3 Math-Y Art Projects to Try This Week

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These fun math-y art projects will strengthen math skills, and it's very likely that you can find all the materials for them around your house (bonus!).  

Three different projects:  

  1. Watercolor Arrays for when you are trying to demonstrate that multiplication is actually repeated addition
  2. A Matisse-Inspired Shape Collage lesson if you are exploring the very bright, bold shapes and patterns of the artist Henri Matisse
  3. A DIY Measurement Activity if you have a child (or yourself) who loves DIY projects and is just dying to makes something new for his/her room.  

So get your Summer glasses on and be ready to look at math in a fun, different way!  Hey, we gotta stay on top of our math game during the summers, right?!  


These multiplication arrays are so cool!  All you will need are watercolor paper, white or other light colored crayons, a pair of dice, and watercolors and paintbrushes.

1. First, give each of your kids a rectangular-shaped piece of watercolor paper.  

2. Taking turns, each child rolls the dice to find out what their array will be.

3. With a white, gray, or other light crayon,  draw lines to represent their array.  I had to remind my kids that if they wanted 6 boxes alongside the top, they needed to draw only 5 lines.  Your children can make circles or other shapes to represent the arrays.  It was fun to see the different ideas my kids came up with.

4.   Now have your children use watercolors to paint the arrays.  They look so great when placed all together...almost like a quilt!  

When finished, hang them up and see if your kids can identify the paintings by the multiplication problem.  

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This next project has your crafty kid in mind (or the one who wants to be!).  This project will have your kids practicing measurement using a ruler, and will give them something cool to hang in their room!  Math can be a cool wall hanging for your room!  

All you will need is:  

  1. Strips of yarn cut the same length, or t-shirt material from a bed sheet
  2. A cool, rustic tree branch found in the woods (a dowel also works)
  3. A ruler
  4. Scissors
  5. Jute or other string for hanging
  6. RIT dye (optional)  

I happened to have a extra long bed sheet from Target that I got from Target's clearance section awhile ago.  It was only 3 bucks, and I had only bought the set for the fitted sheet.  Still, I kept the top sheet, thinking in the back of my mind that I would find a use for it down the road.....I'm so glad I did!  To get your strips from the t-shirt material, just cut a tad every inch, and tear the rest of the way.





Trim the ends. When finished, loop it through the tree branch and hang it on the wall so that you can get a good idea of how long you want it.  You can make a short wall hanging, or make it longer for a taller space. 


Trim the bottoms so that they are all even.  (This was fun for my kids...they acted like they were giving the wall hanging a hair cut!  :P).

Then, determine where you want the middle to be.  My daughters wanted the middle to be off-center.  So they chose the middle to be off to the left, and we tied a knot on it so that they could remember where it was.  


Then, they measured the strip directly next to it and cut off 1 inch.  They measured the next strip and cut off 2 inches.  They cut off 3 inches off the next strip, and so on.  Repeat till you have cut all the strings to the left of the knot.  Then, repeat the process with the other side, to the right of the knot.  You could even ask your kids to count the strips and determine, by multiplying, how many inches they will need to cut from the furthest strip on each side.  Such fun, applicable math! 

This project was so fun to make because my girls asked if they could dip-dye their fabric.  I love color, too, so of course I said yes!  I have never dip-dyed before but it was way easier than I expected!  I had a RIT Teal Dye on hand in my laundry room (go figure!) and so we filled the sink with super hot water and added the dye.  Folding the strips of fabric in half so that only the ends were dipped,  I simply placed the ends in the dye solution and the color crawled a few inches up a bit.

I left the top portion of the strips out of the dye.  Then, 30 minutes later, I rinsed the strips with cool water, rung it out, and hung it outside to dry!  Easy peasy!  You can choose to iron them if you want.  I did, so that the end look was softer.  This would be a great thing to hang in front of a door of your child's bedroom so they would have to walk through to get into their room!  :)  


My girls are ecstatic that they have something new and fun for their room...best of all, they made it themselves!  

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The third and final project for your week is this wonderful art collage project inspired by the late, great Henri Mattisse, a French painter known for his bold shapes and patterns in painting.  This collage project will first give kids a bit of history about the influential artist and then take them through a fun collage project.  

For this project, you will need:

  1. Access to the internet to utilize a fantastic site put out by The Baltimore Museum of Art
  2. Bright, bold pieces of construction paper
  3. Patterned pieces of origami, wallpaper samples, or other papers
  4. Scratch paper for planning
  5. pencil
  6. glue
  7. scissors

First, allow your students to explore this wonderful program about Henri Matisse from The Baltimore Museum of Art.  It will give your students an overview of Henri Mattise in a fun, game-like environment.  I learned some new, wonderful things about this artist, myself!  Students also get to study his paintings, hunt for certain items in his paintings (did you know that Matisse used the same objects in different paintings?  Almost like characters in a play?  What a cool thing to learn!) and play with them in a puzzle format.  It is a fabulous resource!  


Now, have your students to sketch a simple design on a piece of scratch paper to get ideas and to plan for their collage.  It can be as simple as a cat face, or as complex as an ocean scene.  Whatever they choose!


Then, give students plenty of construction paper and patterned paper, and scissors.  Instruct them to cut out their pieces to create the background, and then cut pieces for the foreground of their collage.  This takes time and often a kid will not know how to start, overwhelmed.  Encourage your child to just start.  Start with one thing, then move on to the next thing, etc. You will need to give your kids two construction papers for the background, if you would like to fashion the background as I did below, with the ocean and the sky opposite colors.  


When all pieces have been cut, glue them onto the paper and hang for all to appreciate!  

Try one of these fabulous mathy art projects this week!