DIY: Celebrate Earth day by sprouting your own seeds

Around this time of the year, kids get to learn a lot about recycling, planting and trash clean up in celebration of Earth day. I think it’s important to let them know we must do these things all year around and Earth should be celebrated every day.

So, it doesn’t matter if you do this project on Earth day, this week or next month as long

as your kids experience the joys and wonders of watching their own seedlings emerge. Plus, they’ll get a little lesson on recycling and composting on top of it all!

You will need:

* An empty egg carton (the

molded pulp

ones, not plastic or


* Potting soil

* Seeds

* Plastic wrap or bag

* Pen or pecil

* Tooth picks and paper to make labels

Tip: to make the germination process a breeze, pick seeds that germinate easily such as beans, pees, carrots, squash, cucumber and pumpkins. Hard to start seeds might not even sprout and you’ll end up having a frustrated kid!

Get started:

1. Separate the bottom part from the lid of the egg carton. Take the bottom part and poke holes in each cell using the tip of a pen or pencil.

Those will be the drainage holes. Place the lid of the egg carton under the bottom part, nesting one under the other. Now you have your seedling tray.

2. Place small amounts of soil in each cell and plant the seeds making sure the seeds are lightly covered by soil (follow package directions)

3. Water each cell. Be mindful not to over water the seeds, a spray bottle comes in handy.

4. Use tooth picks and paper to make labels.

You can also use rocks or clothes pins to label the seeds.

5. Cover your tray with plastic wrap or a bag to create greenhouse conditions.

6. Place the tray by the window and watch your seeds grow! Keep soil watered and remove the plastic wrap when the first leaves appear.

7. When your plants have more than two leaves, separate each cell and plant it directly into the ground (or pot). The pulp that the egg carton is made of will decompose and become



Doing this project is a great way to teach kids about the importance of planting and re-planting, recycling and composting. Explain to them why we should plant trees, how you are recycling the egg carton and how it becomes plant food. Let them have fun while you guide them.

Make a photo journal, they’ll enjoy comparing the growth of the plants and making observations later on.

 I know I did when I was little and now I pass the experience on to my kids.

Natasha K.


DIY: April showers tees

“April showers bring May flowers” or so they say. Well, I say make April showers fun with a rain inspired D.I.Y project. The weather is slowly warming up and my kids are longing for those special hours of outside play. While the clouds resisted to cooperate, we spent some time creating these great t-shirts. Kids love getting crafty, so take your little ones, nieces, nephews or cousins (or just your inner child!) and gather your supplies!

You will need:

* A pre-washed t-shirt

* Freezer paper

* Acrylic paint in colors of your choice

Textile medium

* A foam or spouncer brush

* Exacto knife

* Cardboard

* Surface for mixing colors (I use the cover of a take out container)

* April Showers stencil

1. Make your stencil. Click on the link to get the April Showers stencil. Cut a piece of freezer paper to  fit the image's 8.5" x 11" size. Feed the piece of freezer paper through the printer manually as you print the image, making sure the artwork gets printed on the dull side of the paper. Carefully cut out the drops and cloud shapes with your exacto knife. You have made your stencil.

2. Iron the stencil onto your t-shirt. Place the stencil shiny-side down on the center of the t-shirt and press with your iron on the hottest setting. Do not use steam.

3. The part the kids love, mixing colors and printing! Mix 2 parts acrylic paint/ 1 part textile medium. Textile medium is great because you can use acrylic paints to paint, stamp or print on fabric without having to spend a big budget on textile inks and your project will be washable. Place the piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt, under the stencil, so that the paint doesn’t transfer to the back. Take your sponge brush and dab it on the cloud area. Make sure you cover the whole thing. If you’re letting kids do this part, let them have fun while guiding them.

4. Move on to printing the drops. Mix different colors and dab your sponge brush. For lighter colors, you may need two coats of paint. Let the first coat dry before doing the second one.

5. Let the paint dry for at least an hour or so. Gently remove the stencil off of the t-shirt. Your stencil can be re-used a few more times so don’t throw it away!

6. Heat set the design on the fabric. Using your iron in the hottest setting, iron over the printed area for 20-30 seconds. Do not use steam. Wear and enjoy!

My kids are very happy with the results and are proudly saying “I made this”. Now they’re thinking to make them as gifts for all their friends but I’m not so sure about that... Remember to supervise children while doing this project, only adults should do steps. 1. 2. and 6.

Have fun and please share pictures of your April showers tees!

