I discovered this book browsing on Amazon...I can't remember what, exactly, I was shopping for that it came up in my recommendations, but I'm happy that I clicked the link and even happier to borrow it from the library.
This book is chock-full of great ideas. All of the suggestions are given a messiness rating and almost everything can be done with items you probably already have. There are recipes for multiple kinds of play clay, paint, and other entertaining and creative goops. There are so many ideas in here for process-oriented art making that we could get to kindergarten. The author helpfully explains what the child will learn from the activity, ways to adapt it to the children at hand, and keeps the supplies largely limited to things that are easy to find and non-toxic.
The first thing we tried was water painting. It seemed too easy. A bucket 1/4 full of water and a paint brush. Really? Really. Entertained him for a looong time. For days, he demanded to play the "new game". And since it was so hot when we did this, the water evaporated quickly. Clean slate every few minutes!
Of course, the inevitable happened:
But so what? It was just a little water and he and I had fun making wet footprints from the puddle. I think even the most mess-phobic mamas can enjoy this one.
We also tired an aluminum foil activity that was a fail. I was to inspired to buy him an enormous newsprint pad with my Michael's coupon and that has also been a huge hit. That's the other great thing about these projects. Because they are about the process and not the product, the activities can be done for extended periods of time or repeated day after day.
If parents could give parent gifts rather than Melissa and Doug puzzles at birthday parties, I would be giving this book to anyone with a toddler. This book, and a bottle of wine. : )