Sensory Activity: Shredded Paper

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If you’re afraid of a mess, I have to warn you up front that this is a messy one.

But it’s not a dirty kind of mess and if you stick with me here, you might become a shredded paper convert like me.

paying bills with kidsIt all started innocently, and rather boring, enough. It was a bill-paying day, and I set the kids up with their own stack of mailing labels stickers, pens, and old checkbooks while I dealt with the heavy stuff.

They were happy enough, but things heated up when we moved on to paper shredding

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I had basket full of old bills that were ready for the shredder, and two happy-to-please assistants who took the shredding job very seriously.

Shredders are potentially dangerous, and I would absolutely not let my kids shred on their own, but with careful supervision the act of shredding can build confidence, teaches accuracy and careful attention to details, and it’s just plain fun to make a loud ruckus.

When it’s not in use, I unplug the machine and lock it in a closet. When it’s in use, I run through the rules of good shredder usage with my three and a half year old: Up to 3 sheets at a time. Hold the paper at the top when you feed it in (no fingers near the shredding area). And it’s not for my 18 month old.

While my three year old shreds, her sister hands her stacks of paper. They love it.

Okay, so take a look at that little basket of paper up there and remember how small it appears. And remember that appearances can be deceiving.

My friend and her son came over a couple hours later to play and make some ice cream. While we were talking, my 18 month old dug her hands deep into the neatly packed shredded paper bag, and in moments the room erupted into this happy play scene…

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And that’s only half of the paper.

They could not have been happier. In fact, just before this moment, the kids were all winding down and ready to go their separate ways. But as soon as that bag emptied out, they found a whole other hour of play inside their little souls.

It was so fun, in fact, that my older daughter chose to keep playing rather than go to her beloved gymnastics class.

play in shredded paper with kidsMy friend is a master at imaginative play with kids, and had them bury themselves in shredded paper, pretend they were dormant volcano monsters, and then erupt without any notice. You can probably imagine the shrieking and laughter that followed.

And we all agreed that this is the perfect toy: free, open-ended, and entertaining for a long spell.

So it was messy, yes, but it was easy enough to sweep up. And rather than cart it off to the recycling bin like I had planned, it all found its way back into the closet and ready for another day of fun.

More Shredded Paper Ideas

Alpha Mom makes a bird’s nest with brown paper bags.

10+ Ideas on what you can do with Shredded Paper (like make animal bedding, papier mache, and mulch) from Bohemian Revolution.

Adorable and seasonal Shredded Paper Seed Starters from Made. These are on my to-do list.

Can you think of a time that your kid/s turned a banal situation into a burst of play? Have you played with shredded paper? Would you try this yourself?

 

5 Easy Steps to Invent a Recipe with Kids

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Do you like to cooking with kids or do you yearn to cook with your child? Today we’re sharing five easy steps to invent a recipe with kids, which will get you into a creative cooking mindset. Think Master Chef + little kids = a fun afternoon.

But you might wonder, “why would I want to invent a recipe when I can easily follow a recipe?” The answer is that inventing recipes instills children with confidence to invent their own solutions to a problem, encourages independent thinking and problem solving skills, and teaches children how to find their way around a kitchen.

5 easy steps to invent a recipe with kids | TinkerLab

My house smells like pancakes.

Which really means that it smells like cooking oil and caramelized sugar. Sort of a happy, greasy smell that has lingered for days.

Every afternoon, for the past three days, my 3 year old turns into a kitchen alchemist as she gathers ingredients and invents her own recipes.

She is in heaven. And it gets even better once we cook the cakes up and proudly serve them up to hungry family members.

Do you ever give your kids free reign over your kitchen?

Experiments like this set children up with a real-life science experiment that fosters creativity, inventiveness, and problem-solving skills. It’s not for the faint of heart and you have to be okay with a bit of a mess, but I think the trouble is well worth it for the amount of creative confidence it builds in children.

So, after three straight days of wild pancake combinations, I present five lessons learned on how to invent recipes with kids…

Cooking with Kids: Invent a Recipe

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #1…Get Familiar with the Kitchen.