Natasha K.

*on Etsy*

*on Facebook*

Creating a Coat of Arms

One of the last times I saw Petey he told me there were 10,000 ninjas up my nose. That was okay because he is 5 years old, and one of my favorite people. Like many other little boys, he is preoccupied with ninjas and interested in battle toys. His mom made him a saber light, and I thought he might like a shield featuring his family's coat of arms.

To see if your own family has a coat of arms, a web site like House of Names is useful. You can type in your surname and see what comes up. If your family does not have a crest (mine doesn't), you can design one at a site like Make Your Coat of Arms.

 Petey's family does have an ancient coat of arms and it looks like this:

For $18 he could purchase an 8 1/2 x 11 print (without the copyright sign on it) suitable for framing. But my rendition of his coat of arms needed to be a toy. I looked around for something suitable on which to paint the coat of arms, and was not sure what would work out best.

This is Peter and Danny, two more of my favorite people:

They own a pizza restaurant around the corner from where I live, called Milkflower. It has a brick oven into which they pile wood.

And they make delicious pizzas that look like this...

...that come in a box which turned out to be a perfect size for a 5-year old's coat of arms.

I printed out the illustration of the family crest and folded the page into fourths. Then I cut the pizza box down to size and hand drew each quadrant on the inside of the box. I bought some paint at the 99 cent store and filled in the drawing, adding more definition with a Sharpie. It came out like this:

I glued a handle to the back by cutting a thin strip from the box and using heavy duty glue to attach it. Up at the top I left blank the place where I could have put Petey's name because when I give it to him I'm going to explain he is one in a long line of people in his family, some of which came before him, and some who will come after. The coat of arms represents not just him, but his lineage. I fully expect he will scrawl his own name in that box, and that's fine because he will be making it his own.

Shortly after the paint was dry, I brought the coat of arms into Milkflower because I thought Danny and Peter would get a kick out of it. When I walked through the door, Danny was standing in front of the wood burning oven but even from across the room he recognized what I was holding as one of their pizza boxes, and he broke into a smile. Being only 23 years older than Petey, he admired the piece for its practical use of a used pizza box; its identity as a work of art; and its usefulness as a weapon -- in that order.

He called over his brother, who was rushing from the cash register to the kitchen. I held up the piece. Peter looked at the shield and made a serious move to take possession. "I love it," he said.

"But it's not for you. Is your name Rojas?" I asked, pointing to Petey's name. "I just wanted to show you."

"So, I don't care. It's great. Who made it?"

Oh brother.

"I did. Why would you want somebody else's coat of arms?" I asked, befuddled." He took the painted pizza box from my hands, held it up exactly where he would hang it on the brick wall, admired it and with a big smile on his face looked around for other smiling faces to gain consensus. He seriously wanted Petey's coat of arms.

"It's somebody's coat of arms?"

That was not a compliment. He also pointed to the armet, the bowl helmet that encloses the entire head and features a visor and comb that was favored in 15th century Italian armor, and asked, "What's that?"

I explained exactly what each element of the shield was, and Peter made it clear he thought it would be wasted on a 5-year old, and should hang in the restaurant. Because Danny and Peter are really only grown up versions of Petey, and what you love in one you love in the others, there was only one way out.

I offered to turn a new pizza box into an official Milkflower coat of arms, for which I would chose appropriate symbols of representation. For instance, it could include a cherub (the guys are Greek and their last name, Aggelatos, translates to "angel"), a tomato, and a wood burning oven. Danny added the unorthodox request that it would make his brother happy if somewhere it said, "Peter the Greek."

The three of us finally agreed Petey would get his own family's coat of arms, and a newly designed shield would be presented to the Aggelatos brothers to hang in the restaurant, on the brick wall. No artist commission was discussed.

"I'll need another box," I said aloud… and preferably with a pizza in it, I thought.

Susan Spedalle


Tutorial: Repurpose Kid Art for a Mother's Day Gift

First of all, I want to thank Sarah of Sarah Jane. Her blog post of 2009 was the inspiration for this tutorial, which is a play on her original idea. Three years ago, Sarah decided to display her children’s art by cutting it into whimsical shapes and framing them.

I've always wanted to do something like this and I finally tackled a project that originated when my now fifth grader was in pre-school. In 2006 Elizabeth and Fiona were best friends. They did everything together including painting this masterpiece that used to hang on their classroom door in pre-school.

While the girls have gone their own ways, I wanted to preserve this piece in a way that they both could enjoy by turning it into TWO wall decorations.


