Dot Art Rainbow

I featured this project on Instagram (@makelearngo) and Facebook (Make Learn Go) last week, but never got around to posting about it here on the blog. We did this project while learning about rainbows before St. Patrick’s Day, but this is a great project to do any time of the year! It’s a fun way for your child to work on color recognition and color matching as well as hand-eye coordination.

(For another fun St. Paddy’s Day craft your child will love, check out our Tissue Box Leprechaun Trap!)

Dot Art Rainbow1

For this project, you will need:

  • Plain white sheet of paper
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)
  • Dot markers (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple) – we love Do-A-Dot Art! Markersrainbowart2

To make the dot art rainbow:

  1. Grown-up: Draw a thin arc in each color of the rainbow to make the template for your child to stamp over.
  2. Child: Choose the correct color of dot marker to match the first arc of the rainbow.
  3. Child: Stamp over the arc with the coordinating color of dot marker, trying to keep the dots following along the line as closely as possible. Continue until the entire arc is covered in dots.
  4. Child: Continue steps 3 & 4 with each arc until your rainbow is complete!

So easy, fun, and educational! Go get to work with your little artist, and share a picture with us for a chance to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

To submit a photo on Instagram, tag @makelearngo or send us a direct message.

On Facebook, send a message to Make Learn Go.

Or e-mail us at makelearngo@gmail.com.

How to Fix Dried Play Dough

My little guy loves play dough! We have been using this awesome homemade play dough recipe (#1 on the list from We Love Being Moms). It’s so easy to make and has a great texture like the store-bought kind that is not too crumbly or sticky.

But T now knows how to open up the play dough by himself, and of course he doesn’t always remember to put it away when he’s done… this morning I found a bunch of play dough that he had rolled out to use with cookie cutters and left sitting out overnight. It had dried out a lot and was really crumbly with hardened bits all over the top. But, with just one magic ingredient plus water, and 3 simple steps, our dried-out play dough was as good as new!

Fix Dried Play Dough

The magic ingredient? Cream of tartar!

There were two different colors of play dough that were left out- I did one with the cream of tartar and one with only water. The one that I tried to revive with water only was so gooey and slimy afterwards that I had to toss it, but the one with the cream of tartar mixed in was perfect! You really would never know that it had ever dried out!

How to fix dried play dough:

1. Roll the dried play dough into a ball and knead it in your hands for a minute to break up the dried layer on top and soften it up a bit.

1

2. In a bowl, mix together 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1 tablespoon water.

2

3. Add the ball of play dough to the bowl and roll it around, kneading the dough with your fingers so that you soak up all of the liquid into the dough.

3

4. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead with your hands for a minute until it starts to feel softer and less wet.

4

5. Pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then just squish in your hands a couple times and it will feel soft and ready to play with again!

5

No need to ever toss dried play dough again! Hooray!

Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers and Babies

Easter baskets are a cute way to surprise your little buddy with some sweet gifts & treats. I don’t like to give T too much sugar (or he turns into a hyperactive, moody, whirlwind of destruction) but there are plenty of other cute ways to fill his basket.

Easter Basket Idea

Here are a couple of tasty treats I’m thinking about this year:

  • Annie’s Homegrown Snacks: These are the yummiest little cheddar crackers, graham crackers, cookies, pretzels and fruit snacks you ever did see- all shaped like bunnies, made from organic indregients, and some are even gluten-free! Perfect for a healthy and tasty Easter treat.

cheddar_bunnies

  • Hard-Boiled Eggs: Why not have your kid actually eat some of those Easter eggs that you dyed together?

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  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg: I know it’s candy… but Reese’s are the best, and you can buy just one egg if you want to. Plus, they are soft and easy to chew for someone who might not have all of their molars in yet.

reeses

Something fun to play with:

egg crayons

Peek N Peep Eggs

  • Plush Peter Rabbit: This cute and squeezable stuffed bunny would make a great pal for a boy or a girl.

