Shape Collage Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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One of our favorite activities to do with our kids at home and at our workshops is shape collages. Its great as it teaches and reinforces shapes to them. They also get to learn colors and explore textures while they are at it. It is a simple activity with minimal preparation and clean up.

file_001This activity promotes fine motor skills when using scissors to cut, using a brush to put on glue and pinching little shapes to stick onto the collage.

We also had different textures like magazine papers, construction paper, corrugated board, foam, aluminium foils and colored tissue papers. There are also other types of materials that could be used such as fabric scraps, bottle caps, straws that can also be used to create your collage. I love that this is very open, process art and the kids and I talk about the possibilities that we could create. Like a playground, buildings, vehicles, etc. I use this opportunity to discuss about shapes around us and what we can look out for in nature and all around us. file_002collage

This activity requires some preparation work in advance. Cut out squares and circles in advance. Have a A3 paper for backing, preferably one that is thick paper so that it can take the glue. Scissors, plate (for glue), glue and brush.

Have these materials ready and invite the child to it. Talk to them about shapes, what they can see, feel the texture and how a square can be cut to make into rectangles, or triangles, and how circles can be cut into halves to create dome shaped, etc.

Then you could ask the child to imagine a scene or an animal that they would like to create. For older children, they would be happy to start working on this project and you could also join in a create your own collage. For younger children, it could be a collaborative effort that parent and child could talk about what they would like to create and do it together.

I hope you enjoy this post. Happy collaging!

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5 Simple Dishes That Kids Could Cook

All of my kids are picky eaters, i always had my fingers crossed that when the time came for each child to start their solids, i would have a miracle child that ate everything mummy prepared from the kitchen enthusiastically. Unfortunately for me, that is not so… in fact, each successive child seems pickier than the one before…. But one of the ways that i try to make my life easier and also get the children interested in food, is to involve them in cooking. Now that they are older, i find that they are perfectly capable of doing some dishes independently. So these 5 dishes are what the kids make at least once a week by themselves and finish eating as well!

  1. Sandwiches

One of the easiest dishes to make! and they can add WHATEVER they want between their 2 slices of bread…. Peanut butter, jam, butter, ham, cheese, the list goes on… i will just put out a selection, couple of butter knives and leave them to it. This is my son’s current favorite sandwich to make: Ham and ketchup with pandan bread…. i know… whatever rocks his boat right? as long as they finish it, they can create whatever  sandwich they want…

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2. Mash Potato

Making mash potatoes is good fun especially for kids aged 5 and above. They get to use the peeler and feel really grown up about it, chop it up and boil them, and they love the whole mashing process as well. One holds the bowl and the other mashes the potatoes. I will put the maximum amount of butter or milk or cream and salt “allowed” for the amount of potatoes and let the kids decide and taste for themselves how much to season and flavor the potatoes. So simple to make, we even did it by the poolside and had dinner by the pool.

3. Clear Chicken Soup

For kids that love chopping, this is a fun dish for them. They get to not only cut, but also peel the potatoes, carrots, leeks and dump it into the slow cooker with some chicken. The adults still cut the onions for them, they are rather put off my the stinging in their eyes if they cut the onions. Or they can use goggles to cut!

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They wore goggles the last time they cut spring onions……apparently it made cutting “much” more fun… I also prefer using the slow cooker when i boil soup for the kids and its safer than them putting the food into a pot over a flame. Also, they can have a closer look at the soup boiling. I also get them to season the soup with a bit of salt at the end, just so they are used to tasting their food.

Once cooked, they can boil their own pasta / noodles or even rice as well.

4. Rice

Every PERSON adult or child should know how to cook rice, but since they are still little, cooking rice in a rice cooker will suffice. They get to learn how much water to add and most kids i imagine would enjoy the process of washing rice prior to cooking. And they really feel accomplished when they get to eat rice that they cooked themselves.

5. Pizza

Our favorite! i did a blog post previously on homemade pizza, you can refer to that for the full recipe. Pizza night  But just to mention again how much kids love pizza and that you really can create whatever you want , so even though we eat pizza regularly, each week we try different toppings and i use it as a way to introduce new ingredients every now and again.

Books and Crafts: How do you feel?