  • Artwork
  • Stretched Canvas 
  • Acrylic paint 
  • Mod Podge or other decoupage medium 


Paint the top and side surfaces of the canvas in your preferred color.

While the canvas dries, cut up the artwork into a shape that you like. For this project, I used this stencil for the butterfly and this one for the cat. Sarah generously provided templates for a swallow, an elephant and a seal on her blog. You could also have your child draw a shape and use that.

When the canvas is dry, apply Mod Podge to the back of the image you cut out and glue it onto the canvas.
Then proceed to varnish the image by painting it with three coats of the Mod Podge. Let each coat dry (approximately 20 minutes) before applying the next layer.

If you decide to further decorate this piece and add the shape’s name like Sarah and I did, you can practice your penmanship while the glue dries and test out what you want to write on the canvas to complement the decoupage.
Once the decoupage is dry, finish of your piece by writing something fitting with acrylic paint using a very fine brush.
The butterfly will go to Fiona’s house and the cat will stay with my girl. This way they both can share a piece of the fantastic work they created when they were four.

By the way, Sarah is the designer of the Children at Play fabric line. Her work can also be found on Etsy at SarahJaneStudios.


Catch and Release Fishing - Governors Island Inspired Craft for Kids

Since the advent of the {NewNew} Treasure Chest on Governors Island, my daughters and I have taken a few trips on the Governors Island ferry to drop off product and work at the store. My older daughter (2.5 years old) loves the ferry - her only regret is that the boat ride is too short! She was so enraptured by the boat that she is now pretending that everything is a boat - she swings her legs off her bed into the "ocean" and sits in shipping boxes that she calls her ferry. I decided she needed a fun activity to do on her sailing adventures.

It is very easy to made a simple fishing pole and fabric fish. I used one magnet at the end of the fishing line and one at the mouth of the fish so my daughter can catch fish and take them off of the line.

1. First, you'll want to draw a pattern of a fish onto paper or cardstock.

2. Next, trace the pattern onto fabric and mark where the eyes will go.

3. Sew eyes using thread or yarn. You can also cut eye shapes out of felt or use buttons.

4. With right sides together, sew along the edges of the fish with a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave one part unsewn and turn inside out. Insert magnet at the fish mouth, stuff lightly, and sew closed.

5. For the fishing pole, I put a magnet in the middle of a triangular piece of fabric, brought up all the edges, and stitched the sides and top together, capturing the magnet inside the fabric. Make sure the magnets are positioned so that positive meets with negative so they will attract instead of repel. I tied a big knot at the end of the fishing pole string and put the knot inside the fabric before sewing up the top. That way the line is held securely inside the fabric wrapped magnet.
6. Wrap and tie the end of the string to the fishing pole. You can use a stick, twig, or chopstick for the fishing pole.

This activity is great for building coordination in young children! Before giving my daughter this new toy, I read her "Curious George Flies a Kite" because the story has a part about Curious George observing a man fishing and then trying to fish for himself. I think this helped her understand how fishing works since we live in NYC and have never gone fishing ourselves!

I put a piece of blue fabric down as a "lake" for the fish. You can also make a bucket using an old yogurt container, punching two holes on each side, and tying a piece of stiff string through the holes as a handle. This also acts as a nice storage case for the fish and pole. Now enjoy a lazy afternoon fishing!


* Please note that magnets and buttons are choking hazards!

How to plan a child's tea party

This summer has been especially moist in NJ/NY and trips to the beach have been scarce, but there's a way you can take advantage of a few hours of sun and stay close to home. Throw the kiddies a backyard tea party--all the enjoyment of being outside, but close enough to home if bad weather threatens.

First thing's first: Figure out where to have your party. I live in a two family home but I'm lucky to have a small yard out back. Since we have very little shade I use my pop-up tent to keep the kiddies from getting sunburned. If you have trees, you can dress them up by hanging nettings or garlands. To dress up my tent, I added paper lanterns in bright colors like pink, turquoise, and purple.

Don't stop there with dressing things up. A brightly decorated table will invite everyone to sit and stay awhile. To save money on flowers and avoid pesky bees, make your own centerpiece. I made mine out of tissue paper flowers, but don't be afraid to be creative. A collection of brightly colored teapots or cups could set the mood. A glass cake pedestal filled with treats could also tempt little tummies and provide color.

