The Joy and Magic of…CRAYONS.

Close your eyes and take a trip back to your childhood. No matter what age you are, wasn’t there a time when getting a brand new box of 64 colors Crayola crayons rocked your world? The smell of new crayons, fresh from the box, the array of colors begging to be used, awaiting your creativity. It is hard to find someone who hasn’t used, enjoyed, or created something special with crayons.

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Today is NATIONAL CRAYON DAY. To celebrate, I thought I’d share a few fun things about these magic wands of creativity.

THE FIRST BOX OF CRAYOLA CRAYONS MADE IN 1903 COST ONLY A NICKEL AND INCLUDED THE COLORS RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, VIOLET, BROWN, AND BLACK. When I bought my first box of crayons, this 8 Pack cost a quarter.

IT’S BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN THAT THE SMELL OF A CRAYON IS UNIVERSAL. A study done by Yale on the 20 most recognizable scents ranked crayons number 18.

THE AVERAGE CHILD WEARS DOWN 720 CRAYONS BY THEIR TENTH BIRTHDAY. Talk about creativity…I’m willing to bet many of those crayons were used to make “I LOVE YOU” cards for parents.

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CRAYOLA MAKES 3 BILLION CRAYONS A YEAR. That’s enough crayons to circle the world six times!

AMERICA’S FAVORITE CRAYON COLOR IS BLUE. We like it so much that the top ten favorites included these other shades of blue: cerulean, midnight blue, aquamarine, periwinkle, denim and blizzard blue.  

Big Blue is the world’s largest crayon.
Big Blue

Getty Images

The giant was made from 123,000 leftover blue crayons collected from kids around the nation. It weighs a whopping 1,500 pounds and is almost 16 feet long!

Crayons are so popular, books have been written about them:

For ideas on how to enjoy the magic of crayons, visit: https://www.crayolaexperience.com/

THREE CHEERS FOR CRAYONS... Long may they continue to inspire creativity.

Easy and Fun Crafts For St. Patrick’s Day

Easy St Patrick’s Day Crafts for Kids

Many of you who follow this blog know how much I enjoy posting about easy, fun crafts for kids. One of my favorite sites for this is RED TED ART. Check out all the fun crafts for any holiday, season, or just for fun. Everything from paper crafting, origami, painting, clay, puppets, weaving…this site has it all.

Enjoy a bit of extra “luck of the Irish” and get busy with the kids making some easy and fun shamrocks and other decorations.

You can also get into the spirit of the holiday with some fun reading: leprecaun book

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Amalia Hoffman Presents a New PB: MASHA MUNCHING + A Chance to Win a Copy

Today it is my delight and pleasure to host Author/Illustrator AMALIA HOFFMAN during the launch of her new PB MASHA MUNCHING.  This story, about a goat with an unusual appetite is a delight to read and a visual treat as well thanks to Amalia’s colorful and lively illustrations.

Amalia has agreed to give away a signed copy of her book to one lucky reader. If you’d like to be considered, please leave a comment at the end of the post. If you share this post on social media, let me know and I will give you a second chance to win.

Here’s Amalia to tell us more about how MASHA MUNCHING came about:

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  1. What inspired the story?

One of the most vivid memories that I have from raising two boys is when we were asked to leave a restaurant after my son threw the food on the floor while sitting in the high chair. I thought that many parents would relate to that.

Growing up in Israel, we spent our summers in a small village where farmers raised cows, chickens and goats. We used to laugh as the goats tried to nibble on our cloths and shoes.  I have another book, The Klezmer Bunch, with a goat character, also named Masha so that means that I have a soft spot for goats.  One day, I just came up with this alliteration; Masha Munching and that kind of sat in my brain for a while till I came up with the idea of a goat that longs for great food.

I am always interested in writing stories that have a message but are not preachy. In Masha Munching, I had the opportunity to say that what is most important is that we share pleasures with good friends and the quality of the meal is less satisfying than the friends we share it with. Also, Masha thinks of her friends all the time during her trip and when she gets back, she uses what she learned to open a restaurant for the farm animals.

The scenes in the restaurant are really delightful. I love the thought you put into creating them.

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2. Kids will be laughing at the silly food choices Masha makes in the restaurant. How did you arrive at this plot element?

