Museums with Kids


Museums with Kids

We live about an hour from New York City, which is very lucky. One train ride and we are in the Big Apple! We try to take advantage of this perk whenever possible, although I’ve found that it was actually easier when they were little and didn’t have homework and activities. One of my favorite trips is to the MoMA. I just love this place! If you’ve never had the chance to visit the Museum of Modern Art, I would suggest planning a trip to NYC, pronto.

My kids didn’t used to jump up and down for joy when I mentioned going to a museum, but now they do because I have a museum trick! Well, it’s not really my trick, it’s one that was told to me by a wise friend. You probably already know this trick, but it’s so good that I just had to share.

Here is what you do:

When you get to the museum, go directly to the gift shop. Let your kids chose a handful of postcards that excite them. You can use this time to talk about when the piece was made, the artist’s style and color choice, and anything else that stands out. Then it’s time to go on a search! My kids love this part…finding the real art that matches the postcard. I love it, too!

These pictures are from a few years ago but I remember this day like it was yesterday. After we did our museum search, we went out for lunch at Rockefeller Plaza. They had their backpacks full of little surprises, and we had the day to ourselves…just the girls. When we got home, hot and tired, they taped their postcards to their doors. A little trick they like to do to let everyone who enters know what they have been up to. We still have the postcards, I used them this summer to decorate my studio. Have I mentioned how much I love postcards?

Right now at the MoMA (through 11/5/12) there is a wonderful exhibit called Century of the Child, a survey of 20th century design for children. With over 500 items to look at, this curated show examines the intersection of Modernist design and modern thinking about children. I can’t wait to take all three of them!

Here are some more exciting ways to use museum postcards.

Have fun!

 

 

Clothespin Photo Holder


Clothespin Photo Holder

When my 12-year old found this wooden plate in one of my craft drawers, she immediately wanted to use it for something. I’d like to think she was excited about a new project, but it’s more likely she was thrilled to have found a single something. One of anything is special…it means her brother and sister wouldn’t have one, too!

We decided to glue on some washi tape clothespins and make a photo holder for her room. Here’s how we got it done:

SUPPLIES

1 wooden craft plate (ours was 10″)

10 clothespins (more or less)

washi tape

wood glue

watercolor paints & brushes

stencils

tempera paint for the stencil

clear glitter

First, she used watercolors to paint some stripes. On unfinished wood, watercolor acts as a stain and it dries in a minute. Then she got out a “G” stencil for her first name. Next she used a paintbrush to fill in the stencil. She removed the paper stencil and sprinkled some glitter on the letter while it was still wet. I helped her attach the clothespins with glue and weighed it down to dry (overnight) with a plate. I wasn’t sure how to attach the plate to the wall, but I didn’t need to worry because my daughter took care of it. She stuck it next to her bed with sticky velcro! Yes, she did. I guess that it’s there for life.

This would be a fun project to do at a birthday party! The clothespins can be stained with watercolor, too, instead of washi tape. Perfect for ages 8 and up.

The instagram photos were printed by printstagram.

 

Words to Live By // No. 1


Words to Live By // No. 1

This week I have been in complete, heavenly flow. I am designing my new holiday line of postcards and I am just so lucky to love what I do. Music always inspires, this week no less. I’ve been listening to lots of stuff, including Regina Spektor‘s new album. One song in particular is called “Firewood” and it has this beautiful piano melody and her words are pure poetry. This quote is from that song.

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

Summer Studio // Looking Back


Summer Studio // Looking Back

The end of summer is always bittersweet. Memories of sleepy afternoons and warm ocean breezes still linger in my head, yet the crisp morning of today is letting me know that it’s time to move on. Fall is in the air! I love the seasons, I do. But for me, letting go of summer is the hardest.

This year, for June and July, we rented out our home, packed our bags and went on an adventure. Although it was a ton of work preparing the house for renters, it felt incredible to clean out and purge. How much stuff does one really need? The kids were all allowed to pack one bag and one box of special things (the bits and pieces they couldn’t live without). After taking one trip to Disney, we set up camp in an old modern house owned by friends (very kind friends). The house was empty which made it even more enticing. My dreams of spending the summer making art instead of doing chores was coming true!

My biggest thrill was setting up a new studio space. I have collected postcards since I was a little girl (I still have some of the ones from back then!), and I’ve always wanted to put them up on a wall. I don’t have the space in my “real” house, but here….I had nothing but space!

Now that our summer adventure is over and we are home again, my postcards are back in a box on my shelf. But ever since their debut, they are dying to put on another show. We shall see!