Since we're talking about treats...what's on the menu? Typical tea fare consists of little sandwiches, scones, and tea. To save time, you can opt to order a finger sandwich platter from your local grocery store like I did or you can make your own finger sandwiches. Check out for some great ideas. Sweets don't have to be limited to scones. We had little store-bought cupcakes we decorated with ballerinas and fresh cut fruit.

And tea...the main component of the tea party. Brew your own: herbal, black, or green. Or buy it from the store. To beat the heat, make iced tea served in little tea cups. The kids will get the grown up feeling while drinking something that's refreshing. I found great little teacups that each guest was free to take home as a party favor.

No party would be complete without games or activities. For the little ladies, I laid out foam tiaras and stickers to decorate. Beads were available for making necklaces and bracelets, and paper dolls were colored, cut, and played with. Sidewalk chalk was available for games like hopscotch (boys can play skully) and of course there was pretend play with dolls and paper fans.

At the end of the day, each child enjoyed a new experience. They really got into the idea of playing grown up and we managed to enjoy the sun for a few hours before the clouds rolled in. The key to success with this type of party is to take the basic framework of a tea party and think outside of the box, making it fun and accessible to children of all ages.


Collective Elements

Crafts and Craft Selling for Kids

Crafts & Craft Selling for Kids

If you are a crafter parent it won’t be long before one of your children asks, “Can I make things to sell too?” Then your quandary is, what can a child make that actually looks good enough to go in your shop or display? Fine craftsmanship is not exactly something your average ten year old is capable of. My daughter tried making pins in felt, which were adorable but were too much work for the price point they would sell at. She tried crochet, but couldn’t master anything beyond a chain. Finally what worked was “Jessamyn’s Button Hairbands,” which consisted of large cloth covered buttons (re-using fabrics from thrift shops) with elastics tied to the shanks on the back. Moreover, making them was a process she could do virtually by herself. I bought the supplies, designed her card, and she pays me back 50 cents for every button she sells. And she does very well--selling them at fairs at a low price point, yet earning enough to be the envy of all her friends.

Here is another idea for kids wanting to earn their keep, or like mine, to sustain their addiction to Pokemon cards.

Recycled Bag Tags & Bookmarks

Supplies & Tools:
Old Magazines
Glue Stick
Paper Cutter
Mylar or Acetate sheets or any kind of flat, clear plastic
Colored paper (if for business it should be non-fading)
Laminating Sheets
Hole Punch
Plastic Lanyard or other string or yarn

Let the kids go through the old magazines cutting out all the headlines that are over 3/8” tall. Remember the letters must fit comfortably on a 1.25” strip of paper. If this will be for a “business” they can cut out all the letters individually and put them in marked envelopes for each letter, number, and one for symbols. Some of these headlines were funny enough to use all by themselves, come to think of it.

Using the paper cutter, cut 1.25” wide strips of colored paper (I had old scrapbooking paper the kids had been cutting up inefficiently for the last 6 years) or magazine pages with great color or texture for the background. If you don’t have a paper cutter you can use a scissor but the rolling cutter is more efficient and far safer than things like x-acto blades.

Now they can choose the letters they will use. Names are good, as are cool phrases and sports. Run the glue stick along the length of the strip of colored paper. Arrange the letters and press into the glue. Leave room on one end for a hole if a lanyard will be attached.

Cut a larger strip of acetate and glue the back of the colored paper onto it, so the tag will have some firmness. (We actually used the heavy plastic from a box of Pokemon cards for the strips, so we felt very virtuous and green.) Cut a strip of laminating paper and use it to carefully seal the front of the tag to the acetate, leaving at least 3/16” extra space all around the colored paper. This is undoubtedly the trickiest part of the whole process and your kids will need some practice to master it. You need to fold back just a corner of the laminating paper and then position it atop the tag. Then you slowly peel off the backing while smoothing it down at the same time, starting from that first corner. With the paper cutter trim the sealed edges. Punch a hole (you will need a good quality hole puncher, like McGill or Fiskars, available at craft stores) in the tag and add a lanyard or string.

The fun, hip, professional looking results can be used as a bag tag, a book mark, a backpack decoration, a necklace, a party favor, a seating tag, and I've even been thinking, earrings, if you want to work really, really small. The process can be used for children’s parties, school fair fundraisers, for starting your child’s own Etsy Shop, and of course, a few hasty Father’s Day gifts.

