Sunday, September 29, 2013

Invitations to Create 30 Day Challenge!

For the month of October, we'll be embarking on a super fun, "Invitations to Create" challenge. This simply means setting up a few art materials in an interesting way and inviting your child to create- easy peasy!
The challenge is to do this daily for 30 days to see how it improves your child's relationship to art materials and to the creative process (and it will!).

The hard part is coming up with variations of art supplies to help your child think out of the box and engage with the materials in new ways. That's where we come in! During the challenge, we'll send out weekly ideas, along with extra tips and useful information. We also encourage you to share photos and support each other on our Facebook page.

For more information and to sign up for the challenge click here.

We've also moved our blog! To see more project ideas and interviews, visit us here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Making Science Creative

This week, Karuna had the amazing opportunity to attend Camp Galileo. As her third camp this summer, I was curious to see how it would compare to the other two camps. As I mentioned in a recent post, Camp Galileo talks a big game. During each one-week session, they hope to inspire innovation by offering opportunities to imagine, create, and test their creations. Campers work together to build on their ideas and discover new ways to re-work their designs. All of this is based around a weekly theme and infused with fun & enthusiasm. After hearing the daily reports from Karuna and visiting the camp during their "art class," I was pleased to find that this camp definitely walks the walk!
The theme for this week was "Medieval Adventure." One of the first projects the kids collaborated on (in "science class") was building a giant castle wall and a catapult. They tested these creations by having some campers hide behind the wall, while others used the catapult to launch balls at the wall. The campers then used their knowledge to create their own smaller catapults.

When I visited camp, I found the kids in their art class working on jester hats. With a focus on patterns, tracing, and cutting, the kids made their own jester hats from scratch (no pre-made templates here!). Even during this individualized activity, children were huddled on the floor, working closely and sharing ideas.

When I asked Karuna what her favorite part of camp was, I expected to hear about art class, the treasure hunt, or the other outdoor games. Instead she responded with, "science class." That is truly a testament to the creative ways that Camp Galileo incorporates science and innovation into their curriculum.
Here is a photo of Karuna and her friend testing out their draw bridge pulley system that they created in science class.

To find out more about Camp Galileo, visit their website.

Disclosure: I have received a week of free camp in exchange for three reviews of Galileo Learning. The views and opinions are completely my own.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Guest Interview with Tiffany Shlain

In case you're new here, I've moved my blogging over to The Art Pantry supplies shop. Click here for my most recent post where I interviewed filmmaker, Tiffany Shlain, about the importance of art in her life and how she created an art pantry for her two girls at home. Hope you make it over, thanks!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creative Group Work

Our recent mother's day art project got me thinking a lot about collaboration. Collaborative group work is important for children's development. It promotes skills such as communication, problem-solving, cooperation, and negotiation. When I used to teach toddler art classes, I often encouraged group work through fun, gross-motor activities. This was a great introduction to collaboration and was often the highlight of class. Here are some photos from a few of our group projects...

Ball painting with a large tub

Floor painting on a large canvas

Pour painting on a large sculpture...

As kids get older, group projects can become more involved, with deeper learning. Now that Karuna is almost 5, I want her to have more opportunities to do collaborative, creative work with her peers. I'll be thinking about how to facilitate this during playdates!
I'm especially looking forward to this summer when she'll attend Camp Galileo, where they emphasize collaboration and call it, "an essential element of innovation." Her group will be designing and strength-testing a giant castle wall. To design a wall as a group will be an interesting challenge in and of itself! After learning how to negotiate ideas and make group decisions on the final design, they will then have to figure out how to build it. If it doesn't hold up, they will have the opportunity to re-work their plans and try again. I'm excited to see this process in action and how it supports their learning. I'll be taking photos, so check back at the end of the summer to see how it goes!


disclosure: I am receiving a week of free camp in exchange for three posts about Galileo Learning. The views and opinions are completely my own.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Collaborative Painting Project

With mother’s day coming up, I thought it would be fun to do a project with my daughter, Karuna. If both of us worked on something together, we could make a special gift for all the moms in our family- for me, my mother, as well as my husband’s mother.
Karuna recently suggested a game where we would work on our own painting and then switch to work on each other’s painting. I thought this would be the perfect way to collaborate on these mother’s day gifts.
Inspired by Playful Learning’s mixed media project, we started by taking a photo of Karuna’s arm against a white wall. I printed out the photo on watercolor paper (after cutting it down to the standard 8.5X11). 