File_000 (1).jpegI love sharing feelings with my children and hopefully one day, they will be open to share their feelings with me. It’s not about trying to get affections from them, rather, for them to verbally express how they feel, being able to attune to people around them and picking up non verbal behaviors. This is one skill that is a life skill and hopefully starting young with them would give them a good head start in their interpersonal skills with others as they go to school and their future years.

BOOKS.

There are probably a dozen or more children’s books that covers feelings and these are some of my favorite ones.

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This book is my absolute favorite because it’s very simple and easy to follow. Each page talks about an emotion with a facial expression of the gorilla. Even children as young as 18 months would enjoy seeing the pictures because the book is quite a large book yet light, so little ones can hold and explore the pictures.

This book covers feelings such as Happy, Sad, Curious, Lonely, Confident, Surprised, Guilty, etc.

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Kissing Hand is an award winning book. It is a charming book about a raccoon starting school and has separation anxiety. This book is suitable for toddlers and preschoolers. I used this story with my 2 kids before they started school and practiced the kissing hand so that they would feel comforted and once in a while, we still do the kissing hand and they love it.

 

hurty-feelingsFragility is the name of this hippo and she is a tough hippo on the outside but really soft on the inside. This book is quite hilarious and I think it’s suitable for children ages 4 and above because it is more wordy and the context is a little more complex than the other 2 books. The story covers insecurity, bullying and using words to comfort. This is one of our favorite bed time stories.

 

 

CRAFTS. 

playdough-facesPlaydough faces. I love using playdough with young kids because it’s sensory and tactile and little ones as young as 8 months can work on them (adults supervision please). Here we have a simple template that you could print from the internet. I did a search “faces template”. To make it reusable, how about laminating the printout so that it could be used on several occasions? I think it would make a fun party for preschoolers to work on using playdough to express various emotions and take pictures of it and make it into a collage.

 

Paper how-do-u-feel-crafedolls are crafts that are fun and easy to make. Although parents would need to do a little more preparation work like cutting up the doll template. Otherwise, the activity is very engaging and allows the child to express their feelings and creativity. I got the template doing a google search “paper doll template”. You’ll need glue, paper fasteners if you want to make each doll connect to one another and could move and also various materials such as markers, yarn, various types of papers and fabric scraps. The materials are easily available from home and it could take at most 30 minutes to print (preferably on heavy weight paper), cut out and set the materials to invite the child to create. Although we have done this with toddlers and their parents as a collaborative work, this could also be suitable children ages 4 and above.

This is one of my favourite craft activity with my children. We take pictures of how we feel (exaggerated emotions), cut out the faces and make them into puppets. Using these puppets, we make up stories as puppetif the puppets were characters that were not them. Sometimes I use these puppets to role play a particular scenario that I’d like the kids to learn. For example, stories like talking to bullying, or throwing tantrums. I think having a puppet allows the child to look at it as a separate entity and they don’t take it personal when the stories are told. These puppets can be kept inside box and whenever the kids are bored, they can also take them out and make up stories. We made these puppets recently at one of our workshops to create a family of puppets and the toddlers adored the activity because we would take their photos during the workshop, print them out onsite and they could see it become a physical picture instead of the usual digital photos. Then creating the puppets with those faces really brought smiles to their faces as they could recreate their family members as puppets.

I hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to share books about emotions or crafts that can be used to talk about emotions with young kids.

Have a great day ahead!

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DIY Crispy Fried Chicken

One of our favorite dishes to cook are chicken wings, the kids can’t seem to get enough of it, specifically CRISPY chicken wings. They seem to think that if they ask for it 20 mins before dinner, mommy will sprinkle some sort of fairy dust and fried chicken wings will materialize from the kitchen. SO…. mummy here decided its high time that they learn and cook their own chicken wings from SCRATCH.

This would be the first time that my kids will be handling raw meat, so i was a bit apprehensive on whether they will get squeamish… but hey, if they can EAT it… they should be able to handle raw chicken.

For this activity, parents please ensure they wash their little hands THOROUGHLY before and AFTER the activity.

Ingredients

Chicken wings – i usually cook 10 pieces of wings, and i get my butcher to chop it into 2 pieces, so 20 pieces in total. That enough for our family of 4.

Buttermilk – enough to cover the chicken

Grated garlic

Dried herbs (i used dried basil)

Salt and Pepper

Egg

Flour

Method

Its best to marinate the chicken in buttermilk for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight if possible. I “flavor” the marinate with some grated garlic and herbs. So.. after adding marinate and giving a good mix, cover with cling film and keep in fridge.

