Totally Safe Art Supplies for Young Kids 

 

  
(Photo from Wee Too Art Supply)

Do you ever wish that children can safely eat their art materials since little tots tend to do that anyway? Well, now they can! I recently discovered a brand called, Wee Can Too Art Supplies. It has no wheat, no sugar and no preservatives, and it uses only organic fruits and vegetables. Some of the ingredients include real blueberries, beets, pumpkin and spinach. Yum!

For parents whose babies and young children are prone to allergies, you can be sure they won’t be getting rashes from these materials! Plus, they smell really delicious! So yummy, my one year old tried to eat one of the crayons! I was tempted to take a bite myself.

Catalina enjoying the veggie scent…

   

The kids used the chalk outdoors…

   
Here are some of the Wee Can Too art supplies…

Finger paint (just mix with water and they are good to go):   

Sculpting dough:

After mixing water into the dough powder it looks like this…

The sidewalk chalk:

Crayons:  

  

 Such pretty colors! 

Note: It’s better to store the paint and dough in the refrigerator after they have been mixed with water since they are made of natural ingredients.

The Power of Time

Every child needs time with his or her parents. Time = love to them. Sometimes I assume that homeschooling is equivalent to quality time spent with my kids. But one day my son asked, “Why are you so busy, mom?” 

“Busy? Me?!” I thought, No way! I give so much time to my kids, how could my son be asking this?

However I took his question to heart and started analyzing how engaged I am when I am with my kids. Sometimes when I am homeschooling, I am working on a project or an entry for my blog, or checking social media. It has become a bad habit. In fact, there are occasions when I feel like they are interrupting me while I try to kill ten birds with one stone during the same hours when I ought to be devoting my full attention to my kids.

Lately, I have tried to change this by being more disciplined about my homeschooling. Yet this isn’t enough. Each one of my kids desires special time with me (and Edric), which means I have to understand what they perceive as fun and engage in these activities with them. Whether it is story time, doing dancing with the Xbox 360, going to the grocery or bookstore, sleeping in our room on the weekends, watching movies, playing games, gardening, doing art, etc, these activities mean a lot to them.  

Some weeks ago, Tiana and I did painting together. She chatted the whole two hours, making all kinds of comments and sharing her insights. But the most curious part of all was hearing her ask questions. We were listening to music while we painted and she started singling out words and wanted to know their definitions. Our acrylic painting session became a lesson on vocabulary words! She kept going, asking me what this and that word meant as we heard each song. And she also told how much fun she was having. 

 
  
 

    
I have encountered this sort of responsiveness from my other kids in similar contexts — while they are enjoying personalized time with me, they are much more teachable. So my observation is this…if my kids are acting up emotionally or they seem unresponsive to my teaching, the cure is not to lecture them or force them to learn, instead I must consider whether they lack my time and attention. Each one of my kids is different in their looks, personality, abilities and interests, but the need of their hearts is the same. They yearn to have a loving and close relationship with me and Edric, which can only happen when we invest time to fellowship with them, get to know them, enjoy them, and minister to them. 

As child development psychologist, Dr. Gordon Neufeld so aptly put it, “We were never meant to influence minds whose hearts we do not have.” 

What can we do to capture the hearts of our kids? What do we need to stop doing and start doing or continue doing to spend quality time with them?

Bangkal Thrift Store Shopping

In this furnishing stage of our house building, looking for decorative pieces has become one of our favorite bonding activities. Edric and I have shopped in the malls, in antique stores, and in furniture shops. A few days ago we went to Bangkal for some bargain hunting.

At the suggestion of Edric’s cousin, Marty, we checked it out to look for old solid wood finds. It was pretty easy to get to Bangkal area. We took Edsa, crossed over South Luzon Expressway, then made a right on Evangelista. Once we got there, we asked where the thrift stores were. Amazingly, we actually ran into someone from our church who helped give us directions.

Most of the stores in Bangkal were hot and junky, but we did find some unexpectedly cool things. Thankfully we were both dressed for the occasion, too. We went there in shirts and shorts. And before we got there, I accidentally snagged my shorts in a 7/11 store. Unfortunately, the snag was a bad one. It cut a hole into my shorts that I had to hide with my purse. Since we were in thrift stores, my shorts fit right in!

We came away from Bangkal buying two arm chairs, a desk swivel chair, and a side table. Everything was Narra! And it only cost us 14k (including the delivery charge and refurbishing). Kind of makes you wonder where they find these pieces!

I am still holding my breath because we saw the “before” but we haven’t seen the “after”. By tomorrow I should be able to post pictures.