If your child doesn’t know where things are, give him a little tour. And start with a simple cooking project that introduces him to some key ingredients and tools for a favorite recipe (such as a mixing bowl, mixing spoon, measuring spoon/cup, flour, and oil).

We spend a lot of time cooking together and my oldest (N) knows her way around the kitchen. She can find the biggest mixing bowl in the house, all the baking ingredients are at kid-level (this will no doubt pose a problem once her little sister figures this out), and we have amazing little foldable step stools like these that give her access to the fridge (unless she wants the butter…but we do have a taller stool for that).

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #2…Come up with a General Plan.

In our case, N has been making pancakes, pancakes, and more pancakes. We tend to make a lot of pancakes in our house anyway (they’re not just for the weekends), so she’s super-familiar with the key ingredients and general direction of what might taste good together. For example, she didn’t pour ketchup into the batter (although if she did, I probably would have let it happen).

Do you have a favorite family recipe that you could riff off of? 

To start, she collected a few ingredients (white flour, wheat flour, flax seeds, and blueberries), and added them to the bowl. I tried to step back and allow her to make decisions about quantities, but every now and then I’d throw out a suggestion to help guide the journey.

As you can imagine, her pancake recipe has WAY more than the usual tablespoon of sugar (see the next picture), but it turns out that sugary pancakes are absolutely delicious.

invent a recipe with kids

Lesson #3…Green Light all Ingredients.

Of course you want to be safe about this, as things like raw meat and raw eggs need special handling, but try to keep an open mind as your child selects her ingredients. One of N’s batters had chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, mango juice, dried cranberries and walnuts in it. It was amazing.

The most recent batch contained raspberries, strawberry cream cheese, diced apples, and goat cheese. It was a bit chunky, and I’m not so sure about the goat cheese, but we drafted a recipe in case they end up being the best one yet.

Which bring me to the next lesson…

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #4…Write the Recipe Down.

This is validating and makes the whole game so much more fun. As N added ingredients, I tried my best to write them down. Some things were carefully measured and others weren’t, but it didn’t really matter. I’m thrilled to have documentation of her first recipes and I’m sure she’ll treasure them as she gets older.

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #5…Embrace a Good Experiment.

As we cooked, I repeated multiple times that this is a grand experiment and that we’d be surprised one way or the other. We chatted about how it’s possible that not one person has ever made this exact recipe, and that chefs go through a similar process when they invent something new. Like scientists, they hypothesize (what ingredients might taste good together?), they experiment (let’s make this batter with yogurt and the next with sour cream), and they test (how does it taste? which batch do we like better? why?).

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

After one of our cooking sessions, my husband took the kids off on a run in the stroller. These two hot cakes were eaten before they left the driveway, which I suppose speaks to how delicious they came out.

How do you involve your kids in the kitchen? Have you tried letting them loose with ingredients? How did it go?

10 Ways to Raise Creative Kids

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“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda

A version of this post was originally shared at Kiwi Crate.

 

Are you interested in raising your child to be their most creative self? The path to creative thinking isn’t a direct on, but there are a few landmarks that can help us find our way.

 

Here are 10 ways to raise creative children:

 

1. Make Mistakes

Stanford researcher and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, shares that children who are afraid of failure are less likely to think creatively. If your child acts disappointed at making a mistake, try saying something like, “what can we do to change this outcome?” or “how could you do this again?” I like how my friend and colleague Ben Grossman-Kahn of The Nordstrom Innovation Lab calls this Failing Forward, or looking at mistakes as opportunities for growth rather than failures.

2. Get Messy

Most of us like a clean space and feel overwhelmed when messes get out-of-hand. However, when children are in their creative element, messes can quickly develop. The next time your child asks to paint or wants to dump a bag of cotton balls all over the floor, make room for it (and/or take it outside). You might have to contend with a mess, but the creative benefits will surpass this temporary inconvenience.

