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Inspired by the Museum: Creativity with Calligraphy

This post was written by Children's Museum Blog Ambassador, Anna Shirley. Follow Anna's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @ohhbetsy.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the Take Me There: China exhibit because we are of Chinese descent. I love that my kids get to experience an exhibit that is closely tied to their heritage. Many of the items on display brought me right back to my childhood having seen them in my grandparents’ home. 

My kids love drawing Chinese calligraphy in the exhibit. My son had a real knack for it when the exhibit first opened but recently, my daughters have also been spending more time practicing when we visit. Children seem to easily take to Chinese calligraphy from what I’ve seen – even those who are not old enough to write letters yet. Kids (and adults) can find it relaxing and fun to draw the sweeping lines in Chinese calligraphy. Seeing how interested my kids were in calligraphy gave me the idea to try an art project for Chinese New Year. 

Each of my kids created their own personalized, colorful canvas showing off their calligraphy style and representing some of the things that are important to them. Using “My Little Book of Chinese Words”, a children’s book full of Chinese calligraphy, I asked my kids to pick 4 different words that somehow represented themselves. For example, my son chose “water” since he’s a swimmer, “spring” because that is when he was born, “draw” as it is a favorite hobby of his and “dog” to represent our family dog. 

First, the kids used painter’s tape to tape a long strip across the canvas and a strip down the canvas, making four sections. It doesn’t have to be exact squares. My daughter chose to make her lines diagonal which I think shows her unique personality. Using tempura paint, the kids painted each of the four sections a different color of their choice. We then let the canvases dry and removed the painter’s tape. Once the tape is removed, it leaves four colorful sections with a white border. Finally, I let the kids choose white or black paint to write the four words they had picked. Make sure to pick a paint brush with a fine-tip. The kids were so proud of their colorful calligraphy canvases. I couldn’t wait to hang these up in their rooms – each unique and special just like they are.