At the very least, Edric and I had a lot of fun. We were enamored by the same things as we went from shop to shop.

When we ended the day at a watch repair shop, Edric turned to me and said, “I could be with you all day. I like to be with you all the time!” I should’ve said something sweet but honestly, by this hour my thoughts were turned towards Catalina and breastmilk supply. We had been gone since 10 am and it was almost 5pm. I wasn’t able to reciprocate with an equally romantic statement, but I did acknowledge him with a smile. I felt the same way, too. Had it not been for breastfeeding, I could have kept shopping with him.

It’s great to be married to the man you love but it’s even greater to be married to a man who shares the same interests and passions, who can be your leader, lover, and protector, and also your best friend. I really thank the Lord that Edric and I share this kind of relationship. I suppose this is what the Bible means when it says the “two shall become one.” Even our taste in decor is one and the same!

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He Pulled Off A Mannequin Hand Again

Titus’ mechanical ability is escalating in power, kind of like Elsa’s freezing ability grew stronger in the movie, Frozen. Almost everyday he will dismantle something. Today it was the hand of a mannequin at a souvenir shop in Puerto Princesa. He looked up at Edric from under a table holding half the arm of a mannequin.

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When he does things like this and I ask him why, his usual response is, “I want to see how it works,” or “I want to see what is inside.”

As a mom I don’t want to punish his desire to learn or quell his curiosity. So my challenge is to keep him productively busy. Here are some ideas that have worked:

Sand. (Explore Sandbox sent me a kit with sand in it. It’s a very soft sand that doesn’t get stuck under my children’s nails.) Titus has asked to play with this almost daily since he got it.

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Clay or play dough. I prefer play dough because it feels nicer and smells better, but whenever the kids leave it out it hardens. Plus it’s more expensive. Clay, on the other hand, is so reasonable and it will stay mailable for a long while even if it is uncovered.

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Mining Kits or Digging for Treasure Kits (available at Toy Kingdom or Toys R Us)

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Paper folding. Elijah, my eldest, was the first to get into origami. But his brothers are interested in it too. They learn from Elijah and invent their own folds as well. One of their favorite things to fold is paper airplanes. Titus can spend a long time making planes and throwing them off the balcony.

A bicycle. Edric needs to replace Titus’ old one which we sold at a recent garage sale. When we move to our new house he will get one. In the meantime, he has been pretty content peddling around on his cousins’ bike.

A pet. When my mom had a kitten, Titus would play with it as often as he could. As a child, I had all kinds of pets, too. Most of the day I was outdoors with my monkey and dogs. I learned how to be a responsible pet owner. When Titus is a little older he will be ready to have a pet, too.

Scratch art. I used to order these from the US. But they have something similar that is available at National Bookstore. Kids take a scratch pen and use the friction to reveal colors under the black paper.

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Art supplies like paint, glue, scissors, hole punchers, staplers, tape. Titus spends hours drawing and making works of art. I often have to replace the art supplies in our home but I don’t mind. If my kids are inspired to create it’s worth it! I am so glad Art Attack sells products at National Bookstore, too!

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Cooking and baking. My kids enjoy cooking and baking. They had a couple of sessions at the Cookery Place in Fort which they thoroughly enjoyed. But when they are interested, I let them cook and bake with me. Titus especially likes making sugar cookies because he can cut out the dough and decorate with icing.

Old boxes, sticks, rocks, coins, marbles, plastic cups, leaves, toilet paper tubes, paper, string, and even dirt! When a child’s time is not cannibalized by gadgets, computers and television, they can make anything into a toy or source of entertainment. The other day, Titus brought me a plastic cup with flowers, rocks and leaves in it. It was a beautiful arrangement that he put together himself. My kids enjoy hanging out at our construction site playing in the dirt. (But I am one of those moms who is okay with dirt.)

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Making tents or forts. On certain days the kids take blankets, sheets and pillows and make tents or forts in their room. Even if it makes a big mess, I am all for it. I used to do this when I was a kid.

Dress up. Girls aren’t the only ones who like dressing up and role playing. My boys like it too. They have a container with wigs, clothes, swords, and other items they can use for costumes. They have put on “plays” and performances for us several times.

Swimming. I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like to swim. Over the past two months we have been to several beaches and visited a number of pools. They can spend all day swimming if we let them.

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Playgrounds and open space. Kids, especially boys, need to expend their energy. When we aren’t traveling, we encourage our children to walk to the park and exercise almost daily. It helps that their cousins are nearby so they usually go together. By the time they come home they are ready to eat, too!

