Paint Box Mystery Art Camp Blog

Color Stations
June 3-7


June 3

Our first day of color camp got us thinking about how we see, mix and name colors. We played human color wheel and then went on a walk to find our mystery animal, a turtle. We saw rescue box turtles in the fenced area and a few wild turtles in the pond.

On our walk to the meadow, CIT Gavin Allvine helped us identify a Red-winged Blackbird. Then we found a Southern Magnolia flower low enough to smell. It smelled like lemons and sunscreen! We sprayed water into the sunlight and some of us saw a rainbow.

We learned how to make a thumbnail drawing both with our hands and on paper, and CIT Emma Goldman led us on a brand new path to get back to the building.

We spent time drawing and painting in the studio and playing some story games led by CIT Megan Marshall.

June 4

Today we made sun crayons with cool colors to melt in the summer heat. Then our CIT's created a mystery animal hunt for us outside.

We learned about Coyotes and ended our hunt at the creek where colorful chalk was our paint on smooth rock canvases! Some artists named their colors such as blue sky, more orange, and white magic, and some rocks looked cool when wet and had sparkly mica in them.

Kadisha helped us build a large nature color wheel with lots of our painted rocks put together. Inside at the art studio, we worked with warm colors such as Tuesday Tomato and Sunny Orange.

We also blew ink onto our photo paper drawings using paper straws that are better for the environment than plastic ones. We ended our day by acting to the story: Coyote Places the Stars. 

June 5

Wednesday was all about child and CIT led projects involving color. We made triangles on the light table and learned to mix complementary colors to make neutral colors.

We invented our own color wheel game as a team and followed a mystery animal hunt the CIT's prepared for us to the Great Blue Heron.

Artists collected sticks and plants from the meadow to use in our nature paintbrushes and look forward to painting with them on Thursday.

We also saw our Critter Camp friends outside and got to meet a frog they had found before it hopped away! We learned how to draw a Blue Heron, painted with watercolor and salt, and added cool color dyes to our photo paper art.

Our act to story time was based on the book, The Lion and the Gypsy, inspired by the painting, The Sleeping Gypsy, by Henri Rousseau that has strong complementary colors as well as neutrals. 

June 6

CIT's worked hard today leading us in activities they had prepared: Emma Goldman led us in nature games as well as in using our natural paintbrushes we had made to paint; Megan Marshall added glitter to our paint as artists mixed analogous colors; Gavin Allvine helped us identify plants as we collected greens for our color wheel; and all created our mystery animal clues for our outdoor hunt.

A mouse was the creature that inspired our color mixing and then poems from Leo Leoni's, Frederick. Our photo paper and ink art is ready to hang for tomorrow's show at the end of camp. See you then!

June 7

Paintbox Mystery Campers enjoyed surprising their counselors with the day's mystery animal hunt! The Bearded Dragon, Beast, who lives in our classroom, was the answer, and one of the clues was, "It lives in the desert," which we learned after walking to a sandy place at the Preserve. Ms. Knight brought in some tiny eggs she had found in her fountain at home and Ryan from Amphibian Foundation identified them as belonging to a type of Gray Tree Frog. We put them in our classroom aquarium and will see if we get some tadpoles soon!

We also enjoyed the Green Game, making collage from the painted papers we had worked on all week, and putting our art pieces together in portfolios to take home. Our colorful photo paper and ink studies were displayed in the Board Room before going home too. To end the day, we made frozen lemonade and acted to a story of choice: The Lorax. Special thanks to Emma, Megan and Gavin who made this week extra special with their fresh ideas, leadership, and enthusiasm! 


Pollinators, Plants and Potions
June 10-14


June 10

We started off our week with a flower name craft and a thought web about what plants, potions and people mean to us. One artist added: "I make a Lavender zzz potion to help you sleep." Other artists drew pictures of plants and potions. Next, we enjoyed a mystery pollinator hunt out in the Preserve!

