The Whimsical World of Captain Lulo

One of the things that gets us really excited about being part of a craft market is discovering other artists who love creating their products by hand.

Meet Cheryl, a quirky and talented visual artist and illustrator.

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lulo
(photo taken from http://www.instagram.com/captain.lulo/)

Cheryl makes beautiful paper cut illustrations, each one intricately handcrafted and perfect to spruce up your personal space.

From paper matchbox dioramas to the space pop necklace craft kit,  Cheryl’s collection is always full of delightful surprises.

matchbox dioramas
(photo taken from http://www.instagram.com/captain.lulo/)

space pop necklace craft kit
(photo taken from http://www.instagram.com/captain.lulo/)

We’re especially in love with her adorable tote bags, some of which are silkscreened and embroidered by hand.

embroidered tote bag
(photo taken from http://www.instagram.com/captain.lulo/)

Get lost in the colourful world of Captain Lulo at:

www.lulo.space/
www.instagram.com/captain.lulo/

If you would like to commission or collaborate on a project with Cheryl, email captain@lulo.space.

 

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Book Recommendation – Mix it up

I was in the book store the other day when i came across this book by Herve Tullet. It is such a fun book that i wanted to share with everyone. As you can probably guess from reading our blogs, we really love our books and all three families read books regularly. But it is rare to come across a book that mirrors our art activities, and this book does that.

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“Mix it up!” is a book that introduces color mixing / blending to toddlers using interactive “instructions” plus some imagination. As the title says, the book invites the children to “mix” the colors up. It gets the children to imagine mixing, smudging, shaking red and yellow and other primary colors together. And when you close your eyes and flip the page….. its ORANGE!  Ok, i know i am probably not doing enough justice to the book on how interactive and fun it is. But my 5 year old who knows how to mix his colors to get the secondary colors finds this pretty fun as well. He calls it the magic color mixing book. And he just took it off me again while i was referring to it while writing this post…..

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We will definitely be looking to get the other books by Herve Tullet, and i hope you enjoy this book as much as my kids and I have.

For those who prefer online shopping, i have included the link to get the book from Amazon.

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1452137358&asins=1452137358&linkId=bd5448a5bbd1db2030a03cc9f3ed818f&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Mix it Up – Herve Tullet

 

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Grandma’s Present – Whipple Ice Cream?

Our family make it a point to make handmade gifts for family and friends, especially if its from the children. So its nothing new this year that we were suppose to make a handmade present for grandma, but this frazzled mom totally forgot about it till the day before ! Like seriously right? HOW did i manage to forget my mom’s birthday?! Eeeksss! Anyways, we were having lunch at the mall and i got talked into going into TOY R US. In short, in between telling the children NO NO NO to more Legos and Nerf guns, NO NO NO to more Shopkins. What on earth is shopkins anyways? How are you suppose to play with those things??? I digress, but i found this DIY craft range called Whipple.

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I had to admit that i was a tad bit skeptical to begin with, i wasn’t sure how “fun” or creative this would be for the children, plus it cost about $20-$30 depending on how big a set you bought. But since time was running out and mom does have a sweet tooth…..

So each set came with the a bag of “Whipple” cream, a practice card where you can practice your swirls. Of course the kids were too impatient to start on the cones rather than practice…. I got my 5 year old to practice a little… and came with some embellishments.

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They actually really enjoyed creating their ice creams, of course my 5 year old had better fine motor skills than my 3 year old, so his looked “better”. However, this is still an activity that my 3 year old could do independently by herself as well. They really will have a better outcome if they practiced before hand. Initially i wasn’t sure if they provided enough Whipple cream to lose to practice, but each set is really generous with the Whipple cream, so i say practice practice to have a pretty outcome.

They were so pleased with their ice creams, made them feel so chef like, they even told me that if we did this again, they want to wear their aprons and chef’s hat.

