Art for Littles

Art for Littles

Good morning! Today I am sharing yet another killer collection of simple art & play ideas for your little ones.

From top left: Spin art sun catchers from Meri Cherry // Rainbow color mixing from Simple as That // Credit card art from Housing a Forest // Hole punch art by Learn with Play at Home // Monster blow paintings from Raising Sparks // Styrofoam sculptures from The Artful Parent // Play with fabric scraps from Paint on the Ceiling // Easy weave bracelets by Willow Day // Clothespin caterpillars from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom // Scrap paper collage from Art Bar // Watercolor art from Blog Me Mom // Kandinsky egg carton art from Whatever

Have a great week! xo, Bar


Invitation to Paint

Invitation to Paint

Ever since my kids were very little, I have always put materials out in hopes that they would walk by, sit down, and get inspired. I just never knew until recently that there is a name for this philosophy! It’s called an “Invitation to Play”. I love this! It’s a term that is rooted in the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching and is used often with Early Childhood educators. Now that mine are older, I still do this but less with toys and more with art.

invitation to paint ~ still lives and open-ended paint exploring

This latest invitation was simple. I just taped a small piece of watercolor paper to the table with green tape. I put out a little still life, some watercolors and some colored pencils.

invitation to paint ~ still lives and open-ended paint exploring

invitation to paint ~ still lives and open-ended paint exploring

invitation to paint ~ still lives and open-ended paint exploring

invitation to paint ~ open-ended art exploration

invitation to paint ~ open-ended art exploration

This littlest artist decided to use some glitter glue and hearts that she found on the shelf to create her own abstract work of art. I like her thinking!

There are so many ways to create an invitation to play. Read this post by The Imagination Tree to get started, or search Pinterest where you will surely find one million ideas! One great Pinterest board is the Rockin’ Art Moms board that I happen to be part of. The other 11 members are well-versed in the Reggio language and they have a plethora of brilliant ideas.

xo, Bar


12 Easter Egg Ideas {no dye}

12 Easter Egg Ideas {no dye}

Here are twelve simple and gorgeous egg decorating ideas that don’t involve any dye. These very cool techniques include the use of sharpies, watercolors, tissue paper and tattoos!! So clever and mostly mess free.

1. Watercolor eggs from Nest of Posies | 2. Hand drawn eggs from Confetti Sunshine | 3. Watercolor eggs from Spoon Fork Bacon | 4. Marbleized Eggs from Camille Styles | 5. Tissue paper eggs from Creative Connections for Kids | 6. Watercolor sprayed eggs from For the Love of | 7. Tattoo eggs from Country Living | 8. Mustache men eggs from By Wilma | 9. Gold sharpie eggs from Waiting on Martha | 10. Black sharpie eggs from Obviously Sweet | 11. Rubber stamped eggs from Martha Stewart | 12. White sharpie eggs from Debbie Gonville Miller

You can see our dye-free eggs on Instagram, sometime in the future.

Have a great week!

xo, Bar


Parenting Test

Parenting Test

I found this on the internet and just had to share.


How to Know Whether or Not You Are Ready to Have a Kid

(Posted by the UC Berkeley Parents Network)


Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Now rub your hands in the wet flower bed and rub on the walls.

Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer

Obtain a 55-gallon box of Legos. (If Legos are not available, you may substitute roofing tacks or broken bottles.) Have a friend spread them out all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream (this will wake a child at night).


Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop at the grocery store. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.


Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus. Stuff into a small net bag making sure all arms stay inside.


Obtain a large plastic jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from the ceiling with a stout cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal (such as Fruit Loops or Cheerios) into the mouth of the jug while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on the floor.


Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with 8 to 12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 8:00 pm begin to waltz with the bag until 9:00 pm. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00 pm. Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these, too, until 4:00 am. Set alarm for 5:00 am. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.


Obtain large bean-bag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove 10% of the beans.

Purchase a newspaper. Go home and read it quietly for the last time.


Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their child’s discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training, and table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their children to run wild.

Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.