In my first drafts, I only had 2 characters: Masha & the penguin waiter. I also had the idea that Masha will eat all the “wrong” things. Then, when I started working with Yeehoo Publishing editor, Brian Saliba, we brainstormed for a while about introducing other animals. I wanted Masha to go for funny foods but also foods that are connected to what she eats in the farm. I started thinking what Masha could find at the Bistro that can remind her of what she’s used to because that would make the story even sillier.  I picked the baguette basket because it’s made from material similar to the straw she chews and chomps with her friends, the pigs. Eating the tasty table could be mistaken by a goat to eating the wood she gobbles and gnaw with the other goats. Drinking bubbly water is a step fancier than slurping sploshy water with the ducks.

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3. The illustrations look textured and three-dimensional. How were you able to achieve this effect?

I wanted to convey the feeling that things are in motion so I used paper cut technique. I cut and color the elements by hand. I cover the board surface with Liquitex modeling paste and add textures by scraping the surface while it’s wet with a comb or other tools. When dry, I paint and sponge the background on the board. Then I glue all the cut-up elements and arrange their movement and expressions by curving the legs or arms or opening the beak wide. When satisfied, I photograph the image. Sometimes, I add more textures, details, and color in Photoshop.

Thanks for sharing your technique and the origin of this story Amalia.

Here’s my review of this book:

“Masha the goat gets bored eating the same old farm food and sets out to expand her palate at a fancy restaurant. She never gets to the entrees, because the fancy table and decorations look yummy enough to eat. Young readers will delight at Masha’s silly food choices in this delightful and funny picture book. The lively, three-dimensional illustrations add another layer of fun as they seem to jump off the page in excitement and enthusiasm. A 5 star winner.”

Here’s a link to a teacher’s guide, coloring pages & fun facts about goats

http://www.yeehoopress.com/wp-content/uploads/Masha-Munching-Lesson-Plan.pdf

Here’s youtube section of Amalia presenting the book with puppet

Author/Illustrator Mike Ciccotello Presents: Draw With Mr. Mike

Are you an author who writes picture books and would love to know how to illustrate them? Do you have or know children who love to doodle and draw? Do you want to stretch your creative muscles and learn something new? Then I’ve got a great YouTube series for you: DRAW WITH MR. MIKE starring PB Author/Illustrator Mike Ciccotello. Here’s Mike to tell you about his series in his own words:

Thanks for the invite to talk about my drawing program, Draw with Mr. Mike!

When my twins were three, I observed how they started to create art. I had an idea of showing them how to use basic lines and shapes to create complex objects. We worked on a few drawings, and I was delighted to see them follow along. They were excited to see what they were able to create. So I decided to include this in my school visits, and it was a hit. The kids enjoyed the opportunity to create art together.

Creating art between three to seven is fun for children, but it can also be problematic if they lack confidence in their abilities. Breaking down these drawings into their simplest forms makes them easier to understand. And then, step-by-step, as we fit the shapes together to build a finished piece of art, we are also building the child’s confidence.

After developing this idea, I knew I wanted to reach more children, but I didn’t know how to take my lessons and make them available to the public. Then, an old colleague from my days at CNN approached me with an idea. Her company, Identity Digital, could help me figure it all out, and that’s when the Draw with Mr. Mike show became a reality.

We started recording episodes and posting them to Vimeo, YouTube, and on my website.

Each episode demonstrates the same principle of using basic lines and shapes to create a complex character, object, or scene. Now I’m focusing on creating more episodes to reach a wider audience, improving my production every week, and doing my best to make fun and educational drawing lessons for kids.

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Here is the blurb from my website:

Do you know a child who loves to draw? Or maybe a child who needs a confidence boost when it comes to making art? If so, then DRAW WITH MR. MIKE may be a great fit. In these short, easy-to-understand videos, young artists will learn how to take basic shapes and lines, and turn them into a rocket ship, a castle, a butterfly, and other kid-friendly images. The lessons are geared toward 3-7 years old—but, of course, they are open for artists of any age to join in.

So grab some favorite drawing materials, and join me in this exciting art journey. Let’s see how these shapes and lines fit together!

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Links: YouTube.com/DrawWithMrMike

DrawWithMrMike.com

Mike is the author/illustrator of BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES, Beach Toys vs. School Supplies and TWINS.

Follow him on Twitter @ciccotello

Traveling To Asian Art Museums: Merely a Click Away by Marilyn Ostermiller

(Third in a three-part series on how to accompany the children in your life on virtual visits to a variety of museums.)

Art is the universal language.

Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” speak to us through time and space.

Likewise, “The Great Wave” created by Katsushika Hokusai of Japan has cast its spell over generations of art lovers throughout the world. This is one of a series of 36 he painted of views of Mount Fuji.   Mount Fuji Photo from Wikipedia.