The only gripe i have about is the amount of embelishments. Like really, $20 for the set to make 4 ice creams, and after fairly dividing between the 2 kids, each has a grand total of 5 little little pieces of sparkly beads. Obviously even if you doubled it to 10 pieces per child it is barely enough for them to be satisfied. BUT, if you are a crafty mom or a craft supply hoarder….. nothing a little glitter couldn’t solve!

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All in all, was a pretty fun activity, kids and grandma were all super pleased with the results, and i might even be talked into buying more! My daughter is already eyeing the cake sets… and when i was online shopping, Amazon actually has a wider range of Whipple products. Have included the link for those who are interested.

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00IR2QKA2&asins=B00IR2QKA2&linkId=bfcdc83110985a8b3c067e89c8903c98&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Whipple mix cream party set

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00HQB11TK&asins=B00HQB11TK&linkId=66b227ae80e95418ac606aac183b5f37&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Whipple Chocolate suites set

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B002B5PBZG&asins=B002B5PBZG&linkId=129e5244c1bbedaa577fc82d99bf01b4&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Whipple W-18 Pink Cream Macaron Set Japanese Sample/replica Food Making Kits

And for all the Anna and Elsa fans: //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00MXJ3R7O&asins=B00MXJ3R7O&linkId=aa40156843a943f9c50d1568f963a3f4&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Queen set W-71 and snow Whipple Ana

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Doodling Art Robot Project

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We recently got this from the museum shop at Art Science Museum after visiting Future World exhibit. I don’t know what got into me getting this doodling robot but I thought it was really cool to try it out with the kids. Though the box says it’s for ages 8 and above, I was intimidated by it after opening the box.

So while the kids were napping, I opened it and decided to go through the instructions and have a first cut of it before doing it with my kids. First off, I am totally clueless about gadgets and putting these things together but hey, if a 8 year can do, so can I. Truth be told, I had to read the instructions about 5 times and needed to confirm my understanding with my husband. Hence the confidence in putting it together when the kids woke up.

I took about 20 minutes to put it together. You’ll need to get your own AA battery and also screwdriver. The kids were patient watching me. My daughter helped me sort out the screws, bolts and nuts and other pieces so that I could build it. For once, the kids saw me build a gadget and I hope that changed their perception that only Daddy is Mr Fix It, because Mummy can also do it too!

One reason why I wanted to do this project was to expose the children to the impact of technology to art. These drawing bots or generative art machines are fascinating. And there are a couple of other brands available in the market.  It was really exciting to see this little robot doodling across the paper in spirals and if I changed angles, they could go in a straight line. I foresee our children’s future to include projects like this and this is just a start. I hope this little success in building the doodling robot will give me a little more confidence and doing more of this in the near future.

Here’s a short video that I found on youtube that shows what the doodling robot does.

The box costs $25 at the museum shop but if you get it at Amazon, it is cheaper. Click here for the affiliate link for the product.

I hope this gives confidence to mummies out there who are keen to explore technology but are apprehensive.

xoxo
Sharon

Plush Craft – working on those fine motor skills for a preschooler

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newfindWe were at Hamley’s (it’s a large toy store at Plaza Singapura) over the weekend and we picked up something interesting for Sophie. It’s a DIY purse from Plush Craft by Orb Factory. Though I was hesitant to get it for Sophie because it was expensive (S$24.90) and I felt it might limit her creativity with all that numbering, I wanted her to try something that required her to focus and follow instructions. In anycase, this week, my focus was getting her to focus on following instructions and stumbling onto this item helped me achieve that objective.

Prior to getting down to doing an activity, I always have a large tray to set up the required materials. This activity was no different. Out from the box, the fabric were all mixed up and so we got down to sorting the colors (4 colors) and grouping them. After sorting them out, I read to Sophie the instructions that each dot had a number and it represented a color. For example, number 1 represents white fabric. With a pen that they provided, she started by matching the fabric to the correct number and poking it into each hole.