Peter Rabbit

A book or two:

Ollie's Easter Eggs

Duck & Goose

  • Hatch (Lift-the-Flap Book) by Katie Cox: You lift the flaps to see different baby animals “hatch” out of their eggs. Very fun!

Hatch

  • In My Meadow by Sara Gillingham (Author) & Lorena Siminovich (Illustrator): This book has cute die-cut pages and a bunny finger puppet!

in my meadow

Something cute to wear:

FuzzyBunnySlippers

Bunny PJ girl

Yellow Bunny PJs girl

Bow Chick PJs

Have a Hoppy Day

Chick PJs Boy

chikc Magnet PJs

Rabbit Frog PJs

Moto Bunny

And maybe another fun little knick-knack or two:

  • Bubbles: Because what would be sweeter than a photo of T dressed up in his Easter Sunday best, running through bubbles on a sunny spring day?
  • Pinwheels: Inexpensive, festive, colorful, and fun to decorate the garden.
  • Light-up bouncy balls: We put a couple of these in his Easter basket last year and he still plays with them every day!

And some ideas of what to put inside of those plastic easter eggs:

  • Stickers
  • Temporary Tattoos
  • Bouncy Balls
  • Hair clips or bows (for a girl)
  • Bow Tie (for a boy)
  • Easter necklaces (T is obsessed with Mardi Gras beads lately, so he’s getting the Easter version in his basket this year.)

Necklaces

And for those of you who have teeny-tiny ones at home, here are some Easter basket ideas for babies:

Bunny Lovey

Baby Boy Bunny PJs

Baby Girl Bunny PJs

Somebunny Loves Me

Bunny Towel

Duckie Towel

Sleep Gowns

RaZbaby-Raz-Buddy-Bunny-Teether--pTRU1-19575182dt

oball

Karen Katz

Peter Rabbit Cloth Book

Pat the Bunny

LittleChick-PuppetBook-1-600 Little-Bunny-Finger-Puppet-600

Touch&Feel FarmTouch&Feel Baby AnimalsTouch&Feel Animals

Carrots

zoli_bunny_teether

   Nuby Chewbies

  • And to put in the plastic Easter eggs:
    • Baby Socks
    • Baby Shoes
    • Headbands
    • Soft Baby Hats
    • Pacifier Clips
    • Pacifiers: I especially love these ones by Ulubulu that come in all sorts of cute colors, have funny expressions you can choose from, or you can personalize with baby’s name.

name paci

What do you plan to include your toddler’s or baby’s Easter basket this year? Share your favorite items with us!

And don’t forget to check out some of our fun Easter crafts and learning activities that you can do with your little one:

Tissue Box Leprechaun Trap

At 20 months old, T is still a little young to fully comprehend the magic and excitement of leprechauns, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus… but I LOVE celebrating holidays, so I am trying to introduce him to some fun little traditions. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I thought it would be fun to make a little leprechaun trap together. We used only materials that we had around the house to make this cute little contraption, and T had a lot of fun making it with me!

Tissue Box Leprechaun TrapTo make this project, you will need:

  • An empty tissue box
  • Green acrylic or craft paint
  • A handful of cotton balls
  • Non-toxic liquid glue
  • Clear tape
  • Foam strips & 2 paper clips or pipe cleaners (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)
  • Stickers to decorate
  • A few blocks (or get creative using other toys or items to make a ladder or stairs leading up to the top of the trap)

Make this with your own little artist in 5 easy steps:

1. Grown-up: Paint the tissue box green. This part will go much faster (and be a lot less messy) if do it for them. Plus, the paint I used wasn’t non-toxic so I didn’t want T getting it on his fingers.

Step 1_0

2. Grown-up & Child: Construct your rainbow. (I wanted to do this part with pipe cleaners, but we didn’t have any, so I cut strips from foam sheets I had in our art bin.) Let your child help lay out the colors of the rainbow in the right order. Stack the foam strips on top of each other and poke a paper clip through each end to hold it together. Then tape one of the paper clips to the underside of either side of the tissue box opening. Fan it out to get a nice curve to your rainbow. (If you’re using pipe cleaners, just put the colors in order, twist the ends to hold it together, bend the ends and tape to the underside of the box opening.)