We got out our Watercolor Resist Supply kit, along with an extra set of brushes, and picked some flowers from the garden for our bouquet inspiration.
Starting with beeswax crayons, we each began working on drawing the flowers. Karuna was in control of switching and would call out “switch” after we worked for a few minutes. We switched papers, drew a little more, and then started painting before switching again.
The beauty of the “resist” technique is that the crayon drawing shows through the watercolors when painted over.

We were both excited to see the finished pieces. This was the first time Karuna and I had collaborated on a painting since she was a toddler. I had a blast and I think it made an impression on Karuna. I often forget that modeling art is important.  It doesn’t matter what the art looks like, just showing our kids that we can let go and enjoy the creative process will help them to do the same.   

Love this project, but don't have the materials?
We've got them here!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Journey So Far & Where it is Going

Dear friends,
I first want to thank you all for your continued support throughout the many forms this work has taken. Many of you first found this blog through The Littlest Birds Studio. As the business grew, it eventually morphed into the Make+Believe studio, blog, and shop. After having my second child and selling the studio portion of the business, I made the important decision to re-brand yet again. Maybe this wasn't the most convenient decision, but it was a solid decision and part of the learning curve during these self-taught business school years. And now...
Welcome to The Art Pantry!
I'm truly excited to continue this journey to bring more creativity into your children's lives. I'm also thrilled to announce that Stacey Silver has joined on as co-founder of The Art Pantry. She comes from a museum background and brings a unique perspective to our vision. 

Stacey (left) and me being silly with our families
The Art Pantry is your online shop and creative resource for children's art supplies. Our goal is to help parents create a dedicated art space (even if it’s just a drawer or small container) that is organized and filled with quality supplies. This "art pantry" then becomes a child's workshop, where they can access tools and materials to work through ideas, tinker, discover, solve problems, learn techniques, and create anything they can imagine.

What makes The Art Pantry unique?
As art professionals, teachers, and moms, we are passionate about selecting quality products that meet our high standards and that kids will love. We carry an assortment of children’s art supplies including pantry essentials and unique crafting kits for children ages 0-12. We'll also be bringing you tools and tips on how to create your own art pantry and how to keep your children engaged in the creative process.
So check out our shop, stock up your art pantry, and tell your friends. We are celebrating our launch with a special offer of 20% off your entire purchase. Just enter code launch20 at checkout. 

We look forward to the journey ahead and hope you'll join us.
With thanks,
Megan and Stacey

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Creative Summer

Summer is soon approaching… time for the lemonade stands to come out!
As summer looms closer I've been in search of a fun, creative summer camp for Karuna.  I recently found out that I have the opportunity to review our local Camp Galileo in exchange for a free week- Awesome! Although I have heard about Galileo for a few years, I knew little about them (Karuna wasn't old enough to attend until now). After checking out their website, I am excited to find that their approach to learning is very "Reggio." As you may know, I have been studying the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education for 10 years, have taught in Reggio inspired preschools, and have run my own Reggio inspired art studio. This approach encourages children to explore, hypothesize, and investigate ideas through play, and then communicate those ideas through a variety of mediums.
In much the same way, Camp Galileo is all about innovation. It aims to instill a "spirit of exploration" in children so that they will feel confident in the innovative learning process. This includes designing, creating, testing, evaluating, redesigning and finally sharing those ideas with others. For the younger camp (pre K- 5th grade), each weekly session is based around a theme. Karuna will be diving into this innovative learning process focusing on the theme of "Medieval Adventure." One of the projects will be designing and "strength-testing" a giant castle wall. As cool as this sounds, I'm guessing her favorite part of the week might be the medieval scavenger hunt with team challenges and clues to unearth a royal treasure!
The themes this year are African Safari, Galileo Amusement Park, and Space Odyssey, all with equally enticing explorations.

