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Summer holiday art for family survival

Before I had Kraken Junior ‘summer holiday art’ meant spending a weekend at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in London. Now it involves me secretly necking rum at 11am because I ran out of ways to keep her occupied four weeks ago. And even though Conjugal Kraken and I have a spreadsheet which divvies childcare into equal amounts we still don’t breathe out until 9am on Monday 3 September. So, based on the assumption that you too have the occasional sob over the holidays, here’s a pile of summer holiday art ideas to stop you abandoning your offspring in a motorway layby. Don’t say it’s never crossed your mind. It’s certainly crossed mine. Anyway, this is how summer holiday art could save you and social services from becoming inextricably linked for a long time to come. Now, bring me the PVA glue!

Shadow art

No, this doesn’t involve projecting your middle finger onto a wall as your child screams for another ice-cream. Instead it involves giving them paper and a pen and telling them to make pictures out of shadows. You can see what I mean here with the glorious art of Vincent Bal. Just put a sheet of paper on the floor or ground in the light of the sun or a lamp and create different shadows with household objects. Your children can make pics with them and, even better, when they’re done you can put them all in the bin. Sorry, I mean you can send them to the Special Library for Excellent Drawings. *ahem*

Embroidery and cross stitching

I know, the idea of letting your spawn run amok with needles is almost as bad as having a serial sexual abuser as president. Oh, hang on… Anyway, yes, this holiday summer art is a cracking introduction to hand sewing and it’s all about having fun rather than being good enough to impress the Embroiderer’s Guild. It even outlines a really easy way to get them into cross stitch and helps them graduate to making tissue holders. Perfect for the next time you’re sobbing because you’ve heard them holler, “I’m bored!” for the 371st time.

Paper plate panda

You too can save your sanity with a paper plate, black felt, pompoms and googly eyes. Get yourself down to Home Bargains or The Works, stock up cheaply and recreate a panda reserve in your own living room. And if one panda isn’t enough, pretend to have solved the panda pregnancy conundrum by making baby pandas too. And if you’re all still feeling the panda love after spilling PVA glue on the carpet, hide them in the garden and make the kids hunt for them. Reward? A Chinese take-away big enough to obliterate the chaos. It’s summer holiday art win win!

Clothes and pillows for toys

How is it that kids seem to collect so many stuffed toys and figures? I think it’s because they are secretly preparing for world domination via the medium of My Little Pony. Well, stuff revolution and colonisation by evil dictator Twilight Sparkle. Make the most of this clandestine activity by making said creatures pillows and clothes. These projects are brilliant because they’ll give your kids confidence and they can progress to upgrading their creations with add-ons like buttons and ribbons. Oh, and possibly machine guns and political treatises but we shan’t speak of that right now.

Toilet roll bracelets

Now, wicked mothers would suggest turning these into yarny handcuffs to keep the kids out of trouble but I would never, ever, EVER suggest that *clears throat suspiciously*. Instead, we’ll stick to the plan of making these rather gorgeous bracelets out of nothing more than toilet rolls and yarn. The joy of this summer holiday art is that you can let your imagination run as amok as your nerves. And don’t stop at one either. Get the kids to make a pile to give to friends or use colours that turn your kids into superheroes whereupon they can fight the patriarchy like good ‘uns. Summer art and equality! What more do you want?

Yarny flower art

Well, these are brilliant because their minimalism is what makes them so stand-out. Seriously, people pay good money for art like this so you may as well put the fruit of your loins to good use and get them to knock up a triptych. You don’t have to stick to flowers for your summer holiday art either. Get all conceptual or abstract about it and just let the kids go nuts. Just sneakily tell them that the only yarn you have happens to complement the living room décor and so you can perk up your walls while you’re at it.

Owl bird feeder

You know how you keep trying to get the kids to drink that healthy juice? Well don’t bother. Tip it away and use the carton instead. The birds will thank you as will your desperation to have ten minutes alone on the toilet. You can make these feeders as colourful as you like and they’ll withstand the weather. Even better when they’re ready to go out you can tell the kids to do a bird survey. Give them paper and a pen and tell them to record what birds they see eating out of it. See, fun AND educational, much like reading the ingredients on the back of a rum bottle as you swig from it.

Egg carton bees

Egg box? Check! Yellow paint? Check! Counting down the days like a prisoner? Check! Well make the escape come quicker with these cracking little bees. You can get six out of an average box of eggs and if you’re feeling especially creative with the summer holiday art bug you can turn them into a mobile when you are done. What about the eggs though? Forget omelettes. How about egg nog? I know it’s not Crimbo but a small stiffener before bedtime will probably do you good.

Scrap fabric paper dolls

I love this so much I might do it myself and I’m 47 years of age. This is my kind of summer art! On this link is a free doll template and when you’ve downloaded that you can just go beserk with the fabric scraps. Personally I’d go all Alexander McQueen on them but you can do anything you fancy, from creating entire armies of matching figures (I’m thinking revolution again) to replicating family members.  You could even get your child to replicate you screaming in the garden. Such fun!

Scrap fabric pencil holder

Start saving empty yoghurt pots and jam jars NOW. That’s because you’ll need them for these pencil holders. Rather joyously, this summer holiday art is gorgeous but also functional. It means you can send the kids to their rooms to tidy up, upon which they can put their pens in them (or even bobbles and bits of plastic madness). And while they are doing that you can crouch at your laptop, trying to cram six weeks of work in approx. 90 minutes before your career gurgles into the blackhole that is also labelled ‘ambition’ and ‘sitting alone on the toilet’.

So is that enough summer holiday art for you? I dearly hope so because if it rains for the first week of the hols this is only enough to get you through to the first weekend. For the next five weeks I’m afraid you’re on your own, if you can call having three kids hanging off you ‘on your own’. So good luck and godspeed. I’m hoping you won’t need it but if you do there is always booze.

Happy summer!

So what tricks do you have to keep the kids entertained through the school hols? And, for the love of God, tell us how you keep your sanity. Go on, share it in the comments below and together we will get though this.