Step 2_0 Step 2_1 Step 2_3 Step 2_4

3. Grown-up & Child: Squiggle some glue onto the top of the tissue box and let  your little one help place cotton ball “clouds” all over to cover the top of the box.

Step 3_2 Step 3_1

4. Child: Let your little artist decorate the sides of the box with stickers. (We found some fun St. Patrick’s Day themed stickers for $1 at Big Lots.)

Step 4

5. Child: Stack the blocks to make a staircase leading to the top of the leprechaun trap. Now it’s ready for your leprechaun to visit on St. Patrick’s Day!

Step 5

This was such a fun and easy project to make! Maybe if we are lucky a little leprechaun will visit our trap on March 17th and leave a few gold (chocolate) coins behind!

Now it’s your turn! Go make your own leprechaun trap, then come back here and tell us about it.

For another fun St. Paddy’s Day project to do with your little artist, check out our Dot Art Rainbow!

20 Favorite Board Books

20 Favorite Board Books

“Book! Book! Book!” is something we have been hearing around our house a lot lately. Tommy LOVES books, and lately he’s been standing up his crib every night shouting and pointing at his bookshelf because he would much rather be reading books than sleeping.

We read mostly board books because the little rascal is still too tempted to shred or crumple paper. I have had to repair dozens of torn lift-the-flaps and have attempted to reconstruct a few pop-up books. The other day I witnessed him kiss a pop-up shark on the lips and then proceed to rip its head off.

We stick to short stories with fun illustrations, since he doesn’t have the patience to sit through longer picture books with lots of words. We read together every day, and he is even starting to memorize and recite the words to a few of his favorite stories. Rhyming books and songs are great for memorization.

So, in honor of World Book Day today, here’s a round up of 20 of Tommy’s favorite board books! He’s currently 20 months old, but any of these books would be a great pick for any child from birth to age 3.

1. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt: This classic book (originally published in 1940), asks the reader to pat the bunny, smell the flowers, look in the mirror, and lift a tiny blanket to play peek-a-boo, among other things. It is so fun an interactive, and he can’t get enough of it!

Pat the Bunny

2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd: This is another classic (first published in 1947). The sweet, simple story is so calming and perfect for reading at bedtime. He loves to point at the pictures and show me where the different things are, such as the light, red balloon, and cow jumping over the moon. There is also a great version of this story that is a counting book called Goodnight Moon 1 2 3.
Goodnight Moon

3. My World by Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd: This was written as a companion book to Goodnight Moon. We like to read this one first to see what the bunny does during the day, and then follow with Goodnight Moon to see how bunny gets ready for bed.

My World

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: This book teaches about days of the week, food, and the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Eric Carle’s colorful artwork is captivating, and Tommy always cheers when we get to the last page and he sees the big double-page spread illustration of the butterfly.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle: Another awesome book by Eric Carle. This one teaches colors and animals. There are two more fun books in this series: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?.

Brown Bear Brown Bear What do You See

6. Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss: This book was one of my favorites when I was a kid. It teaches all sorts of silly noises like the sounds of thunder and lightning, horse feet, and rain. It’s great for kids who are learning to talk.

Mr Brown Can Moo Can You

7. Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman: Another favorite from when I was a kid. This one teaches about different types of transportation, and T loves shouting GO! at the dogs.

Go Dog Go

8. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle (Author) & Jill McElmurry (Illustrator): This story is adorable and the illustrations are great. It teaches a lot of different animal sounds and tells a sweet story about friendship and helping other people.

Little Blue Truck

9. The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton: This is such a unique bedtime story about animals living on a boat who are getting ready for bed. Tommy is obsessed!

The Going to Bed Book

10. Look Who’s Talking! On the Farm by Danny Tepper (Author) & Valeria Petrone (Illustrator): This book is hilarious! There are holes cut into the pages where you can put your mouth when you make the animal sounds. Tommy laughs his head off and I get a kick out of seeing him put his little mouth in the hole and “Wee! Wee! Wee!” like a piggy.