Karuna currently attends a Reggio inspired preschool. Next year she will move into  the public school system and I want her to continue learning in this "Reggio" way. Maybe Galileo will become our go-to place to keep this style of learning in her life. I can only hope! 

Check out the Galileo website for more information on their 38 bay area locations.  

Disclosure: I am receiving a week of free camp in exchange for three reviews of Galileo Learning. The views and opinions are completely my own.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine Crafting Party- For Moms!

As we prepare to launch the new Art Pantry website, we decided to hold a focus group for a few local mamas to get some feedback. With Valentines day coming up, we had the perfect excuse to get everyone's creative juices flowing. I set up some materials with a couple of cute sample themes and let them go to town, hoping that it would inspire them to offer their kids the same creative freedom for their Valentines.
With some basic supplies and a little effort, kids can create one-of-a-kind cuties that will fill the hearts of their peers! Well, maybe not quite as much as a box of candy, but still- friends will be impressed.
Here's some of the tools and materials that we used, but you can make a Valentine out of a scrap of paper and a marker if that's all you have!
This "you're sew..." card was a hit with the ladies, but the sample below was done by Karuna (my 4 yr old). I traced a heart with pencil, then I hole punched around it before giving it to her to sew with yarn and a plastic child's needle. Older children can poke holes with a thumb tack and use an embroidery needle to pull the yarn though.
I didn't feel right doing only red and pink heart valentines for moms with boys (and not so girly-girls), so this was my idea of an easy alternative.
At the end of the night, the moms left with a goodie bag to take home to their kids. If we inspired even one mom to facilitate handmade Valentines this year rather than buying them, I've done my job :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Secret Admirer Heart Rock Valentines

Inspired by The Artful Parent's heart rock valentine decorations, I suggested to Karuna the idea of making fabric heart rocks. We talked about what to do with the rocks once we made them. Giving them as Valentines was a definite, but since she already had card valentines that she had made earlier, we came up with the idea to leave them around the neighborhood as secret admirer surprises.
Supplies to make rock valentines:
-Smooth river rocks
-Fabric and Scissors
-Mod Podge
-Paint brush
1) Cut fabric into heart shape  2) paint Mod Podge onto rock  3) Place heart onto rock  4) Paint over heart with Mod Podge

After letting the rocks dry overnight,  Karuna set off to deliver her secret valentines to friends' houses around the neighborhood. At one neighbors house, she even found a fairy door- the perfect place to leave a valentine rock!
On Valentines Day, Karuna will deliver more heart rocks with her name on the back, to reveal the secret admirer. Until then...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Secret Message Valentine Gift Experiment

Karuna recently discovered these cute mini paint sets in the toy store. I didn't know if they would paint very well, but I thought they were the perfect size to give as gifts with a secret message Valentine (one of my many "Pinspirations"). We first cut out a heart from watercolor paper, then used a white crayon to draw a hidden Valentine message. The white crayon on white paper keeps it invisible until you paint over it with watercolor. The crayon will then resist the watercolor and you will see your message!
Karuna was so excited to find out what her secret message was, but sadly this little paint set was not up for the challenge. The small brush created scratches in the paper and the paint trays couldn't hold enough water to lose their opacity.
So we started over and tried a real watercolor brush and some better quality paint and... voila! The secret message was revealed!
With the success of our new paints, Karuna couldn't be stopped. If I hadn't convinced her to take a lunch break, I think she could have gone all day making secret Valentines. I'll remember this next time I need to do some work around the house :)
I'm still intrigued by the idea of giving a secret card with an attached watercolor set.  With a nice set, this little baggy would be an awesome goody bag, thank you card, or birthday present. Just write an invisible note and gift away!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pottery In Action

Have you heard of Olive Us? This collection of videos gives you a peek into the lives of blogger Gabrielle Blair's (Design Mom) six adorable children. This "Pottery Lesson" is my favorite...

Pottery Lesson from Olive Us on Vimeo.