3. Offer Praise for Effort

We’ve all heard a lot about how praise can hinder a child’s independent thinking. In Alfie Kohn’s book, Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, he talks about how rewards succeed at motivating people to….earn more rewards. The problem with praise is that it can strip a child from searching for his own internal motivations. This isn’t to say that all praise is bad, but next time you’re tempted to praise, try saying something objective such as, “I see that you put your shoes on by yourself,” or “You’re working really hard on that math problem.”

4. Be open-minded

Offer your child choices as a way to encourage independent thinking. You may not be in the habit of eating dinner for breakfast, but if your child says she wants to eat pasta before heading off to school, make room for that. If she wants to help in the kitchen, try turning your kitchen into a science lab and give her open access to a handful of ingredients and kitchen tools.

5. Model Creativity

What’s your creative outlet? Where do you enjoy putting your creative energy? Cooking, singing, gardening, drawing, dancing? Children who watch their parents engage in creative activities are more likely to embrace these activities themselves. If it’s been a while since you’ve done something creative, think about what made you happy in your own childhood and spend half an hour doing that activity with your child. How did it feel? Could you try it again tomorrow? And the next day?

6. Step Back

This may seem to contradict #5 a bit, but it’s important to remember that this is all about striking a balance. If a child feels like she’s constantly under surveillance, she may be less likely to take risks, which would diminish her creativity. If you encourage autonomy, you’ll see your child’s imagination bloom. The next time your child is engaged in quiet play, drawing, or writing, refrain from jumping in with a comment like “what are you drawing?” This will only pull him out the zone. Instead, make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy a moment to yourself!

7. Set aside creativity time

This can be hard, especially for working parents, but children need unstructured time to imagine, build, experiment, and explore. It could be half an hour after dinner, drawing time in bed before reading a book, or an hour of imaginative play every weekend. Look at your schedule and make sure that there’s time set aside for this.

8. Get Back to the Basics

Toys that beep and flash are fun, and definitely have their place, but they don’t build creative thinkers the way sticks, tubes, blocks, dolls, office supplies, sand, and water do. Spend some time watching your child play and take a quick inventory of your toys. What do they play with the most? What objects do they pull into imaginative play? Can you swap a close-ended toy (for example, a toy with buttons that has one or two functions) with an open-ended toy (like blocks that encourage free play)? This post by Amy Anderson for SimpleKids is full of great ideas: Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas

9. Minimize Screen Time

It can be hard for some families to remove screen time altogether, but we can all make an effort to spend less time in front of the screen. Time spent watching videos or cartoons could be spent drawing, building a city out of blocks, or serving up play dough cupcakes. What could you do to reduce screen time?

10. What other ideas do you have for raising creative kids?

There are so many ways to encourage a child’s creativity, and I’d love to hear what works for YOU! What would you add as the #10 way to raise creative kids?

 

Pop up Paper Zoo {Free Download}

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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}

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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?

Week in Review: Nine Big Ideas in Creativity Education

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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?

 

 

Chalkboard Painted Canvas

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“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso

Chalkboards…I love them. You? The texture, the dust, and contrast are oh-so-appealing.

When I started to see them disappear from classrooms in favor of dry erase boards, I was a little bit shocked. Dry erase boards are wonderful too, but they’ll never have the same rustic appeal as a chalkboard.

This project began when I found a $3 canvas at a thrift store back in September (it had a print of a cow on it — truly hideous), and painted over it with a few layers of black chalkboard paint. Since October, it’s been filled with these house “rules,” and while I enjoyed looking at them, and even managed to inspire a neighbor to add some chalkboard quotes to her own kitchen, I was ready for a fresh start and enlisted the help of my crew to come up with something new.

And maybe I was feeling a little bit guilty on those days that I just ate buttered toast and wanted to spit. Maybe.

So I pulled the canvas down, wiped it clean with a damp rag, and let the kids go to town.

They loved it.

This is how it looked two weeks ago, and then this week we started all over again.

