about what people should wear for group shots….neutral colors that coordinate (not match) are a good choice.

We moved on to the annual Thanksgiving Play written this year by Steve!

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It had a space theme (?) and featured their dog Daisy dressed as the turkey!

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The play was a huge success!

it was now time for The Game! The Thanksgiving Football Game: Turkeys vs. Hams

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The action was fast.

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Aunt Donna thought she would never catch the football.

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Adam was thrilled to have a break from the Army base!

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Melissa outran just about everyone and did cartwheels when the ball wasn’t coming her way.

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Chris takes sports very seriously.

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Evan got the ball after yelling ’open’ about 20 times!

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Andrew made some great catches.

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Donna finally caught the ball!

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In the end, it was an outstanding effort by both teams and the final goal, Thanksgiving Dinner, was enjoyed by all!

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It was a perfect day and we are thankful for the fun photos to remember it all.

I used my 70-200 2.8 Canon lens for the outdoor sports shots. It is very difficult to get the action shots if you don’t have a quick shutter speed. You can adjust your manual camera settings to achieve this. You can also use the sports setting but remember that when you are on any of the creative settings your camera usually determines what to focus on sometime it is a person and sometime it is a tree. So, if you want more control over the focal point, switch over to manual and change the selection to the center point and you will be much happier with the outcome!

Have a fun few weeks getting ready for Christmas and don’t forget to keep your camera out on the kitchen counter all charged up so you will be ready to go!

Baseball Stories

October 23rd, 2012

I have a few more baby tips to post this month but I just had to get these fall baseball photos up! These are all shots from the past few weeks, they are generally not edited meaning they are straight out of my camera because I don’t have time to edit much. I use my Canon 70-200 2.8 lens for all sports…it is an ‘investment’ lens, but…I can’t think of anything I would rather invest in! I keep the ISO at 100 for day games, F-Stop 2.8 then I adjust the shutter speed keeping it really high for the action…1/500-1/1,200 if possible.

I think that the plays in baseball are so fun to capture… but the photo stories are what I love! Here are some reasons why I love baseball:

1. You don’t have to be really big to play this game.

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2. It is good to get dirty. (check out the ball in mid air, the fast shutter keeps that ball clear.

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3. What other sport can you get a shot like this! Note frozen action again with fast shutter.

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4.  I like getting the real story on the ‘out/safe’ call…see what I mean? Still waiting for the  ump  to ask for my ‘photo’ help on these close calls.. he hasn’t asked for my opinion yet!

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5. I like how little 8 year old boys make up a team.

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…and have such a good time.

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…and you can be on the same team with your brother…

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6. I love that Evan can’t play without ‘eye-black’…

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…even at night!

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(I also love that baseball fields have really good lights at night so I can still get good shots!)

7. I love the baseball stuff… it’s just cool…the old leather, the balls the earthy colors….

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8. I love that ‘Super Heroes show up at every game!

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(you have to admit that he looks like a cousin of spider man  – – I am creating a new super hero character: Baseball Boy!)

9. I love that Andrew caught that foul tip on the third swing and got the batter out…(check his glove closely for the ball)…and I got the picture to go with his very exciting story  that he shared at the end of the game! …. (did I mention how excited he was?!)

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10. Finally,I love the little moments that I get to be a part of….. from a distance.

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These shots are all posted with little or no editing, just a little contrast adjustment on a few of them. It is important  to get comfortable with your camera so you can spend time getting the shots and not spend all your time post editing.

Mom tip for the day: look for the stories and click away. The plays are great and you don’t want to miss them but don’t forget to watch the boys through your lens off field to get the rest of the story.  Shooting sports is exciting because it is so unpredictable  – – but it can also be hard because it is so unpredictable. Practice as much as you can.  It will pay off!

Window light is Best for Babies!