Look Who's Talking on the Farm

11. Jungle Boogie by Sally Crabtree (Author), Roberta Mathieson (Author),  & Patti Jennings (Illustrator): This is a cute rhyming book that has little tabs you can pull to make the animals dance. Adorable!

Jungle Boogie

12. Shake a Leg! (Sesame Street) by Constance Allen (Author) & Maggie Swanson (Illustrator): This book really helped T learn his body parts. It’s like Simon Says- telling the reader to shake a leg, rub your tummy, wiggle your fingers, and so on. Super fun!

Shake a Leg

13. Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton: A very entertaining animal sounds book in Sandra Boynton’s fun, original style.

Moo Baa La La La

14. Kisses for Mommy! by Emily Sollinger (Author) & Elizabeth Hathon (Photographer): This book has always been one of T’s favorites. He recites it along with me now. And I love that he gives me lots of kisses every time we read it!

Kisses for Mommy

15. 1,2,3 Count with Me (Sesame Street) by Naomi Kleinberg (Author) & Christopher Moroney (Illustrator): This is his very favorite counting book. Yes, he is obsessed with Sesame Street, but he also loves the fun animals in this book that counts up to ten.

123 Count with Me

16. Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert: This is an alphabet book with lovely illustrations of fruits and vegetable from around the world.

Eating the Alphabet

17. How Big is a Pig? by Clare Beaton: This book teaches opposites and the impressive illustrations were made with hand-stitched fabric. T likes to find the pig hiding on every page.

How Big is a Pig

18. Clap Your Hands! (Sesame Street) by Joe Ewers (Illustrator): Another Sesame Street book for my Elmo fanatic. This book has a puppet in the middle that you can make act out a version of the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Tommy likes it best when I sing it in an obnoxiously high-pitched Elmo voice. The illustrations on the interior pages are really fun, too, and feature the other Sesame Street characters acting out the motions to the song.

Clap Your Hands

19. You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis (Author) & Caroline Jayne Church (Illustrator): Another great sing-a-long book for a classic song. The artwork is darling and Tommy loves to sing along to this one. Perfect for bedtime.

You are my Sunshine

20. Baby Beluga by Raffi (Author) & Ashley Wolff (Illustrator): This was my very favorite song as a kid, and Tommy and I are both in love with Ashley Wolff’s beautiful illustrations in this book. Another great one for bedtime.
Baby Beluga

What are some of your favorite books for babies and toddlers? Leave a comment below and let us know what books would be on your list!

Typing with Toddlers

Typing with ToddlersEvery time my husband or I settle down at our computers, Tommy starts whining and reaching for the keyboard. It’s not surprising, since he’s totally obsessed with buttons, ABCs, and anything that makes noise when you tap it. Surely typing and using computers are skills that his generation will be expected to know, so I figure it’s not a bad idea to start teaching him these skills sooner rather than later.

I decided that before or after I sit down to do my own work at the computer, I can set aside a few minutes to let Tommy have a turn. I started out by unplugging the computer keyboard and letting him play with it on the floor. He loved seeing the letters and numbers and pretended to type like he sees me doing. Then I got down on the floor with him and pointed out the different letters and numbers and explained to him what some of the other keys are called.

IMG_2194This morning, as I was sitting on the couch trying to send an email to my sister, he kept grabbing at my laptop. I decided it was time to let him try typing and to actually see the characters come up on the screen. He loved it and looked like the most adorable little secretary typing away in his pajamas.

11043203_1633212983577303_7293575760554181790_n

Set up this fun typing activity for your little one in 6 easy steps:

1. Open a new Microsoft Word text document.

2. Change the page orientation to landscape so it fills the screen better.

3. Change the text to a simple, easy to read font, like Arial.

4. Increase the font size to at least 72 pt.

5. Pick a fun, bold text color.

6. Change the view to full screen.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 1.05.00 PMAfter Tommy had some fun exploring the keyboard and typing gibberish, we sat down together and I helped him type specific letters and words to work on letter recognition and vocabulary.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 3.28.56 PMFor extra excitement, I turned on text to speech in my computer settings. He thought it was so funny to hear the guy’s voice say the words, numbers, and letters that we typed.

