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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Polar Bear, Arctic Hare

Polar Bear Arctic hare poems from the frozen north book review spinelliPolar Bear Arctic Hare
Poems of the Frozen North
by Eileen Spinelli
Illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes
Ages 4-8

Ideally, I refrain from recommending books. It feels presumptuous, even slightly overbearing. At least that's the way I feel when some book list is thrust in my face (good-intentioned, of course), with the assumption that those are the best books that need to be read.

On the other hand, it is very refreshing to read about books that appealed to kids and their parents, and is presented in the spirit of sharing... "Here's something we enjoyed" and left at that, with no strings attached like, "Read it to your kids, they'll like it", because that's where the trouble is: Not all kids are alike, and not all kids enjoy the same things, even if the adult mind thinks they should because the adult mind has decided that this book is all that.

And not just kids' books, adults' as well. Not all of us like the same genres or styles of writing. And it is cheeky to assume what one is reading is somehow intrinsically better than what somebody else is... I am rambling again.

Anyway, I got this book from the library during the recent Winter Holidays, along with other winter-y tales, to set the mood of the season for Ana.

This is a book of short poems about the Arctic wildlife. The illustrations are simple and complement the poems well. I liked what it had to offer. And, Ana seems to echo my feelings about this book. There is no discounting the appeal of rhyme when reading to children.

What impressed me was that it educates about Arctic wildlife in such a way as to leave a lasting impression. And the verses are charming and catchy.

The Arctic Nursery Rhyme early in the book piqued my curiosity right away:
Arctic Tundra, Arctic Tundra,
How does your garden grow?
With lupine seeds and fireweeds
And bearberries all in a row.

And at the back of the book, we have notes about Arctic Lupine, Fireweed and Bearberries. Three things I had not heard of until this book!

Being a fan of this song, Narwhal Sighting easily became Ana's favorite poem in the book, especially with bold large illustration of one poking out from the icy Arctic:
What is that in the Arctic sea?
That creature with a single horn?
Some sailors saw it long ago
And thought it was a unicorn.

And, at the back of the book, in the notes, we find out that only male narwhals have this horn which is actually a tooth! No one knows what it is used for...

In Racing The Peregrine Falcon, we discover that the peregrine falcon is the fastest creature in the world:
Faster than a school bus,
Faster than a hare.
Faster than a race car,
Faster than a bear.
Faster than a cheetah -
The awesome peregrine.
I think I'll save my running shoes
For races I can win!

It wouldn't be fair for me to present all the poems here. Hopefully the sample above speaks for itself.

We learn about the only white whale, Beluga; the killer whale, Orca (which is actually a large dolphin); the Arctic Tern which happens to be the long-distance champion of the world flying from Arctic to Antarctic and back again following the summer sun...

We learn about the Tundra Wolf, Musk Ox, Ptarmigan... Polar Bear, Caribou, even Snow Fleas and Orange-Golden Bumblebee... and the iceberg!

All in simple verse, accompanied by stark illustrations.

Some poems are short and warm, some set the heart racing with its rhythm and meter. Some just flow like a gentle brook while some make us chuckle.

The permanent harsh coldness of the Arctic seems like a tough place to sustain life. And it is. But we learn about the animals and plants that have adapted and evolved to survive there. It seems like a good starting point to learn about geography and biology of the world we live in.

Every time we've read the book so far, Ana has insisted on reading the notes section at the back of the book. Since there are so many interesting facts, after the first few reads, we decided that she gets to choose only 5 things there that she wants to know about that night:)

This is a book I certainly want to add to our home library and look forward to reading to Oggie in a couple of years.

[this post written for Saffron Tree]

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hand-Me-Down Toys



It is not until recently that I started wondering about the advantage of hand-me-downs in the development of the younger child who acquires these.

Me being a younger sibling and getting mostly hand-me-downs possibly gave me an imperceptible edge over first-borns my age... Will have to explore that topic in another post... Actually, maybe not. There are experts who have fine things to say about it, with research to back them up. So, I guess I'll stick to just my limited experiences in motherhood :)

With Ana, everything was new for me, every toy was a gamble, every experience seemed to come with the price of doubt. As is expected with the first-born. But now with Og, it seems to get a little easier, as is normal, I guess...

While it is true that their personalities are different and I am constantly learning and tailoring them to Oggie's needs, some of the staple activities for toddler development are universal enough that they have become a hit with Og.

  1. Coloring seems to have a universal appeal, and so far this seems to be Oggie's favorite activity, next only to reading books.



    Crayons and washable markers are a staple. And thanks to Crayola™ there are so many other wonderful products to try.

    Crayola Beginnings Tadoodles First Marks is fun, especially for Oggie's insistent hammering technique for covering the page with bright dots while repeating "Daats! Daats!"... and so is Tadoodles Easy Stampers.

    Crayola Beginnings Triangular Paintbrush seems to be frustrating for him, at least the ones we have, as the flow is not smooth and continuous, but, it is good to take out the frustration by jabbing the paper.
  2. Peg Puzzles & Jigsaw Puzzles: Melissa & Doug™'s wooden peg puzzles, with or without sound, is another favorite.

    Just as with Ana, it is fun to watch Og place the pieces in their slots, dump them out and do it all over again. And again. For about half a dozen times at a stretch somedays...

    Of course, whereas Ana's favorite was the animals puzzle, Oggie's seems to be the vehicles one.

    In addition to peg puzzles, the wooden 12-piece Jigsaw Puzzles seem to be getting Og's attention - especially the hand-me-downs from my soon-to-be-4 year old nephew - viz., the construction vehicles, locomotives and dinosaurs.
  3. Foam Shapes Puzzles and Letters:

    Ana favors the Loctagon pieces for building structures even now at 4¾, while Og loves the Circular Foam Pieces with geometric shape cutouts.

    The shapes are interesting, even if a bit challenging for the wee hands to put back together. And the cutout sewing activity promises to be useful as well.

  4. Mister Potato Head: D being a Transformers fan, (collected them as a kid and went to Botcon2007 before the movie was released), the first Mister Potato Head set that Ana got a couple of years ago was naturally the Transformers promo one called Opti-Mash Prime.

    mister potato head toys opti-mash primeAnd, of course, now that I let Ana watch the Transformers movie recently, it turns out her favorite is Bumblebee and not Optimus Prime :)

    Anyway, I like this toy as we can keep adding different accessories. Ana likes the Princess Potato Head with pink shoes and crown and scepter and such. Plus the Pirate, Halloween Ghost, in addition to numerous animal-ish accessories like ape, elephant etc.

