Floral May Crafts for Toddlers

may flowers
April showers bring May flowers right? So this month I’ve been doing a lot of floral crafts with my boys. The first one I shared on Instagram and in a previous post which is a Monet Waterlilies craft.  Monet was a French impressionist painter in the 19 century who built an incredible garden in his home complete with a Japanese bridge and water lily pond which he painted over and over again. This is a simple process art project that then gets turned into a craft.  For more information on how to make it you can check out my previous post here.

monet 2Later on for Mother’s Day we made paper plate flowers which are also a simple process art activity. The boys use bright colors and painted paper plates. Afterwards we practiced cutting with our safety scissors little slips along the side of both plates. Then we bent the tabs that we created to resemble petals on a flower. To finish we added a green construction paper stem and leaf.  Both boys painted a paper plates, Ben helped with the cutting, and Adam helped with the gluing.

flower cardWe created some friends willows based off of a Pinterest pan I found last month. We did this project in play group along with the water lilies. For this project I pre-drew the willows on white card stock sized 9″ x 11″. Are used a sharpie marker, but any permanent marker will do. You don’t want to use Crayola markers because they will smear when the paint is applied. We then dipped hour some into different colors of paint and pressed around the flower. It’s a simple cute process project that could then be turned into a card or framed.

I did a willow, but on Pinterest it initially came to me as a dandelion.  There are so many cute thumbprint flowers on Pinterest.  I’ll share some pins below.  Let me know if you try any in the comments below.  Happy May!

Thumbprint Dandelion - Kid Craft - this idea would be a great gift for a teacher or a DIY project for grandparents!:

Thumbprint Art Project For Kids - Easy craft idea! Painted flower pots make cute homemade Mother's Day Gifts. Crafts:

Mother's day gift idea from thebubblegumtree.blogspot.com:

 

Delicious and Nutritious Israeli Tahini Smoothie

tahini shake

If you follow my Instagram, which I post on daily, you know I love smoothies!  My husband and I drink them daily.  Since it’s been a while since I shared a recipe with you I decided this smoothie has to be my next recipe for the blog.  It’s officially amazing and so good for you!

If you are not familiar with tahini it’s sesame paste that is used in several Middle Eastern dishes.  It comes very thick in the jar and can be thinned out with water or lemon juice.  It’s one of the main ingredients in hummus and is amazing as a dressing.  When we were in Israel last fall they were pouring it over their ice cream.  You can find tahini in most large supermarkets, I love the Organic Tahini from Trader Joe’s-it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.

This recipe calls for half a cup of Taster’s Choice coffee in the hazelnut flavor.  In the Middle East Nescafe and instant coffee are very popular.  My husband likes Taster’s Choice and for a change he’s been trying the hazelnut flavor.  I pre-brewed the coffee.  When making a smoothie start with the liquid ingredients first and then add the solid ingredients.  I make my smoothies in a Ninja every morning, but a blender works fine too.

The recipe for this is to simply blend:

ice

1 c. of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 c. of hazelnut Taster’s Choice coffee

1 tbsn. of tahini

2 bananas

2 packets of Stevia or a tbsn. of honey (agave or maple syrup would work too)

It’s a really great way to wake up in the morning.  You have a caffeine kick from the coffee, potassium from the banana, healthy fats from the tahini, and calcium from the almond milk.  It has a deeper taste than a traditional peanut butter and banana smoothie.  The hazelnut coffee mixes with the sesame flavor beautifully.  I hope you enjoy this recipe.  I’ll be sure to share more recipes soon!

Tip:  To make the smoothie vegan omit the honey.

DIY Mickey Mouse Art Projects

Mickey Mouse ArtA couple months ago I was visiting a dear friend who had some extra canvas sitting around her house. I took a square shaped one that was already pre-stretched and it had a gyclee on it home with me with the intention that I would be using this for a Mickey Mouse DIY painting project to be hung in Ben’s big boy bedroom. Being that the canvas already had a giclée on it I went ahead and used a paint primer that I picked up at Lowe’s. If you’re trying to do this project you can also use a few layers of gesso and a sponge brush.   I did about four coats of the primer using a house painting brush and allowing each coat to dry in between. I was very careful that the coats were thin and even. I also painted the sides.

 Once that was done I made my circle templates out of craft paper just tracing around a large sized salad bowl and a cereal bowl twice.  I cut them out and taped them down flat onto the dry canvas.  After that I began splattering paint in yellow, red, and black across the canvas.  Tip: You want to make sure when you’re doing this to start with the lightest color to the darkest allowing each color to dry completely before adding another color otherwise the colors will run into each other and you’ll get a murky look.