Now go try this out with your little computer genius and come back here and leave a comment telling us all about it!

10 Must-Haves for Flying with a One-Year-Old

Flying Essentials- Toddler_textFebruary was unusually cold and snowy in North Carolina this year, and my little Tommy was starting to go stir crazy from being cooped up indoors… so, we decided to take a little trip to sunny Florida to visit our cousins! We knew that sunshine, beautiful beaches, and great company would await us when we arrived, but you know that saying that “getting there is half the fun?”… well, I can guarantee that whoever came up with that definitely had never traveled alone on an airplane with a one-and-a-half-year-old!

Living across the country from all of our family, our little guy has taken quite a few airplane trips. It takes a bit of planning to get the right mix of items to entertain a squirmy toddler who will be stuck on your lap for hours, and I know that mine refuses to sleep on the plane. So, (besides the obvious diapers, wipes, medicine, ID, and change of clothes), here I have my list of 10 must-haves for flying with a one-year-old:

Flying Essentials- Toddler

1. Baby Carrier: I can’t get through the airport without my Ergobaby Original Carrier. It allows me to have my hands free to deal with checking bags and baggage claim, it keeps Tommy strapped to my chest and not running off to another terminal or eating food off the ground, and TSA lets you keep the baby carrier on (with the kid still in it!) when you go through security, which saves the hassle of folding up a stroller while simultaneously trying to hold on to a runaway toddler. It’s ergonomic design is easy on my body and Tommy’s, it has a convenient front zippered pocket to hold my driver’s license and boarding pass, and it’s the only way that I can get down the aisle on the plane walking to my seat without the little guy trying to make a break for it.

2. Backpack: I would be a total mess without my Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack. It has a zillion pockets inside to keep things organized, and the sturdy shape doesn’t tip over or cave in on itself, allowing me to see everything inside without having to hold it open. It has a zipper closure to keep the contents from falling out, a clip for my keys so I don’t have to dig around for them, and two exterior side pockets- perfect for a sippy cup for T and water bottle for me. I love the fold-out changing station in front with a detachable changing pad and easily accessible pockets for diapers, the included wipes case (that never lets the wipes dry out), and a tiny pocket perfect for storing hand sanitizer or diaper cream. The glazed canvas material is so great because it’s waterproof and can easily be wiped clean and looking new. And what makes it most essential for me at the airport is that it can be worn not only over the shoulder, but also as a backpack, which allows me to rush through the airport with Tommy on my front in the Ergobaby and the diaper bag on my back. Amazing!

3. Hand Sanitizer: If I don’t have hand sanitizer close by while traveling, I get a little paranoid. Airports and airplanes are so full of germs, and nobody wants to get sick at the start of a vacation. I love my Bath & Body Works Pocketbac Sanitizing Hand Gel that my cute husband put in my Christmas stocking this year. The 1 oz size is perfect for travel, the Pink Chiffon scent smells incredible, and there’s even a little glitter in it. I use it on both Tommy and me to clean hands after touching tray tables and window shades and before eating snacks.

4. Individually Wrapped Snacks: It always takes a while for the flight attendants to come around with the little packs of peanuts and pretzels, and, when Tommy is hungry, it’s like a scene from those Snickers commercials with Roseanne Barr if he doesn’t get something to eat right away. To avoid the screaming and kicking, I like to have a variety of individually wrapped snacks on hand, like Motts Fruit Snacks, Honey Maid Graham Crackers (he loves the cute minion shaped ones), and Clif Kid Z Bars. I stopped bringing plastic snack containers on the plane because they are too easy for him to knock off the tray table and we kept losing the lids. Instead, I put a few different individually wrapped snacks inside of a Ziploc bag. Then I can just throw the snack wrapper away when he’s finished, and if he doesn’t eat all of it, I can keep the leftover bits in the Ziploc bag so they don’t get crumbs all over.