We learned from Rosemary about mammals and bats, and then gathered Jewel Weed to make a potion to soothe mosquito bites and poison ivy. In the studio, we drew and painted bats and then added glitter pollen to the wet paint. In the lab, we used a mortar and pestle to crush the jewel weed for our potion. We played Nature Bingo and animal charades and ended our day with a reading of Bats at the Beach. We acted like bats roosting under the tables and then came out at night for all kinds of batty fun! 

June 11

Tuesday was potion practice day as we invented and mixed pretend brews such as, "speed potion, werewolf potion, animal potion, gem potion, and toe nail grow and shrink potion"! CIT's Brendan and Anna Claire helped us set up interesting questions about edible plants like Sassafras and Hyssop while artists added another medium to their bat portraits.

A walk to the Meadow Field Education Center revealed a clue to our mystery animal in a tiny treasure box--honey--while Rosemary explained some cool facts about Honey Bees. We saw poisonous and non-poisonous plants along the Painted Turtle Trail and even a giant Snapping Turtle sunning on this beautiful summer day. We collected leaves for our leaf press and "helped" some of them fall into the water at the bridge to see what would happen. Lauren told an engaging Native American story as we prepared for painting our hive project, and we ended our day with games about Nature and Animals before heading to the garden for pick up time.

June 12

Games were our theme today as artists played indoors and outdoors. We studied ferns up close, learned about hummingbird flight by watching bubbles float, and worked in teams on the potion challenge! Pollinator models were created with Rosemary and we will add our finishing touches tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, we will make some very special dad/granddad/uncle gifts out of plant and potion ingredients, so stay tuned. 

June 13

Artists enjoyed a beautiful afternoon outside exploring and drawing at the Riparian Field Education Center. We learned about the wild strawberry and the Strawberry Moon coming up on June 17th! One artist made a potion "to help you smell pollen in each flower." Others enjoyed a game of Bat and Moth at "the beach". We worked on our pollinator models and then created herb grilling salts using three kinds of salts and herbs for the dads, grandads, and uncles in our lives. We prepared our Bat Portraits for tomorrow's art show which will be in the Board Room at pick up time. See you then! 


Design Challenge: Nature Games!
June 17-21


June 17

We started Art and Nature Games off with drawing animals and a fun guessing game. (We enjoyed this so much that later in the day, artists played the game on their own!) We solved a puzzle to discover that our daily mystery animal was a spider and went outside to investigate the spider hotel in the woodlands--a rotting stump full of webs and all kinds of wonders.

We visited the climbing tree and saw a lot of new and interesting mushrooms in the area. Some artists also drew cool path lines with sticks in the sand as they walked. Back in the studio, we drew mystery white crayon webs on white paper and painted over with watercolor to expose them as the crayon resisted the color. A sprinkle of salt gave texture to our art!

We also made capsters, three-D spiders and other creatures, and a game of Nature Bingo ended our day. See you tomorrow for more Art and Nature Games!

June 18:

Artists enjoyed using colored pencil on colorful paper to mix and match tones. We played an I Spy card match game and then discovered that our mystery animal was a duck. We walked around the pond where ducks have been seen gathering, dabbling, and nesting at Blue Heron.

CIT Brendan helped us gather items for our tiny treasures box and we filled it with plants, seeds, rocks and mushrooms we found in the meadow. Then we drew a treasure map of where all the items were found. After our nature walk, we created eraser drawings with Christy and decorated our upcycled rubber ducks with Anna Marie. One artist covered his duck in "armor" and several artists designed hats and scarves for their ducks. Tomorrow, we will play a game of "duck dunk" with them!  

June 19:

Today we worked with games that have tiny parts like the dot magnets game and others that are large like "duck dunk". Some of the names we came up with for our decorated ducks were: lol duck, Alcatraz duck, hippie duck, candy duck, and Ellie the duck. Out at the steps of the riparian field education center, we took turns throwing our ducks into a few different elevated buckets that our CITs had set up for us.

It was a fun challenge! Then in the studio, we drew bears on black paper using white pencils that made them shine in the moonlight. We smelled the strawberries that bears eat and learned about how some Native American tribes think of bears as our cousins, especially when they see how much our footprints look alike. We also made puzzle art and added magnets to our capsters. What will our mystery animal be tomorrow?