Congratulations to all of you who made it through another week raising kids. High fives!

xo Bar

{my favorite photo ever is the one above of my husband who is just about the best daddy in the world. parenting with him makes me laugh until i cry}


A Year of Making

A Year of Making

It’s been one whole year of making from Art Bar on Small for Big! Today I am featuring a round-up of some of my faves. It is also a goodbye for me as I will be leaving my contributor position to focus on some exciting things happening here at home. Mari has been so generous and kind to give me this amazing chance to share my projects and crafts with a bigger audience. As a new blogger, she showed me the ropes and helped me find my voice. I will be forever grateful to her and her readers!!


On another note, my hashtag project on instagram has been SO FUN!! Thank you all for participating. It’s awesome to see all of the stuff you guys are making. Bravo to you!! Above are some that I wanted to share with you. Keep tagging your photos with #makeit2014 as I will continue to share your handmade goodness!

row one: @mericherryla, @schaeresteipapier, @bmarcogliese

row two: @willowdaygram, @alldayalldamnday, @jesscornman

row three: @jesscornman, @mericherryla, @cdouglas9

row four: @willowdaygram, @giddyja, @simplybike

Love This {five}

And finally, another installment of the things I am loving on the interweb these days….

Love This {five}

1. Two women went on a canoe ride to the island. What they saw on the way back was unimaginable….and hints at universal principles yet to be understood.

2. A quick tutorial on drawing your hand in 3-D. The kids will love this!

3. Essential oils are what I’m buying for my one child who tends to be anxious and a worrier. I am so excited to try these!

4. Going on a road trip soon with your kids? This simple yet brilliant road trip game with keep them from fighting the whole way!

5. This article about toys made me both long to do what this mom did, and gasp at what this mom did. What do you think?

6. I want to buy this star light for my son’s room…i love this company!

7. Love, LOVE this dad. Read about his brilliant and creative way to stay connected to his 5-year old son while traveling.

8. A 13-yr old girl gives a heart-rending answer to Matt Damon about what she will do with her free time, now that her village has access to fresh water. Makes you think.

9. This 4-yr old has become an internet phenom overnight. She designs and makes dresses out of paper. I love her! If you haven’t already seen this, you might be living under a rock.

10. And lastly, these 100 calorie double fudge muffins literally look like heaven! Made with bananas and 1/4 cup sugar which you could replace with natural sweetener…they are healthy, too!

Have a great week!

xo, Bar


Make: Bird Nests

Make: Bird Nests

This week I wanted to continue with our theme of birds and share with you this totally cool bird nest craft. OMG, they were so fun!! The best part being the last step which is so satisfying and beautiful that we all gasped (I wish I knew how to type a gasp…anyone?).

There are bird nest tutorials all over the internet. I researched a ton about whether to use paper maché or glue, whether I wanted a full nest or a more delicate nest, and lastly….the nest materials. It was hard to make all of these decisions! After a rough start, we finally got the hang of it.

make bird nests from recycled paper | art bar


~ Chopped paper – construction paper, newspaper, catalogs, magazines

~ Paper cutter or scissors (or a shredder would be best!)

~ Elmer’s glue + thick paint brush

~ One bowl of the size that you want your bird’s nest to be

~ Plastic wrap

make bird nests from recycled paper | art bar

How to:

Most of the tutorials online said to soak the paper strips in the glue or paper maché first, then spread them around the bowl. We tried this, but it became a goopy mess and the paper started ripping. So this is the technique we came up with. First, we cut our paper into strips about 1/4″ in thickness. The strips varied in length from 6″ to 12″. Next, we put plastic wrap on the inside of the bowl. We mixed glue with water (half and half), and brushed glue all on the inside of the bowl on top of the plastic wrap. We then took individual strips and arranged them criss-crossing around the bowl. After a while, we would paint on more glue which helped keep the layers down. We then added more paper strips, until about four layers were formed. Sometimes we would put the strips around, like a real nest. Other times just across so the pieces would stick out. When our fingers got too sticky, we wiped them on a wet paper towel.

We let the bowls dry overnight. Then….drumroll, please….we lifted the nests out of the bowl and pealed off the plastic. Voila! We had the most beautiful and delicate nests!

make bird nests from recycled paper | art bar

We played around with color, but loved the blues and browns most (with a hint of pink). I used a Paper Source catalog which is made from a really nice matte paper, and their use of color is muted and perfect. (If you don’t know about this catalog click here to get one for free! And definitely visit their online store.)

