You probably know by now that I’m all about art, design, and child-led learning, but there’s one hot topic where I feel sadly inadequate when it comes to working with kids. That topic is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math). Thankfully, the new STE(A)M initiatives have added the A for Art so I’m not at a total loss! I have been learning more about how to engage my kids in STEAM activities and am excited to share a new resource that is helping me do this.

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Easy Yarn Wall Hanging

Last weekend I was invited to host a creative activity at a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. If you don’t know who they are, this amazing organization helps to grant wishes to kids with terminal illnesses. Some kids wish to travel, perform on stage, meet their idols or even become their idol for a day! It was so special to meet some of the “wish kids” and help bring a smile to their faces with a fun, creative project.

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Make-A-Wish Collaborative Art

Last Saturday The Art Pantry team was invited to create a playful family experience for the Walk For Wishes event held at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, Ca. This was a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area foundation to raise money in order to fulfill the wishes of kids with life-threatening medical conditions. If you haven’t heard of them, check out the Batkid wish they granted almost two years ago. Incredible.

I’m happy to say that the event raised enough money to grant 13 wishes!

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Birthday Party Photo Booth!

DIY Kids Photo Booth from The Art Pantry


We recently celebrated Ora’s second birthday with a “lollipop” themed party (she was given a lollipop on Halloween – her very first candy- and has been obsessed ever since!).
We wanted to keep it simple with a few neighborhood friends, some face painting, and lots of food on sticks! We bought a bunch of lollipop sticks from a kitchen supply store and served all of our appetizers lollipop style.

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Secret Message Valentine Gift Experiment

Karuna recently discovered these cute mini paint sets in the toy store. I didn’t know if they would paint very well, but I thought they were the perfect size to give as gifts with a secret message Valentine (one of my many “Pinspirations“). We first cut out a heart from watercolor paper, then used a white crayon to draw a hidden Valentine message. The white crayon on white paper keeps it invisible until you paint over it with watercolor. The crayon will then resist the watercolor and you will see your message!

Karuna was so excited to find out what her secret message was, but sadly this little paint set was not up for the challenge. The small brush created scratches in the paper and the paint trays couldn’t hold enough water to lose their opacity.

So we started over and tried a real watercolor brush and some better quality paint and… voila! The secret message was revealed!

With the success of our new paints, Karuna couldn’t be stopped. If I hadn’t convinced her to take a lunch break, I think she could have gone all day making secret Valentines. I’ll remember this next time I need to do some work around the house :)
I’m still intrigued by the idea of giving a secret card with an attached watercolor set.  With a nice set, this little baggy would be an awesome goody bag, thank you card, or birthday present. Just write an invisible note and gift away!

Spiderweb Printmaking

For some creative Halloween decorations, we decided to try out these styrofoam spiderweb prints, seen over at Tinkerlab. We started off by cutting out two circles of foam from our Scratch Foam Boards (affiliate link), but you could also use a Styrofoam plate.
Karuna and I weren’t sure exactly how to draw a spiderweb, so we looked up a photo of one online and talked about the lines and shapes in the web. Then we each took a stab at it, and drew our version of a spiderweb and spider onto our plates.
Next we used a ball point pen over our drawings to make deep grooves in the foam. Here are our finished printing plates:

To make a print, we used a brayer (affiliate link) –a foam paint roller would do fine as well- to roll out paint onto the foam plates. In addition to black paint, we were excited to try our glow in the dark paint left over from Karuna’s birthday. We had fun swapping plates to ink and print over and over again.

After rolling out the paint, we pressed a piece of paper onto the plate, rubbed it carefully, then peeled it up to reveal our print. For an added pop of color, we used a small paint brush to paint in the spider with the opposite color.

And here are some final prints, taped to our doorway for Halloween! I haven’t yet seen whether the glow in the dark one actually works, but the yellow looks pretty cool anyway.

Happy Halloween!

Glow In the Dark Birthday Goodie Bag!

For my daughter’s 4th birthday, she wanted to celebrate with a few friends at an outdoor movie theater. It was her first time watching anything on the big screen and her first attempt at watching The Lion King (which proved to be too scary for 4 yr olds. Oops!). Although the movie part was kind of a disaster, the kids at least got to go home with a cool glow in the dark goodie bag! If anyone had stayed til it got dark out it would have been really cool. So if you’re looking for a fun party favor idea for a sleepover or nighttime party, here is how I made it:

The largest item in the bag was a mask, which I made by painting glow-in-the-dark paint over white plastic masks (I primed them with spray primer first, just to make sure the paint would stick). Then I added glow stick bracelets and whatever glow-in-the-dark items I could find, which turned out to be stickers and little plastic bugs. If I had given myself more time, I’m sure I could have found plenty of other little glowing goodies to add. I also threw in some candy just for fun. Then I put everything in a see through bag so the items would be exposed to as much light as possible.
If we were doing the party at home I would have had them paint their own masks or even a tee shirt or cape or something fun!

Happy birthday sweet Karuna!