I made sure to let some paint drip down the sides as well.  I let the painting dry overnight. I was able to hang it up with Command Strips that I placed in each corner. Then I bought these cute wall decals from Babies R’ Us that I stuck on the wall underneath the painting.

Moving onto the numbers that I painted Mickey Mouse style. I bought the numbers and the wood circles from Michael’s. The Mickey Mouse wall plaque I got from Amazon.

The numbers were really easy to make but do require a little bit of painting skill. You could also apply the same method with the wooden circles for ears and the colors to letters if you want to make a name plaque or the ABC’s.

The numbers came already primed with white paint. I simply taped off the bottom of each number so I would get a clear edge when I painted the yellow coat of paint. While I waited for the paint to dry I used Gorilla Glue to glue the wooden discs onto each number for mouse ears.  Once the yellow paint was dry I carefully removed the tape. I recommend using painter’s tape. If you don’t have painter’s tape you can use masking tape but you do run the risk of a peeling off part of your acrylic paint and not having a clean edge. I taped off the middle of each number to paint the red paint, but before I painted the red I added yellow circles for buttons.


I painted on the red paint, allowed it to dry.  I then proceeded to tape off the top of the numbers to paint black.  After I allowed the red paint to dry I repainted the yellow buttons.  Sometimes when you’re painting you have to add another layer in order to have a nice clean edge. Another option if you don’t feel comfortable painting buttons on each number, you can purchase small yellow or white buttons and glue them on.  If you do choose to paint on the buttons I recommend using a very small paintbrush. For the rest of the project are used in medium size paintbrush. The project in all took me two evenings to complete. I used Command Strips to hang up the numbers and the Mickey Mouse plaque.  Ben really loves this display in his room. He practices counting his numbers in both English and Hebrew when he sees it.

I think having DIY accents in the room separates Ben’s Mickey Mouse themed bedroom from others.  I didn’t only rely on the same merchandise we see in every superstore, department store, and baby store.  I added unique pieces to give it a personal touch.  Art is a fun, inexpensive, and easy way to add a little DIY flair to your child’s room.

DIY Mickey Mouse Rocking Chair

rocking chair

When we decided to switch Ben’s nursery into a big playroom I knew immediately what the theme would be: Mickey Mouse. He’s obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse-it is his favorite show, we watch it every day. He has every Mickey Mouse toy you can imagine, and we went to Disneyland for his second birthday.  The problem was that we had nothing as far as Mickey Mouse furniture or even artwork. Along the way a friend of ours was selling their son’s red Corvette bed, which my husband picked  up for Ben as a Hanukkah present. It goes along with a Disney Cars painting we received for Ben’s first birthday.  I thought we could kind of combine Mickey Mouse and the car theme because the new show Mickey Mouse and the Roadster Racers is coming out and so it really works out perfectly.

This rocking chair was given to us by a friend who’s granddaughter outgrew it. It was a typical brown wooden rocking chair.  I saw a DIY Mickey Mouse painted chair on Pinterest this past fall and have been dying to replicate it. The first thing I did was paint the whole chair white with a primer I picked up at Lowe’s. I did two coats of white.  I allowed them to dry completely in between coats. My biggest piece of advice that I teach all my students when it comes to painting anything is to start with your lightest color and leave your darkest color for last. For this project I simply used acrylic paint that I purchased at Michael’s. I started with the yellow on the bottom of the rocking chair and the two circles on the seats for Mickey’s buttons.  The next step I did was the red seat which I had to be very careful painting-especially around the circles so that they still looked pretty smooth around the edges.

Tip: When you’re painting a piece of furniture it’s really important that you look at it from every angle, make sure that you get behind it in front of it you look on top of it facing downwards and you get underneath it and look up in between every single coat of paint. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve missed!

Lastly I painted the black sections and added the black creases for the gloves on the handles of the rocking chair.  When you’re painting a piece of furniture  with several colors like this you want that the color will be opaque.  Stay away from semi-transparent, glossy, or pthalo type colors.  Once the rocking chair was finished I took it up to Ben’s room and I must say it has been a really great addition to his big boy Mickey Mouse bedroom. It’s a piece that definitely brings that theme of Mickey Mouse into the bedroom and completes the look. I’m glad I was able to do this on a budget-using a chair that I got for free and was already in my home, with small tubes of acrylic paint that I purchased only for a few dollars at Michael’s.  Just like the rest of our house our kids’ bedrooms are going to change over the years and it’s good to be able to do so while conserving money through DIY projects like this.