Jody Lee

Design It Yourself -- A Comparative Book Review

This Christmas, two books from the D.I.Y series edited by Ellen Lupton found their way into my household: The D.I.Y Deck and D.I.Y. Kids. Both were published in 2007 and were designed to follow up on the successful initial book of the series D.I.Y. Design It Yourself published in 2006.

Design and Layout

The design of the D.I.Y Deck is interesting because it is a collection of 25 cards reminiscent of recipe cards with each featuring a particular project. The card set is subdivided into the categories Invitations, Housewares, Totes, Stickers, Shirts, and Gifts. Handling the cards is kind of fun; you can sit on the floor and spread them around to sort through projects you might want to attempt. Some of the cards have more than one page, though, which makes it easy to miss the flip side pictures. All the projects are rated by cost and time required to complete them.

D.I.Y. Kids follows the traditional book layout. Its main categories are Graphics, Toys, Home, and Fashion. Within these areas you find a wealth of cool ideas, and suggestions. Pop-up cards, book art, book plates, doll clothes, stuffed animals, architectural models, magnetic games, decoupage purses, fashion design, reverse applique, graffiti furniture,... you get the idea. I don't know if it's because this book is marketed towards kids instead of stodgy grown ups, but the projects and ideas are a lot more inspiring than those of the adult D.I.Y. Deck. As with the adult set, for each project D.I.Y. Kids includes an estimate of the cost and time required to complete a project and how much help and mess may be involved in creating a masterpiece.

The Craft-Off
For this review Liz (7) and I teamed up to test the "books" in a craft-off. Liz followed the instructions for pixel icons in the D.I.Y. Kids book, while I sorted through the Deck to decide on a project that could incorporate her work. Judging by the proliferation of pixel icons on my desktop, the instructions in the Kids book were very clear. If anyone is in the market for 1 inch stickers of bunnies, let me know. The instructions for the clock re-design were also straightforward. Hints like "the clock has to be made from two distinct pieces of plastic" and "keep the clock hands in order to make it easier to reassemble the clock" may seem obvious, but were very much appreciated.

Here is the merger of our efforts. My husband brought this kitchen clock into our marriage. I hope he appreciates the re-design.

In the final analysis. D.I.Y. Kids is the better value with more interesting, creative ideas that easily translate into a D.I.Y. adult world.


Where to Find The {NewNew} on February 7 + 8

Start tonight off right with decoupage jewelry by wabisabibrooklyn from 6-9pm and Saturday from 12-6pm at the Valentine's Trunk Show hosted by artez'n. Psst, there will be chocolate and wine served on Friday only (aka "PMS" night) [MAP]

"Forget Me Not" A cool embroidery art exhibition opens tonight from 6-8pm featuring embroidered lovelies by loveforever and miniaturerhino at Gallery Hanahou. [MAP]

Show your support at the Park Slope Valentines Day Fair on Saturday from 10 - 5pm at the Secondary School for Research. Enjoy baked goods and handmade crafts featuring jewelry by yaniamor and jantar; as well as knitted accessories by knitknit. [MAP]

Visit monsters by karensmonsters on Saturday and Sunday from 12-7:30pm at Artists and Fleas [MAP]

Have you heard about the new Winter Pop Up Market yet? Hosted by the Brooklyn Flea, the {NewNew} team is excited to showcase our wares this weekend! Here's the lineup. This Saturday you'll find new original jewelry by kokalakijewelry, latelierdesbijoux, mulryjewels and stained glass accessories by citybitz. On Sunday, we have lovely jewelry from jantar and joyella, as well as cards + scrapbooks by waisze. We'll be there from 11-6pm [MAP]

Across the bridge in Manhattan, simple yet chic jewelry by sarustar at The Young Designers Market on Saturday and Sunday from 11am-7pm. [MAP]

Handpainted illustrations and jewelry by allenelaspina on Sunday from 3-7pm at the Designer's Market located in Cafe Cornichon. [MAP]
And last but not least, paintings by LaSha at the Queens Flea Market at St Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic School on Sunday from 10-4pm. [MAP]
Or Get your Crafts On at these events:
If you couldn't make it to the "Forget Me Not" art exhibition then stop by on Saturday afternoon for a workshop hosted by loveforever at Gallery Hanahou from 1-4pm. [MAP]
Craft your Winter Blues away on Sunday from 2-5pm at Love in the Crafternoon at the Painted Cloud. [MAP]
Get your needle crafts on with knitknit for Craft Night on Monday night at the Etsy Labs! Nguyen will be teaching you how to needle felt hearts for Valentine's Day! [MAP]

-Wai Sze