RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘Art’

  1. Science Is Fun

    April 19, 2015 by admin

    IMG_0615 Our Plum recently went to a science fair hosted by our local University.  Among the various exhibits and presentations, Plum discovered Oobleck.  It’s fun to say and even more of a good time to manipulate!

    The recipe is super simple:

    • 1 part water
    • 2 parts cornstarch
    • a drop or two of food coloring if you desire


    Mix all of the above together until you have a consistency that works for you.

    IMG_0617Your kids will be fascinated by the Oobleck.  You can punch it and it will resist penetration.  You can scoop some up and form a ball.  But if you flatten your hand while holding the ball, the Ooobleck will slowly ooze from its original shape and drip back into your bowl.

    Let your kids explore and learn from this neat mass.  The clean up is a breeze as  Oobleck dissolves in water.

  2. Spring Crafts

    March 31, 2015 by admin

    IMG_0390We recently stumbled upon a pinterest post on making Peep houses for Easter.  Inspired by the pin, we gathered up some materials to make our own version of a Spring Peep home.

    We used:

    • graham crackers
    • Peeps
    • construction paper
    • vanilla icing
    • chocolate chips
    • sprinkles

    We cut our green construction paper into long thin strips that we then further cut into 3rd.  This would be our Peep grass.  We used the orange construction paper as our house base.


    Plum and Bluey each had their own equal amount of supplies for construction and a butter knife for the icing.  They got to work executing their vision of the perfect Peep house.

    Tip:  An angled roof was quite the challenge and needed two people working together to make it work.  A flat roof is much easier and required no adult assistance.

    Plum and Bluey had a fantastic time and were more than happy to sample the supplies as they worked.

  3. Don’t Miss Out On Michaels!

    February 18, 2015 by admin

    Michaels_Logo.svgWhy is it that Michaels craft store is so easy to overlook? It is not a part of our heavy store rotation – like Target. But every time we visit Michaels, we question why we don’t frequent it more often.

    Bluey loves a crafty or tinkering activity. And if you can catch Plum at the right time, she’ll eagerly join in the fun. Michaels offers a fantastic selection of craft and building model kits, as well as lego knock offs, and a line of construction sets.

    If you join Michaels mailing list, download their store app, or simply google your nearest location – you can enjoy 40% off any regular priced item. This readily available coupon brings a large amount of products well under $10. More often than not, you can also find coupons for about 20% off an entire purchase. And Michaels after holiday clearance sales are fantastic!IMG_2418

    Tip1: Be prepared to wait in line upon checking out. We don’t know why, but all Michaels seem to have a real problem ushering their guests through check out in a timely manner.

    We understand that Michaels also offers a Kids club that allows you to sign up your children (3 years of age or older) for a 30 minute craft for around $2. And they also have a spattering of adult classes throughout the month. We haven’t explored these offerings yet. But they sound fun.

    Tip2: You aren’t just limited to kits! Michaels has plenty of other low price point items for your family fun time. Consider getting a plain wooden box to decorate into a container for treasures. Or pick up a plain t-shirt and some fabric paint for some fashion design time.

    Rather than purchasing yet another generic toy on a trip to Target, why not visit Michaels and get something that will challenge your child, encourage family time, cooperation, and creativity, as well as result in a unique finished product?

    We’re already excitedly talking about our next trip for another car model kit!

  4. One Week

    February 13, 2015 by admin


    We’ve had a heck of a week.

    In the past seven days we have: recovered Bluey from a wicked illness, found out we need to find a new place to live, had TRDad go down with a serious knee injury (during a busy holiday week for his work), watched TRMom fighting off her own cold, found the shower drain needed a full replacement, brought Plum home from school sick, and dealt with a crazy email error from the school which set us on edge…

    All this while trying to plan for our family Valentine’s Day celebration and maintaining our usual work and family schedules…

    How do we hold it together?

    • Humor: We crack our jokes, get silly with each other, and remind one another what’s really important.
    • Music: Few things happen in our world that can’t be brought into focus with a good song.
    • Teamwork: We’re all in this together. We help each other out where we can but if necessary, we remember to call on others to lend a hand.


    Next week is coming- there’s no saying it won’t be as active and interesting as this one.  Bring it on!

  5. Crafting And Science

    February 4, 2015 by admin

    IMG_0022 Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and our Bluey is very excited. We don’t really go out of our way for this holiday. But when our kids are jazzed about something in particular, we like to support their enthusiasm.

    Bluey is determined to create Valentine’s cards and to decorate for February 14th. But unlike our stock of Christmas and Halloween supplies, we don’t have a lot of love themed, sparkly heart stuff. So we decided that we’d try to make most of our Valentine’s Day stuff from scratch.