Have a crafty weekend!

xo, Bar

{nests inspired by this post}



DIY Bird Garland

DIY Bird Garland

Oh, how I wish I designed these birds! Aren’t they sooo cool? I found them on Etsy from Sabina at The Ink Nest. She has so many lovely birds to choose from I could hardly decide which ones to buy. (These are the geometric ones). They are $9 to download, which to me is a good price for an endless supply of pretty birds.

bird garland with Etsy templates | art bar

Here’s how I put this garland together:

I downloaded and printed out the birds on card stock. I cut them out and laid them on the table in the order I liked. I decided to put some wooden beads that I had dyed with jello in between the birds (fruity scented garland!). I then used a teeny hole punch to punch two holes towards the middle top of each bird. Lastly, I strung the birds with some twine.

bird garland with Etsy templates | art bar

bird garland with Etsy templates | art bar

I love the way this garland turned out…a perfect Easter decoration! Actually, I think these birds are an all-year round decor, don’t you think?

bird garland with Etsy templates | art bar

Have a great Monday! I’ll be back later in the week to share another bird related craft.

xo, Bar


Make: Painted Leaves

Make: Painted Leaves

paint leaves with water soluble crayons | art bar

paint leaves with water soluble crayons | art bar

Today on Art Bar Monday over at Small for Big, learn about the cool art supply that we used to paint these leaves on our vacation. Are you going on a trip soon with the kids? Don’t forget to pack a few art supplies! For other ideas about making art on vacation, check out these posts.

Happy Monday!

xo, Bar


Make Mornings Better {through patience + planning}

Make Mornings Better {through patience + planning}

I have three kids ranging from age 7 to 14. Their schools all start at different times, which makes my mornings very long (sigh). They also have three distinct personalities that come with their own morning challenges. One is sleepy and moody, not a morning person. One is up early but defiant and stubborn, needs to do things when he is ready. And one is punctual and on top of it all, making my job harder because she leaves first and I am not always ready or awake myself which causes her to shout. If there is one thing I hate, it’s shouting. Especially in the morning.

Last year, I made a chart of sorts for my one that just cannot get her body moving in the morning. It wasn’t really a chart as much as a way for her to visually see what she needed to do. This totally worked for us. It helped her understand and grasp the fact that the mornings were hers to own (or hers to ruin). By taking me out of the equation, she actually did everything she needed to do because she was in control. We had this chart up for no more than two weeks and then it wasn’t needed anymore. Why it took me 4 years to figure this out is a mystery.

DIY good morning chart ~ teach kids to own their day | artbarblog.com

Make your own Good Morning chart:

shoe box lid / scissors / piece of cardboard / white glue / markers or paint / photos of your child doing the things that need to get done

I simply cut a shoebox lid in half and glued it to a piece of cardboard. I decorated it for her because she was honestly not into this idea at all. She thought it was “babyish”. But I convinced her by telling her that it would make mommy not have to talk to her at all! She liked that idea. We took photos of her in the midst of her morning tasks. All she had to do was move the photos from one pocket to another. She still is slow to get up, but she knows what to do and that if she doesn’t do it, I will have to speak to her (are you getting the picture that she is not a morning person?).

Here are some tips that might help you with your morning routine…the goal being less shouting, smoother transitions, and an overall kinder & gentler start to the day. These tips hinge on the fact that you wake up before them and get yourself ready, or as ready as you can. It will be virtually impossible to use many of these tools if you are running around like crazy yourself (I know this through experience)!

The slow-moving child: This child is not a morning person. Look out!

1. This may seem obvious, but wake them up way before they need to be ready. I start waking mine one hour before she has to leave. It takes about three or four trips to her room, but by the time she starts moving we still have 40 minutes.

2. Get them a digital clock. This way you can tell them that they have until 7:15 to get themselves up (of course we say 7:15 but we know that they really have until 7:25)

3. Lower your expectations and be patient. This child needs a long transition from sleep to wake. Respecting this will help both of you.

