All posts in Education

Watercolor Travel Kit Gift Guide

Watercolor Travel Kit Gift Guide

Grasshopper and Sensei and I are huge fans of watercolor painting. We are especially fond of travel size watercolor kits, even though we rarely paint en plein air. We have fantasies of painting outside while on vacation or at an art museum; fantasies that never come to pass. It’s probably because we don’t have the right art supplies. That’s right! That’s our reason and we are sticking to it.

If only … if only we had these kits. We’d be painting up a storm! Here’s a sampling of some of the art we’ve produced over the years, sadly indoors, and not with these irresistible travel watercolor kits. But if you want to know what to get us for our birthdays or Christmas — hint, hint to relatives reading — now you know!

Watercolor Travel Kit Gift Guide

Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections: The Classics, $15

This is really good paint because it’s very pigmented. It comes in a metal container which folds out so there’s more mixing room.

Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections: The Classics

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Sketchers Pocket Box, $12

This pocket-sized watercolor travel set has 12 half pans of colors in a plastic box with a mixing palette in the lid.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Brush Pen Set, $22

This is a watercolor paint set with 12 half pans PLUS Windor & Newton water brush pen.

Watercolor Kit Gift Guide

Jerry Q Art Water Colors Travel Pocket Set, $18

This kit has 18 water colors pans, with a refillable water brush and sponge.

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Our 10 Favorite Math Picture Books

Our 10 Favorite Math Picture Books

My son has always been the math-iest of my three kids but now my middle, PickyKidPix, has proclaimed two years in a row now that math class is her favorite, though her most challenging. I have had a love of mathematics; with a math professor for a father, my childhood was fraught with extra math homework and pop quizzes in the car. I’ve always preferred stories.

But now there are math picture books that bring a story to a math concept, making it friendly and easy to absorb. Some of these books pose as mysteries, others as adventures. All are captivating entertainment that draw kids into math.

I think if I were raised on these kinds of stories, I would have had a different relationship with math. Less adversarial. Less black and white. My son and I have had read dozens of math picture books to bring you our favorites here.

How about you? What are your favorite math picture books? Thanks for sharing!

 

The History of Mathematics: The Story of Zero, Getting Something from Nothing

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World Kindness Day ideas for kids

Today is World Kindness Day (and boy do we need it)

The day after the election I was in shock, then angry and finally depressed. And the thought of facing racism made me mad and ready to fight. And it’s not like I don’t spend a few hours punching every week. I was ready to fist fight, and, it turns out,  I wasn’t the only one. Day 1 in Trump’s America is an ugly place to be.

But then I met with Valarie and Becky for Multicultural Children’s Book Day — we meet weekly via Skype for the months leading up to January 27th — and we realized that now, more than ever, we need to fight for acceptance of diversity through compassion. Believe me, this is not an easy leap to make for me!  My first response would be to throw a punch when faced with racism, so I give myself this reminder today, on World Kindness Day, November 13th.

Today is World Kindness Day (and boy do we need it)

And, as I think about kindness, I am reminded of Valerie at Inner Child Fun (different Valerie than Valarie at Jump Into a Book/Multicultural Children’s Book Day) and how she inspired me with her 35 Random Acts of Kindness Birthday Challenge. I knew I wanted to face my own upcoming 48th birthday this way. It wasn’t easy to pull it off; I needed a month, but it was the best birthday present ever!

And just like that … ripples of kindness actually spread. Read more…

Our Art Gift Kits for Arty Kids

Our Art Gift Kits for Arty Kids

These are art kits that my daughter and I put together when I realized that our lists might be overwhelming: 45 Art Gifts for Seriously Arty Kids by my daughter, and 10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids.

p.s. More art gift posts:

Art Activity Books

Gifts for Kids Who Hate Art and Reading

Art Kit To Encourage Creativity

 + = a book of fun art games plus washable markers makes a great art gift for on the go that the entire family can enjoy if you just add some blank paper. This DIY art kit is $17.

Tangle Art by Jeanette Nyberg Read more…

Books for Kids to Gift Teachers and Principals

Books for Kids to Gift Teachers and Principals

My girls are I are a little obsessed with gift giving right now. We wrack our brain to find the right gift for each person. If the present delights and amuses, we know we have a winner. It’s not about spending a lot of money per se, it’s more about finding a personal connection from that person to the gift, which means trying to remember obscure details from past conversations to nail that gift.

Teacher gifts can be hard. Principal gifts even harder. It’s not like you really hang out with your school’s principal! Did your art teacher do something amazing for your child? Ours nominated my daughter for a special arts summer camp which set her down a happy path that she’s now pursuing.

I’ve personally used many of these books to gift to my kids’ teachers. I hope you enjoy these books too; both reading them with your kids and perhaps even gifting one to a special teacher or educator in your life.

How about you? What’s a special gift that you like to give to teachers? Thanks for sharing!