    This fun project combines Bluey’s desire to make Valentine’s decorations and his love of science!

    Tip1: Even though we made these decorations for Valentine’s Day, you can have fun creating them for any holiday or event! Think of snowflake or star structures, to name just a few variations.IMG_2768

    Shimmery Shapes (adult supervision required):

    3 cups boiling water

    ½ cup Borax

    Pipe Cleaners

    Ribbon or String

    Popsicle sticks or pencils (something stable that can extend over the lid of your container while supporting minimal weight)


    IMG_0013Manipulate your pipe cleaners into any desired shape.

    Tie one end of a string to your shape and then attach the other end of the string to the center of a popsicle stick.

    Add Borax and boiling water to a mason jar or other heat proof clear container. You want to utilize a container that you can see through as part of the fun of this project is witnessing the crystallization.

    Mix the borax and water if necessary. A lot of the borax will settle to the bottom of the jar and that is okay.

    Place your shape into the hot mixture and secure with the stick lying across the jar’s opening.

    Leave undisturbed for at least 8 hours.

    Tip2:  You can create colored crystals by adding food coloring to the mixture before you hang your shapes.

    This experiment/craft project gave us a chance to talk about crystals and how they are formed.  The boiling water holds more Borax than cold water would.  As the mixture cools, it can’t hold as much Borax.  As the Borax molecules group together, they form these beautiful crystals.  It’s related to what happens when it snows: warm clouds of water vapor get cooled, and become supersaturated.  The water molecules group together and make snowflakes!

    Tip3: Once your shape has crystalized, you may have to chip away at the bottom or the sides to release it from the container. And to clean your jars, you may have to add hot water to the hardened borax that has settled to the bottom.IMG_0032

    We hope that you enjoy your shimmery shapes as much as our family. We plan to add some to home decorating and the rest will be gifted during Valentine card deliveries.


  6. Surrounded by Molds

    February 1, 2015 by admin

    IMG_9969 We wanted an adventure on a recent weekend that was somewhere new and something unique.  It took a bit of research as we’ve already been to a ton of places within a two hour radius of our home.  But perseverance uncovered what we hoped would become a very interesting day trip.

    Just outside of Sparta is the FAST Corporation.  The company makes fiberglass statues and when they are done with a mold, they store it on their surrounding property with the hope to reuse it at some point.IMG_2765

    Tip1:  A sign at the entrance cautions that molds are favorite nesting spots for wasps in the spring.  Since we visited in the dead of winter, this was not an issue.

    When you first pull into the free parking area, your eyes are drawn to the welcome sign and a small grass yard with some abandoned statues.  We had a moment of worry that this was all the corporation had to offer.  And then we did a 180 and realized that we were surrounded by molds of all sorts and sizes.  Let the adventure begin!

    Tip2:  There are no public restrooms on the property during the weekend.  You might be able to use the FAST restroom during business hours.

    Our family spent a transfixed hour romping among the molds.  We saw everything from dogs to dinosaurs to indians to ET, the extra terrestrial.  It was oddly peaceful and a lot of fun to try and guess why someone would order something like a gigantic devil’s head.IMG_2766

    Even though we were dressed properly for a winter outdoor explore, the weather certainly influenced the amount of time we spent here.  We imagine you could easily take two hours to walk around this property in the warmer months.  This TR family is eager to return and discover molds we may have missed on our first visit to FAST!IMG_9988

  7. Organizing For Creativity

    January 4, 2015 by admin

    IMG_9610_2We love creating around here.  We are constantly building new things, working on new projects, and talking about what we’ll make next.  And we understand fully that pure creation doesn’t always follow a clearly marked path.   It’s unpredictable and we like that about it.

    Yet we also find that an environment too chaotic can hinder creativity. It’s hard to focus when everything is messy. And it can stop experimentation in its tracks.

    “Where did we put the baking soda and scrap cardboard?”

    So when our (ever-growing) collection of Legos got a bit out of control, we spent some time trying to figure out the best solution. Our play had been hindered by constantly digging through a big vat of bricks to find the one needed piece.

    Our first try was to sort by color.  We divided our Lego table into six or so sections, each one filled with a color, or related group of colors.  This was a step in the right direction.  We saw immediately that it helped a little- to have a smaller amount of pieces to sort through when trying to finish a build.

    But it didn’t really work right.  For one thing, Legos come in so many colors, we quickly ran into questions about which section certain colors went.  But more importantly, we found that when building and trying to complete a particular project it was more important to find the right SHAPED piece, rather than the right COLOR.  It was too difficult to find a tiny 2×1 flat piece buried at the bottom of the entire spectrum of red section.  It’s much simpler to find a 2×1 red piece in a bin full of 2×1 flat pieces.