4. Do not rush them. Which goes back to my first point…give them plenty of time to wake.

5. Have them do as much as they can the night before. Usually, if they are not a morning person they are a night owl. Have them lay out their clothes with their choice of shoes, pack their backpacks with their homework, and even put out their own placemat and bowl for their breakfast in the morning. The more they practice this (it may take years, have heart), the more they will begin to own it. Once it’s theirs, they will miraculously do it all without help! Trust me, this does happen…but takes practice and patience.

The worrier child: This child is full of “what-ifs”. What if I did my home work wrong? What if it snows when I’m in school? What if I feel sick?

1. Talk about their tomorrow the night before. Simply say “Let’s talk about your routine tomorrow”. You can start with waking up, all the way to getting on the bus. Let them lead, this way questions will arise that you can work on together. Don’t bring up anything they haven’t mentioned!! You don’t want to add to their anxiety. This exercise is meant to prepare them for tomorrow. You are not only giving them one-on-one time with you, you are getting to know how their mind works and helping them learn that they can solve problems. It’s a nice time to reassure them that you guys are a team.

2. Listen to their needs. They may not always be convenient or plausible, but they are worthy. Sometimes they may want to be driven to school. If this is doable for you, then consider this as an option. You may feel like sometimes you are indulging them, and there certainly is a fine line between coddling and respecting their needs, but the more you let them feel that they have choices in their life, the more their confidence will grow.

3. Model making mistakes. Let them see you mess-up and teach them that you have to sometimes let things go, or find creative solutions. And things will be ok! I make many mistakes. I once forgot to get dressed and drove my son to school. I still had my PJs on and hair twisted on top of my head. I literally did not want to be seen. But instead I just said “whatever! nobody will look anyway”. He thought is was hilarious and we had a private joke about it. My kids say “remember that time…” quite a bit. I am constantly messing up.

4. Don’t use sarcasm, but do use humor. Sarcasm isn’t a good idea with any type of kid, but for the worrier who is already sensitive, it can make them feel worse. Do try and lighten and loosen up their body by cracking jokes and being silly. My son loves when I do stupid voices. Laughing is good medicine!

5. Use large motor muscles. A little expenditure of energy can create a calm feeling. Have them do some jumping jacks, push ups, burpees!

6. Deep breaths (for both of you) is the key to staying calm. And have patience.

The defiant child: This child will engage in power struggles if you let them.

1. Don’t be controlling. If they want to wear their black hoodie for the 4th day in a row, what’s the big deal. If you want to talk to them about how it’s gross and how you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on other clothes, save that talk for the evening. You do want to have a voice and a say in your child’s choice making, but don’t do it in the morning.

2. Be extremely patient. More than any other personality, this one will make you want to scream. How can they possibly decide one minute before the bus comes that they don’t want to wear their coat? Let me say from experience, here is how that will go if you demand they put their coat back on: “Fine, if I wear my coat then I’m not going to school. ” This is not a road you want to take when the bus is waiting at your house. Here’s a better option: “Ok, well put it in your backpack in case you get cold”. I know, it feels like you have lost. But really, you have won. He is on the bus!

3. Their battles are usually never about the thing that they are battling you over. Let them “win” but make sure to revisit the battle later in the day when emotions aren’t so high. As in the case of the coat vs. school fiasco, it turned out that all the boys in his class weren’t wearing coats anymore. Wearing a coat wasn’t “cool”. It took him one week of putting it in his backpack for him to start wearing it on the bus again. He said that he was wearing his coat again because he was being smart. A ha! I won after all.

4. No yelling. Ever. At least not in the morning. But really, try to yell at the defiant child as little as possible. It will only show them that you have lost control of your emotions, and that will be all they need to dig their heels in even deeper.

5. Deep breaths!! And don’t forget to pamper yourself a little. Whether it’s a morning run, or a giant brownie, knowing that a “reward” is waiting for you at the end just makes things better.

The moody child: This one will bite your head off, then give you hugs right after.

