Pop up Paper Zoo {Free Download}

pop up paper zoo download

Back in September I wrote about how we made a Pop-Up Paper ZooThis is one of my favorite posts because the project is child-directed and it can lead to imagination-building and experimentation.

At the end of the post, I asked if anyone would like to have a PDF template so you could make these yourself. There were some “yeses” in the room, and I have to apologize for taking so long to follow up on this promise.

Of course, you may find it’s easy enough to draw your own animals (I know ours were less-than-perfect, but my 3-year old didn’t mind a bit), but sometimes it’s nice to have the heavy-lifting taken care of.

I drafted up an elephant and a giraffe to get you started. I tried to make these nice enough that you could use them for a classroom, playgroup, or gift them to a friend. To make more animals you could download a free animal font such as this one from Swiss Miss, find your favorite animal/s, and adjust your font size to the size you want the animal to be. And then you’d want to trace it or use it as a template. Oh, and keep in mind that printing these on CARDSTOCK will give you the best results.

What do you think? I received good feedback on the DIY Paper Bag Book PDF that I shared earlier this week, so maybe this is a new direction for me?

Okie doke, that’s it…You can download the 2-page FREE PDF here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and how (and if) you could use something like this. Do you print my posts for homeschooling? Do you like to print your favorite projects from your favorite blogs? Are you purely digital, and printing never happens in your home?


DIY Paper Bag Book with Japanese Binding {Free Download}

You might know that I’ve been working on a fun project with the San Francisco Children’s Creativity Museum DIY Studio Space. Each month for a full year, we’re developing creativity-boosting invitations for children who visit the museum. If you visit the Studio this month you’ll find an assortment of interesting found materials and a host of ideas for upcycling books from these materials.

And in case you didn’t make it to the CCM this month, I’m giving away a free project download: Tinkerlab DIY Paper Bag Book

The cover is made from a paper lunch bag, the inner pages are made from any paper you like, and it’s bound with a traditional Japanese 3-hole binding that elementary-age children could do with a little assistance.

Children will work through spatial reasoning and learn about a traditional binding method through the process of binding. They will also explore different recycling possibilities through the selection of materials. And once the book is made, children can fill it with sketches, stories, stickers…the possibilities are endless.

This is new to me and I’d love to hear your thoughts: Would you rather see all the steps in a blog post or do you like having it in a sweet and tidy PDF?

Back From Blissdom

How was your weekend?

I’m back from a jam-packed weekend at the Blissdom Blog Conference in Nashville where I was lucky enough to room with one of my blogging heroes, Jean Van’t Hul of The Artful Parent. In case you were wondering if Jean is as awesome in real life as she is on her blog, the short answer is YES. Rather than share those embarrassing photos I threatened to post, this one captures us quite gracefully, I think.

jean van't hul and rachelle doorley

I learned a lot from another blogging hero, Tsh Oxenreider of SimpleMom.net, who talked about writing. Did you know it’s a no-no to use emoticons and exclamation points in a blog post? I rarely use them in my posts as it is, but if you don’t mind, I need to get them out of my system!! :)

Thanks. Okay, moving on…

Tsh also talked about working hard, and just how hard she has to work to accomplish her goals. She actually said, “you must work crazy hard.” But she also said you have to work “smart hard.”

Yes. I needed that. I’m the kind of person who will keep going and going until there’s nothing left in me. So I’m searching for ways to find my voice, get the work done, and then move on to bed, a yoga class, or away from my computer.

tsh oxenreider blissdom 2012

If you’re nerding out on this stuff, I also learned a lot about blog law from Sarah Hawkins and how to authentically brand yourself from Tami Heim. Both of these women are worth following!

And finally, Blissdom was like one great big 2+ day cocktail party with lots of hand shaking, blog recognition, and card exchanging. Exhausting! Oh, sh*t, there’s another exclamation point. Last one, I swear. While all of us shared blogging in common, the topics of our blogs were so diverse (homeschooling, fitness, homesteading, baby wearing, DIY decor, frugal living, fashion).

One of my favorite cards came from Allorahandmade. She attached a handmade rosette bobby pin to each card. Right on. And a lesson to the rest of us in branding and making ourselves memorable.

blissdom 2012 business cards

I’m energized by all the new ideas, but mostly I’m thinking about restructuring my work life to make more room for relationships and my own spiritual well-being. I’m tossing the term life balance out the window, and replacing it with a new model for finding peace. Peace is attainable, and it’s more realistic.

I can’t expect to do it all, but I can forgive myself if things don’t happen the way I want. We may not always eat a home-cooked meal. My house might not be as clean as I want. I’m just me, and there are only so many hours in the day.

