Archive for May, 2012

Take a Look Through Your Children’s Eyes- Photographs by 3-5 year olds

When I was a kid my brother, sister and I got to build with real (metal!) tools, use the same kitchen supplies our parents used to ‘bake’ and get our hands in REAL clay (for pottery, not play dough- which is also awesomely fun) and we all still have all 10 fingers and both eyes. I believe that children should be allowed to have experiences using real materials whenever possible, instead of plastic tools why not a wood and metal set? Instead of pretend plastic food why not real fruit and veggies?

Experiences with real materials will give children such strong early connections to those materials that they may grow up learning how to COOK and SEW rather than how to ‘pretend’ how to cook and sew. Pretend play is fantastically important to brain development as well, but we need to get away from this ‘hands off’ approach to early childhood experiences. The more hands-on we allow our children to be the smarter they will be. I’m not saying, “Throw some matches and a hand saw in the play room and let them have at it!” What I mean is that children can learn how to use materials adults deem ‘off limits’ in a safe, responsible way if we TEACH them how.

For this project I took my small digital camera and put it in the hands of my students. Before letting them run off with the camera and bury it in the sandbox (only happened once) I went over a few rules-

1. Wear the lanyard string around your wrist like a bracelet.

2. No running, climbing, bike riding during your camera turn.

3. MOST IMPORTANTLY- If you would like a turn ask your friend for a turn in 5 minutes.Without grabbing and pushing.

**It is really important to place the value of these rules on the child’s safety rather than on the safety of the camera itself. Rule #2 is set in place not so the camera doesn’t get broken, but so that the child does not fall down and get hurt while running and looking through the lense. No child should ever be made to feel that a 3×5 inch plastic box is more important to you than their physical well being. I would suggest getting a service plan on your camera- I used mine after camera accidents only two times in the three years we did this project. And it was free!

By putting the camera in the children’s hands it not only empowers them and lets them know that their point of view is important to us but also gives us, as adults, a chance to see the world through their eyes.

All of these amazing photos were taken by 3 to 5 year olds, none of them have been altered in any way. Take a look-

by Riley, age 4

by Jolie, age 4

by Ryan, age 5

by James, age 5

by Sophia, age 4

by Madison, age 4

by Chloe, age 4

by Olivia, age 5

by Tiana, age 3

by Chloe, age 4

by Skye, age 5

by Jolie, age 5

by Bryce, age 5- “Its a letter ‘A’!” he observed 🙂

by Olivia, age 5

my portrait, by Gabriel, age 3- could not have a planned a better photo 🙂

The bottom line is, children are amazing. They can do anything and everything if we only give them the opportunity let them try.


Create Your Own Watercolor Photo Bookmarks

I discovered the design for these bookmarks by accident one day while sorting through old photos where I had cut someone out of a garden scene and thought, “Hmm, if only there were some way to USE all these fragments of old photos…” Then I came across some ‘Make Your Own Bookmark’ kits at Michaels Craft Store (Heaven) and one plus one made two. Instead of using the kit I bought it, took it apart and used their bookmark as a stencil to make my own- now you can do it too! These watercolor photo bookmarks are a lot of fun to design and make a wonderful personalized gift 🙂

What you will need:

watercolor paints and painting supplies (brushes, containers, etc)

bristol paper or watercolor paper



x-acto knife




hole puncher


1. Make your bookmark stencil ( use a heavy paper or cardboard to lengthen stencil life):

The measurements for this stencil are 12 inches by 1.5 inches, with two triangle notches at 6inches where the bookmark will be folded. The window for the photo is 4 inches from the bottom, with .25 inches on both sides and 1.5 inches on top where a hole will be punched for ribbon.

2. Trace your stencil on the back of bristol or watercolor paper you wish to paint on- make sure you trace them close together to not waste paper 🙂

3. Get ready to paint! I choose watercolors for these bookmarks because the colors are so vibrant and it is a lot of fun to experiment with textures. Try using different techniques like wetting the paper a little before applying paint to make more blended look, or splattering a different color over wet paint to create a tie-dye effect. Go crazy! Have fun!

4. When paint is dry cut out bookmark strips following the lines you traced before painting.

5. Use an x-acto knife to cut out windows for photos and fold bookmarks in half at 6 inch line

6. Now it is time to select your photos!I lean toward nature photos, but faces would be lovely as well 🙂

Photo measurements are 3.5 cm by 5 cm

7. To attach photos into bookmarks put a small amount of glue around the edge of the photo square and center it in the photo window. When photo is dry fold bookmark in half and glue insides together. I usually press the bookmarks under a stack of books while they dry to keep them nice and flat

8. When your beautiful bookmarks are dry you can use a hole puncher to punch a hole above the photo window and tie a little ribbon on for a finishing touch.

Grab your favorite book and keep your pages in style! 🙂

Make Your Friends Eat Dirt- They’ll Love It!

We all have fond memories of mixing dirt, water, grass, the occasional unlucky bugs and making mud pies in the yard as kids- here is an easy way to make an edible version that your friends will love. I mean, i’m sure we have all eaten our share of dirt whether by choice or by force, these cupcakes will leave you asking for more!


What you will need:


chocolate cupcake mix (boxed or from scratch, can’t descriminate against cake)

chocolate frosting

gummy worms

Oreo cookies

cupcake pan

cupcake wrappers


check out these cute grass themed wrappers I found at JoAnn Fabrics!



1. Bake cupcakes and let cool

2. While cupcakes are cooling put Oreos in a ziplock and smash them up (for a dozen cupcakes I used about 15 Oreos)

3. Pour smashed Oreos into a bowl and stir in two or three generous spoonfulls of chocolate frosting

4. Frost cooled cupcakes with chocolate frosting and scoop a spoonfull of Oreo crumb&frosting mix on top of each

5. Add gummy worms on top of cookie dirt and serve your friends some mud pies!





This recipe can also be used on a cake rather than cupcakes- get crazy creative with it and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, CHOCOLATE dirty!