Kids can spend hours, especially in the summer, creating artwork on the sidewalk using colorful chalk. However, have you ever heard of mess-free sidewalk chalk? It doesn’t exist!
But Sean Kelly, an Art teacher at Beijing International Bilingual Academy (BIBA), was inspired to think outside the box and come up with a ‘mess-free’ substitute that’s super fun. He enlisted Nathan Yu, a student in Grade 1, to help him create something practical, environmentally friendly and easy to use. They call it the ‘Sidewalk Sponge Brush’: the age-old Chinese art of calligraphy fused with the western tradition of sidewalk chalk! It was an instant hit with Nathan who mastered it in minutes. He showed off his artistic abilities with elaborate scenes, and later challenged Kelly to a race to see who could finish spelling out their name on the sidewalk first. Needless to say, Nathan won!
It’s a simple idea which does not involve staring at a screen; instead, it encourages kids to be outdoors creating something fun, working together with their friends to make landscapes and little scenes or write messages to each other. Kelly was inspired by the water-based sidewalk calligraphy we typically witness in and around Beijing. We all know that children love to use water in any kind of play. Bringing these two ideas together, the Sponge Brush is a perfect tool to keep kids busy and entertained.
• An old broom or dust pan, or alternatively a PVC pipe
• A plastic bottle, cut in half (assisted by an adult)
• A stiff sponge
• Duct tape
• Bucket of water
1. Take an old broom or a dustpan and unscrew it, to get a good size pole. Alternatively, you can use a regular PVC pipe, and cut it to the appropriate height.
2. Next, take an old plastic bottle and cut it in half across the middle.
3. Duct tape the pole to the mouth of the cut bottle. If the sizes don’t quite match, use a filler such as plasticine or blu-tack before binding them together with duct tape.
4. Get a sponge that’s bigger than the diameter of the bottle (it works best if the sponge is stiff). Stuff the sponge into the open space of the cut bottle. You’ll need to squeeze it in and it should hold itself in place without any glue or binding agent.
5. Finally, trim the tip with a scissor to give it the appearance of a giant paint brush, with a nice point on the top. Voila! Your nifty little Sidewalk Sponge Brush, is now ready to put to use to create your next masterpiece!
This article originally appeared on page 30-31 of the 2016 June-July Issue of beijingkids magazine. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Dave’s Studio