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Science experiments. I let Titus participate in our human anatomy experiments even if this isn’t a required subject for him.

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Exploring with a flashlight. I got the kids color coded flashlights for their Christmas stockings. We don’t always take walks at night, but when we do, they can bring their flashlights with them and look for night creatures.

“Mix-mix.” Sometimes, I hand Titus and Tiana a simple mixing bowl with a variety of items on hand, like a cup of flour, water, sugar, soy sauce, etc. I let them mix everything together, using measuring spoons and cups, and a wooden spoon as their mixer and they have a blast.

Sports. Currently, Titus is enrolled in a Muai Thai class with his older brothers. It was Edric’s idea to get the boys into a martial arts class so they can protect one another and their sisters. I especially agree with the latter.

Learn a musical instrument. Following in the footsteps of Elijah and Edan, Titus is learning violin. We have violins for every age so we just pass them down as our kids grow to save money. He used to tinker with their violins but now he can have one of his own and put it to good use.

Young children, especially the wiggly ones like Titus benefit from activities that encourage productive play and hands-on learning. Otherwise, they get their hands into everything, even things you would rather they avoid! So they need opportunities to learn, build, create, explore, and invent in order to channel their energy and intelligence in positive ways. As a general rule, with Titus, what works is providing an environment that allows freedom within boundaries.

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Origami Design Inspirations

My eldest son, Elijah, is really into origami. Last year, he did a bunch of designs to sell at a bazaar. I was looking through my IPad photos and I came across inspirations we found online to make products that used origami designs. These weren’t made by Elijah but we used some of these as references for things he made. I decided to post these photos for those who like paper crafts. (None of these photos are owned by me) Enjoy!:

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Educational App Reviews – MoMA Art Lab

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I’ve asked my sons to start reviewing educational apps that they have enjoyed using. This is partly because they wanted to get some new apps and I told them they have to earn the privilege to do so by reviewing apps. Of course, they made their opinions short. They are boys, after all.

I can vouch for the added value of these apps as a homeschooling mom. My kids are pretty discriminating about the apps they get because we give them guidelines for choosing good ones. They often have to show us what makes an app educational — how it will help them grow in a skill or ability that they can use in the present or future. So these apps also have our parental seal of approval.

Here is their first review…

MoMA Art Lab

Developer: MoMA, The Museum of Modern art .

About: MoMA art lab is an app that allows users to create various works of art like collages, drawings and many other artworks inspired by famous artists.

Educational Value: This app is great for kids who want to learn about how artists create modern works of art. They will also learn some basic principles and elements of art.

Key Features (From Developer):

• Create and save your own artwork

• Play with shapes, lines, and colors

• Nine activities inspired by works of art, including:

  • Create a mobile

  • Experiment with paint

  • Draw from instructions

  • Create a sound composition

  • Draw with scissors

  • Make a line design

  • Collaborate on a group drawing

  • Create a shape poem

  • Make a chance collage

• Creative prompts for extra inspiration

• Audio for pre-readers

• Learn about works of art at MoMA. Artists include Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder, Elizabeth Murray, Sol LeWitt, Jim Lambie, Brice Marden, and others.

• Share your artwork

Educational Value Rating:  4 Stars (★★★★☆)

Recommended Age: 4 years old and older

Why we like it: You have complete freedom to create whatever art you want.   

Homemade Gift Tags

Paper crafts are another one of my loves. And every Christmas I design gift tags for myself and others as gifts. With a coloured printer and sticker paper, plus my wonderful paper cuter, I make personalized tags for family members.

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And since I spent so much time designing them on photoshop, you can download and print them for free! Gift Tags My gift to you! Enjoy…

Drawing the Outdoors

We went to the park to have a picnic and draw nature. I love homeschooling!

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Biz Kidz

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What a week we had! The kids had their violin recital and the very next day they were participants in a homeschool bazaar called “Biz Kidz.” Organized by homeschoolers for homeschoolers, this TMA Homeschool event encouraged kids to come up with a business idea, execute, and sell it.

The boys did origami art. Whew. Talk about labor-intensive. Next time, we are going to make cupcakes and cookies! (Our cupcakes topped with origami designs sold out and they didn’t take nearly as long to make.)

Three nights in a row, the boys stayed up way past their bedtime to fold paper hundreds of times. I was their quality control checker and I also helped them embellish their designs to make them marketable. So it was late nights for me, too.