October 3rd, 2012

Here is sweet Sophia again just a few weeks old.  The trick to photographing babies is to be patient. I am not a professional photographer and I have not been to formal photography classes  but I am a mom and I know that babies have to be fed, warm and with mama to be happy. So, I am guessing that works for the photography mom too. We got her up after a little nap and mama fed her. We moved over to some window light and started shooting.

First I grabbed some shots of this cute little bottom and those precious feet! I set my camera to the following settings using my 50mm 1.4 lens I love.  

Shutter Speed  1/125, because she was not moving fast, I usually like to keep the ss at least 1/200 with kids. but this day I needed to lower it to get the light to work.

F-Stop 3.5, because I wanted some blur in the background

ISO 500 because we were inside and the window light was not too bright.

I picked up this cute diaper cover at a specialty children’s shop for my camera bag because diapers are ugly and bright colors/clothes are not always flattering on newborns, we love baby skin to show.

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Then we put a black shirt on mom and a pink bow on baby and tried out best to get baby to look at me, she was not too interested at first…

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But I kept shooting…

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and finally got some eye contact!

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Next I wanted to get  some more feet to go with the shot we took before she was born, remember this one?

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I had mom sit by the window. Window light is best…love it…

Then it was time to eat again! love the ‘nursing hands’!

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The next tip is to try to get babies face close to mama, this is harder than you think but worth the effort.

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I love the way the light is coming across her profile in these shots:

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She is not old enough to hold her head up so a little help from mama’s hands under the blanket works.

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Finally one more shot of that precious face! For these I used some black fabric that I had to drape behind her so there wasn’t a cluttered background. A few yards of black fabric is a perfect addition to your camera bag. Make sure the light from the window is on her face with her eyes catching some of the soft light.

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I love the black and white/sepia look especially against the black background. Sometime I use the black and white adjustment on my Memory Manager software but then it is a little blue to me…so I warm it up a bit to get this look….not totally B&W and not totally sepia.

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Stay tuned for some more baby photos of a brand  new baby boy!

Get your camera out today!

Melanie

Final Day of Art Camp Day 4!

September 16th, 2012

We got tons done on our final day of camp!

It started with drawing on the place cards again and today was ‘self portrait’ day. Here is the card before we gave it to the boys, I just drew in the outline. . It makes it much easier to get a head start on the drawings:

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They just personalize them!

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We made sharks out of rocks complete with black duct take fins! I loved seeing all the different teeth variations!

Square teeth:

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rectangle teeth:

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Sharp scary teeth!

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Andrew kissed his shark (note black lips!)

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Then we moved outside to our creative tie dye shirt project. We decided that we would not do complicated twisting and tying – – but rather a single initial would be perfect for active boys and not so much time left!

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Love the shirts!

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I had to grab a random shot of Evan’s crazy hair in the sun! It says summer to me! (Don’t forget to get shots of the simple everyday things you notice about your kids.)

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Tilt the camera…

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Where is the surf board????

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Our final project was painting the pirate Lego faces on canvas. We had cut outs of the certain shapes to make the face. They traced the cutout on the canvas then painted. We washed/rinsed  the canvas with coffee to give it the old world look…

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You can see the pirate Lego  poster we were using for our inspiration in this shot:

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Finally, I had to get a group shot as camp was coming to a close! We had SO much fun and it all went by so fast!

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Tip for getting groups: break them up into groups of three or four – – Moms like it best and you can see everyone easier!

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Thanks for stopping by for a visit and checking out our Art Camp for Boys. The pictures don’t capture all the fun (and noise!) but they do a pretty good job! The camera mom tip here is to TAKE PICTURES of the everyday stuff that your life is made of. Say I Love You with your camera  — It works!!

More precious baby photos coming this week, stayed tuned!

Art Camp Day 3!

September 13th, 2012

Captain America came to camp today! The boys drew their favorite super hero and a free draw picture and got ready for a fun ‘dirty’ project!

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We made cement stepping stones! So after experimenting with the cement recopies on line we came up with what we think is the perfect mixture:

8 inch square pan, 4 cups quick set cement, 1 1/2 cup water

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Using fluted disposable cake pans we poured the cement and the boys began decorating…

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These gems worked perfect, we found them at the dollar store!