 

Neighborhood Art Show


Neighborhood Art Show

I’ve always wanted to do an Art Show at my house. We have a unique neighborhood with a plethora of kids, so why not collect their art and display it for all to see? Made perfect sense to me! It was also a great way to teach the kids a few things: Follow through on an idea, work together as a community, feel proud of their creativity, and raise money for a good cause. All of the money they earned was used towards buying backpacks filled with school supplies for needy kids in our area.

Here is how you can make it happen:

1. Collect art. Send out an e-mail to the neighborhood moms asking them to please consider dropping off some of their kids’ art for this cool art show idea. I would suggest starting well in advance, maybe two weeks before the show. Make sure to tell them that it will be easy, just grab anything they have collecting in a pile (we all have piles, right?), or things that are framed already. We ended up with about 65% participation, which was great for our first try!

2. Label art. We used neon labels that we stuck on index cards, cut out, then taped at the bottom of each piece. Tape lightly on the back of the art so that you can peel them off easily when returning.

3. Hang art. I used large rolls of kraft paper to cover my walls (the paper covered up my own permanent art), then I rolled up pieces of scotch tape to adhere to the back of each peice. I also used clothespins and line to hang some of the art.

4. Make fliers. Deliver to neighbors and friends.

5. Make a cool sign. Buy balloons. We made the sign by cutting out letters from old paintings, gluing them to craft paper, then outlining the letters with a white pen.

6. Make treats. We all pitched in to make treats. One of my neighbors even set up a Pizza Frita station! Big hit.

7. Open the doors…let the Art Show begin! It was so much fun to have my house covered with beautiful, colorful art. Parents were proud, kids were proud, everyone was happy. It was awesome!

8. (Optional) Collect the money and donate to the charity of your choice. You can certainly have an art show that is free without linking to a charity. For us, though, it gave everyone a purpose. And the kids got to practice their “pitch” to each person who entered the show. Good life skill, I say!

We had a very successful Art Show. We earned $405 dollars which we used to buy 8 backpacks filled with school supplies for our local charity Person-to-Person. Eight very happy children were able to go to their first day of school with all of their supplies, ready to learn.

I’m so proud of our neighborhood, way to go!!

A September 11 Story


A September 11 Story

A friend gave me Fireboat over the summer. I was prepared to fall in love with it right away since it was written and illustrated by Maira Kalman!!! I idolize her. Her art is so colorful and full of life. Not realizing it was a September 11 story, I dove right in and read it to my three while we were eating dinner. When I turned to the page showing bright blue sky and two planes flying toward the towers, my voice faltered. Like many people who live close to the city, I remember that cloudless, perfect blue sky like it was yesterday.

Fireboat is a heartfelt 9/11 story told through another story, the one about the retired boat John J. Harvey and her call back into action on that fateful day. Originally launched in 1931, the Harvey was the most powerful fireboat of her time. But toward the end of the century as the piers started to close, she was forced into retirement, soon to become scrap. After the attacks that day left the hydrants downtown ineffective, the NYFD called on the mighty Harvey for help! The story goes on to portray all of the incredible people in the community that got together to help that proud and plucky little boat.

If you have never sat down to talk with your kids about the events of that day, reading this heartfelt story is a wonderful way to start that conversation. I love Fireboat because it is a book about many things: It sets forth an adventure, helps commemorate an anniversary, offers an interesting bit of history, celebrates the underdog, and honors the fire-fighting profession.

Before we read this book again tonight, on the anniversary of September 11, we will first light the candles on my daughter’s birthday cake. She turns 10 today!

 

Growth Table


Growth Table

This table caught my eye when I saw it on Handmade Charlotte‘s blog. It’s so cool!!! I am trying to think of a way I could build this…and where I would put it in my house. In our art room, we have always had a low, round table that is perfect for ages 2 to tween. But I must say, having a table like this one would be ideal for our family. When siblings have to share a space and supplies, bickering ensues. When I give my kids an assignment, like painting portraits or drawing a birthday card, I often send them to three different spaces because the number one shouty complaint I hear more than any other is, “Stop copying!”

I fully believe that when children are presented with a beautiful, uncluttered, prepared environment, they will always sit down and get to work.

I love this table because it allows several children (mom and dad, too!) to sit down together to make art, yet maintain and take care of their own supplies. It is social and solitary at the same time. The simplicity of it all is what makes this table so brilliant!

Growth Table by Tim Durfee & Iris Anna Regn.