Creative Table Inspiration

Creative table art invitation inspiration from Tinkerlab

what's on your creative table at tinkerlabIn the four days since I posted about the  Creative Table projectI’ve been amazed at the variety of ideas that have come from this International group; everything from a geology lesson to oversized PVC pipe tinkering toys to making paper dolls. As I’m typing this, more creative table images are coming in, and I’ll be sure to post those next week.

These images are mostly shared on Instagram (I’m a huge fan. Are you?), but you can also share by simply uploading your image onto this form.

Well, enough jibber-jabber. Have a look for yourself. Get inspired. And since this is a brand-new project, I’d love to get your feedback on what would make this project even better.

Creative table art invitation inspiration from TinkerlabTop Row: Dress in progress from Amy, Maker Mama   *   Paper Collage from Rachelle, Tinkerlab   *   Letterboxes and miniature letters with low temperature hot glue gun, scissors, paper card and markers from Ali, At Home with Ali
Middle Row: Canvas pictures, paint, paint brushes and hands from Robin   *   Pony Bead Mandala from Jen, Paint Cut Paste   *   Paper Dolls, Kara from Simple Kids
Bottom Row: PVC Pipe Sprinkler from Katie, A Childhood List   *   Dried black beans, cornmeal, yellow pom poms, honey sticks, pictures of flowers (from a postcard), pipe cleaners, pony beads, lavender from Jennifer Fisher, The Good Long Road   *   Water color on stained tea paper from Jen, Paint Cut Paste

Creative table art invitation inspiration from TinkerlabTop Row: Things I’ve been painting white: tops, a small box, a cardboard from Angela   *   Painting Fancy Nancy from Ali, At Home with Ali   *   Water color and ice from Angela
Middle Row: Kids’ catalogues and glue from Angela   *   Bundled tri-color drawing from Kate and Picklebums   *   Beading from At Home with Ali
Bottom Row: Painting Rocks from At Home with Ali   *   Salt and Glue (with watercolors) from Courtney   *   Watercolor painting from Emilie
Creative table art invitation inspiration from TinkerlabTop Row: Lucy’s table from Courtney   *   “Melting” chalk from Angela   *   Geology Exploration from Jen, Paint Cut Paste
Middle Row: Home made stamps from Courtney   *    Leaf Rubbing from Jena, Happy Little Messes   *   Drawing in Sketchbook from Maya at MemeTales
Bottom Row:  Tea stained paper from Jen, Paint Cut Paste   *   Leaf Rubbing from Jena, Happy Little Messes   *   Tempera painting from Emilie

Submit your creative table here.

So, what do you think? Are you inspired? Is there anything that would help this project run better? 

St. Paddy’s Day Photo Booth

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st paddys day photo boothI’ve  always loved St. Paddy’s day, and then I lucked out and married a cute Irishman. We spent part of our honeymoon in Ireland, and the green island holds a special place in my heart.

A few weeks ago I asked the Tinkerlab Facebook community for some ideas on what I could do with a huge pile of old sheets. I got tons of great ideas, and we started by making a Simple Clip Fort. I’m working my way through the list, and today we’re making a photo booth backdrop for St. Patty’s Day.

Before going to bed I hung a white sheet over one of our curtain rods and secured it with two big clips.

cut out shamrocks for photo boothI cut a handful of shamrocks from green paper and placed them on a table with double-stick tape. Altogether, the prep took me about 10 minutes. When my kids woke up, they were excited about the invitation, got dressed in greenish clothes, and we got right to work.

tape shamrocks for photo boothI helped 3-year old N stick some tape to the back of the shamrocks. Double-stick tape is tricky stuff for little hands! Then she and my 1-year old stuck them to the sheet. Well, my 1-year old mostly tore the shamrocks in half and we had to find a more constructive activity to distract her for a few minutes.

I moved a green rug over to the curtain area and that’s when the dance party started. I snapped a couple archive-worthy photos for the family photo album, and then it was mostly just playing in fron to the clover curtain.

st pattys photo boothOn St.Patty’s Day itself, we serve up green milk in mugs, delivered with a bit of magic. We add a couple drops of green food coloring in the bottom of a dark mug, the kids say “Sean Beggorrah,” and then we pour white milk into the mug for a leprechaun-delivered surprise. This tradition comes down through my husband’s family and I haven’t met anyone else who does this. Is this part of your St. Patrick’s Day traditions?

We’ve been talking about building a leprechaun trap, but I’ve never built one before. Have you? Do you have any tips? And I’m always thinking about fun ways to add magic to this holiday and would love to hear how you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with your kids.

