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March 25th, 2014

‘Flat Stanley’ Home After Decade in Soldier’s Wallet

Most kids and parents are familiar with the title character in the popular children’s book “Flat Stanley.” After being smashed by a bulletin board in his sleep, the book’s protagonist makes the most of his new 2-D state by mailing himself to friends. Check out this AWESOME story about a third grade boy who sends his Flat Stanley to a soldier stationed in Baghdad. Fast forward to the boy who’s now a senior in high school. Read the full article here to find out what happens next… you’ll love it!

Three cheers to the soldier, Brian Owens, for a mission complete!

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(image courtesy theblaze.com and Steve Miller/Flickr)


March 14th, 2014

From Trash to Treasure

After seeing these beasts of plastic, you’ll never look at trash in the same way again. Corsican artist Gilles Cenazandotti is the creator who sifts through the sands in search of plastic garbage washed ashore. Beyond the eye-catching art, his animal sculptures speak to the overconsumption and its effects on wildlife. He also photographs a lonely portrait of each in nature, almost as if these beasts of plastic have taken over what we once knew as the animal kingdom.

Read more about it here.

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(via Visual News)


March 7th, 2014

Creative Collaboration

I love the tradition this traveling dad has started… coloring in drawings his kids give him when he heads out of town, and then sharing the results when he gets home. Not only is it a great way for dad to stay connected to home; it’s also great to see the shared creativity. The kids can’t wait to see dad, and their drawings that have been brought to life!

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(via Visual News)


February 24th, 2014

Cool Crystals

The Olympics are over but winter isn’t, so now what? It’s time to turn off the TV and make some magic all our own!

These crystal projects from parents.com look like they have the beautiful combination of simple execution and cool results!

It turns out BORAX, an old-school cleaning powder, is also a neat tool for teaching about the basic structures of minerals, or crystals. When pipe cleaners are submerged in a solution of borax and hot water then cooled, glimmering crystals grow. Safety note: Parents will need to supervise kids for this activity. Borax is generally considered safe for home use, but it should not be inhaled or ingested.

Find the step-by-step directions here.

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(images courtesy parents.com)


February 14th, 2014

Everyday Objects Reimagined

Well, any hour now we’re expecting our next snowstorm AND it’s a long weekend with the holiday on Monday. What will we do with ourselves? For some good, cheap and creative fun, I’m loving these spur of the moment sketches done by Victor Nunes via Visual News. Beyond how cool these look, what’s even cooler is how there aren’t major preparations involved to pull this off. And who doesn’t have objects like food, matches, and scissors at home? It’s fascinating to see these inanimate 3D pieces come to life with simple sketches.

Try it for yourself… spread some paper on the kitchen table, go on the hunt for objects then challenge the family to create. Make a game of it… try and guess each other’s sketches or build upon each other’s, creating a story and scene.

Have fun with it!

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(via: twentytwowords.com)


February 6th, 2014

All Eyes on Sochi

It’s that time again… time for another Olympics!

If you don’t already know it from reading previous posts, I am a huge fan of the Olympics. I have watched the Olympics my entire life, each one marking a unique moment or chapter in my life. In 1974, as a four year old, I kicked off a lifetime obsession by creating drawings for every sport I watched on television. When I was eight and 12, I remember marathon sessions on the couch, combined with outdoor sporting “events” in the backyard.

Fast forward to 2002 when I was living in LA and entered a lottery to run in the winter Olympics torch relay. I had the amazing good fortune to be selected as a support runner, who would run alongside the torchbearer. I showed up early that morning to discover I would be running with actor, Chris O’Donnell (only in LA, right?!), who graciously handed the torch to me to carry for a beautiful minute; thanks for that, Chris!) And to top it all off, I went to Salt Lake City for a spectator’s dream weekend.

Just two years later brought significant change of another sort… motherhood. 2004 marked Livi’s birth (of course it was an Olympic year!) I remember nursing on the couch and pacing in front of the television, not quite sure what to do with the colicky infant in my arms, but feeling some small measure of comfort in watching the Games.

Fours years later, I had a four year old who was content to watch some of the Games with Mama, even if she didn’t fully grasp all the ins and outs.