Patriotic Playgroup Activities  for Presidents’ Day

This week we had our playgroup on Presidents’ Day. I decided to go with the theme of patriotic crafts and I did some research on Pinterest. I found a really cool pasta sensory bin that was cheap and easy to make.  I will attach the pan below in case you’re interested. The century vent was a blast and the children really enjoyed it. It did not take a whole lot of work to make. In fact I made it just in a few extra moments that I had over the weekend. Obviously the pasta is reusable, so I can use this for future crafts to come.  Once the bin was assembled I added in some plastic cups, plastic spoons and forks, and a little car for the kids to play with.



I also did a patriotic star craft. We assembled stars using Elmer’s glue with red and blue popsicle sticks. Then we attached the start to some white card stock. The kids could use glue sticks to collage paper tissue squares in red and blue or red glitter on their star.  This was sort of a problem-solving craft in the fact that the kids had to help their moms put together a star which is not easy to do as far as it coming out symmetrical. The kids also had to learn how to use a glue stick and choose the materials that they wanted in their star.  For a two-year-old that is definitely some higher-level thinking. They are analyzing, synthesizing, and creating.


My last activity was a so-called free painting in red white and blue. This particular project has some art historical significance. The style of Abstract Expressionism  which was made popular by Jackson Pollock in the 1940’s was an exploration of paint itself. No longer was paint being used to depict a person, place or thing – the artist was just creating a painting to depict the paint.  Their style of art marks the transition of the center of the art world from being Paris to it being in New York City. This is a truly American art movement.  So as the kids dripped, swirled, and explored with paint, they were actually creating works of art that tied into an American historical style of art.


When I do my playgroup every month I like to have a variety of activities. I like for there to be something for the kids to craft or collage, something for them to model or experience such as a sensory activity or clay, and of course a drawing or painting material. At this age it’s really important that kids just experience as much as they possibly can. By giving young children art materials and allowing them to create they’re using their higher thinking skills, they are exploring their imagination, and they’re expressing their unique individuality at a very-which is a character builder.  Young children experience a level of confidence in themselves and their artwork and like teenagers who typically are shy about their accomplishments. If we can encourage  young children to to be proud of themselves and build up their confidence at a young age then hopefully they’ll be more confident when they enter their teenage years and adulthood. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and if you have any thoughts about how art builds character in kids please share them in the comments below.

I Used to Be an Artist

Some artists create everyday like clockwork.  They take their canvas and easel and go to a mountain top or a cliff and paint for hours on end until they have a masterpiece or hurl their canvas over the cliff like Cezanne in a fit of frustration.  I am not that kind of artist. I have never been that kind of artist and yet my whole life I have been Liza the artist.  I was the girl in high school who spent countless hours in the art room listening to Depeche Mode on her headphones shading and mixing colors. I attended art school, have a B.F.A. in painting, and went onto a successful career as art teacher in the public schools.  I created my own art and displayed it in galleries in my spare time.  Then one day in October of 2013 I got the call that ended my artistic career: I was finally pregnant.  I had tried for several years to create what would become one of my two greatest masterpieces, not knowing that this news would make me completely redefine myself.

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Maybe you’re reading this saying I shouldn’t have to give up my artistic pursuits to be a mom.  You’re right.  There are plenty of people who have babies and manage with a helpful family member, daycare, or sleep schedules to continue their interests.  I have fully committed myself to being a mom and put this part of myself on the back burner.  My practice as an artist has ebbed and flowed throughout my life.  Three summers ago before my pregnancy I was creating art everyday, and now nothing since.  The blog is filling the creative void to express what art left behind.  I do miss it, but not terribly because I know one day it will consume my life again.

Matboucha Tutorial and Recipe Suggestions

About a month ago I shared with you my Matboucha recipe.  It’s a spicy, cooked salad from Morocco. It’s a staple in my household.  I make it every Friday for our Sabbath meal as my husband is of Moroccan decent.  I am including a video tutorial on how to prepare it as it is a little tricky for beginner chefs and recipe suggestions on how to use this delicious salad will be posted below.

 

 


Recipe Suggestions:

1.  Eat with charred pita and hummus.  It’s delicious either hot or cold.

2.  Incorporate it into a sandwich like grilled cheese or as a burger topping.

3.  Top off a seared salmon filet with a spoonful of Matboucha.
5.  Use it in a quiche. Spoon a generous helping into a store bought pie-crust.  Beat 4 eggs with salt and pepper, pour them into the pie shell.  Add smoked provolone on top and bake for 50 minutes at 350F.

