Gift Tags from Paint Chips


Gift Tags from Paint Chips

It’s about that time of year: I need to start thinking about teacher gifts. Usually, I like to do a little homemade something-something. I have an inkling of what I’m going to do this year (maybe not homemade, but I’m OK with that). These photos are from last year. Here’s how it went down…

I went to the paint store and got some paint chips. I glued them to white paper, then cut them into squares. Then I took colored sharpies and sketched some flowers. I punched a hole, put in some ribbon, and sealed them in a glassine envelope with a sticker. A little time consuming, but not hard…and quite fun for me since I got to doodle!

Tip: If you don’t have the time to doodle, don’t worry…just hand the little squares to your kiddos and let them at it. The end result will be even more charming.

Warning: Rubber stamps do NOT work on paint chips. I tried it. The paint chips are coated and the ink will not dry, like, ever.

 

Pujaki: Paper Chandelier


Pujaki: Paper Chandelier

I’ve become a little obsessed with making a Pujaki. The word Pujaki is polish and translated it means “spiders of straw”. There is a strong folk arts & crafts tradition in Poland. In the winter, when much of the outdoor activities were suspended, Polish peasant families would spend their time preparing for on of their biggest holidays – Christmas. Made from colored paper and straw, the Pujaki would hang over the Christmas table and stay there through New Year’s when it was carried on visit’s to friends’ houses. It was a symbol of good luck for the coming year! I read about these on design sponge and also on decor8.

You can buy them online, like the one above, at the Polish Art Center. Or try your hand at making one, like Lena Corwin or The Small Object did here below.

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I think I will put this on my summer list! Although traditionally made from straw, I think I might try making mine from pipe cleaners. I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

Ministry of Letters


Ministry of Letters

Have you discovered the Ministry of Letters yet?

There is a secret world that not many of us know about!  Inside an ordinary post box in London, there exists a top secret government department, The Ministry of Letters.  It is here where all the words in the world are made.  Every word you’ll ever read!  But shhh, don’t tell anyone…this is highly classified information!

Ministry of Letters is a clever website that is the best thing I’ve seen in ages. They call themselves the “official department in charge of inspiring children to love words”. The letters are the stars, and they all have their own personality. “M” wears heels, her favorite word is marmalade and she plays the mandolin. Each letter also has their own personnel file where they share a selection of their favorite words, keeping your child entertained for hours.

Their book, Operation Alphabet, is truly a beautiful, beautiful book. Besides being a great story about a daydreaming boy and his boring homework, it has a wonderful underlying message about how learning can be fun and that letters and words are more then just school-work!

They’ve also just introduced their new iPad App, The Singing Alphabet! It’s FANTASTIC and you and your child will be dancing in your chairs. See their trailer here on their blog.

The Ministry of Letters has a manifesto, which is set to a catchy tune. Here is an excerpt:

At home, in dens or simply school,
We letters are a splendiferous tool!
Make a new word every day,
Then use it every possible way.

Use us wisely, use us for fun,
One at a time or by the ton.
And every time that you open a book,
Just think of how many letters it took!

 

A Kids Art Room


A Kids Art Room

I love this art room for kids. It’s so simple, but has everything you need. A quiet and clean space, a chalkboard wall, neat and organized supplies, and a place to display art. The chandelier is actually a laundry drying rack from Ikea…so clever. What a great place to let your imagination run amuck!

Recycled Postcard Banner


Recycled Postcard Banner

My sweet neighbor, Georgy, turned 103 last week. Yep! She was born in 1909. We visited her in her house that she built with her husband in 1939. She lives alone, but is loved and taken care of by many. She still cleans her own house and takes walks up the street on nice days. She goes to bed at 5pm and reads, listens to the news and does crossword puzzles until 9 o’clock. She is not only wise and beautiful and inspiring…she is a legend.

We wanted to bring her something homemade. She didn’t want a fancy party or any “fuss”. The kids made her a pumpkin bread, and I thought I’d make her a colorful, happy banner. I decided to use my old holiday postcards. The idea was to use the colorful backside of the postcards for the front of the banner with the letters. And then, as a bonus, the back of the banner (which would have been the front of the postcards) would have the kids’ faces. A reversible banner!

Because I am an awful planner, I usually think of an idea the day of the event. I am then forced to use what I have, as I don’t have time to shop for any supplies. The upside to my disorganization is that most things that I make use materials that I have lying around. I do love the recycled aspect of crafts! Here’s how I made this banner:

Recycled Postcard Banner:

Supplies:
Recycled cards
Paper of some sort to cut out letters
Scissors
Exacto knife
Tape or glue
Hole punch
String

Start by cutting out triangles for the flags. Make one triangle, then use that as a template.

Next, cut out letters. I drew mine freehand, but you can use stencils. You’ll have to use an exacto knife to cut out the insides of the letters.

Arrange the flags in a nice, colorful pattern. Tape or glue on the letters. Punch holes in the corners.

When stringing the flags, I went back through the holes twice. This is not necessary, but it does give it extra stability.

Voila! Not hard to make, it took me about 90 minutes.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Happy Mother’s Day!

My mom in Holland, 1971. My kids call her Oma. She is an incredible human being, remarkable in every way. She has taught me to stay strong, rise above it, keep trying, be grateful, smile at everyone, give generously, laugh at myself, cross at the light, stop complaining, eat my protein, cherish my marriage and, most importantly, not to worry (she does that for me). I love you, mama!

Maurice Sendak


Maurice Sendak

Today we lost beloved children’s book author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak. He was a man who accepted and embraced vulnerability. He understood the fear of the unknown and saw the complexities of mankind, both good and bad. By penning one of the most influential children’s books of the 20th Century, Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak encouraged children and adults to use their imaginations.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Terry Gross:

TG: Can you share one of your favorite comments from reader’s that you’ve gotten over the years?

MS: Oh, there’s so many. Can I give you just one that I really like? It was from a little boy. He sent me a charming card with a little drawing. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters – sometimes very hastily – but this one I lingered over. I sent him a postcard and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim, I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.

RIP, Mr. Sendak.

 

An ECHOage Birthday


An ECHOage Birthday

To continue with my birthday theme this past week (streamers are still up), I wanted to share with you our secret to a happy birthday party.

For the past three years, we have celebrated the kids’ birthdays with ECHOage, an online birthday party service whereby your child choses a charity to donate to in lieu of gifts. When the e-vite goes out, guests RSVP and immediately can contribute to the charity that your child has chosen. At the end, when the party has been “closed out”, ECHOage sends half of the donated funds to the charity, and half to your child. Simple!

From my perspective, everyone wins! No more toys to unwrap (Lord knows we all have enough toys) or to buy, easy thank-you notes to write (you can have your child write one note, make copies, then just add in the givers name), your child learns the value of giving and receiving, we can help those in need, and…your child can go to the toy store (or Apple store, depending on age!) with money in hand and chose something they have always wanted.

I made this poster for the little guy for his party. We displayed it as a reminder of how much all of his friends helped.

Spread the love of ECHOage!

 

Flubber: A Toy for All Ages


Flubber: A Toy for All Ages

I left some of our homemade flubber at my kids’ performing arts studio. Turns out, flubber is not just for kids! Lorah Haskins of The Studio made this movie. Make some flubber for yourself with our recipe.