    It is fun to add eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hat, shoes and such, even winter accessories like scarf... sometimes in the wrong places - just switch around the eyes and mouth and see how funny the face looks...
  5. Melissa & Doug Alphabet Stacking Blocks: At 1¾, Og likes to knock them down more than stack them, naturally, but, since Ana loves to stack them and simulate her Pink Tower experience from school, it works out fine these days.

    The pictures and the letters are a bonus - and they are fairly sturdy.

    Plus Og likes to nest the blocks, which is sort of appropriate for his developmental age... and Ana willingly handed it over to Og explaining that it is a "baby toy" and she is done with it, naturally reserving her claim to it at all times :)
  6. Little Touch Leap Pad System: Ana got this for her first birthday from her Nana. At about 2 is when she really got into it. It was always in the car, entertaining her and interacting with her during those awfully long commutes to and from daycare.

    At a few months away from turning two, Oggie is beginning to like this. The letters of the alphabet is his favorite now - he gets a response for his action right away when he pushes on the page - animal sounds, words, letter sounds...

    Between 2½ and 3½ this book was one of Ana's constant companions. We bought more books for this as she mastered each. Her favorite (and mine) was the Stella Songbird book - it introduced her to music from around the world - Irish, Indian, Chinese, Nigerian, Mexican, and American (mostly Jazz). Optional activity was to identify the musical instruments and their sounds. Each page had recognizable landmarks from that part of the world. She learnt about Tabla and Dragon Drums, Taj Mahal and The Great Wall of China, Dragon Puppet and Iguana through this.

    Lulu the Letter-spinning Spider, One Bear in the Bedroom, Rainbow Fish were some of her other favorites.

    Oggie so far favors the Pooh Loves You! book for this Leap Pad system.

    I have some reservations and opinions about electronics for kids - especially those claiming to educate or jump-start and all that... but, as far as this Little Touch Leap Pad, I have nothing much to complain. It serves its purpose and serves it well.
  7. Blocks, blocks, blocks: Be it Lego™ Duplo or Mega Blocks or Bristle Blocks, these are quite handy toys to have around the house. Robot, doggie, airplane, car... Appa is the guy to amaze the kids with these. I can stack them up and build castles at the most :)


Toddler Fire truck, tricycle/rocking horse, hopping ball, easel/chalkboard... they all have their appeal thankfully.

As with Ana, I set out only 3 or 4 toys/activities handy and then switch them out every other week or so for Og. After a couple of months in hiding, when an old toy comes out, it gets discovered in whole new ways not thought of before...

Whereas Ana didn't spend too much time on Dropping-Things-In-A-Box (Fill-and-Spill) then dumping them out and dropping them in again, Oggie has spent a lot of time between 12 months and 18 months doing this activity.

To keep it fresh and a bit challenging, I started improvising on the home-made toy: Empty baby wipes containers seemed to work well.

Little animal toys, crayons, baby spoons/forks - anything small enough to fit and big enough to not be easily swallowed worked fine for this activity.

It was nice to park him on the kitchen floor while I cooked, let him drop the little toys into the box through the slot, one by one, and then bring it to me asking me to dump them all out so he can start over again :)

As Oggie gets older, it might not be easy to automatically hand down Ana's toys as she seems into dollies and costumes and artsy stuff... but, what are nephews for? Og has been wearing my nephew's (Oggie's maternal cousin) hand-me-down clothes right from birth and I wouldn't have it any other way. And, almost all the boy toys so far for Og are the ones my nephew got tired of...

Hand-me-downs make the world go around!


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fairies, Dinosaurs, Sabertooths, Ice Age, Asteroids, Volcanoes...



Oggie, you can be a Stijjy-moe-lock, and I am going to be Jigga-no-toe-saurus! I am going to eat you up!

I've been trying to put a finger on when the deep involvement with pixie-dust and dainty fairies opened up to a healthy curiosity for dinosaurs...

It looks like it must've been through Jack & Annie's adventure in Dinosaurs Before Dark. Yeah, we've been reading Magic Treehouse series, and boy am I glad she graduated from Rainbow magic series...

Well, she has not outgrown the fairy fascination by any measure - she still picks out Harriett The Hamster Fairy or Tia the Tulip Fairy on and off when we go to the library, but, doesn't care to read them back-to-back... and is happy making up her own stories - like Frita The Fruit Fairy. And talks about the quest for pixie-dust and tinker fairies being the best as they create things that are useful...

Anyway, thanks to The Magic Treehouse series, especially the Non-Fiction Companion books, we are learning more about our world.

Along with Sunset Of The Sabertooth (Magic Treehouse No.7) we borrowed the Non-Fiction Companion Sabertooths and The Ice Age. The non-fiction companion talks about the Ice Age and the Sabertooth fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits in L.A., Neanderthals, Cro-magnon, Mammoths, among other things. Ana is fascinated by these tidbits.

Why was there Ice Ages? Can it happen again now? What will happen to us when Earth is covered in ice and snow? Why did Dinosaurs disappear before the Ice Age? Why are cavemen there? Why didn't the Sabertooth cats know that they will get stuck in the tar pits?...

Who made the Earth? What is there in the rest of the Universe? Why does the earth have continents and oceans? If earth is spinning and rolling around the sun, why don't we feel it? What makes earthquakes? Why does the hot lava come from the volcanoes?

Questions, questions and more questions... many of the answers don't seem convincing to her. I don't blame her.

Simple science lesson of using the boiled egg to describe the earth seems to have some effect - Shell is the Crust, White is the Mantle, and Yolk is the Core, you know, the usual. But, it is incomplete. I could paint blue oceans on the shell, leaving the brown continents, and still, it doesn't help understand the plates on the earth's crust crashing and sliding... A globe, maps etc help but, they are all disjointed representations and somehow in her head it has to create the complete picture.

I am sure it will, at the right age, when she is ready for it. She is just a few months short of five, so, am glad she is asking these questions at all.

However, I feel terribly unprepared to handle a lot of these questions... I mean, I know most of the widely-accepted answers and can read up if I need to. That's not the issue. It is trying to make it accessible and easy for her to comprehend at this tender age, to foster and sustain the curiosity. I don't want to make it too complex for her and too boring... it might shut down her natural curiosity... at least for a while.

