story + art = great stART – Matthew’s Dream & Painting with Kids


During Summer Get Crafty, I was reminded to not forget the “babies amongst” us and that they too are budding artists.

As part of this, I decided to do some “permanent” canvases with both Red Ted (2.5yrs) and Pip Squeak (8.5mths).

matthews dream



But first to our book:

Matthew's Dream Matthew’s Dream, by Leo Lionni.

Reading Age 5yrs – 7yrs. Read together age: 2.5yrs – 5yrs

Many may know Lionni’s little mouse Frederick – it is often used in art classes for primary schools. Leo Lionni obviously loves colour and one book that really represents his passion for art and colour to me, is one of his slightly less well known books Matthew’s Dream. Matthew is a little mouse setting out to discover what he wants to be when he grows up. A trip to the art gallery helps him discover his passion for colour.. He also meets another little girl mouse and that night he has a dream. And unlike many of us who leave dreams as dreams, he follows his dream and becomes a successful artist. Inspirational. Lovely. I love all Lionni’s little mice stories – beautifully illustrated and for me “classics”.

Nurturing the Budding Artist

So. What did we do? I decided that the little mouse Matthew was the perfect role model to “Nuture the Budding Artist” within my children. We used acrylics as they last better and are actually easy to get off the children (though not clothes, wear old things).

Red Ted helped me do some background colours – he chose blue for him and, erm pink for Pip Squeak. Not wanting to gender type my children so dramatically, I mixed in some yellow to get a nice orange. We had toddler meltdown. Goes to show – don’t interfere with their craft. Or don’t “ask them” and then “don’t give them”. I learnt my lesson.

Once dried, we then got painting. Red Ted insisted on pink for his canvas, which I was absolutely fine with, so I also gave him a little yellow to add variety. He started off very detailed, even did some leaf and hand printing and then it got messy..! But he had fun! And I love the result.

Pip Squeak on the other hand, being only 8months, was confused. She tried to eat the paint brush, which none of us were happy about, least of all her. Then got painting. I gave her two different greens. My recommendation: do this with children 14 months +. A friend of mine did and their results and experience were much more positive (though I am still happy to have done this).


Previous Kid’s Craft Projects:

 stART: Things That Roll & Monster Cards

stART – Story Telling, Bunnies & Stars 

stART: Giraffe’s can’t dance – a Giraffe Loo Roll Marionette 

stART: Chick – a Pop Up Card 

Book & Cook: Alphabet Cookies – Learning through play 

stART: Busy Airport – Cotton Wool Clouds and, erm, PIGS! 

stART: Hit &Myth – a mix & match book for older children (>5yrs)     

stART: Story & Thank you time – inspirational thank you cards    

stART: Hurray for Fish – one for babies or messy toddlers!     

stART: Bedtime Star – Red Ted, makes a starry night for Pip Squeak’s nursery    

stART: The Way Back Home, Oliver Jeffers – Red Ted makes a plane and a UFO    

Craft: Peg animals – toddlers can help!


53 responses to this post.

  1. Great idea to colour the background first – makes for a much more dramatic end result! Lovely to see the little one getting messy (I’m sure she is NEVER messy otherwise 😉


  2. Bravo!!! What a patient brave mama and so cute seeing the process and final outcome! Happy Alphabe-Thursday!


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 5, 2010 at 11:30 am

      Thank you Theresa! Yes, the results were worth it… the journey a little harder! But lessons were learnt and all in all everyone enjoyed it!!!!



  3. Posted by JDaniel4's Mom on August 5, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I love the fact you used canvas. It makes it look like modern art in a museum.


  4. I love Leo Lionni books. We really have to do something on canvas. I love the finished product.


  5. Maggy these are amazing…I love this idea and will have to do this with the girls. I was just thinking that I wanted to frame some of Emily’s pictures for her room this would be a wonderful addition too! I can’t wait to check out this book to we have never read it before.

    Thank you for sharing you ideas and linking up to stART!!