More St. Patrick’s Day fun from the Archives

Rainbow Play Dough

Spring Sink Mat Print

Fairy Doors 

Tinkerlab on Instagram

stanford barn
rainbow whirly birds

Rainbow Whirly Birds

Hi all! It’s been a rough couple of days with a one year old who’s not afraid to fight sleep. I think she’s teething, but who really knows, and coffee has been getting me through the days. I had big ideas about sharing Valentines projects and more paper bag experiments, but the reality is that I have a huge pile of dishes to contend with and bags under my eyes.

today's chalkboard drawing

today's chalkboard drawing

 

However, I’ve been able to snap a few shots of our creative days via Instagram, and thought you might like to see a snapshot from our lives. I’ve been a fan of Instagram since it first came out, and just set up a Tinkerlab account, and if you’re an Instagram fan too, maybe you’d like to follow me!

stanford barn

stanford barn

I like to take the girls on field trips, and last week we wandered over the Stanford Barn to check out the horses. My one-year old is enamored by “neigh-neighs”…from afar…not so much up close and personal…and has been saying “neigh-neigh poop” since last week’s visit. Props to me for the educational trip!

spring time in california

spring time in california

And today we played outside in our garden. We’re having a mild California winter and were able to enjoy an hour in the sand box, do a little seed planting, and pick some wild flowers.

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, I’m Tinkerlab, or follow the link to set up your own account.

Oh my gosh…shortest nap EVER!! Okay, I’m off. Hope to be back tomorrow :)

Join the Next Creative Challenge

www.kiwicrate

One year ago I started this series of Creative Challenges with a toilet paper/loo roll challenge. The series began on a small scale and has grown along with my blog to include a generous sponser [Kiwi Crate] and a host of talented bloggers and non-blogging friends who focus on process-oriented projects with their children or students. The challenges are bi-monthly, and we have some exciting materials to look forward to playing with.

Upcoming Challenges – Mark your Calendar!

  • February 6 – Paper Bags {Next Challenge!}
  • April 2 - Egg Cartons
  • June 4 – Flowers
  • August 6 -  Milk Jugs or Cartons
  • October 1 – Dried Beans or Seeds

How to Join

    • Make: Projects should be child-directed, but grown-ups are welcome to join in the fun if the mood strikes! Use at least one paper bag, along with any other materials of your choice. See the last challenge, Magazines, for inspiration.
    • Share: Come back to Tinkerlab on or after February 6, 2012 and attach a link to your blog or a photo from your experience, along with a description of what you and/or your child/ren did, in the comment section of the challengeIf you have a blog, you can also add your project to the linky party. The challenge opens up on February 6, and will remain open indefinitely
    • Pinterest: After you submit your post or photo/s, we will add you to a Paper Bag Creative Challenge Pinterest Board, where it can serve as inspiration for others.
    • WIN!!: The Pinterest Post with the most “reposts” by 9 pm PST February 29, 2012 (leap year — yay!) will win a $100 VISA gift card and three-month subscription to Kiwi Crate, courtesy of Kiwi Crate (subscription is only available to U.S. participants). Participants are welcome to encourage friends and readers to “repost” their links.
    • Are you a blogger? Let your fans know about the challenge and grab our cute lil’ button to share it on your blog.
Tinkerlab

Inspiration

Are you Ready to Join Me?

  • Start thinking about Paper Bags. Collect them from your market, raid your lunch sacks, and show your kids pictures of upcycled paper bags and see what they’re excited about.
  • February 6 is two and a half weeks from now, which should give us all plenty of time to tinker, play, and then share.
  • Tell your friends about the challenge. Host a creative paper bag play group. Share a link to the challenge on your Facebook wall.
  • Show up on February 6 with your documentation! I can’t wait to see you then!!
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Special thanks to our sponsor:

Architecture as Art

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“Architecture is a science arising out of many other sciences, and adorned with much and varied learning; by the help of which a judgment is formed of those works which are the result of other arts.” -Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, Roman architect and writer

We have a basket of blocks that come out every now and again, and when they do I’m always reminded of how much learning comes from building, stacking, and organizing blocks into innumerable configurations.

Do your kids play with blocks? What do you do to make them more appealing and fun for them?

Top 10 Posts of 2011

goodbye 2011

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” - Edith Lovejoy Pierce, Poet

So here we are at the end of 2011. Can you believe it? Are you looking forward to a better year, making concrete changes that will improve your life in 2012, hoping for a little more down-time or “me-time?” Whenever a year comes to a close I do a lot of reflecting on where we’ve been and where we’re heading, and I plan to continue on my quest for more organization and clarity in 2012. I always feel better when I can be my most authentic self, and find that this is more possible when my life is cleared of the excess.

We’re planning to ring in the new year tonight with a big family + friends play date, and thanks to the magic of YouTube, my 3 year old is looking forward to watching the big Ball Drop at midnight (it’s only 9 pm PST, thankfully!).

