Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Open ended Christmas Art

While I love doing projects with my kids that have an end in mind, projects that are suppose to create something specific I also truly believe in the value of exposing our children to open ended and child directed art forms. This philosophy aligns with aspects of The Reggio Emilia Approach. I used to be a preschool teacher in a Reggio school and I saw first hand the benefits of child directed/open ended art.

We do a ton of open ended art that goes un-blogged/un-documented simply because it's created in the moment and unplanned. This one however was planned and set up ahead of time.

I started with setting up a variety of Christmas themed materials. Bows, green and red paint, glitter, scissors and green and red tissue paper squares.

I placed the materials out for the girls to explore and experiment with. Again, I had no end product in mind. The idea was simply to allow them to use the materials however they wanted. 

They both immediately started painting. 

They experimented with mixing the colors red and green.

 My 4 year old was the first to add the glitter and use the tissue paper to stick on the paper.

 Jillian my 2 year old enjoyed cutting up the tissue into small pieces.

They both used all the materials and explored with different ways to add them to their art work. They were truly engaged and encouraged to take their time! All the while we had Christmas music playing while we made our creations next to the Christmas Tree! 

This is my 4 year olds final product! 

 This is my 2 year olds final product!

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gearing up for Project 365 2013

Besides early childhood education one of my other very favorite things (if not my favorite) is photography. I may have mentioned I am a member over at Clickinmoms and have been for a few years now. If you want to learn more about photography at any level this is without a doubt the place to be!!  Nearly everything I have learned about photography came from Clickinmoms.

Last year in 2011 I was inspired and encouraged to tackle project 365. A photo a day for one year. I knew it would be hard and difficult to finish. I also knew it would improve my photography and I would never regret having captured 365 little moments of my young family.

As I started documenting 2011 what I didn't know was that this was the year we would find out we were expecting our 3rd baby and our last full year as a family of four. I also didn't know that we would find out my mom had cancer that year. If I hadn't done my 365 there are so many moments I would have missed. Sure I would have had the camera out for big events like Christmas and Birthdays but I was able to capture tiny little moments with my mom and the girls and the everyday memories and details that otherwise may never have made it to our family albums.

So yes I became a better photographer and yes it was hard, even daunting at times but what my 365 really did for me was it served as a reminder that you simply never know what a year can bring.  I have a year of 365 moments that will forever be archived in a tangible collection of our family's year.

That said, I'm gearing up for the challenge again for 2013!  Have you ever considered doing project 365? Have I convinced you yet to try one for yourself? I highly encourage any level of photographers to take part.

I'm going to be documenting my project over at my family blog Scribbles From Tricia and would love to have some friends follow along. Please let me know if you decide to participate and let me know where I can follow you....blog? Flickr? Instagram?  I also hope to join a Flickr group with fellow 365 friends and I will share that info once it becomes available.  Let's support each other!

If you have any questions about the project, How to get started? How to keep the momentum? Where to share the pictures? etc. Please contact me. I'd be happy to answer them!

If you want to check out my complete 365 from 2011 you can find it here on Flickr:  Flickr Project 365

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Friday, December 7, 2012

iPhone photography with the Olloclip

Often I get asked about my photos and photography on here.  While I take the majority of my photos with my Canon 60D occassionally I include an iPhone photo. Recently I upgraded to the iPhone 4 (not a typo-it's indeed the 4 not 5) yes I know I'm a bit behind but I wanted to wait until my carrier allowed for the free upgrade and finally I have it in my hands!

I was beyond ecstatic because after reading many reviews I knew that the iPhone 4 had a MUCH better camera than the iPhone 3 I had been carrying around for the past couple of years. Although I adore my super fancy SLR camera the truth is I don't want to always lug it around.

You probably heard of the saying "The best camera is the one you have with you." Well for me and many others these days that's the smart phone. Ever since the upgrade I have noticed a world of difference in the quality of photos and as a result I have been diving into the world of iphoneography!

I've always LOVED Instagram but now I'm becoming addicted to this fun little app! If you're on instagram I'd love to follow you. Leave your link in the comments.