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      Thank you Michelle, appreciate your lovely comment!! You must do a post with your finished art gallery, I bet it will look fabulous. I need to start an “art folder” for Red Ted very soon, before i keep giving his artwork away (i.e. all those greeting cards we make!!!) x


  6. Oh, that looks like a really neat book! I think I’ll check it out when I get a chance to 🙂

    Wow, I love the activity you did with your kids. I’m still so unsure about giving my daughter crayons to play with and here you are giving Pip Squeak paint! Maybe I should think about doing a painting project with E when we go back to the States. We just don’t have the space here to do something so messy 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm

      Oh my daughter would eat crayons too… but I am sure we can start off soon. Under supervision of course! Just be brave! And if it doesn’t work, try again in a few weeks time!


  7. your efforts pay off,
    beautiful stuff.


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm

      We are going to have a another go with Red Ted soon, as helping a friend with her kids and there is no way he will “just watch”. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with!!


  8. Awww I love them! This is just one of the things I wanted to do with Baby V this week, I’ll have to get some supplies sorted and get started! 🙂


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

      Oh fabulous! Enjoy!!! Do be warned though, that I think it works best with children 12mths + pip squeak was a LITTLE young… I still think it was worth the effort, but she may have enjoyed it a little more if she was a tad bit older!!! Go for it though!!! 🙂


  9. I am a fan of childrens art so glad you took the time to see the impressions that your little ones made


  10. What fun. My three sons are all over 25 now but I hope I get to try this with grandchildren.
    Since I’ve only had one wedding in the family ( three months ago ), they’d better get busy!
    The art is so special.

    At 65, I’ve done it! My poetry book – Life’s Journey by Carmen Henesy – is out on Amazon!
    ( Poems about the things that have been important to me in my journey through life, some humorous, some sad, some that may have meaning to you as well )


  11. I love it! I need to get that book to read to my girls. Believe it or not, they’re painting our yearly canvases as I type this!


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      Oh perfect! Love the idea of yearly canvases!! Have you got them all on display or do you give some to relatives?


  12. Posted by nimblebee2 on August 5, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Fabulous post about the art work. Thanks again for sharing your idea of using canvas rather than paper. We had such a lovely time and will def. do it again soon. xx


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      Thank you Naomi! So chuffed that you guys had a go too and that it yielded such excellent results!!! xx


  13. I love watching my kidlets paint! And I’ve enjoyed seeing yours paint too! :> Though you handed over actual canvases…I haven’t gotten there yet. lol I did pick up a really inexpensive pad of acrylic board paper….way thicker than cardstock, but not gessoed canvas (can’t think of the name off the top of my head) that I have them use. My kidlets are older, but my youngest is still young (gee, I’m being really descriptive here, huh?!), so they can paint indoors now….on the coffee table, over carpet and not have a disaster. But, the cardstock/board they paint on is thick enough that they can lay down a lot of paint with only an 11×17 sheet of regular paper under them to catch brushstrokes that go right up to the edge without any bleed through. I do think your kidlets’ art came out fantastic and now I want to run out & get some cheaper canvases (than the ones I have) and let them at it. I’d love to hang it up! :> I’m off to check out the rest of your blog….looks like you have some really interesting, creative shares!! Have a great day! :>


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm

      Oooh, the board paper sounds fabulous though! Great idea!!! I buy my canvases in bulk (as I do children’s artwork), so it was ok to “sacrifice” a couple of canvases… and not too nerve racking!! 😉 plus if you keep the colours simple, not too much can go wrong!! Glad you like the blog! Do come back 🙂


  14. The pictures of Pip Squeak painting – have to make all the frustration worth it 🙂


  15. I think it’s wonderful that you did painting with both the kids! Their pictures turned out great. I love how they look on canvas. My 2 year olds still do a taste test everytime we paint! I found vanilla pudding with food coloring was a good edible sensory play when they were infants.
    You left a comment for me regarding featuring our project next month. I’m flattered and would think it was great if you did. Thanks!


