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Posted by on Jul 27, 2012 | 0 comments

Instant Gratification: Melted Crayon Art

Instant Gratification: Melted Crayon Art

I recently stumbled upon the world of melted crayon art. I guess it’s been circling the Internet for a while, but I’m late to the game, per usual. Basically, you use a hair dryer to melt crayons, turning elementary school coloring tools into paint. Jack and I attempted this project the other day. He was thrilled with how the crayons transformed into “lava.” After holding the hair dryer close to the crayons, the colors quickly started to cascade down the canvas. While it looked cool at the beginning, the end result was a little disappointing — smeared colors and lumpy wax remnants soon started to flake off the canvas. I think we got a little overzealous with our melting. We hung it on the wall, but it didn’t last there long — we weren’t happy with the way it looked. The next day we embarked on round two. Instead of letting the colors drip with reckless abandon, we held a few crayons in one hand, the hair dryer in another, and watched...

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Posted by on Jun 1, 2012 | 3 comments

Reader Submission: DIY “Thomas and Friends” Train Table

Reader Submission: DIY “Thomas and Friends” Train Table

I love the “build a better mousetrap” aspect of this reader submission. Daan set out to DIY a wooden train table for his young son Noah modeled after the popular Thomas the Tank Engine train table. Sure enough, he succeeded in making a solid, long-lasting version that his family can pass down for generations. Here’s how he planned and carried out the project in his home workshop. Noah loved to play with the “official” Thomas the Tank Engine table at Barnes and Noble which was out of service half of the time we went. This appeared to be directly related to the shoddy quality of that table (particle board and failing glue and joints) , which made its exorbitant price even more objectionable. I figured I could build one better myself and for less. I found the plan for the train table online. There are a ton of plans out there, some free and some you can purchase. My requirements were: It should be possible to disassemble the table...

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Posted by on May 31, 2012 | 4 comments

Photo Books: Tips for Creating a Lasting Souvenir

Photo Books: Tips for Creating a Lasting Souvenir

My husband doesn’t share my love for home improvement projects, but there is a creative streak in him. Photography, especially sports photography, is his hobby — and he’s pretty darn good at it too. At our oldest son’s games (our youngest isn’t quite ready for teams yet), Mark’s always there on the sidelines, capturing every throw, pass, pitch, and score (and, of course, cheering as well). Mark’s photos came in handy last month when the parents of Jack’s soccer teammates were discussing what sort of memento to give the kids to celebrate a job well done (trophy, medal, t-shirt). It was a turning point as well — for the past two seasons the Rhinos had been a co-ed team, but next season, the team would be split up, no longer girls and boys playing together. Since Mark had photos of all the kids, he offered to make a photo book for each child, with action shots of them and their teammates. The other parents loved the idea, and Mark estimated the...

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Posted by on May 11, 2012 | 0 comments

Giving Thanks: Cards Your Kids Can Make

Giving Thanks: Cards Your Kids Can Make

I insist that my kids send thank you cards for gifts they receive. I love getting thank you cards from their friends too. I don’t care really if the parents write them or the kids do. They don’t have to be fancy or even timely. After Nadja’s recent birthday, I gathered some craft materials and together with her big sister made three different designs. (I later wrote the thank you note and Nadja signed them.) Pin-Punch Card The “pin punch” job is popular in Montessori classrooms for learning letter shapes. The children use a small awl to trace a letter by punching holes. To make the card, you write the word backwards on the inside of the card. It takes precise work and intense concentration. Ana did a few letters too. When you use this technique to make a card, you get the cool texture on the front of the card that spells out “Thanks.” (Later, Nadja added some doodles before hand delivering the card to our neighbors.) Rubber...

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Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 | 0 comments

How to Take Great Sports Photos of Your Kids

How to Take Great Sports Photos of Your Kids

I bet I’m not the only parent who finds it challenging to get a crisp, tightly cropped photo of my child playing a sport. It’s hard to isolate one player in a fast-moving game from the sidelines, especially if you’re not equipped with a powerful zoom lens. But it’s not impossible to get poignant, memorable, well lit images. In this post we’ll share some composition tips that are appropriate for most camera types including DSLRs and point-and-shoot cameras. If you have a DSLR or are considering purchasing one, we’ll also share some tips about using your camera’s settings to capture some stunning shots. Of course, these are only suggestions; play around and see what works for you. Composition Tips For Any Camera Type Spend most of your time shooting at practice where you can move into the field and get closer to the action, in lieu of having the zoom lens. Be careful of getting mowed over though. At games, take a lot of shots before the game, when the kids are warming up....

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