Arts and Crafts

Tips for a Sensational Spa Birthday Party

February 24, 2014

Spa PartyMy daughter recently turned eight, and she decided on a spa theme for her birthday party. I wasn't sure where to begin, but we made a list together of things she wanted for her party, and with a little research and planning, it all came together. When the day of the party arrived we were both thrilled with the results, and her friends were, too! I forgot how much work it was to plan a party like this, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.

I thought I'd share a few or our tips and must-haves for a successful kids' spa-themed birthday party. Much of what we did was inexpensive and easy to put together, and everyone really had a good time.

A Book for Chinese New Year: Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts (Win a Copy!)

January 21, 2014

Lucky Bamboo Book of CraftsChinese New Year is coming up at the end of January, and it just so happens that we received a review copy of the fantastic Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts by author, illustrator, and teacher Jennifer DeCristoforo. This colorful, 136-page book is a perfect way for kids to learn about Chinese culture, and to have a lot of fun as they do it!

Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts is filled with over 100 fun projects that introduce children to Chinese culture and traditional fine arts. It includes projects relating to Chinese New Year and other festivals and holidays, Chinese folk toys and games, traditional performance and dance, and more. There are literally days' worth of projects in here to keep kids occupied, and activities range in skill level to fairly advanced (that is, Mom and Dad may have to lend a hand).

When our review copy showed up in the mail, my kids immediately claimed it and started looking through it to see what kinds of crafts they could create. They got out the scissors, stapler, glue, and construction paper and created the neat mini-lantern garland (on pages 98–99 in the book and pictured below) that we used to decorate the house.

Fall Classes at the Little Art Studio in Mill Valley

November 3, 2013

The Little Art Studio Mill ValleyIf you're a southern Marin parent looking for art and music classes for your children, check out the fall offerings at the Little Art Studio in Mill Valley. The Little Art Studio offers art and music classes designed for children ages 1 1/2 and up to explore art and music in an open, safe, and nurturing environment.

Current class offerings include Toddler Art, Afterschool Art, Music & Art, and Story & Art classes. The emphasis is on the creative process rather than the product, but the children always come away with incredible works of art! Small classes offer children a comfortable, age-appropriate atmosphere, while promoting cooperation and connections.

The Little Art Studio offers morning toddler classes and afterschool drop off classes on the weekdays. The studio is also available for art themed birthday parties and events on weekends!

Fall Session II runs from now through December 13, 2013. Classes run in six week sessions and flexible online scheduling is offered. All classes are $180 per session, $30 for drop-in.

Learn more and enroll online at www.thelittleartstudio.com. Drop-ins are welcome with 24-hour advance online registration, too. You can also call the studio at (415) 637-5340.

Easy Halloween Craft Project: Spooky Skeletons

October 22, 2013

Skeleton craft projectThese spooky little skeletons make terrific Halloween decorations, and are easy enough for everyone in the family to make. You've probably got everything you need to make them lying around the house, too. Here's what you'll need to create your skeletons:

  • Black construction paper (8 1/2 x 11")
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch (optional)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cotton balls
  • White glue

Cut construction paper sheets in half. Near the top of a half sheet, glue a cotton ball for the skeleton's skull. Then take five swabs and arrange them to form the skeleton's body: one for the spine and two each for the arms and the legs. You can gently bend the swabs for the arms and legs to give them some shape.

Fall Fine Art Classes for Kids at Studio 4 Art in Novato

October 9, 2013

Studio 4 ArtStudio 4 Art in downtown Novato is a great place in Marin to get creative, and this week celebrated its sixth year of bringing great art classes, drop-in workshops, and birthday parties for kids of all ages. This fall, Studio 4 Art offers a wide variety of great classes for children ages 2 to 17.

Here are some highlights of Studio 4 Art's fun and educational offerings for fall. Most classes are ongoing, so you can sign up at any time, and a 10% sibling discount is offered for many programs.

Toddler Program: Toddlers (and a parent or helper) can explore, get a little messy, and learn to love art and creativity at four different stations. Meets once a week for 4 consecutive weeks, Monday–Friday (you choose the day), 10–10:40 am. $49.50 including materials.

Preschool Program: Kids will learn art fundamentals through instructor-led projects in media like clay, painting, drawing, collage, printmaking, sewing, and more. Meets once a week for 6 consecutive weeks, Monday, Thursday, or Friday (you choose the day), 11 am–noon. $120 including materials.

Easy Kids' Fall Craft: Make a Pine Cone Bird Feeder

September 28, 2013

Pine cone bird feederIt seems that on every hike or nature walk we go on, my kids pick up pine cones. They like to collect large or just nicely shaped pine cones, and we end up having a bunch of them scattered around the house most of the time.

This weekend we decided to put one of them to good use and make a pine cone bird feeder. It's a fun, inexpensive fall craft project that's easy enough for just about every child to make.

You also get the satisfaction of getting to watch wild birds eat your handiwork. We like to watch the different colorful birds in our yard (plus they also eat bugs that might go after our vegetable garden).

This project is an old favorite with many families, summer camps, and schools, and you may even remember making something similar back when you were a kid.

Here's what you'll need for the project:

Fall Textile Arts Classes for Kids at Mimi the Sardine

July 28, 2013

Mimi the Sardine classesMimi the Sardine, the Marin manufacturer of lunch bags, bibs, spillmats, tablecloths, and other eco-friendly and stylish Swedish textiles for kids and families, also offers a series of textile arts classes for kids this fall at their Corte Madera retail store and classroom.

Kids will find a creative classroom filled with colorful yarns, fabric, buttons, and more, and they'll learn to sew by hand and with sewing machines, embroider, and decorate textiles, and they'll create great projects like pillows, messenger bags, pajama pants, dolls, doll clothes and more. Kids will even learn applied math and language skills as they work, without even knowing it!

Mimi the Sardine owner Pia Andersson holds a MA in textile arts from the University of Gothenburg, and has decades of teaching experience both in Sweden and the United States.

Make a Summer Journal to Record Vacation Memories

July 6, 2013

Summer journalWith summer vacation in full swing now, it’s really hard to think about going back to school in the fall and answering the age old question: “What did you do on your summer vacation?”

Make that time-honored topic easy to address for your kids by creating fun and colorful summer journals. My kids have already started working on theirs, and over the next few weeks, they’ll write about all the experiences they had over the summer, and fill their journals with photos, postcards, drawings, and other reminders of vacation fun.

There are no hard and fast rules for creating a summer journal with your kids. We use simple three-ring binders, but you might like to use an acid-free sketchbook or a spiral-bound notebook. We like using the binders because you can put all kinds of different things in them. Get out the three-hole punch and you can put drawings, brochures, and other souvenirs from your summer in them. Clear plastic sheet protectors can be used to hold things like postcards, brochures, and pressed flowers.

We also get the kind of binders with the clear plastic sleeves on the cover, so the kids can personalize their journals by sliding a drawing onto the front. Of course if you have a plain binder or other type of notebook you can customize it in other colorful ways, with stickers, paint, glitter, or anything else that your imagination can dream up.

Surprise Dad with a Custom BBQ Apron

June 15, 2013

Father's Day BBQ ApronFor Father's Day, sometimes the best gifts for Dad are those that the kids make and personalize themselves. If Dad's the grilling type, you can have the kids can make him this cute custom BBQ apron. It's easy to put together and Dad will love it!

You'll need:

  • A plain cotton apron
  • A pencil
  • Fabric paints

 All of the supplies needed for this apron can be found at a craft store like Michael's. Plan out a design and wording for your apron. I had the kids decorate this one with their handprints first, to remind Dad of how old they were when they made this for him.

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