Invitation to Create

Fairy Houses

This summer-camp activity was a huge hit with all our art-campers! It took us a whole day to create and finish these masterpieces, including a nice long break outside in the sun to gather some natural materials.

In addition to natural materials we used anything-else-in-the-art-cupboards, including air-dry clay, green jade rice, fake moss, marbles, popsicle sticks, hot glue, white glue, sand, etc.

I completed this activity with a wide range of kids: ages 6-12. That’s a huge range! There are not a lot of art activities that can successfully span such a wide range of ages, so an invitation to create was exceptionally important – here is what I asked of them in the directive:

Do you believe fairies are real? I heard that if you build them a house, they will come and visit you and leave you a gift to thank you for the shelter — what kind of house would you construct for a fairy visit? We will be going outside to gather some materials to use in our houses, but we also have some other materials on these tables. Consider the size of a fairy, are they big or small? Make your house so it can fit on your picnic plate.

We asked the kids to explore the table of materials, take a picnic plate, and consider if they would use materials to build a base structure. I showed them various types of cardboard structures including an A-frame, a basic 3 sided house, and a more complex 6-sided house (4 sides and a roof, like a gingerbread house). They started by building the base structure that the fairy would take shelter in.

About 30mins before lunch we took them all outside to a local park. They had 30mins to collect supplies, and an hour to have lunch and play games outdoors. They were instructed to carry their supplies back to the art centre on their plates (this also helped prevent hoarding or too many materials thanks to the size of the plate). The kids then went about their creations!

As they created I played a audio-clip of an old fairy-tale I found on YouTube, the younger kids were really keen, while the older kids didn’t seem to mind either way (but really I think they liked it but didn’t want to admit it, too cool!!). I gave them 2 hours after lunch for this project and they were entrenched the *entire* time. It was mesmerizing to see everyone concentrating and creating.

I was really impressed with this student’s project. This student marbled their own rocks from air-dry clay found on the tables, and started making a pattern of alternating stones and moss to cover the archway. They shared that they had marble rocks at home so the fairy house would blend in and attract the fairies that were already there!

I loved seeing the students learn and take inspiration from one another. Whenever I start the class I always encourage students to take inspiration from one another and thank them for helping to spark their creativity. This has helped prevent the “you-copied-me” accusations that can sometimes happen. I try and encourage kids to be inspired and use kind words.

Definitely doing this again next summer!