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*

How Old Do You Have to Be to Be a Maker?

My buddy Petey Rojas is four years old, and he is already a maker. He goes to a school where they bake every week and over time he has become something of a pint-sized celebrity baker on his mom's site, Inhabitots. This is his video on how to make vegan red velvet cupcakes. His family is vegan, so that's how he cooks.

You may think from watching the video that Petey is getting coached. Not really. He gets some help with the order of things since he is not yet a reader, but the hosting job and mastering the actual process, that's all him. He does look off camera to his mom to make sure he's doing a good job, or just to be sure his audience is with him.

How old do you have to be to be a maker? Kids have a natural creativity that flourishes if we cultivate it, or just make room for it to flourish. Who knows how it aids them as they get older? A maker is a creator, but also a problem-solver, an imaginer, someone who can think up a few ways to get around an obstacle, valuable skills to have all through life.

Bread in the shape of an "S" for Susan. The dough was made by Inhabitots Patissier, four-year old Petey Rojas.

I was recently at Petey's house when he was baking bread. He had a little trouble understanding the concept of why yeast takes time to make the dough rise, but saw how it worked and got it in the end. While his mom molded her bread into the first letter of the recipient's name, Petey made all  his pieces into "goggles," which he later referred to as glasses. Not sure why he thought bread in the shape of eyewear was the thing to do, but I'm still not entirely clear why Duchamp argued that a toilet bowl was art. That's the prerogative of the maker, or artist. The picture above is the piece of S bread I took home; we ate Petey's goggles while they were still warm, with honey or olive oil, straight from the oven.




How to Make a Checker Set

I've been wanting to make a checkerboard for some time. My older daughter just turned four and is starting to learn how to play games, although we can only do it when my younger daughter (2) is asleep because she likes to collect all the pieces we are playing with and hoard them in her lap. Take a look at the tutorial below, and afterward enjoy the game! (*Note: This tutorial originally posted here.)

How to Make a Checker Set
1. First, make handmade clay by combining 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, and 3/4 cup of water in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until combined, then knead for 10-15 minutes.

2. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inches thick.

3. Using a cookie cutter, cut out 26 pieces (you will need 12 for each side, but we did two extra just in case some get lost under the couch). We made two sets, one with stars and the other with circles. We made the small circular cutter  by cutting a strip of plastic from an old yogurt container and taping into a small loop.

5. Take shapes out and set on baking sheet with the back facing up. Poke a few holes using a toothpick to prevent the pieces from bubbling up.  Bake in the over at 300 degrees until hard, flipping every 20 minutes. It should take about an hour, but it could take longer depending on how thick your pieces are.

6. While baking, make the checkerboard. I used white fabric as the base, cutting two pieces to 17x17 inches. I also made a square of batting at 16x16 inches. On one side of one piece of white fabric, I used a ruler and a fabric pencil to draw out a board. First I drew lines 1/2 inch in on each side, and then used those lines as a starting point to draw 2x2 inch squares. That should give you eight rows of squares across and eight rows of squares up and down; sixty-four squares total. Then I cut out thirty-two 2x2 inch squares of colored fabric. I used my sewing machine to sew the colored fabric in a checkerboard pattern, making sure to line the pieces up with the lines I had drawn. Once I sewed all the squares in place, I put the two white fabrics with right sides facing in (so the fabric squares are facing in toward the other piece of white fabric) and then put the batting on top. I stitched all around the three pieces of fabric (two white pieces of fabric and one piece of batting) using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving a 2 inch gap at the end. I turned the piece inside out so the batting was tucked on the inside and the checkerboard pattern was facing out. I pressed the seams flat, then sewed around the entire board again. 

7. Back to the checker pieces! Once they are out of the oven and cool, paint them using acrylic or poster paints. Paint 12 (or thirteen in our case) in one color and the other 12 in a contrasting color. Kaela painted her round pieces and I painted the star pieces. 

8. Let dry completely.

9. Get ready to play!

I found a useful set of simple checker rules at this website, although I'm sure if you dig around you will find other great resources. Enjoy!

Windows of Agate

Ice Cream! Get Your Ice Cream!

There is nothing better than a nice, delicious, ice cream cone in the summer. Or the autumn. Or really, anytime. Last week, my two daughters and I decided to make fake ice cream to include in our food play; read more to find out how we did it.