We also have a chalkboard that’s painted right onto part of our kitchen door, and it gets a lot of use for everything from chicken scratches to make-shift calendars to homemade infographics.

We collaborated on this one: the bunny is mine, the yellow is N, and the pink is Baby R. Funny thing, at least for me, is that back when I was brainstorming names for this blog, I called it Chalkbunny for a couple months before landing on Tinkerlab. So here we have a real, live chalk bunny, which is what we decided to call the little character in my new banner.

Do you have a well-loved chalkboard? What makes it special? And how do your kids use it?

 

Symmetrical Butterfly Prints

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When my 1 year old naps, my three and a half year old non-napper and I like to pull out some of our favorite messy materials that don’t normally surface when baby hot-hands is awake. The other day N wanted to paint, and we ended up making butterfly rorschach paintings. BTW, every time I have to spell that word – rorschach — it stumps me! Anyone else? We called these butterfly prints, which may have some bearing on why my daughter made at least thirty of them! And I should say that I was recently asked to lead an activity at her preschool, and THIS is the project that N wants me to bring in. Not that I’m trying to sell anything, but how’s that for an endorsement?

The set-up was really simple. I squeezed four colors of tempera paint  on a plate (I always try to limit the palette — fewer choices enable children to focus more on the process and feel less overwhelmed by materials), she picked her four favorite paint brushes (these happen to be from our watercolor sets), and I gave her a stack of white copy paper (the thin stuff). She had an extra sheet of paper to rest the dirty brushes on — her idea!

I suggested, in the most open-ended way possible, that she could paint on one half of the paper or the entire paper — it was up to her — before folding the paper in half. She had her own ideas, as kids often do, and once she made the first print she turned into a printmaking powerhouse. Crank. Crank. Crank.

The fun reveal!

Ta-dah! So cute, she actually said, “WOW,” after the first print opened. Not so much the following prints, but it was clear that she loved the process.

The experiments included lines, dots, overlapping colors, and even a couple diagonally-folded papers.

Do you remember making these when you were a kid? I loved these, and it’s evident that it’s a timeless wonder. If you have or work with older children, this activity is an excellent way to introduce symmetry. For a few more related ideas, Frugal Family Fun Blog has this idea for teaching symmetry with butterflies (I always enjoy how happy Valerie’s kids are in her photos), and Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas shares two more ways to teach symmetry with butterfies + a handful of book suggestions.

Five New Year’s Resolutions for a Creative New Year

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Creative New Year's resolutionsResolution Ideas for a Creative New Year

Yesterday I shared last year’s creative new year’s resolutions, and I thought it would be fun (and maybe useful) to share some resolution ideas for making this a more creative year. Without further ado, I give you five resolutions, free for the taking, that will make 2012 a year full of creativity.

1. See Real Art

Do you enjoy visiting museums, but find that you rarely find time to go? Looking at real art not only elevates a mood, but it can boost cognitive growth as well! Here are a few ideas to choose from on how to make this a reality:

  • Make a resolution to visit a different museum each month.
  • Become a member at your local art museum, and milk it for all it’s worth. Go to all the openings (there’s usually music and free food — yay, date night is covered and you can share the experience with your loved one!), take the kids (many museums are kid-friendly and offer activities for little ones), and/or visit once a month, on your own, on a quiet weekend morning.
  • Find a listing of public art in your town or city, make or download a map to carry in your bag or car, and take a year-long art tour of your town. Reference the list often, spend a few moments investigating new parts of town, and look a little more closely at those places that you know well.

2. Keep a Sketchbook

Keeping a sketchbook can mean a lot of things, and you can tailor this to fit your personality and goals. On my artist friend Susie’s suggestion, I enrolled in one of the most inspiring classes of my life, Art as Process with Kata Hull at the SMFA (School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). One of my favorite exercises was creating a double-page spread (DPS) in a sketchbook every single day. All this means is that I would open the sketchbook and fill the two pages that were in front of me with anything that came to mind. No pressure to be amazing. By completely this task every day, I eventually become better at articulating my ideas, ideating, and I had tomes of inspiration to look back on at a later date. It’s been a while since I’ve maintained they rhythm of creating these DPS’s, but I still refer to those sketchbooks when I’m searching for a visual idea.

