More recently, when we visited my in-law's for a week, the weather was not as pleasant. This meant I had to get creative in channeling the kids' energies so we could spend both quality and quantity time indoors at the nursing home.
One day this meant turning the nursing home's activity room into an art studio.
Each of the children asked Nana what she wanted them to paint and what colors she liked. Then, with trash bags covering the table and the kids, paint we did.
Upon request, Luke went straight to work painting a magnificent bird with golden details "to make it special". His artwork was slightly inspired by exotic birds we'd observed on a trip to the National Aviary, but, mostly, it flowed from his imagination.
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Nina opted to do pencil outlines before painting what Nana had requested of her: butterflies. Undoubtedly, her painting was inspired by three recent experiences:
- a wonderful metamorphosis that took place on our kitchen table recently, when we raised several monarch caterpillars to adulthood.
- reading An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly together as a bedtime story over a few nights.
- viewing the stunning Metamorphosis: The Beauty and Design of Butterflies video.
It is so fun to see how life inspires art and art inspires life with Nina.
Nana requested that Jack paint her a surprise. Upon hearing this, Jack's grin forewarned me about what he wanted to paint: a battle! That boy just loves battles. So, as Jack took a pencil in hand to sketch what he would paint, I decided to head off potentially fearsome scenes by suggesting that Nana might like something more cheerful than a battle on the canvas.
Thus, inspired by a scene in Mole Music, a picture book-CD combo that we'd enjoyed during our long drive to visit Nana and Papa, Jack created a "party" scene of folks about to battle that did not actually battle.
Meanwhile, I was left with Nana's request for a basket of flowers. Being less than a stellar artist, and knowing it would take me too long to paint flowers in a basket, I opted to simply paint one close up of a flower with some of Nana's favorite colors in the painting.
As the kids and I painted, Nana sometimes looked on and chatted with the kids and sometimes simply visited with Daddy and Papa or watched television.
Nursing home staff who were preparing other parts of the room for a resident Bingo game paused to "oo" and "ahhh" over our impromptu art studio. Other residents who wheeled into the room smiled and offered commentary as well. And, of course, Nana said she liked her paintings.
The paintings dried fairly quickly and are all set to hang in her room now, bringing cheer and memories.
Painting canvases by request is definitely an activity that proved successful at the nursing home for us. Perhaps some elderly or infirm folks in your life would enjoy experiencing your littles do similarly.