Today, I’m ready for another Games, but also to watch them as part of a new chapter, with my nine year old sidekick. What will be different? Over the past few of years, Livi has been playing sports year round and trying out all that we can fit into our schedule. Now that she is deep into learning the rules and thrills of every sport, she’ll be watching with an entirely new focus. There will be lots of couch conversation surrounding athletes, plays and procedures.

Are your kids interested in reading more about the Olympics? Check out the Time for Kids website. Here you’ll find kid-friendly articles, info and printables.

Hosting an Olympics party for kids? Check out the Birthday of Champions event I hosted a couple of years ago! Perhaps you can host your own mini downhill, curling, sledding event or obstacle course.

Have you seen this commercial? Three cheers for athletes AND their moms!

Make gold medal cookies here.

And make a craft Olympic torch here.

Now you’re ready! Let the games begin!

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January 30th, 2014

Epic Snowflake for an Epic Winter

It’s been one heck of a winter around here, between snowfall accumulation and the coldest subzero temperatures in 25 years. So what better way to embrace an epic winter than by creating an epic snowflake?

Simply lay 9 full-size sheets of newspaper on the floor in a three-by-three grid to form a square, then tape the sheets together. Fold and cut the square into a paper snowflake, as you would with a regular-size piece of paper. Carefully unfold the paper and there it is!

http://www.parents.com/fun/arts-crafts/kid/easy-paper-crafts-for-your-kids/#page=2

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(image courtesy FamilyFun Magazine)


January 24th, 2014

Unfinished Business

I was over my neighbor’s house last weekend and she happened to share with me an incredible tradition that’s been going on for many years now.

Instead of plastering over a drywall section in their basement, they left it unfinished and encouraged their grandkids to draw and write on it. What started out as a way to entertain youngsters quickly turned into a tradition that continues to this day, now that the little grandkids are big grandkids in college and high school.

When you first glance at the wall, you’re overwhelmed with the collage of art and messages. There is hardly an open spot. As you study it closer, you see how handwriting improved over time and how the scale of the art grew to match the height of the kids.

What a fun tradition to uphold during each visit and what a great tribute to family, friends and pets. What my neighbor values more than anything? Overhearing her grandkids speak fondly of going to grandma’s and writing on the wall. Awesome!

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January 17th, 2014

String Art

It looks like another wintery, snowy weekend ahead around here, so this is the perfect time to try a new craft — string art! These examples in FamilyFun Magazine look fun and not too intimidating to execute. All you need is a flat piece of wood, scrap paper or a template, hammer, 1-inch decorative nails and string.

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Here are directions, courtesy FamilyFun Magazine:

1. On a piece of paper the same size as the wood, draw your template — or print one of ours. Tape the paper to your plaque.
2. Hammer nails through the paper and into the wood along the lines of the design. Leave about three quarters of each nail sticking up and try to have the nails all at the same height. Tear away the paper when you’re done.
3. Tie the end of a length of string to a nail and wrap from nail to nail. Finish by cutting the string and tying it to another nail. Add other colors of string as desired.

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For a quick project, place nails only at the corners of a block letter and trace the outline with string (see example below).

More tips:
– For a colored base, paint the panel with craft paint and let it dry before hammering the nails.
– Thin, colorful string, twine, or yarn are good choices for winding. We used cord made of bamboo, available at craft stores.
– Use more nails per inch for curved lines, fewer for straight lines.

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For the Spirograph-like shape below, you’ll be using a more advanced technique that involves counting nails. On a 12-inch plaque, hammer 31 nails equidistantly around a circle. Tie a string to one nail. Pick a number, let’s say 9, then, moving clockwise, count around the circle and wrap the string around the ninth nail. Count 9 more nails, wrap the string, and continue in this manner until you’ve wrapped every nail in the circle. Tie off the string. Add layers by selecting a new number and repeating the process.

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January 10th, 2014

Winter Festivals

I’ll admit… in the dead of winter I’m not looking to spend a lot of time outside. Until now, that is, because I came across an article on winter festivals on Parents.com

Check out the plethora of fun activities you can take part in, if you’re lucky enough to be near any of the 12 festivals mentioned. Race car sled races, snow sculptures, light shows, snow slides, fireworks, snow golf, torchlight parades, snowshoe softball and snow playgrounds… sign me up!

And if you can’t get to one of these awesome events, take some inspiration from them and plan something in your backyard. Savor the season!

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(image courtesy parents.com/Carnaval de Quebec)