  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you could make one nature drawing every day.
  • If you like to collage, try filling a box with inspiring paper scraps that you keep in a space that you like to create in. Find some good paper glue and fill the sketchbook pages with paper creations.
  • Do you need a deadline-based project to motivate you to create? For a small fee, The Sketchbook Project will put your sketchbook in the Brooklyn Art Library, where anyone can read it.
  • You could also using a specialty journal like One Sketch a Day: A Visual Journal

3. Start a Blog

Did you know that blogging can boost your creativity? It helps me organize my thoughts, motivates me to show up almost daily with new ideas and inspiration, and allows me to reflect on my thinking (case in point!). If blogging speaks to you, why not start today (or January 1!)? After blogging for one year, I’ve met countless people who inspire me to think more creatively and tap into ideas I wouldn’t have otherwise conceived. A lot of growth can happen in one year, and it can all start with one post. The key here is to make every attempt to post often. If you want to become a better writer, a more creative parent, or a stronger blogger, you need to make a daily or weekly commitment to it. I love blogging, and would be happy to offer support and words of encouragement to anyone thinking about this as a resolution.

  • You can sign up for a free WordPress or Blogger account and have your first post up today. I’ve happily used both platforms, and currently write on a self-hosted WordPress platform (something to think about if you plan to get serious about blogging).
  • Make a commitment to at least one post per week, every week.
  • If you don’t already have one, invest in a good camera and learn how to use it. This is what I use.

4. Learn How to “x”

What do you want to get better at? Do you want to improve your drawing/painting/sculpting skills? Your resolution could be to:

  • Master one new art form by year’s end
  • Explore four art disciplines (try collage, sewing, glass blowing, or ceramics)
  • Invite friends over for monthly art-making parties. If this last idea speaks to you, you’ll want to read How to Throw Your Own Craft Night (Etsy). With one year to play and learn, you will be on your way to mastering that skill by next December.

5. Take Mystery Trips

This one is personal, makes my family life more creative, and I love it. My husband is one of the most creative people I know, and I credit his parents (and in turn, their good friend Joan) for bringing this golden nugget into our lives. Every month or so we plan mystery trips for each other in our family, which can turn the usual trip to the park into something more adventurous, or something adventurous into something completely over-the-top. On a recent date night I didn’t tell my husband where we were going, which built suspense and tons of anticipation. My plan wasn’t elaborate, and even included a trip to the diviest bar you can imagine, but the adventure made it one of the funnest nights out we’ve had in a while. Apparently Joan started this with her own children who lacked enthusiasm when it was time to go to the museum/zoo/park. But when she said, “we’re going on a mystery trip tomorrow,” her kids couldn’t wait to find out where they were heading.

  • Because anything can be a mystery trip, it doesn’t require any extra work or preparation.
  • Commit to plan one mystery trip each month, 6 per year, etc.
  • Responsibility for planning these trips can fall on various family members, or take this on as your own personal mission for the year

What do you think? How do you plan on making 2012 a Creative Year?

 

New Life for a Melissa & Doug Box

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My 3 year old, N, received a Melissa & Doug Deluxe Stringing Bead set from her grandparents that came in a lovely, wooden, shallow, lidless box. Lidless, with tiny beads inside. And this is marketed to little kids. Whaaaat?

Dear Melissa & Doug: Can you please, pretty please make lids for the boxes that house your fabulous toys? Thanks!

Here’s how the problem unfolded…

My daughter unwraps the gift and peels off the top layer of plastic film…on an airplane. She happily plays with the beads, strings them up for a solid 20 minutes, and then puts the beads back into the lidless box and sets it down on the tray table. Meanwhile, my one-year old decides that this would be a good time to climb off my lap and over to her sister. And of course she has to bolt over the tray table to maneuver her crawling body toward the window seat. You can imagine what happened to all the beads. ::Sigh::

While the box was fairly useless as a storage container, it promised other possibilities as a shadow box/painting substrate. So I saved the box, and, as my mom would say, turned lemons into lemonade.