It seems to be a blog tradition to do a “best of…”, so I thought you might like to take a peek at some of the more popular posts of the past year. I’m saving my #1 post for Monday, which means this is really a top 11 list, so be sure to check back after the new year.

Even Toddlers Can Sew

Yes, it’s true. With some simple materials little ones can begin to learn the elements of sewing, and there are additional ideas in the comments of this post.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Not just for the Winter Holidays, salt dough could be used to make all sorts of sculptures year-round.

Flubber-Gak-Slime Exploration

Best sensory project ever! Hours of fun, over multiple days. Great for little ones who won’t put this gooey mess in their mouths.

Vegetable-dyed Easter Eggs

It’s almost Easter and you might want to sock this idea away for Spring. Featured on Craft Gossip.

Easy DIY Light Table

Light tables are wonderful for adding a little magic to your sensory play. We used ours with salt (pictured here) and Water Beads. With a little resourcefulness you can make one without breaking the bank.

Coffee Filter Flowers

Nice little rainy day activity to cheer up your house on a gloomy flower-less day. Or save it for the warmer months as we did, and make flowers inspired by your surroundings.

6 Tools for Building a Child’s Confidence

I love this post as it shares some insights into my thinking around raising creative kids. Bonus: There’s a link in the article to three more tools for building a child’s confidence for a total of nine tools!

Jell-o Excavation

Featured in Real Simple Family Magazine, Fall 2011, Ohdeedoh, and Craft Gossip. I still get comments and questions about this project. So much fun, with endless play possibilities.

Creative Challenge #6: Cardboard

If you like to upcycle materials into something fabulous, you’ll want to check out this exciting challenge that brought 20+ creative bloggers together with the collective challenge of making something, with their kids, with cardboard.

Rainbow Play Dough

Whether you want rainbow, blueberry blue, or cinnamon-scented brown play dough, this is the recipe you’ll want to use. It’s never failed my, it’s used by EVERY preschool teacher that I know, and it lasts forever.

Wishing you and yours a creative 2012!

The Great 2011 Purge

paper snowflake scraps

This time last year I was reading Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living (Tsh Oxenreider) and made a New Year Resolution to simplify my life and purge unnecessary objects from my home. Before The Great 2011 Purge, art materials lived in all areas of our home and I spent countless hours looking for things and making room for objects that had no permanent place. Does this sound like your life? If so, I can’t recommend Tsh’s book enough.

Digging past my collections, knick-knacks, and countless art materials was exhausting and I knew that if I streamlined my possessions I could be more productive with my time. So I started poking away at corners of my home every week; a shelf of dishes here, a closet there. And it’s helped! I’ve given away unused applianced, weeded out my least favorite books, and I just donated four garbage sized bags of baby clothes to this incredible charity with the unintended consequence of teaching my children the power of helping those in need. I’ve never stuck with a resolution for an entire year, but this one was so successful that it’s seeped into my way-of-life and it’ll be easy to carry it forward into the new year.

paper snowflake scrapsAnd now, guess what? I’m thinking about my 2012 Resolution.

Working for myself has long appealed to me, and over the past year I’ve developed a stronger entrepreneurial mindset that I’d like to nurture! I’m an artist at heart, with no real sense of money and lacking in organizational skills (obviously) , so my resolution for 2012 is to foster my entrepreneurial side. I’m starting 2012 off by working and blogging with this awesome new startup, developing curriculum for this creative children’s museum, reading this bookand devouring this blog.

I think it’s a good start, but to keep it going for the year, my plan is to read inspirational books and magazines like this, streamline my blog to make it more engaging and accesible (a newsletter and revamped archives are in the works), and remain open to opportunities that are a good fit with my my personal and professional goals. Now that I see it all written in front of me, it seems a bit daunting, but I have to remember that a year is a long time and baby steps will get me there. Just like they did last year.

In light of all this, because I’m a mom-to-my-kids first I have to remember that I can only take on so much. In my search for balance between motherhood and personal ambition I’ve had a few meltdown moments that I hope will shine brightly in my mind’s eye as a warning of what can happen if I bite off more than I can chew. These colorful pictures of a happy snowflake-making afternoon are here to remind me that my primary goal is to hold on to my core beliefs as an arts educator and mom who wants to raise her children to be creative souls and independent thinkers.

Have you had a successful resolution that you could share? Have you started thinking about your 2012 resolution?

Be sure to check back soon for my next post on developing a new year’s resolution that will support creativity.

 

Make and Takes, the book {Giveaway}

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When I started blogging waaaaay back in 2010, Make and Takes, a crafty blog run by former kindergarten teacher Marie LeBaron, was one the first amazing kid craft blogs to enter my radar. One of my favorite things about Marie’s site is a section called Spotlight, a collection of the best food and crafts submitted by readers. The photography makes me drool (not a pretty image, I know) and she does a great job curating the best ideas for us all to pick and choose from.