Once ready to fry, i prep a plate with plain flour and added some salt and pepper. For additional flavor, you could add more garlic or dried herbs or even some chili flakes or cayenne pepper for added heat. Prep another plate with an egg, and beat it.

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The way i get really crispy chicken wings is to double bread it, that means i apply 2 coatings of flour. Take a piece of chicken out of the buttermilk and dust it with flour, dust off excess and coat it with the egg, drip the excess off and dust it again with flour. Remember to always dust off or drip off excess flour and eggs. A good tip is to keep one hand for the “wet” wash i.e.  the buttermilk or egg and the other hand for the”dry” coating, i.e. the flour, so that it doesn’t all clump up in to a batter on your fingers. I got the kids to split the “work”, and have one work with the “wet” washes and another just to dust the flour on the chicken pieces.

Once everything is nicely coated, fry in oil till golden brown and crispy!

The kids actually had super a lot of fun cooking, the raw chicken totally didn’t put them off and they got really stuck in with the coating of the chicken with the flour and egg wash. But best of all, they now realize that it take more than 20 mins to cook chicken wings.. Hooray! Mission accomplished!

Gift ideas for a preschooler

 

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A beautiful gift is one that comes from the heart.

I love giving gifts – thinking about the person and wondering what is meaningful to them. Giving presents to children is one of the most easiest and most difficult task for me. It’s easy because I could walk into a toy store, purchase a toy that’s on the child’s wish list, wrap it up and that’s done. It’s also a difficult task because I want the gift to be an experience or something unique that allows the child to discover and explore new possibilities.

Earlier this year, I reflected on the gifts that I gave last year and felt that I didn’t really put much effort and thought as I lacked time, resources and all that sort of excuses that puts me to shame. I know when birthdays and special occasions are and these can be planned well in advance. If I wanted my children to be involved in the selection of gift and wrapping, then I definitely needed to be more prepared this year.

So, 2017 came and we had 3 birthdays and hence opportunities to make things right. My objective for 2017 was to give gifts that either experiential or one that promotes creativity, discovery, exploration. This is kind of in line with my idea of being a minimalist – wanting to reduce toys that would be played for a couple of months and would end up sitting in the corner and turned into another item that cluttered.

Our first present was for a 6 year old boy. We purchased an annual family ticket to the Art Science Museum for the exhibit “Future World”. It’s a season ticket that allows her family all year round access to the exhibit. Her kids love the exhibit and having an annual pass would enable them to reduce time queuing, giving them an option for a family outing all year round, and also promoting creativity within the kids and family. The best part? It’s just a ticket that is carried around in the car or the bag. Minimal clutter. Bingo!

In my second opportunity, it was for a 5 year old. Her mom loves getting the kids out for creative workshops and we thought a craft basket for the party and also any leftovers could be used for another occasion. I put together a bunch of art supplies that was age appropriate and found a lovely basket that could be reused. In a craft box, I put in some small bits like stickers, sequins, glitter sticks, washi tapes, feathers and glue. In the rest of the basket, we had sidewalk chalks, playdough, ice cream sticks, a couple of drawing blocks and markers. The kids had a great time playing with the glitter and playdough during the party. And after that, putting all the craft items back into the basket made it easy for mom to pack away and take it out for their next craft activity.

The last birthday present for the month of January to my 6 year old was a family outing in a duck tour. The kids had a great time and experience on the duck tour. We learnt about the vehicle, the places and history of Singapore and as a family, we had a wonderful morning exploring Singapore on road and in the waters. My kids are set on taking the open top bus on the next birthday celebration. We’re looking forward to that day!

As I write this post, my hamster is running furiously in my mind trying to create a meaningful gift for the next child who’s birthday party is approaching. Could it be a family pass to the zoo, museum, aquarium, or a kids play? Oooh….its such an exciting thought.

I hope you enjoyed this post.

If you’d like some ideas to create a art and craft basket for a child, or put together a craft basket, please drop us an email jellybeanattic@gmail.com. We would be most delighted to share our ideas with you.

Happy Monday!

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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.