You can follow me here: http://instagram.com/trishm/

Aside from all the fun photography apps I have been having the most fun with this little gadget I recently purchased called The Olloclip!

Have you heard of this? It's a lens for the iPhone 4 that includes the fish eye, macro, and wide angle lens all in one. The fish eye is one side and you flip it around for use of the macro and wide angle.

Holy smokes have I been having a blast with this!! I have seen some amazing pictures taken with the iPhone coupled with this little gadget. Then throw in some fun photography apps like Instagram and there's a world of fun to be had!

I'm still learning but here are some of my iPhone pics taken with the Olloclip (plus Instagram).

Fish bowl

Wide Angle

Macro (kind of a creepy pic but you get the idea...)

If you or anyone you know love taking pics on the iPhone I highly recommend the Olloclip! Could be a great gift for any iphoneography fan! 

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Being in the Moment as a Parent

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Having 3 young kids I often get unsolicited advice/opinions from people I know as well as complete strangers. My oldest is 4 years old so I'm fairly used to this and although it can be annoying at times I also know that most people have good intentions and take it all with a grain of salt.

By and large the most common advice I get from folks who have older children or adult children usually goes something like this: "Savor every moment.", "It goes by so fast.", "The days are long but the years are short." I seriously hear this from kind older ladies at Target at least once every couple of weeks!

Funny thing is I know how fleeting these days are and I know that they will be gone before we know it! I think this is why I take so many pictures, I'm trying so hard to capture all the details of our lives so when the day comes that I can't remember those details there they will be, waiting for me to pour through the albums.

Although I know how important it is to "savor the moments" with my children there are definite days where I struggle with this. Probably more often than not if I'm being honest. When the baby is screaming, my toddler spilled cereal all over the floor and the dog peed on the new carpet in the living room it's hard to remember and believe that I will miss these days. When I'm going through the bedtime routine with the kids it's often hard to think about anything other than the silence, cup of tea (or glass of wine- depending on the day) and quiet uninterrupted conversations with my husband that will be had 'If I could just get them to bed".

This past weekend we were at a wedding and a distant family member came up to compliment me on our "beautiful family".  She then said the usual "It goes by so fast" comments but then also added her kids are out of the house and all grown up and "The silence is deafening!" She said it with such conviction and I'm not quite sure why it struck me so much but it really got me thinking about being better at REALLY being in the moment with my kids. I like to think of it as a goal or maybe a journey...something to always work on and continue to get better at.

How do you stay in the moment with your kids? Any advice you'd want to share?  I'd love for you to share in the comments!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Traditions with Ornaments

I'm a sucker for family traditions and especially ones that occur around the holidays. There's just something about creating memories for my young family that I hope will not only continue throughout my children's childhood but maybe just maybe will be carried on to their children. At least that's the hope, the vision in my head while we participate in these simple customs. That is until my 4 year old drops a favorite ornament smashing it into tiny pieces all over the floor and decides tree decorating isn't for her and my 2 year old's adorable plastic Santa cup unbeknownst to me leaks and the hot coco spills all over the couch!! True stories, but I digress.

 I've posted about a few of our family Christmas Traditions here Advent Calendar and here Hot Chocolate Bar.

This past Sunday we put up our tree....

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 and enjoyed our hot chocolate bar...


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I wanted to share another simple Christmas family tradition we have while decorating the tree. Each child has their personalized first Christmas ornament from the year they were born. Every year these are the first ornaments put on the tree, each child puts on their ornament. Just a fun way to get the ornament decorating started!

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Do you have ornament traditions in your family? I'd love to hear about them!

Have you done the hot chocolate bar? I'd love to see photos!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey Art Project

Here's a fun little turkey project we did the other day with my girls!

Materials needed- coffee filters, markers, spray bottle with water, glue, scissors, and construction paper.

First color the coffee filters


Next spray the coffee filters with water and let dry between two paper towels.

While waiting for the coffee filters to dry cut and glue the turkey head, beak and eyes with the construction paper. Then once the filters are dry glue the turkey body onto the filter.

And the finished product!