  16. Great idea to use a colored background! Really helps make it look finished, even if they only add touches of color.


  17. For the past two years, my daughter has painted a few small canvases and has given them as gifts to her grandparents. They love them and it is a fun way to see how her skills progress each year. We always paint a base color like you did. It does make it look more finished. Your paintings turned out quite lovely.


  18. Beautiful little artists….they created some lovely pictures…bkm


  19. Picasso has nothing on them. I’ve always been a fan of young children’s art.


  20. Posted by Amy on August 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I we always paint on paper I never thought to do this.. I will have to go and get one of those to paint on. What fun and a great idea. Thanks for linking up today.. Yeah. twice and with great ideas. I hope you come back next Friday and share more..


  21. Those came out so great! Those would look perfect in the playroom, or their bedrooms, or better yet a museum (hehehe – a mom’s gotta dream…)

    Nice work!


  22. love nurturing kids creativity!


  23. Wow! You were brave to do 2 kids at once. I used to teach and when we did the toddler – we had one to hold the kid while he/she did their thing and then hold the kid in a bucket of water while the other teacher washed their hands or feet – which ever we were doing. Team teaching in action! LOL

    I’m not sure I belong on the linky above, but I’ll add my website – family literacy and you! Maybe someone will enjoy it.

    Tina “The Book Lady”


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      Oh I would love to accept that “bravery” comment, but my husband was ON HAND. I had the baby and he had the toddler… 🙂 Def would have been a bit much – toddler does not yet understand “do not move, do not touch anything” – he always moves and always touches everything… Or at least he chooses not to understand!!!!

      We did have fun though!


  24. What a great St-Art project! Your kids are adorable and their art is great!


  25. Gosh they are lovely. I must let my kids do something like this. We have a playroom just done and it is all white at the moment, some dramatic colours would be fab. I wil have to be careful not to interfere too much though. Mich x


  26. What a great idea! And they came out great! Thanks for this post, I think I will try this with my 18 month old today!! I have a bunch of acrylic paint in the basement and I also have 2 blank canvases!! I’m excited! Thanks again for sharing!! 😀


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

      Oh fabulous! Would LOVE to see a photo of it.. do send a link or a tweet photo or something! Good luck! (PS we are making another set with friends and Red Ted got painting the backgrounds this morning.. he’s very excited!).


  27. Do you know what I love about this link?

    You are letting your kids get messy. You are letting your kids “do their thing” with the art rather than you “helping” them in the direction you want the art to go.

    This is a fantastic link to Alphabe-Thursdays Rainbow Summer School.

    You are really a nifty Mom and an inspiration to us all.

    Thank you for linking.



    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      Jenny, thank you so much for your fabulously kind comments!They are wonderful to receive and make me all the more determined to continue all this crafting and painting with my wee ones! Thank you. And thanks for Alphabet Thursday and taking the time to visit everyone! Maggy


  28. Posted by Alessandra on August 9, 2010 at 9:17 am

    wow, beautiful!


  29. What beautiful keepsakes! I think it is wonderful you are starting your little ones off with art so early.


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Thank you! Sometimes I do wonder… but overall they are so happy doing it that the extra mess is worth it! But it isn’t always “all mess”…


  30. Thanks for joining WMCIR! I have to find this book and also to be brave and try acrylic with my daughter 🙂 I think both masterpieces turned out great!


    • Posted by Red Ted Art on August 9, 2010 at 7:45 pm

      Oh yes, do have a go! It is MESSY, but they enjoy it so much and are so proud of the results!


  31. Thanks for linking up to the Mad Skills party this week!


  32. Posted by min on August 10, 2010 at 5:40 am

    I love all of Leo Lionni’s books! The painting came out marvelous! Our daughter did a large canvas painting when she was 17 months old. It took a month for her to finish and now it hands on our wall. I haven’t asked her to paint on a canvas in some time but I think we’ll have to try it soon!


  33. Thanks for linking up at Feed Me Books Friday! I love Leo Leoni too! Your project looks so dramatic – hung on the wall, one might never guess it was toddler art!


  34. What artist you have!
    Thanks for sharing!


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