Artsy Fun for You and Your Little!

 
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You’ve heard the rumors; you’ve read the research:  creativity is important for developing minds!  Free exploration, process art, and sensory play all help develop problem solving and language skills, giving little ones a chance to stretch those creativity muscles. 

But…

But handing your two year old a paint brush can be terrifying.  Finding the right art supplies is intimidating.  And cleaning the mess?  Dear lord, we barely have the energy for laundry let alone glitter. 

So what’s a parent to do?

Bring your little one to Bookhouse Studio once a month for a crash course in preschool creativity with me, Anna, from KidLitCrafts!  An early childhood educator, mother of two, and lifelong creator of messes, I combine my love of beautiful children’s books and open-ended art play for an unforgettable experience. 

Here’s what you’ll find at a typical pop-up art party:

Sensory Experiences

Whether it’s a table full of play-dough or a bin full of ice, each KidLitCrafts art party will have several options for your little ones to explore their senses. (See this post for more info on how amazing sensory play is for the developing brain!)

Process Art

While we all love a cutesy craft, it’s important to focus on the process of creating rather than the finished product.  When you’re at one of my art parties, your little one will never be instructed to “glue here” or “cut there.”  I provide the supplies and the inspiration; they provide the creativity! 

Opportunities for Collaboration

Art play is such a great way to build those social skills!  Whether working together on a giant mural or playing side-by-side at the rice bin, your little ones are problem-solving and exercising vital social muscles.

Themed literature

An important (and popular) component of each art party is the story corner!  Filled with beautiful children’s books centered around that month’s theme, you and your little one are free to explore and read together. Each month’s art play stations correspond with the story corner’s theme, reinforcing big ideas in new ways.

 Station-based, Open Exploration

One of the best parts of a KidLitCrafts art party is watching children explore with freedom, stopping for long periods at one station, or popping from place to place with glee.  When we give our children freedom of choice in their play, we are supporting and strengthening their cognitive, language, and social development.  As a parent, it’s a joy to step back and let our little ones take the creative lead; you may be surprised where they take you!  

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 Mark your calendars and book your tickets for my next pop-up art party on Wednesday, January 16th:  Robots! 

Click to book!

Click to book!

And if you book my winter pop-up package before January 16th, you receive a discounted rate for all three winter parties.  It might just be the perfect stocking-stuffer! 

 

 

 

These are a few of my favorite things...

 

As an art therapist and mindfulness instructor, I tend to think about everything from a mental health perspective.  So when thinking about the holiday season and all the wonderful smells, tastes, sights, and sounds, there are so many opportunities to bring mindfulness to each day this holiday season.  Remember, being mindful means bringing your awareness to that activity without judgement.  When you bake, you pay attention to just baking.  Notice the sounds of baking, what it feels like to stir, the yummy smells, etc.  Bringing your awareness to the activity can have a calming effect, even mundane tasks such as washing dishes.  Bringing calm awareness to the hustle and bustle of the season can help you enjoy it more peacefully.  However, our senses can get overloaded so remember to take some quiet time for yourself and bring your awareness to your body and breath.  Notice in your body where you might be holding tension…the spaces around your eyes, your jaw, your shoulders?  This is especially important for children who are can get overwhelmed by all the excitement and change in routine.  I wanted to share a few of my favorite mindfulness tools to help children manage their emotions during this time of year and to help bring more peace to the season…

Mindfulness tools

Mindfulness tools

 

Singing bowl – This is a great tool for times of transition.  Ring the bell and try to pay attention to the sound of the ringing for as long as you can hear it…kids love this challenge!  This helps them practice sitting still and quiet. 

 

Hoberman sphere – This is a fun visual for children to see what filling up their belly with breath looks like.  Pairing with your inhales and exhales, expand and contract the hoberman sphere slowly to help practice their belly breathing, which is known to have a calming effect.