June 20:

Today we played a game of guess the tracks by drawing animal footprints and letting another artist guess what animal they belong to. Then we mounted our art on colorful paper to get it ready for our show tomorrow in the Board Room at pick up time. Our mystery animal was a goldfish and we looked at art by Henri Matisse that features these dazzling orange creatures.

Our outside time started with chalk drawings on trees and ended with a big rain storm that sent us inside. We watched the rain pour over the windows and some of us even added what we saw to our art! We made oil pastel scratch art using lots of bright colors covered in black. Some artists covered both sides of the paper and so we hung the art up on our basket tree like mobiles. We also painted together using Chinese ink blocks, brushes, and paper straws that we blew through to move the ink around the paper. After art, we listened to some songs we like while dancing to them, getting our bodies moving before heading to the children's garden.

June 21:

We celebrated the longest day of the year and three birthdays today! Artists drew rainbows on giant sheets of paper, made their own mystery animal hunt for the CIT's, and got to experience Nathan's game of an escape room which he worked really hard on to prepare for us. It was amazing, and we worked as a team to unlock all the clues to the find the password! Our outdoor time was spent blowing bubbles after solving a riddle about them and running outside while creating our own nature games. We ended the week with an art show and lemonade slushies in the garden.


Nature's Night Music
June 24-28


June 26

We had a really great day in Paint Box Mystery today! We started off the afternoon with some free art time, and a lot of us enjoyed trying out water color colored pencils, and made some beautiful art work. Others spent time experimenting with shadows at the light cave.

Our mystery animal today was an owl! The first clue, "I don't see well up close" led lots of us to think that it was a bat, but we quickly figured it out after the remaining clues. We got to spend time in the creek today, which was a great experience. The children loved using chalk to decorate some of the wet rocks in the creek. We got to be owls, and learn how to talk to the Barred owl ("who cooks for youuuu?") and the Great Horned owl ("who who who whoooo whoooo"). On our way down to the creek, we saw some deer tracks, and the children had lots of great questions about why the tracks might be near the creek, and whether deer were more active at night or during the day.

During our indoor art time, some of us worked with the "tinker box" and focused on tapes and textures. Some really awesome creations were made. The rest of us made pastel scratch-off art, which is very colorful and beautiful.

Some exciting news- a few weeks ago, Ms. Christy discovered some frog eggs in a fountain in her yard. She brought them to Blue Heron and set up an aquarium for them. Recently, they've hatched into tadpoles, and we're really enjoying watching them grow!


Color Stations
July 8-12


July 11

Today we prepared our art for tomorrow's show which will be in the Board Room at the 4 pm pick up time. Artists enjoyed drawing stations: designing cat and dog houses, creating eraser art, and a large rainbow on the wall! Then we gathered around the color wheel and talked about rainbows and times we have seen them. One artist said he has seen three rainbows at one time!

Outside, we made clues for our mystery animal and found out that this animal likes to be near fallen trees, crosses the road and our yards, and prances. Yes, it was a deer, and we looked for their heart-shaped tracks in the sand. Linda asked us to take a moment to look and listen for something in Nature. We immediately saw a Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly! Nolan found a red trumpet flower and said, "We can cover the bottom of this with some kind of oil thing and plant it near the lake and a tadpole can live in there." Other artists found double pine cones, leaves, a log, and a stick with many uses.

Back in the art room, artists enjoyed sensory stations of feeling deer antlers in a bag and smelling scents of edible plants. We talked about how deer will eat the most healthy choices of plants even if they don't taste the best because they want to get nutrients in their bodies. Artists painted rainbows and deer with watercolor and salt, and created puppets and capsters using the tinker box.

Out in the children's garden, it was time for mud kitchen and our CIT Josh led this activity as well as many others this week that we have really enjoyed. Thank you, Josh!!


