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Explore More! on Pinterest

23 May

Special preview of newest recycling paper art technique: Rolled Paper.

I still haven’t seen too many people doing what I’m doing with rolled paper illustrations and ornaments so take a peek on my Pinterest page and get in on something truly new and innovative.

Explore More! is a counting book for children to be released this summer that uses photographs of these unique creations to illustrate the concepts of letters, numbers, animals and directions that young kids are just beginning to explore.

http://pinterest.com/zanyzenist/rolled-paper-art-ornaments/

Explore More! Preview

Explore More! Preview

 

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Crayon Curls “C” Craft

21 Sep

Crafts that keep a boys attention need to be a special mix of activity, magic and a little bit of daring thrown in.

This week we are working on the letter “C”. Far from his first introduction to the letters, we are reinforcing the lessons from last year in our home lessons this year.

Day 1: First I told my 3-year old that we’d be working on the letter “C” and then simply started talking with him about words that start with the letter “C”. We went to the store and for a walk and I had him point out and trace with his fingers all the “C’s” that he could find on the signage along the way.

There are 2 letter “C’s” in this sign.

He saw the pride and enthusiasm in the eyes and voices of not only me, but the others we met along the way and shared how we were discussing the letter “C” today. He was able to get a treat from the store, but it had to start with the letter “C”, he choose a cookie.

Incorporating letter learning in everyday activities like this help him to recognize that there are letters and words all around him in the world and that spoken words are made up of these letters.

Day 2: First I asked my preschooler if he remember what letter we were working on this week. He did! We choose from games to play by listing the ones that start with the letter “C” such as Cootie, Cars, or Cards.

We did some Cutting crafts and then went down to the beach. We played separately in the sand and when he inevitably came over to see what I was doing, he could see that I was drawing “C’s” in the sand. He mimicked me and drew a set of his own “C’s” as well. Castles are a great “C” thing to build in the sand also, although I built a sand Cat for him to stomp in.

Day 3: Too tired for traditional coloring and crafts by the end of a busy day, my child adamantly refused to do anything and threw his craft supplies down on the floor in frustration when I proposed doing one.

Undeterred, I mentioned that we’d be cutting, grating and using a knife and an iron, and his mood flipped a 360 and he was all in.  So I’m calling this craft the craft to do when the kiddos don’t really feel like doing any crafts.

Crayon Curls “C” Craft

Supplies:

broken crayon pieces

plastic bag (white or clear without too much printed writing)

wax paper

iron

marker

scissors

knife, grater, pencil sharpener etc.

Directions:

Success Hint: Take it easy on the obvious teaching techniques when the kiddos are tired. It wears them out and makes them shut down and shut out learning. Get into the fun stuff and only loosely mention the lesson you are trying to get across.

Step 1: Preparation: Peel all the paper from the crayon pieces. This is a great project for all those random pieces that get broken. Lay down a piece of wax paper bigger then the letter “C” you want to make on a surface that can be ironed on.

Step 2: Cut open the plastic bag so it lays flat and lay half down onto the wax paper. (Plastic can be tricky to cut, so parents, you’ll probably have to do this part.)

Step3: Have your child write the letter “C” on the plastic bag with the marker. Parents may have to hold the bag tight so the kids have a flat surface to write on.

Step 4: Get the kids busy grating and cutting the crayons to make curls and crumbs. Make sure all the pieces fall down onto the plastic “C” you just made. Close supervision is necessary for the littlest kids or if they haven’t had a lot of practice with sharp items.

Step 5: Fold over the top half of the plastic, trapping the crayon crumbs inside. Cover with another piece of wax paper.

Step 6: With the iron on medium-high heat, place the iron on top of the wax paper sandwich, watching for wrinkles below. These wrinkles indicate that the plastic is melting together below. CAUTION: If the iron is too hot, it will melt the plastic onto the wax paper, if the iron is too cold, the plastic halves won’t melt together at all. If you’re not sure about the temperature, start out low and check under the wax paper to see if the plastic is sticking together, turning the temperature up slowly if necessary.

Step 7: Cut out the letter “C” shape. Done!

Have your child get small crayon crumbs from a variety of different techiques: putting the crayons in a pencil sharpener, skimming them with a butter knife, grating with a cheese grater, cutting with scissors.

 

A Third Eye and Dr. Seuss Shocks Again

23 May

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss

I just found myself in an unexpected place.

“If you read with your eyes shut you’re likely to find that the place that you’re going is far, far behind.”