5. Sippy Cup: My little guy is constantly asking for “wawa” (water), so I have to have a sippy cup close by at all times. I like the Munchkin Click Lock Insulated Straw Cup and he loves that this one has Elmo and his Sesame Street buddies on it. This is the one sippy cup that I have found that doesn’t leak, holds enough water that I don’t have to refill it constantly, and really keeps the water cold. I bring it empty and then fill it up after we get through security. If we have time to stop and grab a bite to eat, I ask someone to fill it with ice water for me from the soda fountain machine. If not, I fill it at a water fountain and add ice on the plane.

6. Sticker Book: Stickers are a great way to keep my little guy busy while keeping the mess to a minimum. I’m a big fan of sticker books because they have all of the stickers together in one place with cute scenes to stick them to so there aren’t a bunch of loose sheets getting crumpled up in my bag.

7. Touch and Feel Books: I like to pick books for the airplane that keep my busy boy’s hands occupied. Books with flaps to lift and different textures to feel are great because they keep his hands on the book and off of the tray table, window, arm rests, and other germ-infested spaces. Playtime Peekaboo is one that we love. For ideas of other books to pack, check out our 20 Favorite Board Books.

8. Tablet with Kids Apps & Videos: I have a screen on my iPad full of apps and videos just for Tommy. With just the iPad, he can pass hours playing games, doing puzzles, coloring, watching movies, and reading books. (Check out our Favorite Art, Shapes, and Colors Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite ABCs & 123s Apps for Toddlers, our Favorite Puzzle and Sorting Apps for Toddlers, and our Favorite Games & Video Apps for Toddlers.)

9. Pacifier Clip: Dropping pacifiers on the floor is so gross, especially in high-traffic places like airports and airplanes. With a paci clip, I can clip it right onto Tommy’s shirt when we are on the plane so that we have it close by to soothe him if he starts to whine. I love Ulubulu Pacifier Clips– they are durable and the clip stays put, the patterns are adorable, and there is even a place to write your little one’s name in case it accidentally gets left behind (great for playdates and daycare!)

10. Pacifier: During take-off and landing, since T is still too young to chew gum, sucking on a pacifier is key to helping with the change of air pressure so it doesn’t mess with his ears. It’s also a quick way to quiet him if he starts to scream. I love these cute Ulubulu Orthodontic Pacifiers with funny sayings on them. He always gets a lot of compliments on them, and since he was about 4 months old this has been the only brand of pacifier that he likes.

Even with the most careful preparation, flying with a toddler can be rough. We had a full flight coming home, and the little monkey did NOT want to stay on my lap. The best advice that I can give you if there is open seating on the plane is to sit in a window seat (so there is one side with no people to bug and a view to look at), and to try to sit near other kids. People with kids won’t mind if yours is fussing because they will understand. And, if you totally luck out like I did, you might have an angel grandma take pity on you and actually switch seats to sit next to you and offer a helping hand and an extra lap to climb on.

What are your must-haves and tips for flying with your little one? Share in the comments!

And if you have any long drives coming up, check out our 10 Must-Haves for a Road Trip with a Toddler!

Adventures at Best Buy

Maybe you are lucky and the local groundhog predicted an early spring, but here in North Carolina, it is definitely too cold to play outside right now. This winter has been very hard for my little man, as he LOVES to be outdoors. At some point every day, Tommy will grab his shoes and coat and start banging on the door to the coat closet where I store his stroller, shouting “WALK! WALK! WALK!” If my keys are left within his reach, he will snatch them up and run to the front door, standing on his tiptoes to try to unlock it. A meltdown always follows when I regrettably tell him that today will be yet another “inside day.”

So, we have had to get creative to find indoor places to pass the time without breaking the bank. Tonight we discovered that a stroll through Best Buy can be a fascinating adventure for a toddler!