You don’t have to travel to expose your children to the wonders of the art world. A few Asian Museums offer virtual visits that include special features for children. Among them:

National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

https://theme.npm.edu.tw/npmonline/en/page-kids.html#menu

The National Palace Museum’s virtual experiences for children feature video adventures in English that feature artwork from its collections.

Its permanent collection of Chinese artifacts and artworks includes almost 700,000 pieces, including some that date back 8,000 years. Its Children’s Gallery online offers online activities such a game of “I Spy” that will help youngsters to explore an original painting, “Malay Fisherman at Changi Beach” by Chua Mia Tee.

Another activity starts with a montage of a typical breakfast that introduces them to a different, but similar, cuisine, and a riddle to solve.

A gallery tour, told by kid-friendly narrator, weaves traditional stories, in English, based on art masterpieces in the museum’s collection, beginning with King Midas and his golden touch.

 Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

In the United States, the Asian Art Museum based in San Francisco offers children’s virtual visits tied to grade level.

A video tale about celebrating the new year in tells the story of Jizo, a deity whose statues are popular in Japan along the roadside.

https://education.asianart.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2021/07/Elephant-5-600x450.jpg 1x, https://education.asianart.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2021/07/Elephant-5-1200x900.jpg 2x

Caption: One of many hands-on activities on the site available for kids of all age groups.

https://education.asianart.org/regions/china/

Here’s a link to the Coloring Pages Offered by the museum: https://education.asianart.org/resources/lunar-new-year-zodiac-animals-coloring-pages/

Another way to explore the Asian Art Museum is through the book, Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum,” by author Sue DiCicco. Appropriate for ages 4 to 9, this 48-page picture book travels from exhibit to exhibit inviting kids to picture themselves in a variety of Asiant countries as they ride a rhino, become a samurai or climb Mt. Fuji. It is available through at http://www.amazon.com

Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum by [Sue DiCicco]

 

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who also writes stories for children.

 

 

 

Tour U.S. Museums Virtually With the Kids by Marilyn Ostermiller

(Second in a two-part series on how to accompany the children in your life on virtual visits to a variety of museums.)

With the advent of virtual visits to many museums across America, families can time travel throughout history without leaving home. Access is free so it won’t put a dent the budget. But, it’s important to set the stage and manage expectations for the kids before the visit begins. Preparations could begin by reading museum-related books such as these:

The Met: Lost in the Museum” is a seek-and-find adventure that takes place in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. met photo

The story follows a young girl as she moves through the museum’s galleries of Greek and Roman art, Ancient Egypt and Modern Art searching for specific treasures. Reading age: 7-9 years. It was written by Will Mabbit and illustrated by Aaron Cushley.

Seek & Find — Art Through the Ages” written by Frederic Furon and illustrated by Fabien Laurent. Youngsters will learn of a search for a medieval illuminator at a cathedral under construction and visit Impressionists as they paint by the seaside.

art museum book

Among the museums in the United States with virtual visiting options and a focus on what interests kids:

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

http://www.metmuseum.org

MetKids provides an online experience that features a time machine to uncover objects and artwork from the museum’s rooms. Virtual visitors can explore inventions, fashion and battles through videos and an interactive museum map. van gogh

For example, kids discuss famous paintings, including Washington Crossing the Delaware, with one of the museum’s curators.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.

https://naturalhistory.si.edu/exhibits

Virtual visitors glide through the museum led by a guide from one exhibit to another. Subject range from natural history, the ocean, and human origins. An ongoing series of live webcasts for families demonstrate topics such as how the museum’s technicians remove fossils from rock, repair broken bones, and reconstruct missing pieces to create the dinosaur skeletons on display in the museum. elephant for ostermiller post

National Children’s Museum, Washington D.C.

http://www.nationalchildrensmuseum.org

This kid-friendly museum features more than 75 STEAMwork video programs, including a detailed demonstration of how to build a zip line for toys in the house. There are monthly podcasts where children interview STEAM innovators from across the country and virtual field trips that usher them into the museum for free field trips.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, Calif.

https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams

Live web cams and prerecorded videos of penguins at feeding time, are accompanied by a chat about what they eat, how they eat it and why. Other sea creatures introduced in their natural habitat include jelly fish, leopard sharks, and sea otters.

fish for ostrrmiller blog 2one of the online exhibits at the aquarium.

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who seeks out family-friendly activities.

