Once upon a time (about exactly a year ago), I forked out a relatively small amount of dosh for some chunky toddler fairy stampers and a red stamp pad. When I got home, I looked at the new stamp pad, and realised that fairies aren’t always red. And I thought ‘I could totally DIY different coloured versions of this myself’. (I was a bit unsure about the whole ‘making things from scratch without a tutorial’ thing back then…)
So I googled, found enough examples to reassure me, and headed off to the discount shops to buy some thin kitchen sponges (the cheaper the better), some plastic containers with lids (why didn’t I use recycled??) and some acrylic paint.
I made a set of “reusable” stamp pads in each colour, just like the one from the store. (I was going to be very diligent about keeping the lids on when not in use, lest they dry out.) And I set them all up, ready to go.
Enter JJ, my (then) feisty 2.5 year old toddler.
Firstly, she wanted to ‘paint’ with the stampers, using strokes rather than a stamping action. Then she discovered she could take the sponge out, and use the stamp pad as a painting tool directly. Henceforth the fairy stampers were superfluous.
JJ started to role play as she played with the paint, giving each stamp pad a character and painting out her story. This was early on in her roleplaying days, and I remember listening raptly as she made up different scenarios.
And then, after a while, this happened….
I call this “Sensory Stamping”. Look at how much fun she is having. Look at the concentration on her face as she squeezes with all her might, exercising all those hand and finger muscles. Given that my little girl had only been capable of putting one finger into goop before dashing for the washing up bowl, this was a definite sensory win. I was so proud that I hardly lamented my perfectly prepared DIY reusable stamp pads. (I did however rejoice in my decision to put the vinyl tablecloth down under the table for carpet protection.)
We didn’t really generate a piece of art from this play, as the volume of paint was too much for the paper to bear. And whilst the activity didn’t go at all as I’d planned, I still call it educational and fun.
Afterwards, I packed away the containers, kitchen sponges and paints, and made a mental note to introduce more sensory play. But I also wanted to revisit the stamping idea, as I thought it was an age appropriate art technique that JJ would enjoy.
A few days later, just before Valentine’s Day, I decided to try again. This time I cut out some heart shapes, and set out some red paint for her to dip the shapes into. And she loved it. Perhaps because she’d already explored the paint as a sensory medium or perhaps because I set out just one colour and fewer tools, but this time she happily engaged in stamping art.
Here are the results, hanging up on our old balcony, waiting to dry. JJ was having a jolly time posing for me – what a little monkey!
I look back at how small JJ was then, and I think how much she has grown physically, intellectually and emotionally in this past year. She’s such a big girl now. It makes me miss those days, and it also makes me very proud. Love you Miss JJ!
I think the results are beautiful. We used this art as wrapping paper for Mr Banya’s Valentine’s present, with a few extra kisses from all of us.
We still do use the paint, sponges and paints to make DIY stamp pads from time to time, but nowadays I don’t have expectations that they’ll stay pristine for more than a few seconds.