6. Start an omelet with olive oil and Matboucha.  Then add your beaten eggs and cheese once the moisture has evaporated.

7.  Top of rice or quinoa with Matboucha and a chopped hard boiled egg.

Truly the options are limitless!

Galaxy Sensory Bottles

galaxy-bottles
At this month’s My Petite Picassos’ Playgroup we created projects under the theme of the galaxy. We made galaxy sensory bottles for the babies, paper craft rockets, and we did galaxy marbling papers to make valentines.


We made our galaxy bottles using cotton balls, watered down tempera paint, kabob skewers, and glitter.  I highly recommend if you do this activity you use a short water bottle otherwise you will be very busy for a long time creating your galaxy bottle!  I saw a few videos on YouTube on how to do this and the toddlers enjoyed putting the galaxy bottles together so much!

Basically it’s very simple, but time-consuming. Take your cotton balls one by one pulling them apart and placing them inside of your bottle. When you think you have a lot of cotton balls take your blue watered down paint mixture and pour a little bit over the cotton balls.  Then use the kebab skewers to mix the paint and the cotton together. The water will be absorbed by the cotton and the cotton balls will shrink up so you will probably want continue another layer or two of blue cotton before you move onto the next color.  I did my layers as blue on the bottom purple in the middle and pink on the top. As I moved up the bottle I continued putting in the cotton and adding my water. In between layers put a little bit of glitter not too much or you’ll get clumps!  We also tried doing this with food coloring and water and that turned out excellent as well as you can see from my friend’s bottle on the bottom of the page.  If you don’t have paint at your house but you have some food coloring you can do this craft easily.  My friend had a really good point that the bottles do get a little bit heavy with all of the water and so it is a good idea to keep them small even if you think a big bottle would be a stand out if you want a baby to hold it and left it with her hands and inspect it and it’s needs to stay small.

Like I said earlier the toddlers loved this craft! They were very engaged with ripping apart the cotton and pushing it through the bottles.  One of the moms made the comment that her son never does arts and crafts projects but he loved this craft.  They filled up even large bottles with cotton. You could see they were fully concentrating on the activity and they were immersed in the process.

Fun and Yummy Learning: Marshmallow Shapes

marshmallow-shapes

Ben knows how to sing his ABC song, count to 10 in Hebrew and English, and parts of his body in Hebrew.  Now I’m trying to teach him shapes and colors.  This is a really simple and fun evening family time activity.  I used kids’ straws from Daiso and small marshmallows to build basic geometric shapes.  We talked about the names of the shapes: triangle, rectangle, square.  We talked about the colors of the straws.  Ben asked for help to build which I was happy to hear.

I would rather he ask me or an adult for help than be frustrated and give up.  Too often as a teacher students didn’t ask for help and misunderstood parts of my lesson.  Asking for help is crucial in learning and kids should be taught to.

The activity was a hit with boys.  Adam ate all the marshmallows!  The next night they were at it again with their “Aba” who taught them the names of the shapes and colors in Hebrew.  So not only was this a math lesson, it was sculpture, and it was language development!  I’ve seen on Pinterest people use toothpicks instead of the straws.  I liked that the straws were less pointy for my littles, but for older kids toothpicks would definitely work.  This is also a great busy bag idea!

My Favorite Tried and Tested Busy Bags from Pinterest

This past fall I had the daunting task of taking a 24 hour flight with a 2 year old and a 9 month old.  My 9 month old I figured would be happy as long as I held him, but the 2 year old would need toys.  Toys not just for the plane, but for a month long vacation on the other side of the world!  So I put together a backpack with 15 busy bags and here is a list of some of my favorites from Pinterest.

  1.   Colored crafts sticks with Velcro dots to make shapes with. Both Ben and Adam loved these and still use them for restaurants and other outings to stay occupied. From the Tip Garden.
      DIY Toddler Activities - craft sticks and Velcro dots... "Busy bag" okay weird…:

2.  My niece and nephew loved this activity which not only makes kids match patterns, but also colors and fractioned shapes.  From No Time For Flash Cards.This is a simple activity with great cognitive benefits. Matching is the…:

3. This busy bag idea came with a free printable, but I just made my own cards with a sharpie and card stock.  From Teaching Mama.Snowflake Busy Bag {Free Printable}:

4. Lastly, I’m choosing to share a busy bag idea I didn’t make yet, but will for our next trip.  Ben and Adam love building, so I think this will be right up their alley! From How Wee Learn

quiet time activities for 3 year olds:

These ideas are cheap, reusable, and easy to make.  These activities don’t need to necessarily just be used for busy bags and outings or travel, the could just be quiet time activities for a rainy day.  What busy bags do your kids love?