Virtual Museum Visits Are Designed for Kids by Marilyn Ostermiller

(First in a two-part series on how to accompany the children in your life on virtual visits to a variety of museums.)

Museums can introduce children to unknown worlds, spark their imagination and provide them with valuable perspective about the world in which they live.

Museum exhibits are typically so diverse that kids always can skitter around and find something that grabs their attention.

Now, more than ever, the world’s finest museums are accessible digitally. The following are among several international museums that offer free virtual exhibits, tours and dramatizations children can enjoy at home.

The Louvre, Paris:   https://louvrekids.louvre.fr.

The children’s section of this website offers several videos, in English, or in French with English subtitles, of stories related to the museum exhibits, such as the theft of the Mona Lisa and a priceless diamond. The story of Little Red Riding Hood features a painting of the girl and the wolf from the museum’s collection. An actress dramatizes the story, which has a surprising ending!

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Photo from the Louvre of Little Red Riding Hood, painted by Fleury Francois Richard, (1777 – 1852)

British Museum, London:

https://blog.britishmuseum.org/how-to-explore-the-british-museum-from-home/

The treasures in this museum’s collection range from a clay tablet from Babylon during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar to a miniature solid gold llama figurine that was buried with a king. The free learning resources online range from how Egyptian mummies were made to what Romans ate and drank in ancient times.

You can visit the British Museum’s blog for more information:

https://images.app.goo.gl/WanU1EmhQdH9yVUcA

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam:     https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en

Children will become acquainted with Vincent van Gogh through kid-friendly videos. For six to nine-year-olds, a video introduces the artist as an unassuming young man who loved to paint, shows what he painted, how he did it and where he did it. For nine to fourteen-year-olds, videos tell of a misunderstood, determined man who wouldn’t give up. It’s a story about needing to do what you’re good at. For youngsters who want to immerse themselves in the artist, there are drawings to print and color, crafts, games and books. It’s all in English so it’s easily accessible.

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Books about the works of art, ancient animals, and fossils can compliment the virtual museum tours. Among the options:

13 Artists Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel.

This picture book, suitable for children from eight to 12 years old, features works by some of the world’s greatest painters, including Leonardo de Vinci, Vermeer and Matisse.

13 artists bookcover

Fossils for Kids: A Junior Scientist’s Guide to Dinosaur Bones, Ancient Animals and Prehistoric Life on Earth, by Ashley Hall. From interesting facts about such prehistoric dinosaurs as Velociraptor to Tyrannosaurus rex, the book explains how fossils form, where they are found and how to identify them. Reading age: 6 to 8 years. 

fossil cover

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who seeks out family-friendly activities.

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How To Make Birch Tree: An Easy Art Project For All Ages by Guy Oliveri

It is my pleasure to day to feature illustrator Guy Oliveri who will share an awesome, simple , and creative art project that requires only materials you already have at home. A perfect project for home-schooling and virtual schooling. Here’s Guy:

If parents find themselves homeschooling these days, it is important not to forget art. Here is a fall art project that I created for my students.

In this project, I tried to show that a student could use tools that may be found around the home. This not only focused on creativity but also taught a bit of critical thinking- i.e. how do you think we can make a birch tree? It is also a project that has no age boundaries.

What you’ll need:      1.png

  1. A unique background- newspaper, old book pages, music sheets (We found this old music book at a yard sale).
  2. Paint or markers to make a background
  3. Correction ribbon
  4. Correction pen
  5. A pencil
  6. A push pin or a scoring too.

2.Create your background with watercolor paint or markers. Then let dry. You can also design a background digitally then print it on your paper.

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3.Using the correction ribbon, make long strokes from the bottom to the top. You can double up on the strokes to create thicker trees.

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4.With the pushpin or scoring tool, (be careful) score the ribbon to create texture. I had my students make “smiles” from side to side.

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5. Next, we shaded the some of the trees to separate some of the ones that over lapped one another (this added some depth).

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6. Moving on… Now using the correction pen, create the smaller branches beginning at the bottom and working upward as well. Note: If the correction pen leaks out at first, simply make the base of the branch thicker and drag the excess upward. You may want to try a practice run on a separate piece of paper to determine how your pen is functioning.

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7.Finally, a nice matte completes the project!