 

Hoberman Sphere

Hoberman Sphere

Ooze timer – Another fun visual for a “calm down” toolkit.  Kids (and adults, let’s be honest!) love to watch the ooze slowly fill up one end while watching the air bubbles pop on the other end.  You can try having older children imagine negative thoughts popping at the bubbles pop.

Ooze timer

Ooze timer

 

Breath – Ahhhhh.  Something we always have with us.  It feels so good to take a nice deep inhale through our nose and let an audible “ahhhhhh” out of our mouth.  You can also try to pair it with shrugging your shoulders up by your ears as you inhale and releasing down on the exhale.  Another good trick for kids is to pair the inhale/exhale with tracing their 5 fingers on one hand with the pointer finger on the other hand.  Breathe in, trace your finger to the tip of the thumb/breathe out, trace back to palm and continue onto next finger for a total of 5 breaths. 

 

Apps – My favorite mindfulness/meditation app is Insight Timer.  There are thousands of meditations to choose from for adults and children alike.  You can also just set a timer if you want to sit in silence for a bit.  There’s a tracker of how often and how much you meditate that motivates you to keep up with your practice. 

 

Slow down and remember to bring small moments of true presence throughout this season!  Have a safe, peaceful, and heart-filled holiday season from Mindful Roots! 

��L@

Giant Paper Snowflakes with KidLitCrafts

 
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In just a few short weeks, Bookhouse Studio will be transformed into a winter wonderland. I’ll fill the space with all kinds of chilly fun inspired by the totally adorable new book, First Snow. Best of all, the talented illustrator Talitha Shipman will be joining us at the Bookhouse, reading the story and showing us a little bit of the magic behind the book!

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I’ve crafted up a storm of these huge paper snowflakes in preparation- ready for some tiny artists to beautify with a splash of color! Though the twists and turns look impressive, the steps are not too complicated. Here’s how I did it:

Materials:

  • 6 sheets of paper (per snowflake)

  • scissors

  • clear tape

  • stapler

Steps:

  1. Trim your rectangle sheets of paper to squares:

I use the tried-and-true triangle method, folding and trimming off the edge

I use the tried-and-true triangle method, folding and trimming off the edge

2. Fold your square into a triangle (if it’s not one already!)

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3. Fold into a triangle again, using the picture below as a guide:

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4. Make three cuts across the triangle, not quite to the end (from right to left if your triangle is folded like mine).

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5. Open up your folded triangle. Hopefully it looks like the picture below!

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6. Curl up the two innermost flaps and tape together.

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7. Flip over the paper (don’t forget that part!), curl together the next two flaps, and tape.

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8. Continue to flip, curl, tape until you have something like this:

9. Repeat, repeat, repeat! You need to do the same process of steps 1-8 to all six sheets of paper.

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10. Phew. Okay. You’re almost done! Take three of those amazing looking spirals in your hand and staple them together at one end.

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11. Use two more staples to connect each spiral to its neighbor. There will be a little bit of a flat spot where they rest next to one another. That’s the perfect spot!

12. Do the same thing with the other three spirals: Staple the ends together and staple each one to its neighbor.

13. Now you should have two halves of a snowflake. Simply staple those ends to one another, staple the sides, and voila!

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These are totally gorgeous as-is, but if you want to take it to the next level, set up your little one with some watercolors (we’ll be using blue and purple liquid watercolors from Discount School Supply) and let them go to town on this seriously unique canvas!

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A Journey to Self-Love with Amparo Rojas, Owner of Worn Intentions

 

Guest post by Kylee Hays, Living Yoga LLC

Amparo Rojas, Owner of Worn Intentions

Amparo Rojas, Owner of Worn Intentions

Amparo Rojas, Owner of Worn Intentions, knows a little something about journeys.  Born in Mexico she moved to Fort Wayne at the young age of 5, she returned to her native Mexico during her teen years and then journeyed back to the Midwest as a young adult.  A self-described artistic personality with outgoing tendencies, Amparo has been able to connect easily with people and makes friends wherever she goes.  This served her well several years ago, when she trekked to a yoga and music festival in California.  Having never practiced yoga or meditation she was suddenly immersed in a “whole other world” she had never known. Amparo was met with loving kindness from total strangers during that week in the desert. She came home from the festival having seen first-hand how a meditation practice leads one to a more peaceful and calm life.  She was hooked and began practicing both meditation and yoga upon her return to Fort Wayne.