We were all pleased with the finished products. But it was the process that was rewarding for all of us. My kids and I share a love for arts and crafts. We enjoy designing and creating. The kids were willing to push themselves to the limit with their lack of sleep. In fact, the evening before the bazaar, Edan fell asleep on a chair while waiting to be assigned another origami task. He was sitting upright with his eyes closed.

20130601_124239At the end of the day, the kids came away with P4,300 pesos. It was measly in terms of earnings, especially if we subtracted my part of the “investment.” But, the kids learned some great life lessons like…

Making money takes effort. The kids had to do the work and put in the time necessary to produce something sellable. I helped them out with conceptualization but they did the harder part. During the bazaar, the kids also discovered that selling origami products was a challenge. First of all, not everyone appreciates origami. Second, because all our stuff was laboriously hand-made, it wasn’t cheap.

Marketing and selling are an integral part of getting people to buy your product. In the beginning, we waited for people to come to our table. But after a while, I asked the kids to go around themselves. We saw other children doing this and it seemed to be much more effective. Edan learned that you can’t be self-conscious or afraid to talk to people. He didn’t want to go around with a tray at first. But, he ended up being a very good salesman! And he was very excited when he started counting how much money he earned. He told me afterwards, “It’s not scary!” (Referring to going up to potential customers.)

We also came up with a marketing idea that went something like this…Whatever origami art you buy, Elijah or Edan will give you a tutorial on how to make it. This got some people interested, especially kids who wanted to learn how to do origami.

Rejection is good for the soul. If the kids don’t learn this early, they will learn it later when there is more at stake. We didn’t sell everything. Elijah felt badly about some of his unsold goods because he thought they would surely interest buyers. But it was beneficial for the children to experience being turned down. Life will not roll out a red carpet for our kids. They receive a lot of affirmation at home, but it’s not always going to be like that when they finally go into a college or start working.

A recent Time article talked about the problems of the young people today. They jump from one profession to another because they have this entitlement mentality. They come into a job with high expectations about what others should do for them and when they don’t get what they want, they complain or leave. On the one hand, it makes corporations step it up in terms of benefits but on the other hand, there is a character flaw that we, as parents, have to weed out of our kids. Reality check: YOU ARE NOT A SUPERSTAR. I love you. I believe that God has gifted you to fulfill his plans and purposes for your life. But, honey, the world doesn’t revolve around you and your preferences. Get used to it.

Pray for success. When the kids began to be discouraged about having less than favorable sales, I told them, “Don’t worry. Just relax. If God wants us to sell our products, we will. He knows you worked very hard and you did your part. So pray and ask him to help you.” After they prayed, they started selling. But like I said earlier, they had to do what was within their control – go out and sell.

Be thankful and content. In Elijah’s words, “I learned to be thankful for the money we did make.” He wanted to earn at least P8,000, but it didn’t happen. Tempted to grumble, I reminded him to be positive and appreciative that we did make some money. We sold most of the items we had on our table.

“It’s fun to make money!” According to Elijah, it was rewarding to experience the fruit of his labor. Personally, I felt the experience was priceless for the kids for the character lessons more so than the actual money aspect. But it’s true, it is exciting to get paid for hard work.

Congratulations to the winners who received well-deserved recognition for all their effort, too! My personal favorite (besides my kids, he he), was a creative business idea by homeschooler, Isaiah Fernandez. He turned laundry clips into building materials and called them Clip Morphs. Over the years of hanging out with his mom while she did the laundry, he would play beside her and design all kinds of structures. So he turned it into a business concept. My kids are playing with his Clip Morphs right now! I thought it was a brilliantly simple idea that encourages hours of creative play.

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Even if we toiled and struggled to prepare for this Biz Kidz event, I’m looking forward to the next one. Hopefully, we can come up with an even better concept. The event wasn’t nearly as big as the Kiddopreneur bazaar, which draws a very large crowd. But this was a good start for our kids. Many parents commented that they want another event like this soon and I agree!

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DVBS in Greenmeadows

I should have posted this sooner but in case you are interested in sending your kids to a fun three days of bible stories, music, dancing, games, crafts and fellowship, Greenmeadows subdivision will be hosting a DVBS starting tomorrow. Please check out the flyer. Personally, I prefer to bring my kids to this one because it is just three days and it is a smaller group. Our church just organized one for about 700 kids! This one is a mini-scale version with the same theme.

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We Did Art Today!

The kids always enjoy art. It’s one of their favourite activities. And it’s fun for me, too. I asked them to do two projects today — collaborative work to do a group art work. They were very pleased with the final results especially since they worked so hard. There was a big mess in the process but I suppose that meant they were having a good time! 
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An Artsy Fartsy Morning

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