And there it is. In Dr. Seuss’s I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!, on a road sign listed among far off lands of Tokyo and Naples, the small nearby city of Schenectady, NY.

There is nothing quicker, easier or more enjoyable than reading Dr. Seuss if you want to understand more about the world and the way that we work.

I didn’t grow up with Dr. Seuss but I am very glad to be reading him now to my own child. They are books that he loves to listen to, with characters that he enjoys. For all of you familiar with these classic stories, this is not news to you.

While we’re working to see the world with at least one eye open as Dr. Seuss suggests, we’re also working on developing our third eye to see into ourselves.

Here’s Adam’s that he’s been picking at all week and that band-aids refuse to stick too. I have one also. Mine’s been there as long as I can remember. A smooth bump, a little high of center. Do you have one too? Where is it and does it reflect how you see?

 

Seeing Stars

10 May

Let creativity fly! It inspires imagination and empowerment.

 This is our ceiling. On a recent rainy day I was working on it. The constellation placement isn’t perfect but it encourages us all to look up. We are getting out of our box and seeing the possibilities all around us.

What can you see around you where there once was just a blank space?

Enjoy.

 

 

The Future as a Suture

1 Mar

Hope and abundance

Puke and poop have been sparring partners with focusing on positivity in the present moment this week.

My little guy is sick with a stomach virus once again. We are all so sad about it and so ready to get back to good health.

The smells are excruciating and the messes, legendary. Pair up the reality of a sick child with the truth about stretch marks, and teen pregnancy rates would drop dramatically.

 

The responsibilities during these trying times are tough to take, to say the least.

This is when focusing on the future does help. A hopeful look toward the future is just what the doctor ordered when suffering through a tough time in the present.

I envision a future where a sick child transforms into a healed child.

I envision a future where art and literature programs in schools come off the chopping block and into the spotlight as designers and storytellers are considered crucial instead of as a footnote. (Oprah’s interview with author Daniel Pink laid out how this could soon become a reality.)

I envision a future where a global communication makes corporate greed, political wrong-doing and misinformation incomprehensible. (Peter Diamandis’ TED talk spells out why we should appreciate the abundant reality of our present time and his hopeful vision for the future.)

Most of all, I hope for a shift from our lackadaisical, impulse-control deprived, turn-our-heads away society into, instead, the reluctant hero of our own story.

I want to be part of the heroic movement of people who, when faced with a challenging roadblock; face it, push it away, and re-emerge at the end transformed and smiling.

And I want you with me. Let’s be a community that is strong, because we are all children needing to be raised. We all need a future we can look forward to.

Toddler Wisdom

15 Feb

As I woke up this morning, my eyes peeled open to see Adam laying down facing me, poking my boobs. He smiled and said, “There’s a bounce house in there.”

Having just turned 3 years old he is at that glorious stage where his beautiful imagination and limited vocabulary combine to create wonderful metaphors and poetry out of his everyday observations of life.

“How did you get so smart?” I ask him.

He puts his fingers on top of his head and swirls them around. “There’s birds in my brain going swoop, swoop, swoop.”

A snow plow (which we haven’t gotten to see much this year due to the uncharacteristically warm winter) is a “snow cloud” and a pan lid is a “shield” to “fight bad guys”.

All this cuteness is great to keep in mind when he does things that I find less cute. When he pulls out a booger and wipes it on me, laughs and asks innocently, “that a funny joke?” I’m more conducive to think, yeah, it is, than to get angry. When I’m sitting around bored, he can pop me out of it by tilting his head, fluttering his eyelids and asking, “Mom, get a party started?”

These little gems of toddler wisdom should not be ignored, but cherished, and I am thankful for each one.

 

 

Searching for the Source

18 Jan

Having to explain the products, foods and material possessions you have or don’t have in your house to a 3 year-old is a challenging prospect.

A torrent of information came my way this week: metal flakes in breakfast cereal, coal tar in food coloring, labor conditions in China that are so bad the factory had to put up nets to help catch all the people that were trying to kill themselves by jumping off the building. How do I explain all of this to someone who just wants a box of Apple Jax?

The worst part is that as my knowledge of such things is constantly growing and changing, what was once acceptable may not be any longer, and visa versa: what I once said “no” to, I then change to a “yes”.

Buying and consuming is so complicated a prospect I don’t even realize why I buy the things that I do a lot of the time. I am fasinated by advertising tactics, sense perception and the magic act that is being perpetrated right before me in the form of a completely incoherent product label when I do take the opportunity to actually read what it is that is actually inside whatever product I happen to be ingesting at that moment.