While at the festival Amparo noticed a friend wearing a beautiful necklace.  She loved the piece and when she returned home she began searching the internet for something similar. Google searches of “long necklace with tassel” lead to her discovery of malas.  Malas are a simple string of beads traditionally used during mediation practice. One thing lead to another and soon Amparo was reading and researching crystals used in malas.  She found the nearest crystal shop in Chicago Illinois, and drove several hours to attend a workshop making her first mala.  She bought her first crystals, Lapis Lazuli, not knowing the meaning or significance associated with the stone. As she read the qualities associated with the crystal, Amparo felt a resonance between the words and the feelings she experienced during that week in the desert.

 It didn’t take long before Amparo realized she had found her passion.  She began studying and researching in earnest and soon opened her business, Worn Intentions. She initially began selling her handmade jewelry on Etsy and transitioned to local festivals and markets in Fort Wayne and surrounding areas.  Wanting to share her passions in an intimate setting, she hoped to someday gather together with people who would like to “be creative and refresh our spirits” Amparo decided the theme of the gathering would be “A Journey to Self-Love.” Amparo, will be hosting this workshop at our sweet space, Bookhouse Studio, November 18th, 1-3 p.m.

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 I wondered why the idea of self-love as a journey was something she wanted to focus on for her first workshop,  Amparo shared that there were three specific reasons, Firstly, she had always been a creative person growing up (ballet, painting, and playing piano) but those endeavors had faded over time and she had lost touch with her own creativity.  When she finished her first mala she felt an overwhelming sense of happiness being connected again to her own creative spirit.  She hopes that when people come to the workshop and spend time making a bracelet that something will spark for them too, they will connect with their own creativity.

 Secondly, Amparo believes that her work healed her.  Shortly after starting Worn Intentions she experienced significant emotional pain.  The process of working and creating, having a passion, “healed me… My work healed me.” Amparo wants to share how a passionate work, somewhere to pour your pain, or happiness, can heal a person.

Finally, Amparo wants to host the workshop for very practical reasons. Her dreams include one day teaching meditation and she knows she needs to get more experience speaking in front of people, hosting an intimate workshop feels like the perfect next step to grow her towards becoming a competent teacher who can share easily in front of others. All of it is a journey she wants to share with others.

I can tell you first hand that Amparo has a generous smile and warm spirit that puts you at ease.  She is passionate about crystals, meditation, pursuing our creative spirits, and the Journey to Self-Love. Her workshop is sure to be a delightful afternoon of sharing.  Bring a friend or come alone, either way expect to have a beautiful time. Amparo suggests dressing comfortably “as we will be laughing, dancing and flowing to the rhythm of our hearts.”  I hope to see you there, I can’t wait to sit around the table, learn, laugh and lean into my own creativity.  I bought my ticket, come join me, I’ll save you a seat. Tickets can be found under the “bookings” tab.

 

'Tis the season...for GRATITUDE

 
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With Thanksgiving upon us, this is the perfect time to start reflecting on what we are thankful for.  Mindfulness isn’t always just being in the present moment…we can also intentionally cultivate positive states such as kindness, generosity, and gratitude.

 

Gratitude means being thankful for what you have in your life.  When you think about what you’re grateful for, you will literally change your brain to think about things more positively in your life.  You’ll see things differently and make choices to be happier and feel more connected.  When you are grateful, your body releases chemicals that make you happier and calmer.  Even in your darkest, saddest, most depressed moments, you can probably find something to be grateful for.  And you don’t have to be grateful for material things.  In fact, you can be grateful for your breath, for the earth that nurtures you, or for people in your life who love you (Mallika Chopra, Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement, and More).