1. Plan ahead. Making sure everything is in order the night before will help with the lashing out the next morning.

2. Know their triggers. Sometimes it’s like walking on eggshells with these ones. But over the years you get to know them and what sets them off. Usually, for us, it’s their siblings! Which is a bummer because I can’t get rid of her brother. In our house, the little guy is not allowed to talk to his sister in the morning. Not one word. Of course that doesn’t always happen, so sometimes there is screaming. That’s when you take deep breaths and think of your reward.

3. Get out of their way. Mostly moody people are their own worst enemies. There’s nothing you’ve done, it’s just who they are. As moms, we can only hand them what they need and step out of their path.

4. Don’t take anything personally! And tell them you love them before they slam the door to leave. If yours is like mine, she’ll usually feel bad about her behavior and will run back to give you a hug.

5. Humor doesn’t work. Like I said….just say as little as possible and focus on the beautiful moment after they leave. If you feel like you need to teach them to be nicer and less moody, save that talk for the evening. Remember… our goal is a peaceful morning.

The perfectionist child: This child needs everything to be exactly they way they want it to be. Very little flexibility.

1. Expect crying, and try to not say things like “oh my God, please don’t cry”. This will make them cry more.

2. Make sure they have all of their ducks in a row the night before. Outfit picked (with shoes…shoes are very important because believe me, there is lots of crying in the morning when there are just no shoes to go with the outfit), backpack all set with completed homework, hairstyle picked out. Whatever needs to get done in the morning, do it at night.

3. Show them how you aren’t perfect, but you’re still happy and life is good. This may not be appropriate in the morning rush, but make a point to model un-perfectionist behavior and to have talks when it’s the right moment. In time, they will get to know who they are and start to realize that being average is just fine. Maybe not all the time, but occasionally. What a relief!

4. Button your mouth. Keep all opinions to yourself in the morning. Just tell them they look amazing, give them hugs and kisses.

The older child: This child is in 7th grade or above.

1. Do they really need us anymore? I certainly have many friends who do not get up with their teens. Their kids make their own lunches and see themselves out the door. I think this is awesome!! I’m completely for it if you have the kind of child who loves his/her independence. My oldest is not quite there yet, so I still wake to pack her lunch and give her a kiss goodbye. She kind of still needs that attention.

2. Work towards independence. Again, every child is different. Some are more coachable, some will let you do everything for them until they are 50 years old. But every child needs to leave the nest at 18 so helping them do things for themselves is good parenting. The more confident they feel in taking care of themselves, the better for both of you!

All in all, the most important ingredients to a smooth, yelling free morning are planning and patience. And it goes without saying that nobody is perfect. It’s through trial and many errors (and lots of reading) that I have found what works for my family. We have had completely bad years where I just weep and feel bad every day. That’s when I make changes, try new things, and talk to my kids. It’s never too late to turn over a new leaf! And alway include them in the process. Being open and honest about their strengths and weaknesses helps them discover who they are.

I’m sure you could add to this list so please share your tried & true tips for getting through the morning!!

xo, Bar

PS: It’s a tough job, mothering. You are doing great!!


A Quiet Moment

A Quiet Moment

From the author Katrina Kenison, this passage struck home with me.

“When I come to a stop myself, when I draw a circle of stillness around me, my children are drawn into that peaceful place. They visibly relax, as if my very calmness nourishes them. The impact of just a few minutes of quiet attention can be profound, changing the mood of an entire day, restoring equilibrium to a distressed child, and to a frazzled mother.

We might sit side by side and draw, or gather up a stack of favorite old picture books and read them, make strange creatures out of clay, or just cuddle on the couch and listen to music as darkness falls. These are the moments when my children reveal themselves to me, when conversation spirals up and out, from the here and now into the realm of spirit and imagination. There, in that place Tennyson calls the ‘quiet limit of the world,’ we connect with one another at a very deep soul level. My children know then that they have my full attention and, even more important, that there’s no other place I’d rather be at that moment.”

As my children grow older, it gets harder to find quiet moments (or to even find them). I think my solution is that I have to plan the moments rather than happen upon them. Not quite as spontaneous (which is the way I roll), but maybe even more necessary now than when they were little.

Here’s hoping we all can create a quiet moment with our children this weekend…I know I will try!

xo, Bar