Table Activities with Young Children

April 20, 2021

Children
Victoria

Embrace the Mess: Have Fun With Pulled String Drawings


When you have small children, it can become challenging to keep up with them and the kind of energy they have. Watching young children grow up is a marvelous experience, but sometimes, you’ll need to think of a way to keep the preoccupied while giving them a learning experience at the same time. The best way to do this is to come up with a way that you can both enjoy it and bond over the activity. Below is a great idea of an activity that you can do with your child.


This is probably the easiest activity that you can do with your child. It presents your child with both a fun experience, a sense of wonder, and perhaps a little messy – and children have the most fun when things get a little messy. 


What You’ll Need: 

  • Sheets of plain colored paper (preferably something a little thick such as cardstock)

  • Strings with different thickness (you can use several kinds for more variations such as sewing thread, crochet thread, baking strings, and even twine)

  • Cups you don’t mind getting a little dirty

  • Different colors of paint (poster paint, water color, or other mediums that can easily be absorbed in the thread)

  • Heavy book (maybe put this inside a plastic bag because it might get some paint on it later)

  • Popsicle sticks

  • Paper towels (in case of spills)


This activity is pretty quick to do, but you can do it as many times as you are both interested. And the most important thing that you need to remember is to let your child help you with every single step—from preparation to clean up. This will encourage them to develop their motor skills and appreciate art more. 


Steps: 

  1. Prepare your paint. Transfer or dilute them inside the cups. Line up the cups on the table so you can easily access and choose a color you’d like. 

  2. Cut string in different lengths to a maximum of about 20 inches. If it’s awkwardly long for your child to handle and manipulate, you may need to have your child stand on the chair so the surface will stand much lower than them. But if you have an adjustable table, that may just make this a whole lot easier. 

  3. Choose your colors. Then drop your strings inside the cups and press them further to the bottom using the popsicle sticks. Make sure that you have a piece of clean string still sticking out of the cup so it’s easy to pull it up. If you’re worried it might drop all the way in when your  child tries this, tape the other end to the outer lip of the cup before you let him drop the rest of the string inside.

  4. Fold your paper in half like a greeting card. Give your child one and have one ready for you as well. Open the paper in front of you and instruct your child to only use one side before the folded part.

  5. Lift your strings one at a time and carefully lay them inside your paper. Tell your child that he can place the string any way he wants to do it – like when you try to move spaghetti noodles with your hands. One very important part to remember: make sure that the clean part of the string, you can call this as the “tail” will not be inside the paper. It will be left sticking out of the paper when you close up the fold. 

  6. Once the tail is sticking out, close the paper fold and place a heavy book on top of it. This will keep the paper in place and ready for the next step. 

  7. With one hand on top of the book, use your other hand to pull the tail out of the paper fold. Instruct your child to do this slowly. You may need to hold down the book so it doesn’t end up moving a lot while he pulls on the tail.

  8. Remove the book and open up the folded paper. Now, appreciate your finished product! And maybe try and look if your end products end up like real images like a flower or bubbles. Don’t forget to let it dry before you touch the surface.



A few tips:

  • Perhaps to start, just use 1 string and 1 color. Then later on, try it with 2 strings with different colors or more. Watch how your child gets amazed with the different results. 

  • If you decide to use watercolor, make sure that it’s not too watery so you won’t end up with a soggy piece. 

  • If you want a finer image with less smudging, scrape most of the paint from the string by pressing down the popsicle stick against the cup before you place it in the paper.

  • If you want a smudgy color, don’t scrape the paint off. Just do a few experiments and see which setting you think works best for you. Remember to keep your child involved so you also know what they prefer in their masterpiece. 

  • Have fun laying down the string on the paper. You can show your child a basic pattern like a balloon or a ball and see how it transforms when you pull it.


After you’re done with the activity, have your child help you out with the cleaning. Maybe discuss where you’ll hang your artwork when you’re finished as you continue clearing and cleaning the table. Be encouraging every step of the way, and if you ever hear the words “I can’t do it” just tell them to try it. Show them how it’s done and maybe guide their hands to show how easy it is. Of course, the most important part of all is to have fun and don’t worry about the mess. You need to let loose the same way you want your child to have fun in the process. This is a perfect start for a bonding activity since there are no wrong outcomes, it will always end up unique and beautiful.

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