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A blank canvas surrounds you! Ways to use your patio floor as a space for art and learning!

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

Did you know you have a huge blank canvas right outside your home? One of my favorite things to do is write/draw/paint on our patio. You've probably used sidewalk chalk with your kids before, but did you know that you can paint on a sidewalk with tempera paint too? It will be much brighter and last much longer than chalk.

My kids throw a piece of chalk and whichever number it lands closest to is where they hop to.

Over the years we have used all the concrete that surrounds our house (back porch, front porch, driveway, sidewalk and even stepping stones) as a canvas for art and learning. Sometimes I use chalk, but if it's something I want to stick around for a while I use tempera paint. Eventually the tempera paint will wash away (it can last up to a year depending on how much rain you get). I water the paint down, so that I don't use up too much paint, plus watered down paint is much easier to apply to a rough, dry surface.

Young kids learn best when moving and playing. So we have made countless hopscotches around our house. But not the typical hopscotches. The first one we did was the letters of my daughter's name. Hopping on the letters of their name is a great way to teach a toddler to recognize and spell their name.

If you sit down and tell your kids you are going to practice memorizing the alphabet they will probably tell you to get lost. But if you ask them if they want to play a game of alphabet hopscotch you will most likely hear, "Yay!" Kids learn through play.

If you write the letters in chalk first your kids can help you paint them.

Since then we have also done my son's name, my name, and the entire alphabet. After they learn the upper case letters, you can do an alphabet with just lower case letters. You could put the upper and lower case alphabet right next to each other so they can see the difference. You can even practice spelling words on these alphabets as your kids get older.

Painting this made my daughter familiar with what a plus sign and equal sign are.

Then came numbers. I have painted out addition problems visually (1 banana + 2 bananas = 3 bananas), my phone number, and a hopscotch that goes to 105. My kids know that it takes 30 hops to go to the car, and 105 hops to go all the way from the back door to the front door. Seeing the entire line of numbers in front of them allows them to visually see how much more 100 is than 10. You can show them how old they are, how old you are, how old dad is and how old grandma is. This helps them make a deeper connection to numbers.

Back when I was an art teacher at a public school I made a hopscotch on my classroom floor that explained color mixing. I used acrylic paint and then sprayed over it with multiple layers of clear spray and it is still there after many years. Floors are our biggest unused canvases!

A simple chalk racetrack for car and princesses.

We've made racetracks on our driveway out of chalk, maybe you have too. This keeps our kids going in circles on their scooters and bikes. Smaller ones can be used for toy cars. You can have them draw in stop signs, buildings and anything else that they think would be fun. If you use tempera paint it will last much longer than chalk!

This racetrack is made out of tempera paint which will last longer than chalk!

We have also done lots of paintings on our driveway and back porch area. There was the phase when my daughter loved My Little Pony, so I painted the outline of a pony and she helped color it in, then we painted Sven and Olaf. There have also been lots of paintings done for our kids themed birthday parties, usually my husband and I paint these ones, there was Elsa and Marshmallow one time. You'll see Jasmine on her magic carpet for another one of her princess parties below. I paint them with watered down tempera paint and they usually last many months! The tempera paint gives the paintings a much brighter, more realistic look than chalk ever would.

How about you? Do you have an outdoor floor space where you could do some art/learning activities with your kids? What would you like to paint and how could you get your kids to help?

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