Wishing you a peaceful day!

rats, there’s one more.

What words do you live by? Are you searching for life balance or making peace with where you’re at?

Week in Review: Nine Big Ideas in Creativity Education

Here are some of the bigger stories in creativity education that inspired me this week:

1. The North Carolina Museum of Art received a $2 million grant from GlaxoSmithKline and its N.C. GSK Foundation to create a project called “The Big Picture” which aims to use art to enhance learning. Woo-hoo! Arts and Museum eduction, all wrapped up into one big, creative grant package!

2. A study by University of Chicago researchers has found that children who play with puzzles between ages 2 and 4 later develop better spatial skills, from Times of India.

3. TIME Magazine’s Time For Kids just released a new book, TIME For Kids Big Book of Science Experiments: A step-by-step guide, reviewed by Geek Dad of Wired Magazine.

4. A thoughtful article from Americans for the Arts on why institutions of higher education should include a focus on Arts Education.

5. Parents Play a Crucial Role in Building Kids’ Interest in Science and Math. The Girl Scouts released a study on teenage girls’ attitudes toward math and science. “Two-thirds of the girls who reported an interest in science, math or engineering had mothers or fathers who encouraged these interests, as compared to only one-third of girls who reported little interest in STEM.” While their organization is clearly focused on girls, they claim the study’s findings hold true for boys as well as girls. Click the article for more.

6. Andre Dubis III, author of House of Sand and Fog, shares how creative writing diverted him from a path of violence.

7. Are you thinking about sending your child to an arts camp this summer? You might want to read: Fingerpaint or Fine Arts: How to Choose and Arts Camp. From Saint Louis Times.

8. Get your kids in the kitchen and feed them for life. Says Katie Workman, Editor-in-Chief of Coooksr.com, “Like any skill, the older you get, the more difficult it is to learn. They will understand and appreciate food in a deeper way, they will be comfortable in the kitchen, they will develop broader palates, and they will be able to entertain people, which is an undervalued and ever-shrinking asset. You will be giving them a new place to discover things and be creative.”

9. An inspiring idea! Children in India participated in a Street Play Contest that helped build creative thinking. Designing their own performances based on big idea themes, “The kids showcased their creativity and poise while they broke the formal barriers and propagated social issues.”

10. What inspired YOU this week?



I’m heading to Blissdom!

packing for blissdom

I’ve been busy packing for a big trip to my very first social media conference! (Special thanks to my husband’s parents for taking my children to the park so I could make that happen!). I haven’t been to a conference since my pre-kids years, and look forward to soaking up some adult energy and making some new friends while developing my thoughts on how Tinkerlab might grow.

Hmmm, to say I look forward to this is sort of an understatement.

I’m sooooooooooooooo excited! Woo-hoo!

There are some great sessions that I’m dying to attend, like DO LESS as a Life Strategy (can I tell you how much I need this? And to be certain of just how much, I’m sure I’ll be taking copious notes while uploading photos to Instagram. Sigh).

But maybe the part I’m the most full of anticipation over is that I’ll be rooming with Jean Van’t Hul of The Artful Parent. We’ve become online friends through our blogs (see my interview with her here), but have never met before. Crazy, right? In the last year I became good friends with Jen from Paint Cut Paste, and I have to tell you how strange it is to first come face to face with someone from your online community. Have you ever experienced this? It’s like seeing a movie star, right? But then I know that weirdness will soon fade into familiarity, and we’ll hang out deep into the night like Jen and I do now :) I promised Jean that I wouldn’t share any embarrassing photos of her next week, but maybe I’ll post a photo of us in our fancy clothes. What do you think?

business cards for blissdom

So my bags are almost packed and my business cards ordered. Thank you, Tiny Prints, for shipping them in one day!

But in the middle of all this excitement, it dawned on me that I’ll be away from my little friends for such a long time. I watched them chat and play last night at dinner and all of that cuteness overload made me want to pinch them and eat them right up. I know it’s just a few nights, but it’s hard to envision how it will be on the other side. I’ve only been away from my youngest for one night, and that was sort of a big deal, which seems to makethis a super big deal. We talked a little bit about how I’ll be on an airplane, but I’ll come back. She enjoyed this story, and I hope she can find a way to cope with the situation when she learns it’s more than just a story.

design table for the kids for blissdom

I set up an invitation for my kids to make and design things after I go. I’m sure this will be totalled within minutes, but it makes me happy to see it like this, ready for their ideas to take a physical form.

Although I’ll be away, I’ll still be here. Be sure to check back tomorrow for a fun roundup of creativity education ideas and resources that inspired me this week.

Have you taken any life-changing trips? How have you dealt with leaving your little ones behind?