My kids have all seemed to enjoy art, in one form or another, and I love the creativity that is fostered when a child creates something totally their own. Learning various crafting techniques and art skills has always had great appeal for our family. You would be hard pressed not to find bits of fabric, [...]
My kids have all seemed to enjoy art, in one form or another, and I love the creativity that is fostered when a child creates something totally their own. Learning various crafting techniques and art skills has always had great appeal for our family. You would be hard pressed not to find bits of fabric, string, yarn, construction paper, drawing paper, watercolor paper, paper, pencils, markers, chalk, scissors, tape, felt, glue, buttons, pins, raffia, clay, paint, etc. in boxes and bins around my house. I love being able to just turn the kids loose to dream up something fantastic and then excitedly come to share it with me, when they’re done.
I’m a little picky about the products we use for these activities, though. I think it’s a good idea to start from scratch and create with the raw materials we have available. Some are purchased new, some are gifted, some are picked up for pennies at garage sales and thrift stores. I love transforming something old into something new and useful. It saves money and makes good use of our resources. I don’t purchase craft kits very often, but occasionally, I am pleasantly surprised to find pre-made craft kits that not only do a good job of teaching a skill, but make room for, and even encourage, the child’s creativity.
I was treated with just such a pleasant surprise, when I reviewed Artterro’s Paint with Wool: Needle Felting Kit. Unlike craft kits that have asked my kids to assemble a cookie-cutter, pre-defined project that will be exactly like every other created by someone using that kit, Artterro provided clear instructions for learning a skill and then provided materials to allow my student to design her own creations from what she learned. I will be spending the money, this fall, to add a few more of their kits to our homeschool art line-up, after enjoying the high-quality materials and latitude for personal creativity in the fun kit we were fortunate enough to review.
Needle felting is one craft I have been so curious about, in recent years, but just never had the time to research and figure out how to do it. So naturally, when I was given the opportunity to review the needle felting kit from Arrterro, I jumped at the chance. The instructions were simple, clear and easy to understand and our ten-year-old mastered the technique in only minutes. The kit comes with enough supplies to create at least four different projects: four natural 100% wool felt canvases, 13 colors of roving wool, felting needles, ideas and instructions. This was a project that both my daughter, and I, were able to learn and enjoy. That’s a hallmark of the Artterro line – that their projects are fun and simple for all ages, kids to adults. Our particular kit says that it is for ages 8 and up, and I think that’s a good call, as they will be working with a sharp needle to do the felting.
I hope you will check out all the different kits available for you and your kids at Artterro. They are fantastic for learning new skills, expanding creativity and imagination, fine tuning small motor skills and eye-hand coordination. The projects are items that you and your kids will be proud to display when they’re finished, instead of just ending up in the wastebasket. The kits and the projects you make from them would be excellent as gifts, too. Be sure to check out their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, too! With back-to-school just around the corner, you don’t want to miss any news or great deals on these fun and education-worthy art kits.
One lucky Busy-at-Home reader will be able to share the fun and creativity of Artterro with their own family. The mandatory entry is the comment on this post that is detailed in the first option in the Rafflecopter form, below. Click the DO IT button to read the instructions and then create your answer for a comment, below. Once you hit Enter, all the optional additional entries will be opened for you. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received the Artterro Paint with Wool Kit in order to test it in my own home and to collect information for this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product. Busy-at-Home administers the giveaway, selecting the winner in a random drawing. The prize is provided and shipped by Artterro.
It’s very nearly that time of year, when many parents panic just a little bit, about what to do with their kids all summer. Yes, very soon, school will be out and providing activities that are fun AND worthwhile can be a challenge in our technology-soaked world. Engaging minds and keeping hands busy with productive [...]
It’s very nearly that time of year, when many parents panic just a little bit, about what to do with their kids all summer. Yes, very soon, school will be out and providing activities that are fun AND worthwhile can be a challenge in our technology-soaked world. Engaging minds and keeping hands busy with productive projects takes a lot of planning and preparation, so that the activity can be easily completed and so the supplies and materials are already on-hand when they’re needed. What a delight to discover Kiwi Crate, who not only understands the need, but solves it with a great deal of expertise.
When our bright green “crate” arrived at the front door, my 10-year-old was doing a little happy dance. Kiwi Crates are designed with kids aged 3-7 in mind, but if a project involves Science or Arts and Crafts, you can bet our 5th grader is going to be front and center, ready to tackle it. And when it involves both, don’t stand in her path! She was particularly excited because she knew we were receiving a Kiwi Garden Crate for this review. With all the excitement in our house surrounding gardening and growing our own healthy food, she was already enthusiastic about the possible projects. When we opened the sturdy box (crate) she nearly swooned. Combine three of her favorite things — presents, gardening and crafts and you will have landed on exactly what the Kiwi Garden Crate is all about.