Learning more creates a higher appreciation and a change in buying habits. Ever since I learned that gelatin is made from cow toenails (really, Mr. Knox got the idea for Knox gelatin after watching his wife boil down hooves to make it at home), I haven’t been able to eat Jello. That doesn’t mean that no one should, I just can’t.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out from reading The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann that oil comes from vegetation that lived 300 million years ago. Thinking about stuff like that makes me drive a little less. I wonder, do I really need to use up some gas, dip into the earth’s piggy bank, into a stash that has been 300 million years in the making just to run to the store because I have a craving for some potato chips?

Plus, once I get there, the ability to enjoy those chips comes with the heavy burden of all the gas that was used in their production and transportation, energy that has gone into their conception and marketing combining with the added realization that they will probably also contribute to a whole slew of health problems from obesity to heart attack.

Thinking about all of this is staying concious to what materialism is and means. The less I consume, the less I have to think about all of those things. The more I know about everything that I purchase, the easier I’m able to sleep.

So if you too are one of those people who just don’t want to know what’s in the stuff that they buy but can’t look away, check out my new blog Product Professor coming next week. I’ll be profiling whatever products pop up, come my way or that are on my mind. In the meantime, enjoy, you never know what you might not be able to next!

Expectations vs Appreciation

4 Jan

I blew it. Well, I let it be blown. Adam’s 3rd birthday came and went without all that I had expected it to be.

I had a certain picture in my mind of how his special day would play out. It was my vision, not his, and when it came crashing down around me, I finally realized that.

Plus, the woman at the bakery said it as I gushed about how good the chocolate truffle cake I was purchasing tasted.

“Is it for him or for you?” she asked. For me, I realized. I was the one who’d wanted the rich, delicious, decadent chocolate cake for his birthday Adam was ecstatic over the cheese balls and flavored candy sugar that he’d picked out for himself. He wasn’t expecting these treats that I thought they were cheap and nasty but let him get them because it was his birthday and he appreciated them thoroughly. Even now as I write, he’s drinking the rest of the blue sports drink that he’d gotten as well.

“Delicious. Thank you for buying that. I love you too.” He said out of nowhere. I can’t make this stuff up.

But yesterday, even as he danced around slurping up the sugar that he called his “medicine”, it wasn’t good enough for me. It wasn’t what I’d wanted or expected. My irritation grew and grew and instead of enjoying his day with him, I found myself with a high temper and a short rope.

I was the one trying so hard to make his birthday a happy one, that I got in my own way. I was yelling at him when I wanted to be laughing with him. Luckily, our children are always forgiving us. So even though it was his birthday, I was the one getting the gift. He was teaching me to appreciate and to throw expectations out the window.

I’m tempted to feel guilty about my poor behavior yesterday but I know that’s not going to make anything better unless it’s accompanied by positive actions. The more you know, the more you grow, so I’m putting this work away to go play.

 

Stuck on You

8 Nov

I started my day with stickers all up my leg. Every single sticker on the sheet found its way onto my body, thanks to my fabulous peeler, Adam. As I peeled them off, one by one, my arm hair stuck onto the back of Mickey’s head and Daisy Duck smiled back at me.

These cartoon characters are ever charming, their joyful faces stuck in our minds eternally. These characters are so familiar because they remind us of people in our own lives. Who doesn’t know a funny Goofy guy or a grumpy Donald Duck?

A study found that the most recognizable face for young children is Ronald McDonald. These characters are our children’s role models. Appearing in their lives so many times that they can’t help but have an impact.

There are people in each of our lives that keep reappearing like these cartoon characters, aren’t there? While the stickers may lose their stickiness, the characters and their messages are intact in the minds of our little ones. As my projects for children build up, waiting for a computer and their future publication, a new idea is ruminating, marinating.

To turn the people who have had an impact on my own life into their own cartoon characters. Approachable and recognizable, cartoon characters may bring to life a new reality for both me and my child. If you’re reading this, you might just become immortalized in the future as one of the main characters in these stories.

If you’ve stuck in my mind, you might just become a sticker in the small hands of a child one day. Thank you.

 

Dooms-“Day”

19 Oct

So my aching feeling that “A Walk on a Day Like Thursday” wouldn’t be done by my scheduled release date has indeed come to fruition. I’m typing this at the library as my computer caught a virus and is now damaged. Iam still hoping that the documents in it can be saved, but we’ll see.

This series of events goes well with the theme of the book, as indeed this week every day feels like Thursday.

Updates to come. Thank you all for your patience. Afterall Friday could be just a day away.