Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kid Director: Stop Action Animation

Today we combined our shutterbug’s love for taking pictures with his love for trains.  He has clocked in many hours around his train table.  You may notice the red wooden engine in the video, where the corners are all worn and the paint is chipped off.  Someday many of their childhood toys may be passed on to younger cousins or sold in a yard sale, but that engine will probably remain – maybe even get bronzed as a memento of his childhood.  On a daily basis he comes up with complex storylines for his engines so I set up a tripod with his little point and shoot digital camera and showed him how to take a photo and then move a train(s) slightly and take another photo to enact one of the stories.  Then we loaded the photos on our desktop computer, removing any that were blurry or seemed unnecessary.  My tech savvy husband then loaded the photos into movie editing software and recorded our son’s voice narrating the scenes.  Then he added another layer of audio in the form of instrumental music with a creative commons license from  I hope you will enjoy his first stop animation video and maybe try your hand at stop action animation with your creative little hearts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Paper Bag Art Gallery

Ideas for displaying, preserving and honoring your child's artwork
A dilemma most parents of preschoolers and young grade school students face is: what to do with the influx of artwork done at school?  There are also worksheets that mark their progress, sentimental samplings of early handwriting, and the responses to questions like what they want to be when they grow up and how to make their favorite meal.  Well these papers, too precious to part with, sat broken and sad in a torn paper grocery bag at our house.  Keeping every paper felt like a heavy burden and this storage disaster was no solution.  So I’ve come up with a few creative remedies for this problem. 
1.       You know the sheets of paper that come home where the teacher asks each student a question and then records each child’s answer?  I started a word document where I record all the questions and dictated responses.  They are fun to read through and don’t take up additional physical space in my house!
2.       Establish a folder on your computer where you can keep digital copies of artwork and projects.  Scan flat pieces that are small enough to fit on your scanner or take a digital picture of larger works.  Take a picture of your child with items that they made to wear or use (like masks, headpieces, hats, puppets etc)  Most of these projects are cuter on your child than on their own.

Clothes Line Art Gallery

3.       Hang a clothes line and clip seasonal works of art that you can change up as new works arrive.  Scan or photograph items as they are hung for your digital collection.
4.       Paint unfinished wood picture frames and hang them in your family room or toy room.  You can change these masterpieces out periodically without too much fuss.
5.       Design and print blank greeting cards on card stock (2 cards per 8.5 x 11 sheet).  Be sure to include your child’s name and the date/age they created the pictured work of art on the back of the card.   Pair them with invitation sized envelopes and give them as gifts for Grandparents that enjoy writing letters or as a teacher gift at the end of the school year.

Use children's original artwork on blank greeting cards

Please be sure to back up any digital files in the event that your hard drive crashes.  Keep a few treasured pieces of artwork that were created with their little hands and let the rest go!  I hope these ideas give you some inspiration for how to honor your child’s creative little hearts without cluttering your home with piles of paper to precious to simply throw in the trash or recycle bin.
How do you honor the artwork that comes from your little creative hearts? 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wear Your Heart on Your Fingers: Valentine's Day Finger Puppets

Today I volunteered in my son’s classroom for their Valentine’s Day Party.  I had prepared a quick and easy craft which fit well in the last ten minutes before dismissal.  After they chowed down on party food and distributed all their Valentines we made finger puppets with craft foam.  The craft foam was stiff enough to stand up and soft enough not to give the kids paper cuts.  It would have been a little easier if I had been able to find self adhesive googly eyes and a hole punch that would work on the thick craft foam.  Before the party I traced and pre-cut the large hearts and finger holes.  Then at the party I had paper bowls with each craft item –small and large conversation heart foam stickers, googly eyes, and scraps I cut from the foam sticker scraps after I popped out the heart shapes.  They used the scraps for mouths – at least one student used them for eye brows.  A few permanent markers were passed around to add some last details like nose, mouth, eyelashes etc. 
These finger puppets were a big hit with the kindergarteners and the clean up was easy, we simply stacked the bowls of materials and I tossed them in zip top bags.
Craft foam sheets (precut into hearts with finger holes)
googly eyes
white craft glue
foam valentine stickers
permanent marker
paper bowls (to keep pieces organized)