Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Party Bags: less sugar, more imagination!

When all is said and done...
the party games have been played and the cake has been cut...don't be fooled! 
 Its not over yet!
 You have to get the guests to leave happily (and some little ones DON"T want to go!)

This is where I find the bribery of a party bag comes in to play.
I guess that is one reason for the tradition, oh,
 and it is a nice way for the children (and adults) to take a bit of the party home!

But more often than not the party bags have been thrown together
 with little thought and truckloads of sugar.

While sugar highs are fun, they don't last long!

Maybe it is the teacher in me, but I think the party bag should go beyond sugar.
It is an opportunity to stimulate many senses......sight, sound, touch,
 and encourage play and creativity.

 It needs to be a visual thing with strong colours and clear labels. Give the children a chance to practice reading their own names.
"That one's mine!"

Or course there has to been some toys..in this case boy's toys.
To fine tune those imaginations and fine motor skills
 Drop! Smash! Smack!

What about a musical instrument? Some auditory fun!
 A loud blower or whistle- to test the parents' patience.

Ok, so here is the token sugar treat- something small though-
 like a proportioned bag of small lollies or even better super-hero lollipops
Holy party pack Batman! Swoosh! 

 Finally, what a party bags needs is some creative interactive element
- a project to work on when they get home.
This is important and usually absent.
"Robot wars!"

 This pack includes craft foam, robots and space images. We placed the foam bits in a ziplock bag and added letters, so the children could spell out their name.
"L-I-A-M! I can spell my name!"

There are many  creative projects  like this you could include:
  • Some colourful paper and instructions how to fold a great paper plane. Add a few dot stickers so the children can custom the plane.
  • Colouring in pages and pencils
  • A paper mask for decoration
  • Tic Tac Toe game
  • Stencils and paper
  • Felt shapes and a small felt board (felt glues on cardboard)
 A trip to an art supplier or craft shop will inspire many an idea- I'm sure!
We all like to be creative, make and build -little people included.

A party bag is an opportunity to go along the path less travelled, 
to cut down on the sugar fix and build some brain connections
-and it is fun!

What do you put in a party bag?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lollipop Super Heroes for Boys & Girls

Holy Sweet Tooth Batman!
I've been itching to make some little lollipop super heroes

 ever since I spied them on Pinterest.

 Lucky my "baby" is having a birthday party, so I have had a good excuse to get busy.
These super heros are going in the party bags.

Originally the idea came from Zakka Life as a sweet Valentines day idea.
Then Marigold took the idea on board and developed the Batman and Robin idea- so, click on their name for the links and templates. 

I have customised the idea also.  Instead of an "R" for Robin I changed the letter to a "J" for my boy. The girls are getting a "Thank-you for coming to my Party" message on their pops. I don't have a colour printer so I just printed black ink onto coloured paper but if you had basic technology then colour printing would open the possibilities further.

As you can see by the photos once the kids get a hold of the hero-pops imagination takes over and the fun begins! 

I am thinking this would be a great idea to hand out at the next school art exhibition with the title "Art Hero" and patterns either from famous artists or from the students themselves. 

Next up: What goes in the Party Bags - ideas that don't involve excess sugar highs..and lows!

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Birthday Bunting-creating family traditions

Six months ago I began some bunting..birthday bunting.
The whole idea was to bring these handmade decorations out for every family birthday
- to begin a new family tradition.

I had them 95% finished and then I stopped.


Simply, I got distracted by life.

Unfortunately, most of the family birthdays passed by this year... minus the bunting.

I finally finished this week and only took 15 minutes- why didn't I do this 6 months ago?

In any case it was just in time for my Mum's birthday.
Cutting a cake out on the deck with a warm spring afternoon breeze and happy bunting, just made it all the more special.

I tried to select fabrics for both the boys and the girls and recycled fabrics where possible.
 I found that iron-on interfacing held the letters in place nicely when I was sewing them on.

Do you have a family tradition?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Holiday Activities for Children - Art and Building

As an Art teacher I get to test run some great new products to see how they would translate into the classroom. This is one of the many fun things about my job.......

Recently I was handed a box of Makedo, a set of connectors that enable you to build quickly with recyclable materials like cardboard boxes. If you are a regualr at Uber Savvy you will  know that recycling is a big part of what I do with my students, so this product looked like it had potential....

A basic kit  ($30 AUS) contains:
  • 5 groovy plastic construction tools with knife and hole punching device.
  • Connectors (a pin and clip)
  • Hinges - that can be fixed or pivot.

The kit says it is for ages 4+, so I took the Makedo kit home to test it out with my guinea pigs young  children, who are 4 and 6. We collected boxes of all shapes and sizes and I showed them how the different pieces worked.

My children picked it all up straight away and ran with it (metaphorically and literally).
We used masking tape, stickers, a circle hole punch and some left over contact paper together with the Makedo system to build our robots.

The Verdict:
This connector system is easy to use and perfect for children at home. I can see Mums and Dads creating side by side with their kids- it is a fabulous holiday idea!

I love the way the circular clips become part of the design (as with the eyes on the robots). It is great how you can incorporate movement (the robots' legs and the arms move) - you can't do this with tape! 

The box doesn't take up much room in a cupboard and all the clips and hinges can be used over and over and over again. 

In a classroom situation it would work well with all age groups for a whole range of projects. It enables fast building which is always welcome. I am definitely planning some sculptural work with this soon- the students will love it.

The Makedo site has a video demo and a interesting gallery to gather ideas- click here. You can also upload your own creations which is what I am about to do after I finish this. By the way I haven't been paid to review this product, I just think it is a really interesting one that allows creativity to grow.

It has my eco-art thumbs up!

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