My first thought, as we opened the box, was how well packaged the kit is. The green “crate” is a very sturdy cardboard constructed case that is re-closeable. It will be simple to store kits, this ones and future ones, stacked neatly in a small amount of space or to use their boxes to store other school and art supplies or puzzle pieces or to create art projects or…you get the drift. This isn’t your average waste of space, coming apart at the seams, box from a kid’s game or kit. Rather than spending big bucks on flashy commercial graphics for the outside, and the cheapest possible paper, Kiwi Crates focused on being sure it was durable, reusable and useful. I like that.
Lifting the lid revealed contents that were packaged more like a gift than an educational kit. It produced a squeal of delight from our youngest crafter to find everything neatly wrapped in lime green tissue paper, fastened with a cute kiwi sticker and a sweet gift card and a pair of scissors on top of it all. The stickers on the inside of the lid were enough of a “teaser” to let her know what the kit was all about and she couldn’t wait to dig in! Building enthusiasm and anticipation — hmmm…I like that.
Folding back the tissue paper, revealed the contents of our crate — two thick fiberboard flower pots, three packages of Crayola air-dry modeling clay, pipe cleaners, punch-out flowers and veggies, colored pencils, soil pellets, squash seeds, bean seeds, a window garden “pouch”, suction cup hooks, plant labels, label stickers, an eye dropper, an observation journal, the aforementioned scissors, detailed picture tutorial instructions for completing both the flower pots and the window garden project, and a pamphlet containing follow-up instructions for transplanting the seedlings to an outdoor garden, as well as recipes to prepare both the squash and the beans, at harvest time. Not one time, throughout the process of working on these projects, did I have to run to find something to help us finish. Every needed item was included in the kit with no guessing, substituting or tracking things down, left to Mom. When Kiwi Crates says, “Hands-on fun delivered right to your door….All materials and inspiration included.” they really mean it. I love that!
With your younger children, you will probably need to be a little more hands-on than was necessary with our 10-year-old, who could read through the instructions on her own. But even younger children will be able to handle these projects and put their own creative imaginations to work, once you set the process in motion. Our happy gardener plunged in and enthusiastically completed both projects. She continues to water and tend her window garden, anticipating the day she can move tiny seedlings to our vegetable garden, outside. In the meantime, she is recording the seeds’ progress in the observation journal and learning about seed germination, plant parts and more in the process. I love that his kit is so interactive, teaches AND incorporates fun into the educational process. Yes, yes I do. I really like that.
Kiwi Crates are available through their website subscription service. You can subscribe on a month-to-month basis or for an entire year. A one-month subscription is $19.95 and you can have supplies for a second child added to the kit for only $7.95. (Our kit had a nice supply of “leftover ingredients” that will be used on other projects, too.) I know that you’re all budget-conscious, like me, and you need to be sure you get the best value for every dollar you spend. With that in mind, I did a little experiment of my own. I shopped our local Walmart for some of the “ingredients” included in the kit.
- seed starter pellets…………………………..$4.99 (the smallest package of them I could purchase)
- bean seeds………………………………………$0.99
- squash seeds……………………………………$0.99
- Crayola modeling clay………………………$7.99 (not available at our Walmart – smallest pack I found online with all 3 colors)
- pipe cleaners……………………………………$2.19
- suction cup hooks…………………………….$3.89
- fiberboard flower pots……………………..$3.00 (I found nothing in-store or online that resembled these heavy-duty pressed-board type pots. So, I’m guessing.)
- plant T-labels…………………………………..$4.19
I’m already at OVER $30 and haven’t priced everything included in this kit. Plus, I would have had to track down each item on my own, some of which I was unable to find anywhere, others that were not available locally, but could be found online. If you’re like me, you don’t have that kind of time to invest in tracking down everything for a fun project like this. And for me to assemble the same materials would cost much more than the subscription price Kiwi Crates is asking. Do I think these high-quality educational kits are a good value? Without a doubt! Not only do they go to the trouble of collecting EVERYTHING I need and provide it more affordably than I can get it myself, they also deliver it right to my front door! How can I beat that? I hope you’ll visit the Kiwi Crate website to start a subscription for your own kids’ summer fun learning!