Incidentally, the Dinosaur Train on PBS is one show both Oggie and Ana like to watch on Saturday mornings. I am glad. For some reason, I have very little tolerance for cutesy dinosaur fiction aimed at giving little or distorted facts, making it fairly banal... of course, that didn't stop me from letting D show the kids movies like The Christmas Dinosaur, the Land Before Time series. However, the Dinosaur Train, while kid-friendly, offers interesting information that have so far stuck with Ana easily, so, am all for it.

And, since Ana has shown initiative and interest, we've watched a few informative yet child-friendly shows/documentaries, even Allosaurus: A Walking with Dinosaurs Special (2001).

Ideally, I like to screen them for graphic content that might be disturbing... but, she seems to have a clear picture of different worlds in her head - different from her own, separate and tucked away out of reach. So, there is the fairy world and the magic world, and there is the dinosaur world. There are no cross-overs so far in her mind. I am sure she'll figure out a way to imagine cross-overs and spook herself, but, that is part of growing up, I am sure...

Anyway, we've been on a dinosaur book-binge lately - from cutesy, easy-reads like How Do Dinosaurs... books to The Dinosaur Who Lost His Roar to Wordless Peter Sis's Dinosaur! to Dinosaur: Discovery Starts With A Single Word to Did Dinosaur Have Feathers... plus, the current #1 in the ever-changing Top Ten List Of Kids' Favorite Songs: Most Amazing Dinosaur Songs! (Thanks for the CD, Mom, you've seen how much they enjoy dancing and singing to these).

Yeah, sure, I am interested in learning more about life in prehistoric earth, but, nothing bordering on obsession. None of the dinosaur facts we've been reading will stay with me down the road - I have very little interest in factoids and statistics, and am terrible with names - I remember things usually by the feelings they evoke in me... So, while I might be able to recognize an occasional Triceratops or Stegosaurus or Pterosaur or Velociraptor or the terrible T.Rex, I am sure the Maiasaurus and Spinosaurus and Utahraptor and many more shall remain completely out of my realm.

I suspect we will be reading more about dinosaurs and sabertooths and mammoths and ice age and outer space and earthquakes and avalanches and such as time goes by... But for now, it is fun to pretend to be one of these giant reptiles and chase them around the house making terrible noises and letting their ear-splitting screams rattle the windows.

Stop chasing me, Allosaurus-Amma! Oggie, watch out! Allosaurus-Amma is going to eat us. Run!


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Monday, January 25, 2010

Pingu, Kipper, and Littlefoot

Kids have been a bit ill - what with lousy weather and the flu... Ana gets uncharacteristically cranky when ill, understandably... I feel like screaming a lot myself, and I am an "adult" technically... And, Oggie refusing to sleep at nights is a bit worrisome - more for his sake, whether he is getting enough rest he needs... but, these things are self-correcting, I hope, I pray.

Meanwhile, warm comfort foods, watching Pingu and Kipper and Littlefoot (Land Before Time), thanks to Netflix, snuggled up on the divan, and an occasional favorite book, plus a lot of TLC should keep the spirits up.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kids Art: Oil Pastel Resist

kids art easy oil pastel resist

We've been exploring resist painting on and off for a while now. First with crayons and wax candles, then with oil pastels (just the scholastic kind, which are not too expensive, and come in beautiful colors).

A firm believer in
I hear... and I forget
I see... and I remember
I do... and I understand
--Ancient Chinese Proverb
I try to provide some hands-on opportunities for my kids that not only exposes them to new experiences but enriches me with a better understanding of their strengths. I try. I don't always succeed, and there is always a lot to learn...

I remember, a few years ago, my 3 yr-old niece drew something that looked like a cross between a candy cane and a broom and exclaimed, "Horse!". And since then, it has been fun to see the "fairy" in Ana's squiggles and now the "sun" in Oggie's...

As described in a few books I was reading regarding art expression in kids, I like the idea of letting the child explore the textures, the interactions between various materials, and possibly allow for creative expression with an open-ended approach.

Incidentally, I've often wondered why "open-ended" has somehow come to connote lack of structure. Au contraire. Children work best within some sort of structure (so I've read and my observation so far seems to indicate the same). However, when the structure does not necessarily dictate the materials, method, and end result, I guess it is fair to denote it open-ended.

Initially, Ana just made scribbles on a piece of paper with crayons and painted over it with diluted tempera paints. Crayon resist or oil pastel resist, as the name suggests, resist the paints, which only shows through around the crayon or oil pastel lines.

Now, squiggles seem like a great way to explore lines - from straight lines to circle and every thing in-between.

Exploring continuous lines with same start and end points, or separate start and end points can in itself be a very rewarding exercise.

(Disclaimer: I am not an art expert, or even an early childhood education expert... I just enjoy reading about these topics from wonderful books and other resources, and exploring some of the ideas therein with my kids, which in itself is a great learning experience for me.)

Art Appreciation post in Saffron Tree lists some resources with good insight into the early creative process. In this context, Harold And The Purple Crayon brings some fond memories... especially when Ana drew Harold as holding his purple crayon standing at her easel in her room.

Some of the early chats I had with Ana about her chicken scratches was quite refreshing and eye-opening for me. I still treasure some of her special art expressions.

At 4¾, she has outgrown the abstract squiggles/swirls/doodles stage, itching to really represent - i.e., draw - the things she wants to.

She seems quite expressive sketching worlds and things from imagination. But, to represent something specific, something that she sees every day, to its likeness, seems a bit challenging. I don't want that to deter her from exploring or frustrate her in the process. We have started tracing exercises, just to demystify the drawing process.

Drawing is a specific skill that can be honed via proper technique and instruction when she feels ready for it. So, nowadays, when we look through books, she picks out the subjects/objects, then I sit with her and make rough pencil sketches to her satisfaction and hand them over to take it where she wants to. The impromptu "You are a good drawer, Amma!" makes me feel on top of the world sometimes.

She picks out her mode of expression at any given time: sometimes it is crayons, sometimes color pencil, sometimes markers, sometimes watercolors, sometimes chalk pastels, sometimes masking or any combination thereof. And sometimes it is this oil pastel resist.

Items Used: Oil pastels, watercolors, brush, heavy weight or card stock paper.