My father gave my kids a set of ten shaped hole punchers, which they LOVE... We made plenty of paper punches, some of which we used later in this art project, most of which were eaten by the vacuum cleaner.

Next we cut up egg cartons and painted them in pleasing, ice cream-like colors.

We named the different flavors as we painted twelve of these "ice cream scoops", and added some "sprinkles" from the hole punches. Flavors included strawberry lemony goodness, green flavor with pink cupid sprinkles, and purple grape yum yum.

The ice cream scoops were then set on the windowsill to dry while I cut some manila folders to act as the cones. The dimensions I used were 10 inches at the widest point and 6 inches at the tallest point. Then I wrapped the paper into conical shapes and taped them together. I would suggest that grown ups do this party, since it involves sharp tools.

Phase one complete!

But to be a proper ice cream vendor, you need some place to store your cones where they don't fall over and drip ice cream all over your clothes, so I used this small packing box to create a little stand. I just cut circles into the box for the cones to rest in, and added a little rectangular area to store extra ice cream scoops. Then I poked holes in the side and threaded a ribbon so the girls could wear the box and sell their very delicious ice cream.

We ended up painting the ice cream box using acrylic paints. 

And there you go! Ice cream for all!

Tutorial: Felt Tic-Tac-Toe Boards

Tic-tac-toe games are no longer the paper and pencil variety of Xs and Os. These days, anybody can spice up the game with a little creativity and some fun loving companions to share it with. Tic-tac-toe is a great first game for kids because it's 1) easy 2) quick and 3) simple to transport. But the game is not only for kids - stay tuned for how you can incorporate tic-tac-toe in your workplace or home!

Felt in various colors

1. Start out with a square piece of felt in the size board you want. (Mine was 9" x 9".)
2. Cut four strips of contrast felt for the lines, about 1/4" wide and the length of the board.
3. Use a ruler to help place the lines so that your board has nine equal squares. Pin the lines and then hand sew, machine sew, or glue the lines onto the board.

4. Now comes the fun part! Think of a theme for your board and create two different shapes for the pieces. You will need five of each shape.
5. Use scissors to cut the felt into each shape (I doubled up the felt for a sturdier piece). Then embellish each piece with a button and yarn details.

6. Place your finished pieces on the board and get ready to play!

For the kids, create as many different sets of pieces as you want! If your kids are old enough, they can help make their own shapes and designs and embellish them by gluing googly eyes, feathers, or yarn. The pieces can also be used for younger kids as they learn to sort, count, add, and subtract.

For adults, here are some fun ideas about how to use tic-tac-toe to transform a boring or annoying situation to a super fun one:
1. Make a board and keep it at your office. Battle the mid-day blues by challenging your co-workers to a game (loser buys the winner something from the snack machine).
2.Play tic-tac-toe with your spouse/partner/roommate to decide who does the dishes/changes the kid's diaper/responds to child's tantrum/cleans the closet. Also great in determining who chooses the movie for the evening, what toppings to go on pizza, and any other situation where conflict may arise.


Kidding Around With Starting Artists on July 17

This Saturday July 17, Starting Artists and The {NewNew} will join forces to bring you a kid focused shop-and-swap event under the red and white tent of the Brooklyn Indie Market. The event will feature vendors with kid-focused products such as Rosirouge and her original Hank Blanky patchwork quilts and vintage inspired toys, Playground Rockstar who dresses up kids in cool t-shirts, the whimsical birds and monsters of Purty Bird, and practical overalls of Overall Baby. Top it all off with Pickle Petunia's yummy treats.

You should also stop by and chat with our partners Starting Artists. Their mission is to bring hands-on arts and entrepreneurship training to middle and high-school students by providing afterschool and vacation programs. Students learn about a number of different disciplines such as printmaking, graphic design, animation, and crafts along with basic business skills associated with the arts. To find out more about their programs stop by their table at the Brooklyn Indie Market.

Oh, and don't forget to bring a book. There will be a children's book swap at the market. “Kids can learn the value of thrift and community by participating in the kids’ book swap,” said Kathy Malone, owner of Brooklyn Indie Market. “They can bring a book to trade, and go home with something cool and handmade too!”

The Brooklyn Indie Market is located under the red and white striped tent on Smith and Union Street, Carroll Gardens,Brooklyn