Kiwi Crate has generously consented to host a giveaway for a Kiwi Crate Space Crate. One lucky Busy-at-Home reader will be able to have it delivered right to their door! Use the Rafflecopter form, below, to enter the drawing before midnight on May 20, 2012. Be sure to read the instructions in the first entry. Commenting on this post with which kit, from Kiwi Crates, you think looks fun and who would use it at your house, is the only mandatory entry.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a Kiwi Crate Garden Crate in order to test the products and write this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product. While Busy-at-Home administers the giveaway and randomly selects the winner, the prize is provided by Kiwi Crate.
One of the challenges, with teaching children, is to find a way to help them digest, organize and retain information. Over our two decades of homeschooling, I’ve learned that one way to be successful at that is to be sure your students experience the information in several different ways. Allow them not just to read [...]
One of the challenges, with teaching children, is to find a way to help them digest, organize and retain information. Over our two decades of homeschooling, I’ve learned that one way to be successful at that is to be sure your students experience the information in several different ways. Allow them not just to read it, but provide opportunities to also hear it and to “put their hands in it”, too. History, in particular, lends itself well to these methods of learning. Besides reading the textbook, be sure your students have a chance to meet great men and women of history and to be introduced to pivotal events in biographies, autobiographies and historical fiction. There are fabulous audio recordings that narrate archeological digs, bring historical stories to life or present music from a particular culture, era or genre. Children can recite poetry and famous speeches or addresses. “Putting their hands in it” relates more to hands-on projects that help to solidify a student’s understanding of the material. It can be anything from preparing a recipe, writing a report, drawing an illustration, sculpting a replica of a famous statue, acting out a historical event or building a model of an important piece of architecture. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. And their is scientific evidence to show that when a student kinesthetically (touches, feels, put’s their hands in it) experiences information at the same time that they are hearing or seeing it, new synapses (connectors) are formed in the brain, expanding thinking and retention power, as information can move even more quickly from one neuron to the next, with the new connections that are made. One of the most common examples I can think of is teaching a child to write letters by speaking the letter names out loud, while tracing them in sand. They experience the letter by seeing it’s form being shaped, hearing it’s name pronounced and feeling it drawn in the sand. This multi-sensory approach is a great brain-builder. It also makes learning, so much more fun!
I have always enjoyed helping our kids create history timelines for this same reason. They remember the important people and dates so much easier when they experience them in so many different ways. When our older girls were young, our history timelines were art masterpieces that ended up circling the entire perimeter of our dining room. Each new picture moved forward in history, highlighting a significant event or person and allowing them to engage their creative, artistic sides. I wanted to give our youngest a similar experience, but have the timeline confined to a space smaller than an entire dining room. I decided to help her create a Timeline Notebook and I’m excited about the potential. She will literally be able to continue adding pages, all the way through high school, as her studies expand and go more indepth.
Of course the most exciting thing, for her, is the artistic and creative aspect of it. I’m excited because she can’t help but learn, as she enjoys the projects that she will work on. As she gets older, she will appreciate history, its significance and her place in it, a little more than she does now, at age 10. Then this book will be a treasure of memories and information.
To create your own History Timeline Notebook, you’ll only need a few simple supplies and you’ll probably have most of them on hand, at home.
- a three ring binder (I would recommend a 1 ½” or 2″, if you plan to continue adding pages over several years. If you grab one that has the plastic sleeve on the front, it’s so much easier to add a nice cover.)
- 8½ x 11 cardstock (something you can run through your printer. I prefer the heavier weight, so we can cover both sides without any bleed-through.)
- markers (I like Elmer’s Painters Markersfor this kind of project. They are so much easier to control than paint and a brush; and the vibrant colors are fade resistant and permanent.)
- a ruler
- pencils, pens and colored pencils
- glue and/or tape or even some Elmer’s Glue Spots
- a three-hole punch
- your computer printer
To really boost enthusiasm, it’s always fun to allow students to begin by creating a cover for their notebook. Our first notebook will be for United States History, so we thought an American flag would be a colorful and symbolic cover.
Sketch out your design, lightly on a piece of cardstock, making sure you have all your outlines where you want them. We made the 13 stripes of our American flag 1/2″ thick, so we carefully plotted marks to create those lines, first.
Knowing that the field of blue was the height of the first seven stripes, we drew the six bottom stripes across the entire sheet.
Then we drew a vertical line from the top of the page to the top of that sixth stripe from the bottom, which created the border for the field of blue.
After that we could sketch in the remaining seven stripes and are ready to add some color.
Outlining the individual color shapes before filling them in with Elmer’s Painters Markers, made it easier to keep the color where we wanted it. (Elmer’s Paint Markersare acrylic paint. They can also be used on wood, plastic, clay, glass, metal, foam board, fabric, and terra cotta. They are permanent, streak free, non-toxic and acid free, plus they’re available in fine and medium point, as well as with a calligraphy tip.)