To get this started, I covered a work area with large sheets of paper, squeezed some acrylic paint on an aluminum foil covered plate (the colors were my daughter’s choice), and gave her a handful of paintbrushes to work with. There were no instructions aside from a casual question of “what could we do with these paints and this box?”

She got about this far before calling it quits. It was a good exercise in repurposing cast-off materials, color selection, paint brush manipulation, and pattern + sequence discovery. I think I’ll pull it out another day for one more pass with the paints and possibly some additional bits and bobs that she can collage to the box, and then perhaps we’ll give it another life as a piece of art on one of our walls.

So maybe I should stop complaining and thank Melissa & Doug for the cool shadow box?

Any ideas on what we could do with our box?

 

Tinkering on the Typewriter

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I’ve been thinking about getting an old typewriter for a long while (this post from The Artful Parent struck a chord, and I love how Jean set up a writing area around her typewriter), but since I’ve been on a purging streak since the first of the year it was hard to justify the purchase, and find a good spot for it.

By the way, if you’re interested in organizing your life and home from the inside out, I found this book enormously helpful. Okay, so fast forward many months…closets are mostly cleaned out, the garage is full enough to host 3 garage sales, and I’m flipping through a copy of Cottages and Bungalows magazine when I come across this bit of inspiration…

I immediately got on craigslist and within minutes, I found a cool 1970′s Galaxie Deluxe for $20! After recently spotting another machine in our thrift store for $100, I knew this was a deal. Score! My 3-year old was so excited about it, and we made a big adventure out of going to pick it up, cleaning it when we got home, and just playing with it for a solid hour that morning. Typing, spelling, checking out the inner workings of the machine, asking questions about how it works, scrolling, pounding…

Amy at Let’s Explore has been making these wonderful List Poems about Fall with her daughters that are wonderful keepsakes of a fleeting moment in time. I’ve wanted to try this with N, to capture her thoughts of the Fall, and she was game! Here’s what she dictated to me…

Don’t you just love the variety and hand-made quality of the type? So much character!! I think this wil be a fun addition to our Thanksgiving…thinking about asking each of our guests to share a message of thanks that we’ll add to a memory book.

If you’ve been playing with typewriters, or have a thought about picking one up, what would YOU do with a typewriter?

This post is shared on It’s Playtime

Halloween Tradition: Little Fabric Ghosts

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This little fabric ghost tradition began last year, and N has been begging me to revive it for weeks. We haven’t had any white fabric in the house, I didn’t have the energy to make a fabric run, and then low-and-behold I found a quarter yard of fabric in a closet sweep a few days ago! Yay for “free” fabric. It’s more craft than art, but you’ll see in a minute how this can be open-ended and exploratory for curious, creative little minds.

We started with approximately 15″ squares of thin cotton fabric, a little thinner than muslin. But really, almost any thin white fabric will work. We filled the middle with about six cotton balls. Actually, it started out at “five,” but when N took over she increased the number by one or two, until the last ghost had about nine cotton balls in the head. This is good for counting, too!

I cut cotton string into lengths of 12″ – 30″ and then tied them around the “heads.” We then glued on googly eyes with white glue.

Now for the fun part! N wanted to draw a mouth on one of the ghosts so we found a Sharpie marker. Drawing the mouth turned into drawing hair, ears, and decorating the entire body. So fun!

She even drew inside the ghost. There are no limits, are there? We made four ghosts altogether, and she named this one the “dad.” The others (mom, baby, and sister) were plain white…what does this mean, I wonder?

We hung them in the tree to scare our neighbors for Halloween. Monofilament might have eliminated the noose quality of the string, but you work with what you’ve got! Boo!

I love hearing from you. Please share your Halloween tradition/s!

This post is shared with Sunday Showcase. Craft Schooling Sunday