 

DIY Christmas Wreath Ideas

Christmas is coming! We wanted to make our own Christmas decorations this year since the kids are a year older, and able to do more complicated stuff with mommy. The wreath was actually requested by the children. On the last day of school, they both came home with their own paper plate wreaths made in school. It was very cute, but they wanted something “BIGGER”. So, when i was wandering about spotlight (its almost my weekly retail therapy nowadays… sad i know…), i saw the Styrofoam wreaths and i got them. Here are some simple ideas that you could do to make your very own Christmas wreaths….

  1. Christmas ornaments wreath

Which child doesn’t like those round shiny Christmas ornaments? I don’t know any.. you? So since they love Christmas ornaments so much… a Christmas ornaments wreath it is…. just get the kids to pick out their colored ornaments… i actually had a grand idea of keeping it to a color theme, you know, blue and silver, red and gold etc… but since i said they could pick the colors they want, i have to keep my mouth shut when they literally picked every color they saw at the shop.

So the materials you need for this wreath are just the Styrofoam “skeleton”, Christmas ornaments (i used approximately 120 balls of various sizes, yes you read right, one hundred and two balls…), and a glue gun. Now, using a glue gun means the little balls will stay exactly where you stuck them, but it also means, use carefully with children. Mine are old enough to know to avoid the nozzle and handle with care.

So all you need to do is just glue away! The kids plucked out the strings from the ends of the balls, and an important point to remember, is when gluing the ornaments, keep the foam flat on the surface you are working on. This is so that the wreath when finished will be nice and flushed against the wall or door. It is actually easier to work with balls of different sizes, so you get a nice textured effect, and also, you get to cover the “holes” up  much easier. The kids had fun picking which color i should stick on first and bossed me as to where all the “holes” were.

All in all they had a good time and they were super proud of their finished product!

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2. Artificial flowers and Christmas decoration wreath

While we were getting the round Christmas ornaments, bunches of artificial red poinsettia flowers caught my daughters eye, and she REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted them. Since our tree was full, i said we could use them for another wreath. Surprisingly, this time, she picked all the red and gold decorations! Such fickle creature the little kids…..

So the materials we used this time were the same Styrofoam “skeletoimg_7152n”, artificial flowers and other Christmas decorations, scissors and our trusty hot glue gun.

We need to snip the flowers and leaves individually so we can affix them on the wreath. For the leaves, have an assortment of individual leaves and leaves in a bunch. Once ready, we can start gluing. It is basically flower arranging on the foam, you don’t HAVE to lay the foam flat unlike making the ball ornaments, as the flowers and leaves are soft, and will still lie nice and flushed against the surface you hang the wreath. Do take note that you would need to glue the flowers and decorations mostly “hanging downwards” so you can hide the stems among the petals and other leaves. So work from top down, and arrange as you see fit, or as you’re child sees fit. Stick the “bigger” items first, and leave the leaves till last and just use the leaves as a “filler” to cover the gaps.

A really simple and quick project that you could do together with the children.

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Fabric Memory Game

Remember playing memory games when you were younger? We would lay all the cards out on the floor and open one by one to find a pair. This is the same game, but i have sewed it out of my kids favorite print. Super easy to sew and suitable for beginners as an early sewing project for your kids. Its great not only for training their memory, but also great for helping with their concentration, as they really need to sit and try to recall where all the “cards” are.

Materials

Felt or cotton batting if you want the “cards” to be firmer. I used felt as that was what i had lying around the house.

1 Print for the front

10 different prints for the back (i.e. the pairs). I made 10 sets, hence 10 different prints, but you could make more or less sets. Its entirely up to you.

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Method

Cut the felt, cotton fabrics into 4 inches x 4 inches squares.

Once everything is cut out, take one back and one front piece, face them together (right sides facing each other), and place a felt square on the top and pin the 4 sides together.

I use a 1/4 inch seam allowance, and just sew all 4 sides together, remembering to leave about a 2 inch gap (roughly, i wouldn’t spend a lot time measuring the gap out, just roughly do 1-2 inches as you sew depending on how big your fingers are) on one of the sides to turn it right way round.

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Clip the corners

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Use a chopstick and just make sure the corners are turned out nicely, iron it flat, ensuring that the seams are folded in nicely where it is open

Top-stitch all around the 4 sides to close the gap.

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And you are done! To make it more challenging, just sew more pairs. I hope your kids have fun playing this.

 

 

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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