Well guess what? Marie just wrote a book, and we can all have Make and Takes on our shelves for the holidays.

Here’s a little blurb from the publisher (Wiley):

“Highlighting the best of each month of the year, Make and Takes for Kids offers 50 projects to make with kids, each centered around an upcoming holiday or season. The ideas are unique and simple to produce, and each project is thoughtfully constructed and designed to create an ideal environment and setting for crafting. Each craft requires little preparation, few supplies, and almost everything can be readily found at home or at a local craft supply store.”

In the same spirit as Marie’s blog, the photography in the book (by Nicole Gerulat of A Little Sussy) is gorgeous. As my 3-year old flipped through our copy she kept saying, “I want to make that! And that! And that!”

N finally settled on making a craft foam bracelet (the one in the book falls under February: Valentine’s Day). She selected the ribbon, a few sheets of craft foam, and then started cutting away. I was directed to punch holes and cut a heart (to match the one in the book, above). N wanted to wear it right away, but then complained of it scratching her wrist after a few minutes, at which point she proclaimed that it would be “a decoration.”

Kudos to Marie on writing her first book!! If you’re looking for more craft books like this, or more inspiration from the publisher, you can click over to Wiley’s craft page: http://www.wileycraft.com/ or follow Wiley on twitter: http://www.wileycraft.com/ @wileycraft

Make and Takes should be available at all major book stores and online at Barnes and NobleAmazon.comWalmart.comWiley.com

GIVEAWAY

If you’d like a chance to win your very own copy of Make and Takes for Kids, please leave a comment and share your child’s favorite art or craft project. The winner will be selected at random, and must have a U.S. shipping address. Deadline to enter: Wednesday, November 23 at 9 pm PST. Comments are now closed.

For an extra entry, tweet about this and add my handle @tinkerlabtweets and the hashtag #mtbook

In Search of Life Balance

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I have to confess that I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed for the past few weeks. Or maybe months. The feeling comes and goes, but striking the right work/life balance has been tough, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. If you’re not familiar with my story, I’m a SAHM who has the working bug in her soul. I want nothing more than to be with my kids on a daily basis — to watch them grow, document their journeys, listen to their needs, and help them blossom. But I also love the work I do and I’m compelled to show up every night to spread the joys and importance of arts education long after my kids are in bed. I’m quite certain that many of you are in the same boat as me, which is why I’m sharing all of this with you. I saw my own mom struggle with this tension between parenting and working that was so prevalent in the 1980′s, as highly successful working women were equally compelled to succeed at domestic duties. She had her own business (based at home, of course), which enabled her to always make time to show up as the room mother, bake sale goddess, and birthday party organizer. Frankly, I took all of this for granted since it was my life and she was amazing, but I now understand why it nearly tore her apart.

So tonight, and tomorrow, and probably the day after that, I’m going to do those long overdue dishes, de-clutter my closets, toss out the random odds and ends that fill up the gaps of my consciousness, try to go to bed early (since a 5 am waking child won’t let me sleep in) and spend a little bit more time dealing with the other details of life that I’ve been neglecting.

This child is one of the two main reasons that I write here, and I need to make more time for sleep so that I can fully enjoy these precious, fleeting moments. I have so many projects to share with you, but I know I need to step away from the computer for a little bit in order to organize myself and clarify the rhythm of my days, so that I can come back to work with a fresh mind. And I expect that you’ll understand, so thank you!

What does the rhythm of your day look like and how do you find your balance?

I heart RAFT

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I spent part of Saturday at Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) in San Jose, CA. Despite my best efforts, I can never get out of this place in under an hour! I was first introduced to RAFT, an enormous warehouse full of all sorts of wonderful upcycled baubles and bits, when I managed the school programs at the San Jose Museum of Art. Imagine the neatest, cleanest, most organized heap of recyclables, and you have a pretty clear picture of RAFT.

And this is why it’s like my second home.

Everything is sorted so nicely, just waiting to be turned into something fabulous. It’s an incredible resource for teachers, and I’m lucky enough to have an excuse to continue shopping there. I’m designing the curriculum for a DIY art space at the San Francisco Children’s Creativity Museum, which will open its doors in October. Yay!

All sorts of paper.

Colorful stickers and tapes, sold by the yard (that’s almost a meter, for my Aussie friends!).

Some of the tape is sold by the roll. I got a roll of caution tape for about $2!

One of the loveliest things about RAFT is that they have a team of smart and friendly staff who spend hours figuring out what you can actually do with this stuff. I got a demo on how you can turn a record + pencil + foam + pin + paper cup into a simple phonograph. Brilliant!

If you’re interested in RAFT, you might like to read about our trip to SCRAP.

Where do you go to find recycled materials? Your trash? Sidewalk? Resource center?