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Then collected shell were added (what a perfect home for the beach treasures you bring home every year from your summer beach vacation.)

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Perhaps the most fun project yet …. getting our hands dirty was fantastic!

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We let them dry over night…

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then painted the handprints to get them to stand out.

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We brought out the hammers for the next project… we were now entering ‘boy heaven’: hammers and dirt!

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We used the ‘nail’ alphabet from a local craft store to hammer the boys names on ‘washer’  bracelets.

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Once they picked out the letters for their names they got started with the hammer.

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My co-worker was the brave soul who held the nail while the boys used the hammer!

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After the letters are done color them in with a black sharpie. Here is the finished project! All the bracelets have the boys first name and WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)!

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Finally, Be sure to take time to photograph the ‘Happy Campers’. Remember the rule to get them to face the window or door light to get the right light on their faces…you will always be glad to make the effort to turn toward the light!

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Art Camp Day 2!

September 7th, 2012

We painted birdhouses on our second day or Art Camp!  It was hard to get the right exposure with the strange indoor light; I am reminded of how natural light is much better for photography! But the light didn’t matter to the boys!

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They had a wonderful time painting the bird houses…

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… and painting their bodies!

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Turn your camera to get different angles…it will make your photos more interesting and the action more real.

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Our portrait theme for the day was draw your favorite sports hero!

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here is the same thing but turned toward the light – – gives it a better exposure.

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Love the football helmet here!

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img_1962   we also worked on our marshmallow catapults today: using popsicle sticks, a plastic spoon,  close pins, a little paint and a lot of glue!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It took a lot of talent to get those marshmallows in their mouth! But they did!

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The tips today are:

1. Keep your camera ready for action, that means it needs to be on your kitchen table or nearby, not locked away in the camera case.

2. Shoot the process. When your kids are doing something don’t wait to get just the finished product get the  ‘process’. i.e. getting dressed up for the final dress up pose, photos of the process of drawing or creating an art project, putting shoes on for the first day of school, even getting ready for the big game can all be fun shots you don’t want to miss.

3. Put your camera on the auto no-flash setting and don’t worry too much about all the other manual settings when you are trying to get the process…you may not have time to do both. Don’t miss the shot because you were trying to set the perfect f-stop.

Stay tuned for 2 more days of Art Camp!

(I’m trying to get an issue worked out with my site.  I will open comments soon so you can ask questions!)

Day One of Art Camp!

August 31st, 2012

My boys, especially Andrew, loves art! If he has some time to kill he can generally be found sitting at the kitchen table with his art supplies out and some nice white paper. So they decided to have an Art Camp for boys at our house before school started this summer. I asked an ‘art teacher’ friend of mine to help out … we had 10 boys and her two girls and we had a blast!

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We used a pirate theme for the party and picked out art projects every day that went with that theme. Everything seems to work better when you have a theme!

Each day before we started they filled in the ‘person’ drawing. I simply took white card stock and drew the beginning of an outline for a person (see the black lines below) then they added the face hair and other details. I love these! The theme for their drawing the first day was pirates of course.

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Next we dove into our paper mache cannon ball project. it was a mess but it was fantastic!

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For most, it was their first try at paper mache and the only thing I would do different is put more newspaper on the floor!!

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ready for paint!

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Next we worked on our sunset/pirate ship pictures. A coffee filter, a paper plate, food coloring and black paper….

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We put a little food coloring in a cup of water and gave everyone a straw to drip it on the coffee filter.

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Then we cut out the black art that we had copied.

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A little glue finishes the project!

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Photo tips: It is hard to take good shots indoors with not so great light. The best tip is to keep the flash off. Try looking for the auto no-flash setting on your camera and see how that works. Remember to keep the shutter speed up so the photos aren’t blurry.

Stay tuned for Day Two of Art Camp!

 

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