On Friday, we explored the world of colorful dots. Inspired by paintings of the pointillism art movement of France and the dreamtime painters of Australia, we worked on a team project led by CIT Josh with a magnetic dot game. Josh shared that making a picture with small dots takes a long time and we talked about how important spending time on your art is. Then, outside we worked with biodegradable color pieces that we threw in water to see what would happen! We tried mixing colors and then Nicole brought out sponges dipped in liquid watercolors that artists threw onto a sheet in the Children's Garden. The result was blue and green all over! Our day ended with frozen lemonade and time putting together our portfolios and admiring all the art we had created this week.


Pollinators, Plants and Potions
July 29- August 2


Monday, July 29

Today we explored some opening art activities that got us thinking about potions, plants and pollinators. Making potions was a hit, and young artists invented an eyeball potion, a sparkly potion, and a potion that could make you fly! Then we took a walk outside to the Meadow Field Education Center where we drew tree poses, collected leaves for our art and listened to some mystery animal clues.

What has stripes, sounds like something in your fridge and spends its stages of life in trees?

A Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly was the answer! We learned some cool facts about this pollinator before heading inside for art time. But first, Hudson taught us some super cool dance moves. We squashed leaves in the plant press with Rosemary and painted with watercolors while CIT Christa Ha demonstrated painting techniques for us. Free drawing time was another favorite choice and artists created beautiful bird drawings.

Tomorrow we will add a layer of ink to our art and make potions out of plants.

Tuesday, July 30

Tuesday we enjoyed feeding our tadpoles and watching them get energy from the plants and things in the water that they eat. Young artists worked on taking their drawings to the next level and made 3-D creations of hummingbirds and pond animals so they looked like they were flying, hopping or swimming.

We read the book Tuesday by David Wiesner and talked about how funny it would be if animals that don't normally fly could do that. "Maybe a potion could make them fly," we wondered as we went outside to look at the turtle sanctuary. Then we gathered Jewel Weed leaves for our mosquito bite salve. Back in the studio, we added a layer of Chinese ink to our watercolor paintings. We also made a salve by crushing Jewel Weed leaves with a mortar and pestle. We added other ingredients and noticed that the potion smelled "good and green". A game of Nature Bingo ended our day.

Three cheers for CIT's Christa and Drew who made Tuesday extra wonderful!

Wednesday, July 31

Today we took a journey to the desert southwest where there is a nation within our nation; that land owned and cherished by the Navajo, or Dine' people. We looked at a big map of the four corners where four mountains and four gem colors mark the directions of north, south, east and west.

A sand painting by a Dine' Artisan inspired our own sand art and we went out to gather sand from the beach to add to our colors. Then, CIT Christa demonstrated the process to create beautiful sand art while Drew helped Rosemary guide us in creating colorful labels for our potions which we will mix and take home tomorrow. Games in the garden ended our day.

Thursday, August 1

Today we created moths to spin in the yard at night when bats come out; these moths can attract bats as they swoop down for dinner using echolocation! We read books about moths and bats, learned some cool bat facts from Rosemary, and smelled some scents of fruit that some bats might like.

We tried to guess what fruit each scent was and they were: grapefruit, banana and peach. Then we went outside to play in the garden for a little while and enjoy some games. In the art studio, potions were mixed to take home and leaf art was made out of our pressed leaves on colorful paper. The moth creation station was a real hit all afternoon long, and we enjoyed making all kinds of flying things and spinning them around the room. See you tomorrow for our Friday art show in the Board Room at pick up time and lemonade in the garden!

Friday, August 2

Today was tadpole roundup day as we released our classroom amphibians from their aquarium into the Turtle Sanctuary. Hudson helped us gently capture them into a smaller container and we enjoyed making watercolor paintings of the tadpoles.

Then, outside we released them into the water and watched them swim around with all the other animals in the pond. Some young artists spent the next part of the afternoon drawing in white pencil on black paper while others created fishing lures out of the materials in the studio.

Our day ended with frozen lemonade in the garden as we marveled at all the art we had created this week. For many of us, this was our last week of summer camp at Blue Heron and our conversations turned to school and all that lies ahead for us this fall. Keep on creating my friends!