  1. Let the child make a sketch - can be swirls, squiggles, lines - just anything that the child wants to represent on paper (or, adult can make the sketch with the child's input)
  2. Apply oil pastel to the areas to be resisted by the paints. This could be the creative part the child gets to explore
  3. Wash with watercolors (or diluted inks or diluted tempera paints) all over the oil pastels and background
  4. Notice how the paints are resisted by the oil pastels;allow to dry

kids art easy oil pastel resist

Upon Ana's request, we've done some reptiles, some sea creatures, and will be working with butterflies and dragon flies next - whenever we are in the mood and the stars align themselves properly...

Some of Ana's color choices and representations look pretty dramatically stunning - at least to the maternal eye - while others just look like something Oggie threw up. However, it is the process , the experience, that I cherish more than the product, so, I treasure it all...

Incidentally, one of my favorites for art inspiration is Usborne Book of Art Ideas. It is brimming with ideas to try out for myself... and watching me do something with concentration and joy (and possibly effortless enthusiasm) hopefully inspires Ana enough to do her own exploration...

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Picnic Tea Party


Not sure what it is with picnics and tea parties and little girls, but, I seem to be partaking in these fancy buffets more than I imagined...

It usually starts off with a simplistic picnic: A blanket on the floor (or a place mat on the table to stay out of Oggie's curious reach), miniature picnic basket, some milk, sugar, tea (water), nuts, and raisins, all in tinkling ceramic ware.



The finicky little hostess is not happy with this skeletal spread. An elaborate tea seems to be in order. Out comes the flour, water, salt, cream of tartar and food coloring and in minutes we have fresh and warm red, green, and purple play dough to present a banquet: strawberries, plums, blueberries, dill pickles, ants-on-a-log, purple carrots (the original), sliced green eggs with red yolk, green bread slices, purple cake with red icing, red pie with purple filling, apples, grapes, and neat little baskets to serve these delicacies in, plus a tall cup of strawberry drink...

And who should decide to stop by? A fairy. A Fruit Fairy. Who loves fruits. And appears wherever people are eating fruits. (Fruit flies, I hear myself thinking).



After the first hour of this tea banquet picnic, I am ready to retire and ruminate, but, the hostess refuses to excuse me. When the grumpy little Prince Oggie decides to grace us with his insistent presence, he is reluctantly welcomed but not offered any of the delicious items on the menu.

Tempers Flare. Voices Blare. But the picnic tea banquet goes on despite the Clash of the Tiny Wills.

Purplish-red Sun and red-green Bunny and red-headed-purple Kitty all materialize and dematerialize in full play dough glory over the next half hour, frustrating the hostess as her sole invited guest's (c'est moi) attention is unfairly divided.

The honored guest (aka Appa) is expected to arrive any minute from his "urgent" hardware store trip. We know he is coming soon because we called him. The excitement begins to mount. And as soon as Appa walks in the door, Prince Oggie and his mom are cast away. The effervescent hostess proceeds to stuff her special guest, beaming proudly as he appreciates each and every morsel until he is stuffed.

Relegated to be the clean-up lady, I hunt for the bits and pieces of disembodied bunny and kitty around the house while keeping an eye on the stove, mentally deconstructing and blobbing up the fruits and vegetables by color...




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Monday, January 18, 2010

Kids Art: Bubble Painting

easy kids art soap bubble painting

Sitting on the side-entrance steps, right next to rhododendron in the garden, I spent many lazy summer afternoons just blowing soap bubbles using nothing more than lathering soap, water, a tumbler to hold the solution and a straw. Just watching the rainbow colors on the soap bubbles almost glass-like and delicate, afraid to blow any more lest it pop before it floats away merrily... that was many years ago.

I love blowing soap bubbles, even today. One of the activities we did recently combines this love for soap bubbles with art exploration with Ana - i.e., Bubble Painting.

We tried two ways:
  1. Blowing pigmented bubbles onto a piece of paper
  2. Frothing up the paints and allow the bubbles to rise up in the bowl to interesting formations and put a piece of paper on top to catch these bubble formations - sort of like bubble printing

We liked the second activity better. Ana likes to mix colors herself these days, especially since I only get Blue, Red, Yellow and White tempera paints. She decided to focus on pink and purple for this bubble painting activity, and mixed up the colors first.

Items used: Tempera paints, water, dish liquid soap or baby bubble bath soap, straw, and cardstock paper. Apron and goggles for safety as dish soap can sting the eye a bit and the bubble-blowing can turn into spray-painting.

easy kids art soap bubble painting

  1. Mix a teaspoon or so of bubble soap with a teaspoon of thick tempera paint, add about ¼ cup of water (or more), one small dish per color
  2. Stick a piece of tape at one end of the straw to mark it as the blowing end (in all the excitement, sometimes it is hard to keep it straight); poke a hole through the blowing end of the straw with a needle so kids cannot drink the paint but can still blow through the straw
  3. Have several pieces of cardstock paper handy - I usually cut an 8x11 inch paper into 4 pieces
  4. Start the bubble blowing process, allow bubbles to froth up and get into interesting patterns and before they die down put a piece of cardstock paper on top of the bubble formation to "catch" or "print" them onto the paper
  5. Make as many imprints as desired (we used both sides of the paper) and allow to dry

What I like about these art explorations is that it takes a life of its own, and we end up with a few new lessons we never intended to learn :)

Thicker solution made richer impressions, while naturally, the diluted paints made faint ones that seemed so ethereal, to capture the essence of soap bubbles...

And, after she was satisfied with the results of catching the paint bubbles on paper, Ana wanted to just play with the colors in her own way. She tried:
  • toothbrush painting/spraying - simply using a toothbrush as a paintbrush, then spray the paint by teasing the bristles
  • making "colored paper" - viz., saturate the white card stock with multiple colors and leave it on a rack to dry
  • as well as allowing a blob of paint to flow around on the paper by tilting and shaking the paper while blowing through a straw or two (Ana likes blowing through multiple straws at a time)

easy kids art soap bubble painting



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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Can You Find It?

Can You Find It? Metropolitan Museum of Art Book
Can You Find It?
the metropolitan museum of art
by Judith Cressy

When I got this for Ana's fourth birthday last Spring, I admit, it was with an ulterior motive: to expose her to art in an interesting and challenging way, that is also fun.

This is very much an "I Spy" kind of book, posing a list of items to find in each picture. But it is the pictures that made it attractive to me: there are nineteen paintings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) collection that are reproduced here, spanning centuries and styles ranging from Egyptian to American Kitsch, tenth century to twenty first.

