Wednesday, May 18, 2011

X-ray Overlay

Did you ever make these when you were a kid?  I absolutely loved making them when I was about 10 years old.

I recently made a couple for the boys, at first just a freehand dinosaur, and another a few days later at Ruben's request when he saw a picture of a cheetah skeleton in one of his library books.

All you have to do is fold a piece of typing paper in half and draw your animal on one side, pressing down hard with your pencil.  Then open the paper and draw bones inside the outline impression.

If you want to color it in, use colored pencils, but do it faintly or it will be hard to see through.  Then hold it up to the light!

Some other overlay ideas are:

Draw something other than bones inside, like what your animal ate for dinner!

Make a monster or fictional character... what kind of bones would it have?

Draw an outline of a body or head and put something surprising inside.

Write some words on the top sheet, and make them say something else when you hold it up to the light.

Please leave me a comment and let me know if you try it, I'd love to see what you do!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tiny Photo Books and Big Travel

I'm leaving soon on a long journey with Julio!  He and I are going to my brother's wedding in Switzerland.  It will be Julio's first time on an airplane, train, and even in a taxi, and I am so excited about sharing the many adventures ahead with him.

                                                                             The last time I flew: with Joe & Diego in '05

I am a little bit less excited about the 17 hours of airplanes and airports between here and there (and then again a week later when we come home!)  Julio is generally a mellow little guy who likes to stick close to Mama, but I know that this trip will be asking a lot of him.  I need some small, quiet things that will entertain my little 22-month-old travel companion.  I have crayons, a new cup, a favorite blanket, snacks and some small toys.  What else do I need?

After making those tiny blank books the other day, I saw this description on Elsa's book blog of why miniature books became popular in the late 19th Century: "One could carry a vast number of books in a small case for when one travelled."

A light bulb went off!  These would be fun to have on the plane, and they are TINY!  I quickly made some miniature photo books to stash in my backpack.  One has family portraits, one has pictures from our last camping trip, and one has pictures of Julio doing all sorts of things that he loves doing at home.  I made lots of them!  They were so quick to make, and I used packing tape to laminate the pages before I folded and glued them, so they look like tiny, glossy magazines.

What else do I need for traveling with a toddler?  I asked some mom friends who travel a lot, and the advice I've gotten so far is this:

     "Bring one new thing for every hour on the plane.  They can be simple things like a new cup, book or spoon."

     "Bring lots of snacks."

And my favorite, so far:

     "Hand out earplugs and cookies to the people around you as soon as you sit down, 'cause you're going to need some friends!"

I'm really hoping that I'll get some payback for all of the times that I offered to hold and entertain young travelers when I was flying solo.  Have you traveled alone with a little one?  Got any advice for me?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Very Tiny Blank Books

I made these tiny books out of paint chip samples today.  They were quick and easy, and I'm sure that our toy house will be full of them before long.

This is all you need:

Cut out your covers and score them lightly along the edges of the white line:

Cut strips of paper that are slightly shorter than the covers:


Cover the whole back of the paper with glue:

Then just carefully re-fold the paper and stick it into the cover.  If you've got a steady hand, you can write on the cover with a very fine point permanent pen before you glue them together.  I used a .005 on this one:

I want to make one with a family photo album printed on the paper inside!

These are very simple five-minute miniature books, but if you want to see some incredible tiny artists' books, check out my friend Elsa's book blog.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paper Toys

Here are a couple of paper toys that Ruben made today:

He's been making these kinds of things for a few weeks.  He'll draw and cut, and then say something like, "Now I need to add an ear," or "Oh! I forgot the boots."  Then he'll draw and cut some more and then tape all of his pieces together and play with his finished work.  Most of them are paper figures like the lion and the Batman above, but there are also ladders, buildings, axes, brooms and trees, which sometimes have sticks held on with lots of tape that add support to the structure.  He is figuring it out as he goes, sometimes with some frustration, but mostly with pure have-to-stay-up-late-so-I-can-finish-this excitement. 

I love watching this explosion of creativity.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

On Sunday morning there were a few perfect moments in the Santa Barbara foothills.