As she was doing it, I wanted very much to try and so did my 3 year old boy. We ended up asking Sophie if we could have a try. I found it very therapeutic and Luke was so pleased that he was able to do it. The box indicated that this activity was for 5 years and above. I guess Luke is ready to try it though he is a little younger. Just remember that there are small parts (the beaded stickers) and adult supervision is required. I am thinking of getting one for Luke, but a plush pillow instead of a purse.

I found that Amazon carries them and some of those kits are eligible for free shipping to Singapore.  Below is a few recommended items that we intend to purchase that ships to Singapore. I have also included the precious purse that we got from Hamleys, but unfortunately, that one does not ship to Singapore. But if you’re from the US, please feel free to use our affiliate link to get the item and we really appreciate your support.

Overall, I really enjoyed this project as did Sophie. We started in the morning for about 20 minutes before heading out to church and continued after her nap for another 2 hours. She was distracted occasionally but she didn’t find the activity mundane at all. She really loved the journey and of course the final product. I think this might be one of our Christmas gifts ideas to our friends and a children’s charity organization.

Affiliated links in this post.
Here are the items that we are eyeing:

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Teddy Bear Pillow
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Fancy Fish Pillow
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Foxy Pillow
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Precious Purse – unfortunately, this does not ship to Singapore

xoxo
Sharon

Reading to Children – Part 2 Books for preschoolers

In Part 1 I shared you some books to start introducing your babies and young toddlers to start reading. Reading to children – Part 1

Part 2 is books for preschoolers, those 3 years to about 6 years. Reading is something really personal for most, interests and hobbies greatly influence and determine what sort of books we enjoy. For me, i try to mainly buy books that fit my children’s interests, but every now and again, i will introduce them to a new topic that i feel is important or just something that i would like to expose them to and learn about. When my son was younger, he was hitting and was unable to share, so i got these books to open up the topic and talk more on a daily basis on what he should do when he gets angry etc. Of course books alone didn’t solve it completely, but it definitely helped his awareness and gave him some insight into his actions.

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Or when i wanted to teach different body parts or even something simple like the life cycle of plants. Finding a book with those topics can serve as a great introduction to whatever you want to expose them to.

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  1. Picture Books

These are simple story books with very vibrant, wonderful illustrations that supports the story line. Some have no words, some have a few, some even come with a touch and feel component as well.  The very hungry caterpillar is a great book to start introducing books to your children, the illustrations are eye catching, with a simple story line and few words. It also comes with  touch and feel components and is very engaging for the children. There are also plenty of talking points you can have with your child. Definitely one of our favorites. Or something even simpler would be picture books with a singular words, almost like flash cards in a book form with better illustrations. Surprisingly, kids do enjoy these types of books too, as they love the pictures and it is easy for them to process. (It’s terribly dry for parents to read it over and over again though….)

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2. Rhyming books

Personally, rhyming books are my favorite books to read with the children. Some of the books that you are able to find now are beautifully written with stories that will interest your child. Our favorite is The Whale and the Snail by Julia Donaldson. Actually, we love all her her books and we practically have all of them. Dr Seuss is another of our favorites and my children are currently obsessed with Dr Seuss books. We have been reading at least one (max 2 – one for each child, otherwise bedtime reading will never end…..) Dr Seuss book every bedtime. Both Julia Donaldson and Dr Seuss are great as they not only have great story lines, detailed illustrations, but also fun rhyming when you read and the main sentences get repeated, which helps their understanding and comprehension.

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3. Wordless books

Wordless books essentially are just books with only pictures. They are great in getting your child to be imaginative, as they can tell their own story based on the pictures. Now that my children are older, i get them to take turns to tell their own story, and it’s wonderful to see how the same pictures will have different stories told by different children.

This book of bedtime stories isn’t exactly considered wordless, but they have quite a few pages with few or no words. The picture shown is one of their favorite pages, and we can literally spend a good 10 mins EACH telling a story of that singular page alone.

4. Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are great for building on phonemic and phonetic awareness (important for the child to have, to be able to read later on). Which is why people have been constantly singing children’s songs and nursery rhymes to babies and children for generations. And its also why rhythmic books such as Dr Seuss and Julian Donaldson are great as well. This is our book of fairy tales and nursery rhymes that i found in Popular bookshop,  I’ve had it for almost 3 years now and i still haven’t finish reading everything to the children, as they each have their favorites and they just want to listen to the same ones over and over and over…..

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Some books are also meant to be “sung” such as twinkle and the Zoo train.

5. Fairy tales / Folklore / Bible stories

These are fun and fascinating for children, but definitely meant for the older preschoolers, as the stories tend to be longer, and the average 3 year old may not be able to sit through it. Unless you find fairy tales for toddlers that are summarized  / condensed versions. Bibles for kids are great as they have children’s version which are condensed to about 2 pages. So the child doesn’t lose interest before the story is over.

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6. Non Fiction – Look out for Part 3 in our reading to children series.

And for those who are looking to start their children actually reading, these are our choices for right now. I picked those topics which they are interested in, and made sure they are simple and short. And when i started, i would just read and point the words with my fingers as i read, after a while i asked them to read out some sight words. And slowly after, when its time for bedtime reading, he would pick 1 to 2 books (depending on time) for him to read. He would choose 3 -4 sight words to read plus one new sight word. And the benefits of family story time is that the younger child would tag along, so my middle child who is 3 1/2 years is able to read simple sight words as well, since god forbid she loses out to her brother…

 

My children absolutely love reading and they genuinely love stories of any sort. But if you give them free rein to pick their own books, it becomes clear what their interests are. These are my son’s (who is 5 1/2 years) favorite books right now. As you can tell, he really loves his dragons and dinosaurs, and gravitates to towards those topics. The enormous crocodile and The Lorax is way to hard for him to read, but he is able to read most of the Cat in the Hat comes back and Green Eggs and Ham. To be fair though, he has memorized them rather than actually reading, but the rhyming really helps him remember. He is reading more of the simpler books like his Paw Patrol series.

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My little girl has obviously different taste in books, she is turning 4 soon. I am quite sure i could recite Dr Seuss’s Sleep book in my sleep…..and dream of unicorns at night….

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So these are our family’s stories, just remember to have fun and enjoy the reading process. What i found most fulfilling is watching the children grow from just pointing and touching simple board books, to reading The very hungry caterpillar, and actually enjoy and look forward to listening to stories. As they grow older, you could see them start being immersed in the stories that are being told. Nowadays when my children decide not to take their nap for whatever reason, i always insist that they “swap” their nap for rest time in the reading nook, and they would just flip page after page just “reading”, well more like imagining and making up stories while looking at the pictures for a full hour. Worth to take note that in the beginning, pick “easy” books with simple story lines so that it is easy for them to follow and understand, which will in turn motivate them to read more.

More challenging books (i.e. chapter books), should also be read to them. Even though it is way too hard for them to read, in my opinion, i feel that it is good to read to them (in parts), so they can start being immersed in stories and it shows them in a way the next step up in their reading life. Pick a fixed reading time daily, and you will find your child looking forward to snuggling up to you to listen to the story.

Share with us you’re family’s favorite books and happy reading everyone!

The latest fad in the house

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This post has affiliate links.

We are quite careful about buying toys for our children. Firstly, there’s real estate constraint . Secondly, we learn from experience that not all toys are made for kids (we prefer open ended toys) and lastly, sometimes there’s just no chemistry between the child and the toy. I believe most parents face similar issue or issues.

My children receive presents once in a while and we let them decide whether it’s something similar to what they have and could be donated away or passed on to a friend. Periodically, they also go through their belongings and decide which ones are no longer relevant or are broken. It’s increasingly difficult for my second one to give away toys as he is into things that move and all his possessions are mostly that. We will continue to encourage him to streamline his toys; and if my strategy works, I will post online to share what I did.  If you do have a strategy that worked with your child, do share with me.