Artists, intentionally or otherwise, have hidden a plethora of small details to be discovered by the curious eyes with careful scrutiny.

For instance, in The Abduction of Wenji, the list includes 3 green chests and 1 baby to identify/spot in the picture. Naturally, the first green chest is a breeze. The second comes with a little poring. But the third remained elusive for a long time, challenging the heck out of me. And, so is the solitary baby.

Another instance: in the Scenes From The Tomb Of Nakht, we are asked to identify, among other things, 5 butterflies, 4 zucchinis, and 18 eggs. As one can guess, the first two butterflies or the first half dozen eggs just jump out at us, but the rest prove challenging enough to keep us engaged for a long time.

In King Dasharatha And his Royal Retinue Proceed To Rama's Wedding, depicting many archers and armed men on horseback and elephants in the procession, we are asked to locate the solitary man with a bow but no arrows, and a man with a spear, among other things. It's like trying to find a particular straw of hay in a small haystack :)

Of course, to put a lid on my frustration, there is an answer key at the back. Plus, details about each painting.

But, after having spotted it once, it seems easier to tuck it into memory and retrieve it for the next time. So, the trick is, of course, to put the book away for months and bring it out again after our short-term memories have been erased and rewritten many times.

In addition to observation and concentration, I like the fact that it allows for us to study the paintings in detail. Hopefully, this will encourage and train the wee ones to take a closer look at the paintings they encounter - not just a cursory look at the big picture, not just the colors and lighting and artistic elements, but also the fine-grain details that lets us zoom in on the time and place the artist has captured on the canvas.

There are other books in this series like Can You Find It Too?, Can You Find It Inside?, Can You Find It Outside?, Can You Find It? (America), Can You Hear It? (with more to come, I am sure) which can add up to quite a collection for the home library.
[This post written for Saffron Tree]

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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Magic Treehouse

magic ttreehouse series dinosaurs before darkThe seven rainbow fairies, the seven weather-feather fairies, the seven jewel fairies, the seven petal fairies... we read them all, and re-read most of the Rainbow Magic series all through Fall 2009.

I have some sentimental fondness for the Rainbow Fairies, don't get me wrong. After all, it was Ana's first introduction to chapter books.

And, being a beginner reader, it has motivated her enough to start reading more fluently and with confidence. After I read a few chapters each night to her, I leave her favorite books in bed, with the light on. She gets to read them in her own way till lights out.

However, I was getting fairly tired of the banal, almost identical plots and I suspect Ana was ready to move on as well.

So, shortly before Christmas 2009, we started reading The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne.

We stepped into it with Dinosaurs Before Dark, the first book in the series, naturally, hoping to work our way up if this proves to be a hit.

Ana is hooked!

Jack & Annie have become her new buddies.

She wonders why Annie acts so silly when Jack tries to tell her to be careful...
She worries that they will hurt themselves...
She disapproves of the absconding parents in the books...
She wrinkles her nose at their seemingly cavalier attitude towards personal safety...
She imagines Jack & Annie possessing some special magic...

She has asked Appa to build a treehouse for her in the backyard :)

We've read the first 6 so far. If I don't pace it out, we'll soon be caught up. And, am glad my library takes its time to fill our hold requests.

With minimal illustrations depicting certain key scenes, short and easy sentences with good pacing, interesting story line, some good information, and just a few chapters, this series has become my current favorite.

Before this series, Ana had no reason to know about ninjas and I had no reason to tell her what I've read about them. But thanks to Night of the Ninjas (Magic Tree House, No. 5), Ana knows enough about them to satisfy her curiosity. Every little tidbit collected at this age could potentially help her discover her world just that much more.

The books help branch out and gather more information and see how they all fit into our understanding of the universe we live in. As we grow older, a lot of the understanding of the world comes from this collective consciousness, this collective knowledge we call facts about how things work, how they used to work, how we can use this information to make things work for us and so on. In that sense, books to me have always been the magic key that unlocks new worlds - be it within our consciousness or without.

As she grows older, the lines between fantasy and reality might get strongly demarcated, but, for now, I am glad it remains blurry to satisfy her curiosity and her flights of fancy - just what I hope books would do...

I am rambling... No matter. I gather from my senior cohorts that it is possible that kids slow down, and possibly stay off reading for periods of time. If that happens with Ana (or Og), I am happy to know that it is not uncommon, or that it is my fault somehow :)

For now, I am happy that she enjoys her adventures with Jack & Annie.

And for those in-between times before the next Jack & Annie adventure, we have a plethora of picture books to enjoy, not to mention the Click and Ladybug magazines. The fascination for picture books will never fade, I hope... the ones Nana has filled our bookshelves with, plus some refreshingly interesting ones from the library thanks to Saffron Tree, will hopefully sustain us well...


[picture courtesy Amazon.com]


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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read

The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read
by Irma Simonton Black, Seymour Fleishman
(Ages 4-8)

The edition we have was published in 1968 by Parents' Magazine Book Clubs, Inc. by arrangement with Albert Whitman & Company. This was D's book when he was little, so it is a hand-me-down through generation.

I was waiting for a good opportunity to introduce the book to Ana. When she started reading with purpose, phonetically sounding out the letters, around her fourth birthday, and started getting frustrated with all the rules and effort, it seemed like a good time to introduce this book to her.

It is a very simple story with a subtle yet powerful message - i.e., literacy - laced with humor and presented with simplistic charm that might confound the skeptical adult mind. At the right age, the book can possibly motivate and encourage children to learn to read, to take that first step.

An old man was so busy making wooden toys all his life that he never learned to read. He just never wanted to learn. He doesn't see why he has to learn as he can get by fine without being able to read. He gets letters from kids around the world thanking him for his wonderful toys, but, his wife has to read them to him.

One day, his wife decides to go for a visit. She reminds him to go shopping for food while she is gone. Of course, the cynical adult mind at this point might wonder about previous such absences, if at all the wife absented herself from the household till then, and how he managed... or, even, why didn't she stock up the pantry and instruct him on where to find what for the next few days knowing he cannot read... No Matter.

Moving on: assuming that he will be able to recognize the food items at least by sight even if he cannot read the labels, she goes away on her trip. This is where the book starts getting funny, at least for Ana, albeit in a predictable way.