 

There are so many fun ways to get kiddos thinking about what they are grateful for.  Each day for the rest of the month, try to share something you are thankful for with your family at dinnertime.  Encourage each family member to do the same. Or tape a large sheet of paper on the wall for the month and draw or write on the “gratitude wall” each day.  See if you can go the whole month without any repeats! 

 

Here is another fun activity that you can prepare for big family gatherings during Thanksgiving weekend…

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Warm oven to 170* (or turn to “warm”).  Place river rocks or smooth rocks on a cookie sheet and warm them up in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Have an adult take the cookie sheet out of the oven and place the rocks on wax paper (using an oven mitt!).  Use crayons to color on the warm rocks and the crayon wax will melt right onto the rock, making lovely designs!  You might have people use an oven mitt to protect their fingers while decorating…rocks will be HOT!! 

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Once the rocks have cooled and the wax has hardened, use a sharpie to write something you are grateful for on the rocks.  Then you can use the rocks as part of a Thanksgiving centerpiece or put them in a “peace garden” outside!

 

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And finally, check out this super sweet and beautiful children’s book on gratitude this month or during the holiday weekend is All My Treasures: A Book of Joy by Jo Witek, a favorite of mine and my children!

 

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In gratitude,

Mindy, Mindful Roots

 

Spooky Sensory Play

 
Guest post by Anna of KidLitCrafts

Guest post by Anna of KidLitCrafts

It’s no secret that little ones learn from sensory experiences.  If you’ve ever been around a toddler, you’ve probably spent plenty of time taking things from hands, mouths, and maybe even noses.  Our smallest ones don’t just take in new experiences with their eyes; they want to touch, rub, taste, smell. The world is a multi-dimensional sensation for them!

Sensory play is one way to embrace this type of learning and encourage children to explore the world with all of their senses.  It doesn’t have to be complicated; maybe you let your little one play in the mud instead of pulling her away. Watch how she squishes it with her fingers, draws tracks with a stick, stomps with her feet.  Too cold to play in the snow this winter? Bring a tray of the fluffy white stuff inside, stick it in the bathtub with your toddler, and have fun before it melts. Seeing the world as your little one does, as a place of unending discovery and surprise, will have you slowing down and noticing details we grownups usually pass right by.

Here’s the thing, though.  It’s not just about slowing down and smelling the roses (although that’s totally lovely and worthwhile).  The more scientists and researchers learn about the developing brain, the more we know about how important this stuff is!  Here’s the down and dirty:

Sensory play

  • Builds nerve connections in the developing brain’s neural pathways

  • Supports language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction

  • Aids in developing and enhancing memory functioning

  • Can help calm an anxious or frustrated child

  • Helps children learn sensory attributes

Pretty amazing, right??

Our Halloween Pop-up Party at Bookhouse Studio is going to be full of fun sensory experiences!  One of my all-time favorites (and irresistible to kids and grownups alike) is a simple, colorful rice bin!

There’s something oh-so-satisfying about the way grains of rice feel in your hand, and they’re perfect for mixing, scooping, digging, and sorting.  So. Many. Skills!

Making this super fun sensory medium isn’t as tricky as you might think.  Here’s how I did it:

Supplies:

  • dry rice (I like to get those extra big bags for this!)

  • tempera paint

  • large bowl

  • spoon

  • trays/cookie sheets

  • aluminum foil

We love the paints from  Discount School Supply!

We love the paints from Discount School Supply!

Steps:

1.     Pour your desired amount of rice into a large bowl

2.     Squeeze in several tablespoons of tempera paint

There’s no science to this… at least not the way I do it!

There’s no science to this… at least not the way I do it!