Anyway, to get the point, of all the toys that’s in my house, the Magna Tiles is one of the most played with toys. They come in squares and triangles in different shapes and they have magnets on their sides. My children love building car showrooms and they become architects building their showrooms or castles whenever they play with it. They will have their toy cars rolling on the tiles, pretending that they were roads. They love breaking it down, rebuilding something new and different each time. This set of toy doesn’t bore them at all and I believe its because it’s a toy that gives a child the ability to construct a building and with its attractive colors, it’s sure to keep the children occupied for hours. We have the transparent colored set and we recently used it to learn color mixing. We stacked the primary colors together to create a secondary color. My 5 year old was really impressed when we tried this together in our last play and she began to stack various colors together. As a parent, I give this toy an A because it is educational and it also promotes creativity to the children. I understand that one of the kindergartens also have these toys and the kids love it. My nephew was so happy when he dropped by and said that he played it in school.

play_1Please note that the above recommendation is based on my personal experience and play with my children.

If you have kids who like building, I think this is a great toy to have. Even the grown ups have a great time playing with it.

xoxo
Sharon

 

Looking for art supplies?

art supplies

In one of our earlier blog posts about the 10 essential must have art supplies for Toddlers, we thought we could follow-up with where to find these art supplies. To read more on the 10 must haves art supplies for toddlers, click here.

We have our favorite places for getting art supplies in Singapore. Some places have the brands that you are comfortable with and some places sell in small quantities. The three of us enjoy shopping for art supplies to create our kits or letting our children explore them and create art pieces with them.  Where’s your favorite place to get art and craft supplies for kids?

Please note that these are our personal preference and we do not get any financial incentive from these businesses.

One of our favorite places is Daiso. It’s a thrift store here and they have several outlets spread across the island. Every item is S$2 and it has everything one needs from household wares to beauty, gardening, pets and tools. There’s always something interesting at the store to bring home. The items are packed in small quantities so if you want to try out some items with your child, it’s a great place to get your supplies. One thing to note is that the items might not be evergreen as it comes in a big batch and when it’s sold out, you might have to wait or find a substitute. Here’s a list of items you could most probably find at Daiso.
– Googly eyes
– Feathers
– Beads
– Glue, scotch tape, washi tape
– Scissors (find one that has a rounded tip and small for little hands)
– Crayon, paint, brushes, markers, color pencils
– Small sized paper of different colors, prints, texture

Another favorite place, but pricier is Spotlight. If you are headed to town, Spotlight is located at Plaza Singapura, Level 5. You can find brands like crayola, or bigger bags of pom poms and beads. Sign up to be a member and you do get discounts/vouchers and VIP prices. Membership is free.

For paper supplies, we usually head to Ikea or Popular to get them. A roll of drawing paper that is 30 m can last your child for a while and it costs $9.90. Here’s the list of items at Ikea site:
– Apron
– Beads
– Scissors
– Construction Paper and Paper rolls
– Markers, Chalk, Paint, Crayons, Paints, Color pencils

At Ikea, you could also find the kids table and chairs as well as a simple drawer or box to keep their art supplies.

At Popular Bookstore, you could get more varieties of art supplies. Different brands of color pencils, paints and crayons. You could also find kids sized scissors and foam sheets and shaped craft sponges for stamping activities.

If you can wait and don’t mind doing internet shopping, there is Amazon. The great thing about Amazon is that it ships free to Singapore (please note the terms and conditions for free shipping). I usually collate the items that I need into the cart and when that minimum spend is met, I check out. The delivery can take between 2-3 weeks if it is available and during off peak season. I do think they have great discounts during the holiday season like Black Fridays and it might be good to do your Christmas shopping and art supplies all at once.

I occasionally head to ArtFriend to get other supplies but I think that for a start, Daiso and Ikea is a great place to get your art supplies.

Besides buying art supplies, you could also make them or recycle items. Follow us on our blog to read more of these in the near future.

Do share with us your favorite places to get art and craft supplies for kids and share with us your kids creations over facebook.

Happy making!

xoxo
Sharon

art supplies