The old man goes shopping but feels lost among the aisles and aisles of packaged foods - some with pictures, and some with no pictures. Rather than ask anybody (He did not like to ask), he picks up cans and cartons possibly based on color and size his wife used to stock the pantry with and gets home eager to have a nice meal.

But, when he hungrily opens the cans and cartons to eat, he finds out that they are not what he thought they were - sour buttermilk instead of milk, soap flakes instead of sugar... you get the idea. This is the part Ana finds very funny, naturally. Especially, when the little old man exclaims, "Fiddlesticks and fish fur!" to express his frustration.

Hungry and frustrated, he waits for his wife to come home and as soon as she walks in the door he relates his woes and pleads, "Wife, please teach me to read". And she does.
First the old man learned to read the word
spaghetti.
Next he learned to read the word
milk.
Then he learned to read the words
for everything in the big store.
And then he learned to read the words
for everything in the world.
And the book ends with the little old man proudly reading his fan mail from kids around the world.

Of course, the adult mind might get a tendency to poke holes in this narration, pointing out all the absurdities and how incoherent it all sounds. But, learning from my 4¾ year old's perspective, it appears that the core message of the book was easily absorbed: He didn't learn to read, and that didn't work out well for him.

However illogical and disconnected it sounds, the fact that Reading Is Important somehow got through to her via this simple narration.

The illustrations are simplistic drawings colored in which complement the text well. If this was not already in our home library, and a hand-me-down from D, I probably would not have come across it at all. However, something about this book struck me as charming and warm - a stubborn old man refusing to learn to read and then coming around finally.

[This post written for Saffron Tree]

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

Cloudy With A Chance Of MeatballsCloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
written by Judi Barrett
illustrations by Ron Barrett
(first published in 1978 by the Simon & Schuster imprint Atheneum Books)
Ages 4-8

A couple of months ago, we read Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. Both Ana and I found ourselves on the fence about this book while D seemed more favorable towards the presentation than us. The lengthy rambling text and bland illustrations were probably the reason it didn't appeal to the 4¾ year old, but, I am still trying to put a finger on why I can't seem to like it...

It's a creative story designed for incorporating funny elements: imagine food raining down from the sky so people just have to hold out their plates and cups to have a meal. That's what happens in Chewandswallow land.

The book opens with Grandpa narrating the wondrous story of the weather changes in Chewandswallow, a little town not much unlike other little towns. Three time a day - around breakfast, lunch, dinner - the weather brings the three meals, with ever-changing menu to keep it exciting. Orange juice, toast, and scrambled eggs rain down from the sky for breakfast, hamburgers and shakes for lunch and even steak dinners at times.

But of course, things start going horribly wrong. The portions get larger and larger and the food that falls down harms more than satisfies people's need for nourishment.

The pen and ink art with old-world comic book styling was a bit distracting for Ana (and me) as she wasn't sure which panel followed next and in what order to process them. It started out simple enough and soon got a bit too verbose... besides, some of the foods therein (like hamburgers, steak and meatballs) were not too appealing to Ana as they have not been a part of her diet so far.

The story progresses, getting increasingly distressing as the people are literally attacked by the food falling from the sky. They finally decide to leave town building rafts out of huge bread slices that fall down from the sky.

I was probably over-thinking when trying to identify the allegory - perhaps the book warns us of increasing portion sizes and lack of reverence for the food that sustains our bodies; or perhaps how unsustainable our habits are that we end up trashing our dwelling - i.e., Earth - and are forced to migrate to other planets...

All in all, it is an imaginative tale, the kind we'd expect grandpa to make-up impromptu just to see the jaw-drop in his gradkids. It seems worth reading. At least to see how the kids respond to it. I would like to read it again with Oggie in a couple of years and see if he likes it and if Ana takes to it better then.

Cloudy With A Chance Of MeatballsAnd, of course, when Nana came by for Winter Holidays visit, she took us to the movie, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. Just us three girls, as Ana happily noted.

I liked the back-story, the set-up, and treatment in the movie. There were elements that probably missed Ana (the attraction between the hero and the heroine, the relationship between father and son, the mayor's motives), but there was enough in there that kept her laughing and entertained.

Plus, of course, we saw the movie at The Baghdad Theater, in the Hawthorne District. D and I used to catch a show or two there on and off before the kids came along. The plush vintage interior and the casual atmosphere makes this a wonderful experience: we can order beer and pub menu - popcorn, tater tots, pizza, drinks and such - and enjoy it while watching the movie, at a reasonable price. The theater has tables and chairs, and the waitress brings our order to our table. It is fairly relaxed and kid-friendly, not too finicky about incidental noises of chewing and crunching and slurping... but, people are very respectful and don't chatter away loudly anyway.

Between munching popcorn and pizza, and sipping her lemonade, while watching this movie, I know Ana had fun. And, the movie was not much like the book - it starts off differently and begins to entertain right away. However, it took a bit of convincing initially, until the scene where food starts falling down from the sky, that the book we read and the movie we are watching are both essentially the same. Needless to say, she liked the movie treatment better. And so did I.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Kids Craft: Bead Ornaments

kids craft beaded ornaments

The last day before Winter Holidays, Ana's school had a Crafts Morning for which I was glad to volunteer. Just an open room with a four tables and many child-sized chairs, with each table offering a different craft to try. When kids finish it to their satisfaction, they get to take it home.

Each table had all the required materials for a simple craft that kids get to do, from start to finish, within 15-20 minutes. There was the sponge stamps table, painting wooden ornaments table, bead ornaments table and the ever-popular snowflakes table, each manned by a fellow mom who took time off her busy life to be there and share the joy of crafting with the kids.

Mine was the Bead Ornaments table: a bunch of beads, some bells and pipe-cleaners, and scissors.

Kids wander in, in small groups, choose an activity and sit at the table and ask about it. If they elect to do it, the parent-volunteer shows them. They do it on their own, knowing that assistance is nearby if needed. And, then, they get to look around and hop to another craft table if it interests them and so on till they've tried all four exactly once.

Ana didn't expect to see me there as I kept it as a surprise. When she glided in with a few other friends and looked around, she jumped with joy and ran to my table, naturally, and chose to do the Bead Ornaments activity/craft first :)

It was a fun experience for me to get to know the kids, not just from Ana's class, but from the rest of the small community school as well. The 6-yr-old boys I met were a riot. Some of the kids from Ana's class were uninhibited enough to open their conversation with, "You are Ana's mom!" which somehow made them feel comfortable enough to let me show them simple ornaments to make. Some wouldn't stop chatting while others would deliberately ignore my presence :)

All in all, it was a great experience for me. The energy in that room was unbelievable. But so was the self-discipline and respect for their work and their friends'.

