Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What Artists Play

When we were small, my dad played artist games with us. 

Games like:
Animate Your Lunch
Can Anyone Decipher Daddy's Handwriting?
Guess the Picture Book Illustrator

But my favorite game by far was Hide.

All it required was a pen, paper and an alphabet letter. Restaurants and waiting rooms loved us - those quiet kids in the corner, smiling as we turned our "H" or "A" into ladders, hats, baskets of fruit.

We gave my dad the hardest letters we could think of, but he still transformed "Q" into a Sistine Chapel masterpiece.

Another favorite dad game was Think Pinks,
a kind of rhyming word war.
He'd start me out with a pairing...
Clunky monkey
and I'd retort with
jolly dolly 
or burly squirrelly, thin pin, tall ball, long song...
You get the idea: rhyming ping pong.
I guess you could call it Poet Training.
Maybe that's where I got my word games obsession.

We made chameleon viewfinders this week.
I cut chameleon shapes into mat board 
with my trusty kitchen shears
and then took the kids to the beach. 
(in January. It was freezing. Nice, huh?)

Scavenger hunt! 

Which skin worked best?

Sugar Snack tried himself as camouflage

and Birdy tried to dive in. Brrr!

Once we warmed up at home, we made chameleon floats,
Rose Parade style.
I scribbled pages of chameleons, gave the kids paintbrushes, glue and grain
and let them loose.

After taping on Popsicle sticks, there was a chameleon float parade. 
Little petals of rice and lentils bespeckled our floor for days. 
We may not play a strategic game of backgammon, 
but we artists know how to make messes, 
and how to play with our words!

Some excellent chameleon books:
Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett is simple but brilliant.
Her soft, playful art is lovable, and just look:

chameleon as a sock!
chameleon as a boot!
How cute can you get?

Chameleon's Colors by Chisato Tashiro found its way in Pip's owl bag.
I love the vibrant colors and feel of this book. Clever, clever, it makes me want to have a paint party.  

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni is a gem, even after being in print for thirty-six years.

Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H. A. Rey is a great example of the game Hide.


Jan Morrison said...

the chunky monkey game - we played it - well I wasn't a kid when i learned it but my kids were. kids that is. I learned it from someone when I worked for an organization that put on classical concerts all over the Atlantic provinces. We called it 'Inky Pinky' and this is how it worked. (we played it in cars a lot) One person might say "this is an ink pink, (that meant that each word was one sylable) for chubby feline. Fat Cat would be the answer. Of course, we got very complicated with Inkititty Pinkitty (3 sylables) or Inky Pinkys (2 sylables) like Hilarious Rabbit, or Cold Toes. and of course much more complicated. the rule was that you could have as many Inky Pinkys out there as people could remember and you would NEVER EVER give up and tell the person. You might get a phone call at 2 AM several years hence - saying the answer. Thanks for the memories...
I love your kids and their chameleons.

Kjersten said...

I've never played any of those games. They all sound really fun and I want to play hide with my son as soon as he comes home from school today! I love the idea of checking all those chameleon books out from the library and playing the chameleon game too. Fun!

I really like when you share the creative, crafty and playful stuff you do with your kids. And that you give book suggestions to go along. Thanks!

Vijaya said...

Aw ... you have a heart after your own daddy. What lovely memories.

The Knitty Gritty Homestead said...

This is an amazing post...will share it on fb. Eric Carle has a chameleon book, too...The Very Mixed-Up Chameleon, I think it's called! Silly, fun, wonderful!

Faith Pray said...

Oh, Jan! This is wonderful! Who knew there could be so much more to a simple rhyming game! I can't wait to call my dad up and try it!

Kjersten, I guess that's why we're blog friends. I love the clever adventures you have with your kiddo. I'd love to hear about the artistic traditions you're passing on to him!

Vijaya, thank you! It's a joy to have your encouraging words here!

Faith Pray said...

Knitty Gritty, thank you muchly for the fb love. I will look for the Eric Carle book on our next library visit!

MollyMom103 said...

Hey, Faith, my mom was an artist. And there were endless art games. We had draw an animal. Head of? Legs of? Body of? you get the idea. We played Look. Mom would take us to the Houston Museum of Art or the Menil and ask to look at the art, really look. We played Trace and that involved tracing stuff like coloring books and such. My ultimate fave? Doodle on Junk Mail. I still play that one some.

I really miss my mom and her art.

Dawn Simon said...

I love all this! Your dad layered so many treasures into your childhood, and it's beautiful that you're passing them on to your kids!

barefoot mama said...

wow, what an incredible father....what a gift and how beautiful that you are now sharing that gift with your babies. This post made me a little teary.

Oh, and the ideas are fabulous!!!

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh my goodness! I've never even heard of these games. Wow...I feel out of the loop. LOL
I'm definitely introducing Hide to the kiddos next time we go out to eat. I think they'll love it. Thanks so much! And thanks for the list of books you're reading. :-)

Faith Pray said...

Molly, I didn't realize that about your mom. I love the animal parts game! Must play. And Look and Trace sound great. I think it's really good to help kids realize that they can learn a lot about art from observing, copying and tracing photos and pictures (obviously still delineating the importance of artistic property). Your mom sounds like a delight. Thank you for sharing about her!

Faith Pray said...

Dawn, yay for passing down heredity, foibles and funny games!

Barefoot mama, thanks for stopping by!

Jessica, don't feel too out of the loop. I was being a little bit sarcastic and made up a few of them. Hide was a real game, as were Think Pinks, but Decipher and Guess the Illustrator were more just things we did together. Animate Your Lunch was more of a little treat from our dad when he turned cheese and tomatoes and olives into little, happy people.


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