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Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
As a singer-songwriter, Jewel is a big fan of stretching those creative muscles and loves to encourage her 2-year-old son, Kase, through music and crafts. It’s no wonder that she was eager to teach kids the Clean Up song at last week’s Swiffer Sweep & Trap event in New York City. Parents chatted with the mommy maestro about getting messy, impromptu songwriting, and raising her toddler.
P: What is your favorite messy activity to do with Kase?
J: We’re just getting into crafts. Valentine’s Day was the first time that we really started crafting. The glitter sticks and the glitter went everywhere. But it’s nice. I want him to feel like he can make a mess and not be the kind of mom that’s saying “no no no no no.” You know? Let him get dirty and I’ll bring a change of clothes.
P: Is he a helper when you clean up?
J: I’m trying to teach him that whenever we play, part of playing is also cleaning up. It’s not to be perfect, it’s just engaging in the process and building a habit and building an expectation of a habit. I won’t nitpick. That just takes all the joy out of cleaning, if that makes any sense. I just want it to be part of the ritual. I make it fun; I sing a song and we move on.
P: It sounds like Kase is into music already. How do you hope to foster that love for music in him?
You know I don’t care if he ever becomes a musician or a songwriter or not, but I like what engaging in creativity does for a person’s development and for their confidence. We do little things. If we go hiking I carry him on my back in a little backpack and I’ll go, “Make up a song about what you’re seeing.” And he’ll go [singing] “Trees….Rocks….Bird poop.” I love it!
P: Your upbringing was quite unconventional. How does that influence how you raise Kase?
J: It makes me think a lot about being spoiled. I think that for me struggling, learning I had to do things on my own, having responsibilities, understanding what responsibilities were—that are age appropriate—was really good. I think it robs your child of confidence when you don’t let them struggle and learn how to do something on their own. It’s hard as a parent to resist fixing that little thing for them or helping them solve that puzzle. You have this weird urge to “Oh that goes right here,” and I constantly remind myself to not intervene, and let him struggle, and let him figure it out.
Find great activities for you and your child with our Activity Finder.
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Friday, January 10th, 2014
The early years are full of art projects from your little one. It’s easy to get overwhelmed figuring out where to keep it all. If you’re in need of a cool way to preserve those pieces, Hiho Batik may be your solution.
The boutique has been a Brooklyn staple for more than a year, offering kids and parents the chance to design shirts and accessories with their own artwork made in-store or from home. Now, the shop is accepting original art online, so even if you can’t get yourself to New York, you can still send your child’s work through the site, and owners Julia Silver Gordon and Robyn Stylman will do their best to put it to fabric.
What sets this make-your-own concept apart from the rest is its method of design: batik. It’s a process of using wax and dye to help seal in the art. Eventually, you’ll get a colorful drawing with a super funky outline that adds a hip touch to any child’s cute picture.
We got the chance to see up close just how Hiho Batik products are created. Check out the process of making this child-sized T-shirt.
1. First, draw. Being a total sweets addict, I got the urge to do a cupcake after seeing the one on the store’s inspiration wall.
2. To go over the design with wax later, the picture has to be outlined in sharpie. This will make it easier to see when you move on to the light table and place your art inside the shirt.
3. Tracing over my work in hot wax seemed a little daunting at first. There were a few hiccups along the way, but I got the hang of it with a little help from Julia. Her key: Keep the wax needle as close to the fabric as possible and move slow to get a thick outline. And don’t get frustrated by mistakes. That’s what makes the art truly unique, she says.
4. Once you have your outline, the next step is coloring it in with the pretty dyes. I started to make my cupcake icing pink, before I realized it would be cooler to do an ombre effect into purple. It’s so easy to get your creative juices flowing in the store’s art space.
5. Now, it’s up to the Hiho Batik team to finish off my design by putting wax over it. That way when the shirt is dyed, the art won’t budge. After that, the wax is removed, and the creation is ready to wear. In-store orders can take up to a week to finish, but give up to two weeks or more to receive an order placed online.
Kids’ T-shirts and baby onesies run $40 while online orders start at $48 (does not include shipping).
Next time your child comes home with a piece of art, you’ll think what you can create from it instead of where to trash it. Thanks Hiho Batik!
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Crafts, GoodyBlog, Shopping & Gear, Time for Fun
Monday, November 25th, 2013
It is, quite literally, a once on a lifetime moment (unless scientists finally resolve that whole mortality): Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, two very wonderful events, happening simultaneously. The next time that the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving will be in 79,043 years. So, of course, this confluence has its own name: Thanksgivukkah.
At our house, we’re extra-super excited, because Thanksgiving/Hanukkah Eve, the night we light the first candle, is also my oldest daughter’s seventh birthday. Happiness abounds! Of course, she’s doubly thrilled because of the multiplicity of presents this brings. (Among the things I am thankful for this year: Thanksgiving is not a present-giving holiday.)