Needless to say, the ornaments Ana made with me that day adorned our Noble Fir and cheered us up during the holidays.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Kids Art: Melted Crayon Stained Glass

kids art melted crayon stained glass valentine craft

While it has been nice to take a break from routine and enjoy the Winter Holidays with the kids, it feels as if everything is on-hold for me, as if I am suspended in mid-air, in a limbo, sort of like Trishanku Swargam where Sage Vishwamitra froze Trishanku in space not letting him fall while the Devas tried not letting Trishanku ascend... (some of the mythological tales I grew up with are just mind-boggling and thought-provoking).

I chalk it down to the change in routine - to not have to rush off to work every morning, dropping the kids off and having the days go by in a blur... I am glad to be forced into such breaks, much-needed and much-welcomed, even if it stresses me about meeting our financial commitments.

After busy mornings of dance and play followed by lunch, I get desperately anxious to put Oggie down for a nap so I can catch my breath.

And Ana gets just as anxious as me to see Og settle down for a nap so she can play with her toys that she doesn't want Oggie to touch. Of course, she can play in her room anytime, but, she doesn't like to be alone in there...

Some days we play with Enid Pappaa... Enid's wardrobe seems to be multiplying exponentially: anything too small for Oggie or Ana becomes a hand-me-down for Enid :)

Some days we play with Tink, Rhonwen, and some tiny Playmobil fairy set she has...

Some days we play with Polly Pocket... well, she just tells me what to do and how to dress Polly and Leah, and if I don't do it, she counts me out! Sneaky me, of course, I deliberately protest about the clothes for Polly so she'll kick me out of the play :)

And some days we do little art projects.

I was so glad to find some very cool ones online. There are so many creative souls out there sharing their discoveries and it is nice to glean some simple ideas to try out at home. One of them in particular appealed to me as it seemed so simple and yet I would not have thought of it at all - viz., Melted Crayon Stained Glass.

Rather than watercolors and melted crayon therein, we decided to do the wax paper method to simulate the simple stained-glass-style look.

Items Used: Pencil sharpener, wax crayons, wax paper, iron.

kids art melted crayon stained glass art

  1. Use the pencil sharpener to get some crayon shavings
  2. Fold a piece of wax paper half; then open it out and lay flat on top of some folded sheet or fabric mat (we used just cloth placemats) to protect the table as we are going to use a warm iron soon
  3. Sprinkle the crayon shavings on one half of the wax paper, then fold the other half over it
  4. Place a paper bag or napkin or another fabric placemat over the folded wax paper and press with warm iron; on low setting is better, not too hot; run the iron over a few times to make sure all the crayon shavings enclosed in the wax paper has melted Note: This step is best done by an adult, taking necessary precaution, of course
  5. Allow to cool, et voilà! Stained Glass-ish results

Ana liked to mix up a bunch of colors first and then realized it is just mucky. So, we tried just a single color, then maybe a couple, and each had its own unique look that this project sort of took a life of its own.

What to do with this?
  1. Cut out flowers (or other shapes) and paste on greeting cards
  2. Cut out hearts and share on Valentine's Day
  3. Cut out a preferred shape in a greeting card first, then glue a piece of this stained-glass-like wax paper on the back so it shows through the cutout shape


kids art melted crayon stained glass art project


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Friday, January 08, 2010

Kids Art: Watercolor and Cling Wrap

watercolors and saran cling  wrap

Continuing the theme of art projects we did recently, here is another.

I was browsing for simple activities with stunning results that can be easily done at home during the Winter Holidays and came across this. I had to try it with Ana.

Items Used: Watercolor paper, Acrylic paper, diluted tempera paints or watercolors, large paint brush, and plastic cling wrap.

kids art watercolor and cling wrap

  1. Simply apply blobs of color on heavy-weight paper.
  2. Place a Cling Wrap sheet on top while still wet, and crinkle it to form patterns.
  3. Allow to dry.
  4. Remove the cling wrap.
  5. Voilà!

We left it by the heating vent, of course, to speed up drying. And proudly showed it to Appa when he got home!

Heavy-weight paper works best, and, the nature and quality of the paper makes a difference, as we would expect. Acrylic paper had a more smooth finish with fractal-like formations.

Watercolor and Cling Wrap

Whereas, Watercolor paper had a coarse textured look with an interesting cracked crystalline pattern.



Usually, I talk about interesting things we could try with materials at home to gauge Ana's interest on any particular day.

Ana has been exploring a lot of open-ended art activities since babyhood and has shown signs of being more than ready to do something definite, with a purpose, but which is also new with room to explore. Knowing her materials and having some expectations helps her take the first step in a new direction.

When she expresses readiness to try out, I assemble the materials, describing them, repeating the names of materials that are new to her.

And, as usual, she wasn't satisfied with making just one, so she created a few, playing with colors and textures, some of which weren't as stunning as the others as we found out. But then, 'stunning' is quite subjective anyway :)


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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Kids Art: Rubber Cement Masking

kids art watercolor masking with rubber cement

Thanks to Winter Break, we had a lot of time to try different art projects. My primary aim has always been to expose Ana to the tools and techniques available these days and to allow for her creative energy to find a release. For one thing, she seems interested and shows some aptitude for it. If this was painful and boring for her, of course, I wouldn't dream of forcing it down her throat...

Oggie so far seems to love coloring, but, rather than the dainty 'artistic' approach Ana had at that age, Oggie at 1¾ seems to love the whole process of smearing as much as he enjoys seeing the colors appear and take shape on plain paper. I wouldn't be surprised if he chooses not to do the same art projects with me that I have done with Ana...

Continuing our study of masking, Ana and I tried the Rubber Cement masking technique.

Rubber Cement comes in a nice little container with its own brush. Its gummy texture is such that it can be dribbled over the paper by holding the loaded brush in the air and swirling it about. Of course, it can also be 'painted on' with the brush. Ana tried both techniques to understand that whereas one requires more control but forms nice curly lines, the other creates blobs.

I like rubber cement for certain applications. Its texture and the fact that it can be removed easily after it dries makes it an interesting material to play with.