3.     Mix, mix, mix!

4.     Add more color until your desired shade is reached

5.     Spread rice onto a tray or cookie sheet covered in foil (the more spread out it is, the faster it will dry)

Isn’t it pretty??

Isn’t it pretty??

6.     Give it a little shake/break up clumps with your hand after about 20 minutes

7.     After an hour it will be dry and ready for fun!

8.     Repeat with multiple colors if you wish… I used black, purple, and blue for this spooky mix.

9.     Pour into desired container and add whatever you can find around your house (or the dollar store!).  Scoops, measuring cups, spoons, small toys, etc. *

I found all kinds of fun odds and ends at the dollar store and Target’s dollar spot!

I found all kinds of fun odds and ends at the dollar store and Target’s dollar spot!

If you’re worried about mess, make sure you have the container on a large tablecloth when playing.  Keep reasonable expectations… rice is definitely coming out of that bin. But guess what else is a great learning opportunity?? Sweeping!

My four and seven year old spent quite a lot of time digging and sorting… which then turned into a game of “store” that lasted over an hour! Open ended play like this leaves room for so much imaginative play!

My four and seven year old spent quite a lot of time digging and sorting… which then turned into a game of “store” that lasted over an hour! Open ended play like this leaves room for so much imaginative play!

Though our Halloween pop-up is sold out, you can now purchase tickets for our next event, Woodland Gnomes and Fall Fairies, HERE.  If you’re a Fort Wayne native looking to get more sensory play into your little one’s life, come check us out. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today!



*As with all sensory play, this activity should most definitely be supervised by an adult.  I use non-toxic paint, but if your little one is still putting EVERYTHING in her mouth, a different kind of sensory play might be better...try cooked and cooled spaghetti noodles for a more taste-friendly fun time!

 

Easy Kid's Birthday Idea!

 

Guest post by Anna of @KidLitCrafts

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What do you do when you’re throwing a brother-sister birthday bash? Combine two of their favorites with an out-of-this-world Unicorns in Space Party of course!

We decked out Fort Wayne’s Bookhouse Studio in glitter and stars— painting galaxies, beading magical bracelets, finding space rocks, and decorating our very own DIY unicorn horns!

This activity was such a big hit, I wanted to share with you the secret behind these magical horns….. dollar store party hats! With $1 and a few basic supplies, you too can create some seriously amazing unicorn magic! Here’s how we did it:

Supplies:

  • cardboard party hats (the cheaper the better!)

  • scissors

  • hole punch

  • hot glue gun

  • markers, crayons, oil pastels, paints…. whatever!

Goodbye boring party hat!

Goodbye boring party hat!

Steps:

1. Disassemble your party hats. Our hats from the dollar store were conveniently held together with slots cut into the cardboard instead of staples, so they were super easy to come apart.

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2. Cut cardboard down to size. This is not an exact science, but I took off about two inches on each side. For us, that was just to the inside of the cardboard slots.

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3. Curl into a “horn” shape and hot glue together

This is the embarrassing true state of my glue gun. #gross

This is the embarrassing true state of my glue gun. #gross

4. Hole punch the sides and tie in the original elastic

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5. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

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6. Give to your tiny unicorns to decorate and enjoy some super magical results…

Just one of the fun art stations at our Unicorns in Space party!

Just one of the fun art stations at our Unicorns in Space party!

No KidLitCrafts party would be complete without books…. I always come prepared!

No KidLitCrafts party would be complete without books…. I always come prepared!

Are you a Fort Wayne, Indiana local looking for a super fun kids birthday idea? I would love to host your next birthday bash here at the Bookhouse! Each KidLitCrafts hosted party includes 90 minutes of studio time with art and sensory play stations based on your chosen theme. Here are some of my favorite party themes, but we’ll work together to find the perfect party for you!

Sweet mini-makers creating their galaxy paintings!

Sweet mini-makers creating their galaxy paintings!