Category Archives: Art

Building a Dinosaur

Art supplies are scattered around the playroom, and my son is now old enough to use them with less or no supervision. It was time to consolidate them and make them more available to the kids. After some research, my wife and I settled on the dinosaur easel from Kidcraft. We already have a play kitchen set from them, and we know what we are getting in terms of quality. Kidcraft makes very functional kid furniture with fun designs, but they are by no means the top of the line. Materials are budget but sturdy for the most part.

14601251067_3cc8c168b1_zFirst we unpacked the box and separated the pieces. The kids had a blast sorting the pieces into piles of different sizes, colors, and other qualities. I just made sure I got the hardware kit and kept track of it.


Next, we started following the directions one step at a time. It was neat to see how a 6 year-old 14787423372_5b48a0182d_zand a 3.5 year-old interpreted the illustrations in the directions. Both kids had turns inserting the screws and anchors and turning the wrench to tighten them up. I only had to do a slight further tightening on both of their work. One piece needed a hole redrilled, but otherwise all pieces were there and in good shape. When it was all said and done, the kids were very proud of their work.

We have now been using it for about a week, and they love the freedom to paint and even stand next to each other and paint on the same page together. I had moved the paper bar from the dry erase side to the chalkboard side because we really don’t want chalk inside the house, but the dry erase board ended up being inferior quality. I have now purchased a magnetic dry erase board to put over the one that came with the easel.




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Book Project

My daughter is home from school today. Her flu ended up resulting in pink eye, so she is with me. Not sick enough to warrant watching movies all day, she decided to create her own alphabet book. This idea is wholly her own and occurred as I worked on some projects in my office. She stuck to it and finished with a great deal of pride in her product. She wanted to copy it and share it with all of her classmates tomorrow when she returns to school. With that audience in mind, and her teacher as well, I decided to introduce the idea of feedback. I showed her the many revisions of the game I have been designing and talked about how I work on it and then go to a group where people let me know what they like and what could be improved. We then went through her book, and I helped her correct a few reversed letters and spellings that were phonetically correct but not right. It was a great way to revisit a few spelling rules such as vcv and ay. When we tried to copy the book, the copier couldn’t see the crayon and pencil work. This afforded the opportunity to talk about prototyping. I showed her the box of prototypes for my game and how they had changed over time. Knowing the problem getting her book copied, I suggested that she create a new one in pencil which she would go over in pen after we had a chance to look it over and make revisions. Initially, this was a bit daunting, but then she jumped into the project and is diligently and happily working hard on it.

Yesterday, I participated in the Learning Creative Learning online session by MIT media lab. Many if the ideas batted around were made concrete in this activity. Play can be hard and fun at the same time, intrinsic passion for projects come when they are from within, and much more.

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Free Art, It Should Be Free

Growing up in St. Louis, I assumed all major public resources like zoos, art museums, science centers and the like were free. It was a shock to the system when I learned that not only are they not free, but in many cases are fairly expensive. In Boston, this is the case, and memberships to these institutions is usually worthwhile if one takes a family there more than once. It always rankles my political senses when I have to pay for these resources rather than having the collective tax base shoulder the burden. I would rather pay the admission and more in taxes to cover the costs for all families to have access to cultural resources. We do this with libraries, but we don’t uniformly or even commonly do this with other institutions.

Thus, I was excited when I saw that the Museum of Fine Art was free on MLK Day. I didn’t quite get the kids out the door early, so we arrived on the train about 11:00 when the line stretching out the door wrapped around the front of the building and down the side street. Given that my son was probably going to wet his pants before we were able to enter the building, I decided to head to a nearby restaurant, hit the bathroom, and eat some lunch. After lunch, the line was shorter and moving quickly.

We entered the building, got our free tickets, checked the bag and coats, and then headed out to see art. I think we were able to see a part of each major collection while we were there. My daughter loved the stained glass, and my son was taken by the lion-headed Egyptian statue. Both loved going through the huge red-beaded doorway that an artist had made in reflection on blood and AIDS. I didn’t go into a description of the disease, but I did talk about blood and medicine. All-in-all, several millennia of art crammed into a couple of hours was an excellent way to spend the day, and it was free.

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Art on a Cold Day

We had a plan, but then it got really cold. I was to take the kids out in the afternoon to clear some space in my parents’ house for their cousin to have some one-on-one time with her grandmother. My initial thought was running around at a park, but with the temps in the 20s and falling with strong winds, we went to the art museum instead. Just by chance, they were having a Kwaanza children’s activity that included some craft activities and a scavenger hunt through the museum. It was a nice directed activity that allowed us to enjoy parts of the museum without getting bogged down looking at everything. The Kwaanza hunt took us to the new wing that I had never seen and where they have put all of the modern art and to the Latin American and African collections that I spent quite a bit of time enjoying in high school. It was great to be able to walk in the door and enjoy not only the art but the activities for free. The piece that caught our attention most was a wheel made of feathers that rotated. My daughter said that it reminded her of the Earth going around the sun and the seasons.

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Reconnected to the Digital Torrent

The whole of Anderson’s Fairy Tales is written on this poster.

I have now successfully restarted my RSS reading, and right away, there are things to share. I came across Litographs in a blog post, and I would love to get them for the kids’ room and a t-shirt for myself. So many creative people out there. Beyond that, I would love to take some text and make an image like this of my own.

I love the things that Twitter and RSS feeds send my way!

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iPad Workshop

The page colored by my daughter.

From Wednesday to Friday, I attended an iPad in the classroom workshop. It was a wonderful opportunity to get focused time on some tools I already knew and some that were new to me. It also afforded me the time to think of personal digital workflows and how to structure some of the workflows at my school. I am really excited to bring some of the ideas, modified for the needs at my school, to the faculty at the beginning of the school year.

Looking at the page through the iPad.

One thing, however, I brought home and shared with my children Saturday morning. ColAR MIX app is an augmented reality software that has a few coloring sheets that pop up in 3D when viewed with the iPad using this app. My son, daughter, and I all colored in a copy of the airplane sheet, and then we viewed them with the iPad.

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Bumble Bee

When I arrived home from work on Monday, my daughter greeted me with a game of pictionary. It ranged from drawing a very abstract shape and giving my wife and me three guesses. She then wrote a word on a hidden page and we had to guess it. Together, we evolved the game into my daughter drawing a picture, whispering it to me, and spelling it with my help. My wife then guessed the picture with some clues from my daughter and me.

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