Watercolor Water Cycle

A combination project of art and science.  After studying the water cycle, we painted watercolor pictures of landscapes that included rivers, mountains, sky, and plants.  Clouds and precipitation were added with white and gray acrylic paint after the watercolors were dry.  Labels were written with Sharpie pens.

Nature Mural

Summer art project. Size is 3 feet across by 4 feet long.

Project time was approximately 6 weeks, working 10-15 minutes per day.

Mural 1

Nature Mural, ages 9-12


  • Bulletin board paper
  • Wax paper
  • Pencils
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic paints (red, yellow, blue, black, white)
  • Watercolor paints (standard palette)
  • Painting tarps, t-shirts, towels, tape, water


  • Tape wax paper to wall with painters tape.
  • Tape bulletin board paper over wax paper.

(The wax paper prevents any paint from seeping through.  If you have a large roll of butchers paper / freezer paper with the waxed backing, that can be used as well).

  • Choose a scene and animals.
    • Print out images from the internet to find poses and colorations.
    • Sketch a background.  (In this case, Mom sketched the dock and the horizon line).
    • Have kids take turns sketching animals, plants, etc.

Mural 2

I suggest only one child working at a time, unless they are feeling particularly chummy!

  • After all sketching is done, paint animals using acrylic paint.
    • Have the kids mix all their own colors using only primary colors (blue/red/yellow) with black and white for dark/light tones.
  • Paint background objects using acrylic paint.

Mural 3

  • Let dry thoroughly..
  • Paint water using watered-down watercolors. The watercolor can be washed over everything, so neatness is not needed.
    • Waves were added in with acrylics later.
    • Small details can be added with paint or even sharpies if needed (we sharpied in the herons’ orange eyes).

Mural 4

20 Ways to Draw…

The Idea

Find a drawing book to bridge the middle years (ages 9-11).

The Execution

My littlest kids (ages 5-7) have always enjoyed Ed Emberley’s drawing books.  But one by one they would grow out of these books, or simply be ready for something a little more challenging, a little more realistic.  I spent years trying to find a good drawing book for ages 9-11, or even a book with simple drawings that weren’t childish.  One day I was browsing the book section at Cass Art in London when I found it!  A whole series entitled “20 Ways to Draw….”  So far we own 20 Ways to Draw a Tree (nature subjects) and 20 Ways to Draw a Cat (animals).

Art 75 Art 77

The Extension

The realistic nature of these drawings makes them a good reference for nature journaling.  Use these drawing techniques and ideas to learn more about leaf and tree shapes, bark texture, snowflake crystals, etc.

Art 47


Magic Potion Station

The Idea

Create a new experience with the same old baking soda + vinegar science project.

mini magic potion

This is our “Mini Magic Potion Station” that stays in one pan.

The Execution


  • baking soda
  • distilled vinegar
  • food coloring
  • droppers (I have some left over from infant medicines)
  • stirrers (we use toothpicks)
  • containers to hold baking soda
  • containers to hold vinegar
  • containers for mixing

Add food coloring to several different batches of baking soda.  A muffin tin is good for separating colors.  Add food coloring to a flask or two of distilled (or malt) vinegar.   Make sure you have a nice thick tarp or towel under the experiment area.  My kids love to make “swirlies” with the different colors.

The Extension

Add other liquids for experimentation (such as vegetable oil).

Set up an Outside Potion Station.

Mixing & Measuring

The Idea

Free play with different measuring equipment to learn (1) how liquid measurements are related to each other and (2) the technical parts of accurate measuring.  One child of mine is very much into precision.  He had a grand time figuring out that 5 mL=1 tsp, 3 tsp=1 Tbsp, 1 Tbsp=15 mL, etc.

measure skills

We also threw in the Floating Paper Clip Experiment for fun.

The Execution


  • measuring spoons
  • small measuring cups (from liquid medicines)
  • large measuring cups
  • water
  • food coloring
  • thick towel on the table
  • optional (if you have it):  chemistry glassware

Add food coloring to the water to make it easier to see.  Mix, measure and pour.  Add more water to the colored solution when too much gets spilled.  We spent about 2% of the time actively discussing measuring points, and 98% of the time gleefully pouring and spilling.

The Extension

To continue exploration, mix several solutions with different colors and allow color mixing.