How to celebrate? Buzzfeed’s got a mouth-watering Thanksgivukkah menu, for starters, and this Thanksgivukkah Pinterest board can keep you occupied for hours. Here on Parents.com you can find these fun Hanukkah crafts and recipes, and a wealth of activities, crafts, and recipes for Thanksgiving. And don’t miss these Thanksgiving printables.
Personally, the double holiday doesn’t affect my family much–we’ll celebrate both as we always do. But I much prefer the mash-up of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to the more routine lumping together of Christmas and Hanukkah. Giving thanks–for the miracles in our lives and the freedoms we enjoy–are central themes of Hanukkah, and of course, Thanksgiving. So perhaps the best celebration we can have on this day is to enjoy ourselves and take the message of these holidays seriously by giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives. I know that’s what I will be doing.
Still looking for great holiday-weekend activities? Find great around-the-house crafts.
Image: candle and pumpkins via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 18th, 2013
DIY crafter Alison Caporimo recently released her first book, Instacraft, about fun and simple projects for adorable gifts and décor. We received permission to showcase four crafts from the book on Goodyblog. Come back each Monday (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) to see which creations we feature next.
“Have left over blueberries in the fridge? Let’s make something of them!” Alison says.
3 cups water
1 cup blueberries
1. Pour water into a pot and heat over a high flame until boiling.
2. Stir in blueberries and smash with a spoon or potato masher. Mix well and allow to cool slightly until lukewarm.
3. Dip card stock into dyed water and allow to dry completely before using. (Experiment with dipping times and angles.)
Alison’s extra tips for Parents readers:
- Swap it: Instead of blueberries, try beets, blackberries, tea, or turmeric spice.
- Challenge your kids to count and measure the ingredients before you get started.
- Explore and investigate! The color of your dye is true to what it looks like in the pot, so experiment with your measurements to create different shades.
- To let stationery dry without disturbing the dye, secure the card stock to a wire hanger with clothespins.
For more ideas from Alison Caporimo, follow her on Twitter.
Text adapted from Instacraft, with permission from Ulysses Press. Copyright 2013. All images by Meera Lee Patel.
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Crafts, GoodyBlog, Time for Fun
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
October is finally here! I wait for this month all year around. Our family’s annual pumpkin-picking trip is approaching, as are our haunted-house and corn-maze trips. We love our traditions. But after years of doing the same things, I wanted to try something new. So I brainstormed and asked around for unique Halloween traditions, and I couldn’t keep these ideas to myself. Here are the top 5 new Halloween traditions that my friends, family, and I have come up with:
1. Pumpkin Painting Party
Gather your crafty kids for an afternoon of pumpkin art. Mini pumpkins are perfect for little hands to paint, and your guests can take them home as favors.
Add a movie: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
2. Witches Brew Party
Give each of your culinary creators a bowl and the following ingredients to choose from:
Black Shoestring Licorice
Watch them create and name their own witches brew.
Add a movie: Matilda
3. Harry Potter Party
Have your guests come dressed as their favorite witch or wizard. Supply the following and help them decorate their own broomstick and wizard hat:
Pencils, Markers, Crayons
Add a movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
4. Scare Games
It’s not too cold for the outdoors yet! Get the kids outside for Monsters University inspired Scare Games. Adult referees can dress in costume, and the kids can compete in potato sack races, tug-o-war, and hula hoop contests. Award candy bag prizes to the winners, and end the day at home with a big pot of pumpkin soup.
Add a movie: Monsters Inc., or Monsters University after the October 29th DVD release date.
5. Spooky Sleepover
Get out your pumpkin pajamas for a halloween themed sleepover. Roast pumpkin seeds, make s’mores and swap scary stories deep into the night. Add to the fun with a Halloween craft like this adorable paper owl.
Add a movie: Monster House
For more Halloween ideas visit our 100 Days of Holidays page.
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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
Last weekend, I took my daughter, her cousin, and two friends to check out the Crayola Experience in Easton, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes or so from New York City. Formerly known as The Crayola Factory, the children’s museum-like space closed its doors last winter for a complete makeover. The once-snoozy story about how crayons are made got an animated twist, a two-story play structure was constructed, and the arts and crafts became way cooler.
Our group loved the machines that molded a crayon into a shape—like a heart or a fish—and the ones where crayons are melted and spun to create funky spin-art designs shown in the picture. (For the record, the Crayola Experience supplied the image, but our “non-professional” versions looked almost as good.)
The kids also enjoyed drawing a picture and then turning it into a puzzle, doodling on glow-in-the-dark boards mounted to the wall (I want one for my family room), and personalizing a crayon label. Call me dorky, but I couldn’t resist making Parents Magazine Pink and Goodyblog Green to take home. We ran out of time to do the Coloring Page Photobooth (where kids get an image of themselves to color) and Modeling Madness (featuring Model Magic), but they looked cool.