    So we reset our table with a series of smaller bins to hold different shaped pieces: 2×2 bricks here, long flat pieces there, windows and doors in a section all  together.

    It works great!

    We find now that creativity is flowing strong at the Lego table.  When we think about the Legos based on shapes, it is easier to see how they might all fit together.  And easier to build say, a trap door by sorting through the different hinge options in the hinge bin and finding what works, than sorting through a huge mass of pieces, hoping to randomly stumble upon one that works.

    Bring some order to your Lego collection and watch the creative juices flow!

  8. It’s In The Bag!

    December 10, 2014 by admin

    IMG_8994Now that we are deep into the holiday season, gift buying and gift making are well underway in this TR home.

    We have a generous supply of wrapping paper. But our kids find wrapping gifts more of a hassle than fun. The tape usually fights back and ends up in an unusable sticky crumple. And the cut paper is either too big or too small and refuses to bend into neat folds.

    So what to do? Make your own gift bags!

    Tip1: Gift bags aren’t just for the holidays. Make them for birthdays, cookie exchanges, etc.

    We picked up a pack of 40 red paper lunch bags at a local box store for under $2.00. We thought red was fitting for Christmas but you can easily find an assortment of colors.

    Once home, we got out our supply of winter and holiday themed foam stickers. Our kids got right to work decorating bags for all of their friends and family.

    Tip2: A container of foam stickers from the box stores runs about $8 but you can usually find them on deep discount after each holiday. We’ve never paid more than $2 per container.

    IMG_8991You can make the bags as fancy as you wish. Punch out holes along the top and weave ribbon through the circles. Jazz the gift bags up with glitter or coloring. The possibilities are numerous.

    Bluey and Plum had a great time and were very proud of their creations. Adding a personal touch to any gift is always a move in the right direction!


  9. Cinnamon Ornaments

    December 7, 2014 by admin


    This TRFamily loves the holidays.  And we greatly enjoy spreading the holiday spirit with handmade gifts to our friends and family.  There is something special about the love and effort that goes into handmade gifts.  And our children take great pride in creating gifts for the special folks that impact their lives.

    Last Christmas, we made fantastic salt dough ornaments.  But even though that was fun and successful, we wanted to do something different this holiday season.  We decided to make cinnamon ornaments!


    • 1 cup of cinnamon
    • 1/4 cup of applesauce
    • 1/2 cup of glue


    Tip:  Your batch will yield about 15 ornaments

    Combine the cinnamon and applesauce, mixing until clumpy.  Then pour in the glue and continue mixing.  Dough will be incredibly sticky.  We found it necessary to mix by hand and add liberal amounts of flour until we could roll out our ornament dough.  Add decorations if you’d like.  Punch out a hole in the ornament with a plastic straw and then bake at 200F for 1 hour.  Let cool for at least 3 hours.

    Bonus – You’re entire house will smell like cinnamon!



  10. The Joy of Listening

    November 2, 2014 by admin

    IMG_8618_2Our Bluey adores audiobooks.  He has a solid collection of classics, modern fiction, history, and poetry on tape.  Most of these we’ve picked up at book sales and garage sales.  As his interest in audiobooks has grown, we keep an eye out for new stock when we are out and about.

    We’ve managed to find for Bluey books that he knows well- like several of the Ramona (by Beverly Cleary) series as well as new discoveries- like a reading of American history that he really enjoys.  (As libraries shift to digital content for audio books, many are shedding their collection of cassette books.  So keep your eye out for these sales!)

    Having books on tape allows Bluey to have further control over what books he’s experiencing at any given point.   It gives him a chance to relisten to his favorite parts as often as he likes.  And his audio books give him the opportunity to hear a different voice from his parents- a voice that might pronounce some words differently, or add emphasis in unexpected places.

    Bluey’s tapes on foreign languages help prepare him for using more advanced self-study tools including mp3s and podcasts.  And hearing a language spoken out loud is an essential part in mastering it.

    Bluey usually plays his tapes on a very old, very beat up Fisher-Price tape recorder.  It still works perfectly and has been handed down from his oldest sister.  The cassette player allows Bluey to transport his books with him from room to room, or even into the car.IMG_8619

    The discovery and now love of cassette tapes also has allowed Bluey to explore new technologies.  He’s learned to work the tape deck on the stereo system we have in our playroom.  He’s learned to how to rewind tapes that get spun out of the cassette, and the related importance of not getting the tapes tangled.

    Best of all, audiobooks are helping move our Bluey along on the path to becoming a full-on, independent reader.  As he fine tunes his notions of when and where he reads, and chooses the book he’s most interested in at that moment, Bluey carves his own path in literacy.