 

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

This is by far my favorite gift to any amazing teacher. Mr. Falker is a real person that helped Patricia Polacco to overcome her dyslexia but I’d use this book for any teacher that goes above and beyond for his or her students. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

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45 Art Gifts for Seriously Arty Kids by my Arty Daughter

45 Art Gifts for Seriously Arty Kids by my Arty Daughter

My oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, wants to go to art school in two years. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program last summer, which exposed her to many different art supplies. Her favorite birthday gift from us these past few years is an annual subscription to art supply box ArtSnacks which is how she discovered Copic Markers. These days she watches arty kids wax poetic on YouTube with their favorite art supplies. Today, she does the same here.

My Daughter's Pieces from RISD Pre-College Program

Grasshopper and Sensei at the RISD Pre-College Art Show in front of her piece.

She has tried everything on this list — and more — to hone down her favorite art supplies for serious arty kids. She thinks this list is for high school students, but I’d suggest using her suggestions for your arty kid as the situation warrants. For example, her brother, now 12 years old, started out drawing stick figure comics using pencil and spiral bound lined notebooks when he was 9 and 10. He progressed to sketch books and inexpensive Crayola markers that I bought from Target, and his art became more manga based. For his 12th birthday, he requested a small set of Copic Markers and Rendr Paper Sketchbook which does not bleed through. His manga art, self taught through YouTube videos, has now included more anatomically correct manga figures.

My Daughter's Pieces from RISD Pre-College Program

Her best work from the RISD Pre College Summer Art Program. It’s seed pods rendered in pencil.

In this list, my daughter who is very price conscious since she buys many of these materials with her own money, suggests different options: INVESTMENT, INEXPENSIVE, SPECIALTY, and MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. I hope this helps you find the right art supplies for your seriously arty kid!

p.s. More Art Gift Ideas for Kids here:

Art Activity Books

10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids

Gifts for Kids Who Hate Art and Reading

Our Art Gift Kits for Arty Kids

Art Supply Gift Guide for SERIOUS Arty Kids

ArtSnacks, $20/month

This is a monthly subscription kit in which you will receive 4-5 full size premium art supplies including unique items that are not available elsewhere. They are starting to make their own art supplies as well. My daughter gets really excited about the kit every month! When she was at RISD, she discovered other students who also subscribed to ArtSnacks from the stickers on their stuff and it was a bonding moment for her!

Art Snacks

Alcohol Based Markers for SERIOUS Arty Kids

Investment Refillable Markers for Arty Kids

Copic Markers, about $8 each and also come in sets.

They are really expensive but they are worth it because they are refillable and have the best brushes and nibs. The ink is also very high quality. These are alcohol based professional markers that you can use for a lifetime.

As long as you take care of your Copic Markers (store horizontally NOT vertically) and don’t press really hard on the nibs, they should last a lifetime. You can REFILL each marker and the ink is readily available. You can also start out with a small set and keep adding over your lifetime.

Here are two starter sets: the first is just basic colors, the second is skin tones. If you have both, you can draw manga figures though you might want to fill in specific colors that you use most and in several hues.

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10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids

10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids

My arty daughter helped me create two arty gift guides for kids. This is the first one: 10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids. I basically collected the art books over the past few years that my daughter and son enjoy. Grasshopper and Sensei also created a list of art supplies for VERY SERIOUS arty kids that I will be posting on soon.

I accumulated this list of 10 arty books for kids. I have picture books for arty kids here: Top 10 Best Books for Young Artists. I also have a gift guide for Gifts for Kids Who Hate Art and Reading.

p.s. More Art Gift Ideas for Kids here:

Art Activity Books

45 Art Gifts for Seriously Arty Kids by my daughter

Our Art Gift Kits for Arty Kids

10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids

Learn about Art History, Illustrators and Illustration

Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art by Michael Bird, illustrated by Kate Evans

This is a beautiful art history book with works by major artists and really interesting stories about their lives, with particular detail to the work featured. If you want one art history tome for you kids, use this one. Enjoy it cover to cover, or just flipping around as the art catches your eye.  [art history chapter book, ages 6 and up]

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Cubetto: Coding Toy for Preschoolers!

Cubetto: Coding Toy for Preschoolers!

Cubetto: Coding Toy for Preschoolers!
I was amazed at this preschool toy, Cubetto,  that teaches kids the principles behind programming. And it’s fun! What is revolutionary about this toy is that it is screen-less! It uses wooden toy pieces, a wooden toy board, and robot made of wood!

Cubetto: Coding Toy for Preschoolers!Read more…

STEM Toy Gift Guide

STEM Toy Gift Guide

With my son as a guinea pig, we’ve been busy testing STEM toys to discover his favorites.

STEM Toy Gift Guide

DIY Electro Dough Kit

This is, hands down, our favorite kit. Note that the kit has everything that you need EXCEPT for the playdoh. Purchase that seperately — you don’t need much — or make your own. You can use this kit over and over again too. At $30, it’s well priced.

DIY Electro Dough Kit STEM toy for kids

Venus Fly Trap Plant

This kit includes everything you need to assemble a successful terrarium for your Venus Fly Trap. You get a 2 inch plant, a five inch globe terrarium, and the soil. The kit is $22. Pair with a book to learn more about the fascinating Venus Fly Trap!

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