I love that this art project has an open ended element(coloring the coffee filters- there's no right way or wrong way- color however you'd like it to look) yet still has a finished product aspect to it. Sometimes my girls enjoy open ended projects but also like to create "something" in this case the turkey!!

If you enjoy what you see here please be sure to "like" me on Facebook here: Imprints From Tricia Facebook Page
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Free Facebook Timeline Templates From Album Cafe

Have you seen these new and FREE holiday timeline templates from The Album Cafe?

I just replaced my timeline Facebook photo for my personal profile as well as for Imprints From Tricia Facebook Page with these adorable templates!

I LOVE the Album Cafe and have purchased there collage templates for my blog(s). They have super cute choices and very reasonable prices! Just wanted to share a free find that I thought others might enjoy as well!!

Head on over to The Album Cafe and download them for free here: The Album Cafe

Oh and if you like what you see here don't forget to "Like" my Facebook Page here: Imprints From Tricia Facebook Page
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Advent Calendar for Preschoolers

A recent trip to the dollar store inspired me to start collecting items for our Advent calendar so I'm not rushing around like a crazy woman on November 29th! I picked up some simple and cute treats including Christmas coloring books, cute ornaments, Christmas chocolates, and Christmas silly straws!
All in preparation for our Advent Calendar starting December 1st! I dusted off the one from last year purchased at Target. It's nothing fancy but I've seen some really adorable and cute ones on Pinterest if you're up for being creative.

I compiled our list of activities/treats for the month of December. This year I included some ideas from last year that I found on Pinterest (Yes, I love Pinterest!) as well as coming up with some of my own.
I tried to fill the calendar with a combination of activities, outings, getting fun treats/little gifts, and giving back. To make it easier on myself the "outings" listed are ones we would do anyway. I simply wrote the outing down on the date we were going to do them.  So Dec. 1st is go on the Polar Express (an outing we signed up for through our Park District), and Dec. 2nd is go on a horse drawn sleigh ride which we will do at our neighborhood Christmas Party.

I thought I'd share our list for the month of December:

1- Go on the Polar Express
2- Go on a horse drawn sleigh ride
3- Read a new Christmas Story (I ordered the girls new cheap Christmas books through Scholastic book club from my 4 year olds preschool class)
4- See Santa at the mall
5- Buy toys/clothes for Wish Tree Gift
6- Write a letter to Santa
7- Pick  2 toys to donate to a shelter/hospital
8- New Christmas coloring book
9- Christmas chocolate treat
10- A new ornament to put on the tree
11- Go see the zoo lights (Lincoln Park Zoo)
12- Decorate foam trees (Art project found at Target)
13- New silly Christmas Straws
14- Make cookies for neighbors, firemen, community helpers
15- Family movie night (Christmas Movie)
16- Go see Rocketts Christmas Show
17- Go to library and find Christmas books
18- Make a Christmas Candy Cottage
19- Donate to Salvation Army
20- Birthday Party for Daddy (Hubby's birthday)
21- Read Christmas stories and drink hot coco in front of the tree
22- Go see Christmas Lights (Christmas light show)
23- Make cookies for Santa
24- Spread reindeer food and open 1 gift (every year they open 1 gift on Xmas Eve and it's matching PJ's to wear to bed that night)
25- Santa comes- Santa chocolate treat

I'm certain this will be altered through the years, some things we'll keep to stick with tradition and others will change to correspond with he ages of our kids.

What's in your Advent Calendar? Anything I missed that's a big hit for your family?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Butterfly Books and Kids Co-op


 We recently wrapped up our butterfly garden study by setting our butterflies free. During our exploration of butterflies we had fun with these butterfly books and I thought I would share as some of them aren't overly popular.

 1. Butterflies Fly by Yvonne Winer- This book is more poetic than storyline based but I like that they feature many different types of butterflies from all around the world.  The illustrations are captivating as my girls adored looking at the pictures.  Although it's poetic I also like how they tell you facts about each butterfly featured.  There's also a butterfly identification guide at the end of the book which my 3 year old really enjoyed!