While my crafting foursome ranged in age from 8 to 11, I think the “sweet spot” for visiting the Crayola Experience is 5 to 9, though kids from age 2 to 12 would certainly enjoy it. After five hours, each of the girls left with a bag stuffed with their creations as well as free crayons and markers. Sound like fun? The Crayola Experience is offering Parents an exclusive discount of $4 off each admission if you buy tickets by August 23, 2013 using this link. With the discount, tickets cost $11.99 for visitors age 2 and up. Kids 1 and under are free. Maybe I’ll see you there. My daughter and her friends are already asking to visit again!
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Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
I’m a big fan of Martha Stewart and I like to think she’s my crafty kindred spirit. Not only do we both love to bake and make DIY projects, but we’re both also alumnas of Barnard College. When I was offered the opportunity to interview her over the phone about her latest how-to book, “Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids,” I was really excited! I found Martha to be a funny and engaging person — and she spoke openly about some bygone handcrafting skills that are slowly disappearing.
Some of these skills include sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, hemming, measuring hats, setting collars, making the back of shirts, gathering a ruffle, and tatting. Even though I consider myself crafty with other little-known skills like quilling and heat embossing, I could check off only two of the skills she mentioned (sewing and and knitting), but even they’re basic at best (I never mastered a sewing machine). And I had no clue what tatting was (turns out, it’s the process of making lace by hand using loops and knots…not the process of making tattoos). While knitting has seen a revival in the past decade and sites like Etsy.com and Folksy.com show there are communities focused on artisanal products, most handcrafting skills are not commonly used. While I can certainly learn these skills in short-term group classes, they often come with a hefty price tag.
Skills that are fading away can be more than ones related to handcrafting — they can be any specific ones that were once popular or common but have now disappeared (or are in the process of disappearing). An article in the February issue of Parents magazine (“Skills of Tomorrow“) focused on how old-school educational skills (cursive writing, library research, and analog time-telling) are now being replaced by new-school skills (keyboarding, online research, and digital time-telling).
I’m a millennial, which means I’m part of the generation that relies heavily on technology (smartphones, computers, tablets) to communicate and to make life easier (like buying an embroidered pillow rather than making one). As technology keeps changing and expanding and our lifestyles keep getting faster and faster, there is certainly less focus on slowing down and taking time to create and make things with our hands. So all this got me thinking: What other skills are we losing or have we lost? Share with me your thoughts below!
Read More About Martha Stewart on Parents.com:
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Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
I never expected that at age 5, my daughter, Leli would be invited to be a keynote speaker and Young Entrepreneur Honoree at a scholarship luncheon in New York City.
It all started when my parents bought Leli the sewing machine that was on the top of her Christmas list, complete with “fabik” (fabric), her second request, and thread. Just two days after unwrapping it, she made nine pillows with button faces, fancy stitches, and mixed fabrics. Soon after, Leli’s Magical Stitches was born. (She came up with the name herself.)
To tell you the truth, I didn’t want her to have that sewing machine. Small hands, big needle – not the best combination; especially considering the fact that she still hadn’t even learned to tie her shoes. As we watched the instructional DVD together, I was quietly brainstorming strategies to deal with the frustration that I knew the sewing machine would inevitably cause; but after just one watch, Leli sat at that machine and sewed her first pillow.
After a week on the machine, Leli came up with pillow purses – two pillows stitched together on three sides with straps at the opening. Though I always insist on placing the buttons under the needle for safety, Leli doesn’t need my help with any part of the process.
I put pictures of Leli’s pillows on my personal Facebook and Instagram pages, and friends and family asked to buy them. People were sharing her pictures with everyone they knew, and since Christmas, Leli has received 100 pillow orders from friends, family, and a handful of people we’ve never met.
One of my family members shared Leli’s pictures with a member of an organization called The Old Field Planters, Inc., which provides scholarships to students with limited resources who are in pursuit of a college degree. They extended an invitation for Leli to be a Young Entrepreneur Honoree and keynote speaker at their annual scholarship award luncheon this weekend. She’s even been asked to sell her pillows at the event.
I couldn’t resist taking her to the garment district to rack up on fabric after receiving the exciting news. We also picked up three piggie banks, which we labeled “Save,” “Spend,” and “Share.” We plan to divide the money that she earns between the three – the savings for college, the spending for new materials and any treat that she might want, and once the sharing bank fills up, we will donate it to Prevent Child Abuse New York.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my daughter has identified a passion at such a young age. I remember myself in elementary school telling my fourth grade teacher that I was going to be a journalist when I grew up. My picture in my middle school yearbook is captioned “Amanda Nesbot – wants to be a successful journalist,” and here I am today, a product of the same parents who bought Leli her first sewing machine, writing about her on Parents.com.
It scares me to think that if my parents hadn’t taken a chance and gotten Leli that sewing machine,I may have been the first person to make her doubt her own abilities by refusing to let her try at all. Leli, like all children, is free of the burdens adults carry around as mental roadblocks that inhibit them from dreaming big and pursing those goals. She taught me that my role as her mom is simply to shower her with support, and then sit back and watch her inspire the world.
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