We filled in the field of blue and left it to dry while we moved to another area of the flag. Another reason I love Elmer’s Painters Markers is that once the paint is dry, another color can be laid in over the top of the last, without the colors mixing or bleeding into one another. That will make adding stars over the blue, super simple, later.
Next, we outlined and filled in the seven red stripes, starting with the top stripe and ending with the very bottom.
After the stripes were filled, we were ready to add stars over our field of blue. It wasn’t easy drawing tiny white stars with a medium point marker, but we managed by making small dots and then dragging tiny bits of paint from the center of the dot out in five different directions. Though we didn’t space them very well (Epic mom fail!) and weren’t able to get all 50 stars on our flag, she’ll never forget that there are 50 or why, since that was a prominent point of our discussion as we created them. We left our white stars to dry and started on the first page of our timeline.
I created a timeline page template to use and converted it to a pdf file for you, so you can download it and print your own, if you like. I like that we will be able to print additional pages, as we go, and add new ones each year.
While we waited for the stars to dry, we got started on some timeline pages. First, I three-hole punched all the template pages we printed. Then I used the Elmer’s Calligraphy Painters Markers to start adding dates to the hash lines.
We added some illustrations to the timeline, using the Elmer’s Painters markers. The first illustration was of Columbus’ sea voyage. While we waited for his sails to dry, we had the bright idea to make a sphere of green and blue dots, swirl them and create an “Earth”. We would use that to depict Magellan’s trip around the world.
With the addition of a couple of mini-reports we typed up from information in our textbook, we completed the first page of our timeline. We know two important dates and several things about two important men in history, as well as their sea voyages.
The cover is completely dry now and ready to be slipped into the plastic sleeve on the front of the notebook.
I want to give you one more idea for a timeline page, so you don’t think there’s only one way to make them. I hope you will get creative and add all kinds of interesting things to your timeline. I know we will add report pages and recipes with pictures of our student baking them. We’ll also include pictures of any other projects she does and slip them in next to the appropriate dates. In the meantime, here’s what we did with the second page.
This is going to be a fun, ongoing project that I can work on with our daughter. It’s a great way to compile a lot of information in a compact amount of space. Years from now, I think she’ll enjoy looking back through it and remembering the times we worked on it together; and I know it will help her to retain the important facts from history that we are teaching her.
What creative ideas do you use to encourage your students to learn and remember what they’ve been taught? Do they like hands-on projects to solidify the concepts and information in their mind? Leave a comment and share your ideas, so we can all benefit from your thoughts.
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric” @GlueNGlitter I purchased Elmer’s Painters Markers in order to test them on this project. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product.
Mega Bloks are a family favorite, in our household; and their new Dora’s Garden Gazebo set has only reinforced that! I had the chance to review this fun toy with our 3- and 4-year-old granddaughters, over the weekend, and was so tickled to see the fun they had. The toy is designed for ages 3 [...]
Mega Bloks are a family favorite, in our household; and their new Dora’s Garden Gazebo set has only reinforced that! I had the chance to review this fun toy with our 3- and 4-year-old granddaughters, over the weekend, and was so tickled to see the fun they had. The toy is designed for ages 3 and up and has the same “chunky” pieces we are used to with Mega Bloks, but it includes more than just blocks. The pieces can be used to build a “gazebo” and also includes a Dora the Explorer figure, a second skirt (yup! Dora can change clothes.), bluebird, fence, watering can, flower pot, flower, evergreen tree, umbrella, and picnic table. AND, with only 19 pieces, it is easy to gather them back into the box when play is finished.
The one possible drawback, if you can call it that, is that some of the pieces are small. If you have a toddler who enjoys putting things in their mouth, this could obviously pose a choking hazard, which is clearly stated on the packaging. I know most of you, like me, understand what “ages 3 and up” means, and exercise common sense and good judgment in your own personal circumstances. My not-quite-two grandson (He’s not really a “taste everything” sort of toddler), engaged in play with this toy several times over the weekend, with my close supervision, and had an absolute blast. Would I leave him alone with it? No! Did he benefit from playing with it while I kept a close watch? Absolutely! Now on to the good stuff! What did I love about it?
- The opportunities for creativity and imagination are endless. Each of the girls were rapt in their own imaginary scenarios as they played with the set. Dora had all sorts of adventures, I would never have dreamed of and literally provided an entire day of off-and-on fun and play for both our granddaughters. The “pillars” for the gazebo became walls or doors or gates. Dora took a trip with the bluebird and was also introduced to Barbie. The tree grew in the flower pot and then the flower grew in the flowerpot. The fence was most often used as a swinging gate, attached to only one block post so it was left free to swing on one end.