2. The Butterfly Alphabet by K Jell B. Sandved- The author photographed all the letters of the alphabet in butterfly wings (over a 25 year period!) On one side of the page you will find the butterfly and the other page you will find the letter in a full close up of the wing.  The photographs are fascinating and really can be enjoyed by all ages!  It has a simple rhyming text with each letter/page that appeals to younger children.

3. From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman- This book was perfect to read as an introduction to any butterfly unit/study. In our case we read this book the day our butterfly garden arrived.
It takes you through the entire metamorphosis process but is written in fun easy to understand way for preschoolers or kindergarteners. It's part of the Let's Read and Find Out Science series of books which are all wonderful!

4. Waiting For Wings by Lois Ehlert- This ones probably more popular as the it's by a famous author Lois Ehlert. In Lois Ehlert fashion the illustrations are beautiful and the text is simple and rhyming.  The books demonstrates the life cycle of four common butterflies. This book will be loved by any preschooler!!

5. A Butterfly is Patient by Diana Hutts Aston- This book has gorgeous illustrations!  The text is fairly long and may not be conducive for a young child to sit through but it's worth it to at least look at the pictures together and discuss the different types of butterflies. It's filled with a lot of information about butterflies and would be the perfect butterfly book to grow with your young child!

Be sure to check out all the wonderful ideas in The Weekly Kids Co-op!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Butterfly Garden Continued...

We have butterflies!!  The girls were so excited to see our chrysalides turn into butterflies!


 After the first chrysalides turned into a butterfly it took a couple of days for the rest of them to turn into butterflies and all the while the girls enjoyed observing the butterflies in the garden.


We read lots of books on butterflies (I have another post on some of the books coming soon) and the girls looked at various pictures of butterflies as we talked about the similarities and differences of our live butterflies and the ones in the pictures.


 Then it was time to set them free...



 This was such a fun project for the girls and we will most definitely be doing it again next spring!

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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Makings of a Butterfly Garden

Our butterfly garden and caterpillars arrived in the mail and our journey begins as we watch these caterpillars turn into butterflies! I'm not sure who's more excited me or the girls!


The girls have been loving the caterpillars!! Every morning they wake up and want to see the caterpillars.

They are obviously very curious about the caterpillars and the process of them turning into butterflies.  To learn more about the process we read this book From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman


To pick up on their growing interest we also found some pictures of caterpillars online and printed them out for the girls to observe.


We talked about the different characteristics we saw and I encouraged the girls to describe the various caterpillars.

After observing the real caterpillars and the pictures the girls created their own representations of caterpillars using mixed media of oil pastels and water colors.  When I taught with the Reggio Emilia Philosophy we did many projects that included mixed media, observational drawings and creating representations of what was being studied.

First they used the oil pastels to draw a caterpillar.


My 2 year old wanted to draw a caterpillar too and in her mind it was indeed a caterpillar!


Next they used watercolors to paint over the oil pastels. Mixing these two types of media creates a cool effect and texture when dried.


Mallory's completed caterpillar! She loved this project and I think we will do it again with butterfly pictures once our caterpillars turn into butterflies.


Be sure to check back as we document the growth of our caterpillars turning into butterflies!

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day Planting

Weekly Kids Co-op is up and running and there are loads of Earth Day activities so be sure to check them out!

We are continuing our Every Day is Earth Day fun and this week we painted terra cotta pots and planted seeds!

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 I bought these super cheap planting pots from Michael's and the girls painted the outside of them.


 We read this book "Seeds, Seeds, Seeds" by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace and talked about all different types of seeds.


We explored the seeds we were going to plant. The girls touched them and we talked about color, texture, and size of the seeds.

We talked about everything the seed would need to grow, water, sunlight, and soil. My 3 year old helped dig up some soil for our pots.


 We watered the seeds and now are waiting anxiously for them to grow!!


 By the way, do you love the Target $1 aisle as much as I do? I found all these goodies in the $1 aisle and they are perfect for our Earth Day activities!



PTM Storyboard

Check out more Earth Day activities at the weekly Kids Co-op below!