Items Used: Watercolor paper, Rubber Cement, Tempera paints diluted in water (we were running low on watercolors), paint brush.

rubber cement masking with watercolors kids art

  1. Apply the rubber cement on the watercolor paper in any arbitrary pattern.
  2. Allow to dry. We placed it by the heating vent to speed it up - took about 5 to 10 minutes depending on how thick the application is.
  3. Then, paint over the dried rubber cement using favorite watercolors or diluted tempera paints. Allow to dry completely.
  4. Then, either using the fingers or a pencil eraser simply rub the rubber cement off. It peels off easily, leaving the white of the paper that it masked.

As always, Ana decided to make a few as she experimented with the technique and tried it to her satisfaction.

rubber cement masking with watercolors kids art

They came out looking beautiful enough to be framed and hung in the living room. Of course, that's just the maternal point of view :)

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Kids Art: Glue and Chalk Pastel

Staying home with Ana during these two weeks of Winter Break, I was happy to have the days flow without any set schedule. Og was home most of the days too, so, it was a riot.

After the early breakfast, Og and Ana would play with some current favorite toy/activity, or would chase each other about the house, or get me to be the Dragon/Monster/Dinosaur that roars and tries to eat them, or dance to some favorite music... maybe even do some coloring.

The days leading up to Christmas were exciting: we made greeting cards and cookies, decorated the tree and made stockings, and of course, watched the usual Christmas-y movies, the usual.

And after Christmas, I started thinking about 2010 and all the things that need to get done and such... knotting myself up, and getting in a foul mood. I do this to myself a lot - sort of self-destructive in a way, but, I guess we all handle stress in our own way - some less volatile than others...

Anyway, it seemed like Ana was feeling my post-Xmas restlessness and was bored with the carefree schedule of the first week of Winter Break.

Before the Winter Break, Ana had done a glue and chalk pastel art in school: An Apple Tree. She enjoyed it and loved the finished product so much that she wanted to do more. So, we decided to make a few more glue and chalk pastel art, one especially for Nana to take back with her.

kids art glue and chalk pastelThe idea is simple:
  1. Create pencil sketch/outline of the scene/object of interest on black paper.
  2. Apply glue on the lines - glue that dries on clear.
  3. After the glue dries, it leaves an embossed-looking sketch that can be colored in with chalk pastel, blending the color with the fingers or tissue paper.

The type and quality of paper plays a role when working with chalk pastels. Heavy construction paper and card stock seem to be fine so far. We did try with regular colored chalkboard chalks and the effect was muted and unkempt.

kids art glue and chalk pastelItems used:
Elmers™ School glue
pencil
black card stock paper
chalk pastels


The outline that Ana draws, is, of course, quite free form. The only part that I do for the project is apply the glue on her sketch to make the outlines clear so she can color them in easily and the object being portrayed is discernible :)

We made a Christmas Tree for Nana. Ana drew a rough Christmas Tree shape with ornaments and such. I applied the glue outline and allowed it to dry. Then, Ana started coloring in with chalk pastel, using her fingers to blend in the color.

kids art easy chalk pastel project with glue on black paper

While we were at it, Ana was in the mood for creating more. She suggested making a scene: a boat on ocean waves with sun shining in the sky. And that is what we did :)

The nice thing is, if we didn't like the colors we chose to use in the first place, we can simply apply the new color chalk pastel over it and blend it in. This produces interesting effects. Gives lots of room for experimentation and 'doing over' till satisfied.



The blending of the colors is a Zen-like activity. However, after a while it can get monotonous. So, we keep the palette small - just a few colors for each project - applied in specific areas and blended just enough to cover the stark scratches of color.

If preferred, apply some fixative as there will be some dust from the chalk pastels. I prefer "laminating" it - i.e., using clear contact sheet :)

kids art easy chalk pastel project with glue on black paper

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Proper Exam

terry pratchett thief of time

While I did laugh heartily at the statement in Terry Pratchett's novel, Thief of Time, I also had to stop and think.

I guess in lieu of a proper exam, it is good to conduct periodic self-examinations...

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Monday, January 04, 2010

First trip to the Portland Art Museum

portland art museum I kept putting it off as I thought Ana might not be ready, but, turns out *I* wasn't ready to take this first step with Ana, really.

But, over the Winter Break, as we pored over art reprints at home and did some art work ourselves, I found myself feeling ready to take Ana to the Portland Art Museum.

The snowfall had stopped, the chillness was refreshing, and to make the day more memorable, Ana and I rode the bus to explore the Portland Art Museum.

I didn't want to explain the paintings or make it a possibly boring experience for her. So, I let her guide me. I stopped where she stopped. Answered whatever she wanted answered, as best as I could. And was glad that, that particular day, Ana was in the discovery mode. She spent more time looking at Asian and Native American Art than their American and European collection - possibly because of the layout of the museum and the order in which we visited the permanent collection.

I was surprised when she asked to go back and stare at one particular exhibit - Raven to Sun Transformation Costume - in the Native American exhibit. Not sure why, she seemed fascinated with it. I wonder what was going through the 4¾ yr old senses and imprinting on her brain...

She did have a few questions about the nudes - paintings and life-size sculptures - but, mostly curious about why it is there... and of course, she stared at a particular female nude painting (I forget the artist) asking about her feather hair decoration and pretty sandals, not worried about the rich surrounding in which the lady in the painting stood, simply wondering what happened to her clothes and then convincing herself that it depicted the middle of her dressing ritual and that she was getting to the clothes when the painting was done....

"This room is full of baby paintings, Amma. I think babies like Oggie made these art", she stated with certainty.

"Hm... you think so? The canvas is so big, and am not sure how babies can reach to the top and paint...", I was trying not to sound dim.

"No silly! They put it on the floor so babies can paint the whole thing and then hang it up. I think that's what they did. Maybe we can bring Oggie's painting to hang up here", she declared with enthusiasm.

We were staring at Modern Art!

She was a bit disappointed that she couldn't actually do any art project there even after I tried to explain the purpose of art museums...

Now that the first step is taken, I hope others will follow, making it an enriching experience for both of us... I know I have a lot to learn and it would be nice to learn some of it through Ana's eyes... Thankfully, I am not an art snob and I hope that helps Ana's experience.

*picture courtesy http://www.portland.com/portland/attractions/portland-art-museum/

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Kids Arts and Crafts



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