- Eye-hand coordination practice and refining of small motor skills as the individual pieces were fit together. These tasks are going to help train those little fingers and minds for bigger tasks in the future and help prepare them for other small motor tasks like handwriting.
- The colors! What child isn’t immediately drawn into a toy that is bursting with bright, inviting color? I even wanted to play with it!
- There is no right or wrong way to assemble it, so children are encouraged to come up with their own ideas and designs. Multiple design ideas are shown on the package, as well, to help inspire them.
Mega Bloks never disappoints our family, when it comes to creative learning toys that even younger children can enjoy and learn from! Really, their toys are good for such a wide age-range, depending on which toys you select. If you haven’t experienced their fine products, I hope you’ll visit their website and learn more about them. A new feature of that website is their Mega Bloks Family Club, where you will find special offers, contests, sweepstakes and promotions on lots of Mega Bloks toys; as well as an educational and informative blog, the opportunity to receive a free email newsletter AND a COUPON for $5 off $30 in Mega Bloks toys, just for signing up! It’s definitely worth your time to check it out!
One of you will be able to win a Dora’s Garden Gazebo for your own family in the giveaway made possible here at Busy-at-Home, by Mega Blocks and Child’s Play Communications.
Entrants must be 18 or older and a resident of the U.S. Mandatory entry must be completed before optional entries will be counted. Deadline to enter is midnight (CST) Sunday, May 15, 2011. Winner will be selected in a random drawing, using random.org. Several bloggers are working with MegaBloks and Child’s Play PR on this campaign. Only one prize per winner. If you win on multiple blogs, you will receive one prize and new winners will be selected, for the others.
In a comment below, share what is your family’s favorite Mega Bloks toy or set OR which one you would love to have. If you need ideas, you can visit the Mega Bloks website.
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- Post this giveaway on your Facebook page. Enter to win a Dora’s Garden Gazebo Play Set by Mega Bloks in a Busy-at-Home giveaway. http://busy-at-home.com/blog/doras-garden-gazebo-by-mega-bloks-a-review-giveaway/ Leave a comment below with a link to your post.
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In order to conduct this review and test the product, I received a Dora’s Garden Gazebo Play Set by Mega Bloks, through Child’s Play Communications. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.
Homeschooling always brings me these sorts of unanswered questions – the sort I never knew I wanted to know. I’m definitely not sure if we can grow avocado trees in Nebraska. We can eat them here. And Sweetest Daughter Ever #4 is most definitely convinced that we can grow one. Personally, I always imagined them [...]
Homeschooling always brings me these sorts of unanswered questions – the sort I never knew I wanted to know. I’m definitely not sure if we can grow avocado trees in Nebraska. We can eat them here. And Sweetest Daughter Ever #4 is most definitely convinced that we can grow one. Personally, I always imagined them growing in an unbearably hot, humid place. Okay, maybe we can grow avocados in Nebraska. Not sure how they will winter, though.
We attempted two science experiments this week and that is always risky. You know that story where they tell you that Thomas Edison failed 2000 times before he managed to invent the light bulb? We may actually be descendants of Mr. Edison’s. Except, we don’t have his stamina. – lol– Although, I must admit, this daring girl is two for two, this week.
Her second experiment illustrated how water and nutrients move through the roots, stem and leaves of a plant. Surely, you all remember the joy of watching red dye climb up a stalk of celery. It’s an old standby and I’m happy to say, we nailed it. She was elated!
The first experiment was the one that had me worried. Being the Becky Homecky sort of woman that I am, pitting an avocado is simply not a problem. This I can do. It’s what comes next, that has me feeling less than confident. Our youngest little scientist, though, bless her heart, has no doubt that we will be harvesting avocados from our very own tree. Look at that face. Are you going to tell her she can’t? – lol
So, we thoroughly washed all the schmutz off the outside of the avocado pit, stuck 3 toothpicks around its perimeter and immersed the end into a canning jar of water. The shell has begun to split now, just like the book said it would. The thing is, avocados aren’t just plants, they’re trees. And at best, if it were to fruit, that takes a decade or more. She will have graduated from high school. Most everything I have read online, leads me to believe we can maybe grow this plant inside, but I think I am going to be taping avocados on there forever. Again, I say, look at that face. She’s totally worth it. – lol
If any of you avid gardeners have some avocado growing tips, we’d love to get them. In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the happiness of a budding scientist with enough faith for the both of us.