Tommy LOVES to ride in shopping carts, so that in itself was an exciting start. And, like most kids, he is attracted to expensive, breakable things like a moth to a flame. So, while restrained by the lap-belt of the shopping cart and under direct supervision of both parents, we felt that it was safe to let him explore the wonders of technology. The little guy was in heaven, surrounded on every side by touch screens, buttons, and other high-tech gadgets and flashing lights.

But, the most intriguing thing he encountered was the HP® Sprout. I don’t even know how to describe this space-age contraption, but it sure was fun to play with!

IMG_2228He could take pictures of his hand, snap some selfies, and rotate, manipulate, and decorate the photos with cute little images. I love seeing the excitement in his eyes as he interacts with new technologies. I can’t even fathom what other kinds of amazing innovations he will experience in his lifetime, but one thing is for sure- familiarity with technology will be necessary for this generation of children.

So, go to Best Buy! Play with some cool new devices. Marvel at the big, shiny curved, smart, and 3-D TVs. And, if you still have a few hours to burn before bedtime, let them pick out a fun new DVD or Blu-ray to buy so you can go home and snuggle up with some popcorn, a warm blanket, and enjoy the rest of your “inside day.”

Then, come back here and post a comment to tell us about your adventure 🙂

Painted Initial Art

I have been continually working on some sort of art project for as long as I can remember. I spent most of my spare time as a child making crafts and drawing, I was an AP art kid in high school, I graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University, and I have worked professionally as an illustrator, graphic artist, and portrait artist. So, naturally, I was thrilled (and may have even shed a tear) when I gave Tommy his first set of crayons at 10 months old and watched him go to town scribbling his own little masterpiece. I have it hanging in my studio above my drafting table. 🙂

Tommy Art 4-29-14I have since introduced him to a variety of artistic tools, including markers, watercolors, stickers, tempera paints, Do-a-Dot markers, and colored pencils. There are few things that bring me more joy than watching my little boy create. The frenzied look in his eye as he brushes paint onto paper is my absolute favorite. So, I had these three little 6×8″ canvas panels sitting in my closet full of art supplies and thought that they would be the perfect starter canvases for my little Picasso. And, at 20 months old, he is currently obsessed with his ABCs, so that is where the idea for these painted initial canvases started.

Painted Initial Art_text

To make this project, you will need:

  • 3 blank canvases (or however many you want to make)
  • Washable, non toxic tempera paint (and any other art supplies your child wants to use)
  • Palette (or plate, or plastic lid, or whatever works)
  • Masking tape
  • Paint brushes (or little hands that can get messy)
  • White acrylic paint (for touch-ups)

Make this with your own little artist in 5 easy steps:

  1. Grown-up: Create one letter on each canvas with masking tape. I did Tommy’s initials, TJA, but this could also work well for a kid with a short first name if you want to spell out the whole name. Be sure that the tape is stuck firmly to the canvas and that edges are clean, as this will be the negative space that creates the initial on each canvas. For curved letters, use scissors to cut the tape into rounded edges.
  2. Grown-up: Squeeze a few different colors of paint onto your palette and line up the taped canvases side by side to prepare your artist’s work area.
  3. Child: Let the artist get to work spreading tempera paint over the canvas. My little artist started by using brushes of varying sizes and then decided that he would rather use his hands. He also chose to go for a mixed-media approach and added a few touches of Do-a-Dot markers and Crayola Ultra-Washable Markers. Encourage the artist to fill any spots of bare canvas bordering the areas masked with tape so that the letters will really pop when it is done.
  4. Grown-up:  When the artist’s job is done and all paint is dry to the touch, gently peel off the masking tape to reveal the letters. Touch up any sloppy edges with white acrylic paint.
  5. Grown-up: Let dry and hang the artwork for all to enjoy!

This project was simple, fun, and an adorable solution for the blank wall above Tommy’s crib. Now every time he wakes up, he smiles and points at his artwork, shouting “A!” (his favorite letter). I think it really makes him excited to see the art that he created on display. It was also a fun way for him to learn about self-expression, letters, and colors.

Now it’s your turn, go make it with your child, and share your results with us when you’re done!