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8.Some examples of some other students work:    9.png

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Guy T. Olivieri is a freelance illustrator, writer, and retired crime scene investigator. A recognized crime scene and fingerprint expert, Guy, has assisted dozens of mystery writers. He enjoys being a guest teacher of forensics and forensic entomology(the study of how insects help solve crimes) to elementary, middle school, and high school students. His whimsical and straightforward approach to police science has made him a sought out favorite with kids of all ages. He also teaches art, always encouraging kids to maintain that creative gift!
 
Website:  PrivateerArt.com
 

Book Review: WHOOO KNEW? THE TRUTH ABOUT OWLS, by Annette Whipple + AN EASY OWL CRAFT

Today it is a pleasure to introduce a new non-fiction picture book by Annette Whipple about owls. At the end there will be instructions for making a simple owl craft just in time for fall decorations.

Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls by Annette Whipple is a picture book in question-and-answer format. It answers kids’ most important questions about owls. Each page spread focuses on one question and answer. Do owls puke? Do owls sleep all day? How do owls hunt? In addition to the main text and lots of stunning photographs, each page spread includes an illustrated owl whooo shares a bit more about owl life—often with a bit of sass.

 


This is the first book in The Truth About series. Books featuring dogs and spiders will be out in the spring.

  Reycraft Books is the publisher.

  The actual hardcover book includes a poster featuring owl superpowers! It measures 31.5 x 18.5.

  It releases on September 30, but pre-orders are really important, so don’t feel you have to wait until then to share.

A book trailer is at https://youtu.be/xUFiKmceDg0.


You can learn more about Annette and her books at:  https://www.annettewhipple.com.

    Facebook Annette Whipple Books  Twitter @AnnetteWhipple
Instagram
@AnnetteWhippleBooks

Here’s my review of this unique book:”WHOOO KNEW? THE TRUTH ABOUT OWLS, by Annette Whipple is an informative and entertaining guide to the world of owls. Written in a Q & A format, facts about owls and their habits are thoughtfully described in simple but illuminating detail. Wonderful photos of various owls enhance the content, making this a perfect addition to a classroom science curriculum. A five star winner.”

And now for the owl craft:

To make this you will need

  • a clean brown paper bag, brown construction paper, or brown card stock
  • yellow and orange scraps of card stock or construction paper.
  • black Sharpie marker
  • glue
  • scissors

An 8×11″ piece of paper was used to make this owl.  Fold the paper into a square bringing one edge against the other so the edges are even forming a triangle as shown in this diagram below.

Cut away the extra paper that isn’t part of the triangle.

 

 

 

Open the triangle and fold a smaller triangle to make a nose as shown in the  diagram below. Cut away the top portion of the wing sections as shown.

Cut out TWO yellow circles using the bottle cap from a milk carton or the rim of a small glass. Glue them in the spots as shown.

Using a BLACK marker, draw the pupils of the eyes, and makes lines on the wings and tail feathers as shown.

Cut a small triangle from ORANGE or YELLOW paper and glue it to the front of the triangle that makes up the nose.

Use the scissors to cut along the black lines on the wings and tail feathers. Your owl is complete!

WHOO KNEW making owls could be so much fun?

Just in Time For Spring…THE BOLD BRAVE BUNNY, a New PB by Beth Ferry + A Bunny Bookmark Craft and Give-away.

It’s always a joy when a new picture book comes out by New York Times bestselling author BETH FERRY.

Her Latest THE BOLD, BRAVE BUNNY is a delightful addition to her growing roster of picture books.

Here is my review of this book:

A delightful story of determination, imagination, and realization as Teetu the bunny learns what it means to belong. Clever illustrations of the “wilderness” outside Teetu’s burrow reflect his wonder and imagination as he embarks on his first solo adventure of discovery.  Reinforces the idea that no matter how far we roam, and no matter what the world has in store, it’s comforting to know that family is waiting for us when we return.

I am giving away a copy of this book to one lucky winner who leaves a comment naming his or her favorite childhood bunny story. (Mine is THE RUNAWAY BUNNY by Margaret Wise Brown, a book I read to my kids over and over again) Your name will be entered in the random drawing and the winner will be announced on this blog.

For the bunny loving, book loving kids in your house, here’s a nifty and EASY origami bunny bookmark they can make by watching the step-by-step directions on the Red Ted Art site.

bunny book markers

https://www.redtedart.com/easy-paper-bunny-bookmark/

You might want to check out some other great “Bunny” stories:

BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB by Annie Silvestro  Bunny's Book Club and BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL

KNUFFLE BUNNY by Mo Willems   

MR. REGINALD AND THE BUNNIES by Paula Wallace

Mr. Reginald and the Bunnies