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After sharing about our wonderful experience at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art I signed up to follow along on the museum’s Facebook page. I am glad I did because I found this tutorial video on their page! How cute are these bookmarks? They are easier to make than they look!

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I very rarely make a craft I find in a viral video. I always feel mislead by the hype of an easy craft. These are pro-crafters and everything they make is going to look amazing. Besides isn’t it edited to look like anyone can do it? But I got caught up in making these because they are so different and I am a sucker for a kid made bookmark.

The first one or two tries produced some wonky results. The third time was the charm because we finally found our folding groove. Nothing has to be measured precisely, you simply trace. You do have to be sure the heart lines are cut equally for them to align nicely.

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I used the template accompanying the video. However, I did have to make a few adjustments in a photo editor to eliminate all the unnecessary previews. Colored ink is a precious resource around here and I am not wasting a drop on printing extra stuff I don’t need. Once I printed what we needed I cut it out and traced several copies to the back side of large sized scrap book paper.

After we folded where appropriate, and connected the hearts, we were able to decorate and personalize our little book marks. The template also included smaller hearts to trace and cut out. Once you glue the embellishments it will secure the bookmark and keep the hearts in place. After making a few of these I think stickers work so much easier!

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My girls are about to start a read-a-thon at school and with Valentine’s Day coming up I think these will make really unique and fun gifts for their classmates. It’s a simple enough project that we can make a few of them each day. Plus, these last a lot longer than lollipops and pink candies; and they can be recycled when no longer wanted.

What do you think? Would your little reader love making these personalized bookmarks?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

visit-eric-carle

A few months ago we decided not to throw our kids a birthday party. I know, how horrible. Instead we took a week-long vacation in the Berkshires. I get that sounds all pretentious but I swear we are average folks. I smuggle my peanut butter jelly sandwiches into places just like every other mom. But we decided for the cost of a two hour party we could give our kids some really fun experiences they will always remember.

We visited a lot of great places and enjoyed trips to several museums where we found science, art and history exhibits. We even saw a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle exhibit which made me and hubby feel a little old. Not only do we remember the first time we watched the original movie (which was playing on a continuous loop), but we remember playing a Nintendo game unit like the one now old enough to be on display as a “classic.”

I digress.

One of our favorite stops was the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. My kids loved making art in the art studio, reading and relaxing in the library and seeing art work from their favorite authors on display.

Here is what we enjoyed!

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The art studio is a large sunlit room bursting with creativity. The resident artists select a craft project each day to share with visitors to the studio. All the materials and instruction are free. There are convenient drying wracks just outside the studio entrance where you can leave your creations while you tour the rest of the building. If you have kids of different ages and stages there are fun hands on play stations for your little ones to enjoy.

The galleries offer a look at original art work created by Eric Carle and other renowned picture book artists. Our favorite by far was the Brown Bear 50th Anniversary exhibit. We could see different versions of the way the animals were drawn. We immediately found the reading area which provided books and comfy brown bear cushions to cozy up to while reading. There are a variety of ways kids can interact with the art and games to help them talk about what they see. Each of the gallery rooms is minimal with plenty of room to navigate a stroller or wheel chair through. But no pictures are allowed for this exhibit.

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The library was the big hit for my kids. Not only did they have access to kids’ books, but they were obsessed with the giant stuffed versions of the book characters they love. Brown Bear was carried around by just about every kid that came in. There are also lots of learning toys like latch puzzles, magnet puzzles and coloring pages. Hubby and I enjoyed getting to sit down and relax a bit while our kids had a safe place to roam. There are kids story times and other events taking place so be sure to check the schedule before you travel!

The Auditorium offers concerts and educational films. We arrived between movie viewings so we did not get to check out the auditorium. But you can check online to see what film or concert is being offered on the day you visit.

The Bookshop is filled with a lot of fun games, stuffed animals and unique gift ideas. We found some great post cards featuring art from our favorite Eric Carle books. I bought extras to frame when we return home.

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Everything about this museum is designed with families in mind. You can request extra diapering supplies from the front desk, borrow a stroller or wheel chair and the coat room has individual lockers with a key to stash your diaper bag and extra stuff you don’t want to carry. There are activity kits to borrow to help your kids have a more interactive experience (I didn’t see those until we were on our way out). The museum admission price is also family friendly $22.50 covers a family of two adults and two kids.

Since our visit was in November it was a little too chilly to check out the art sprinkled along the walking trails and museum grounds. You can also find picnic tables outside to enjoy that homemade peanut butter sandwich right out in the open.  Or you can stay inside and enjoy a non-smuggled lunch right in The Carle Café where they offer free coffee and organic/natural vending machine fare.

The museum is located in Amherst, MA which is approximately 2 hours from where we are in Ulster County. This is a great place to take your young art lover and little reader. It is a perfect day trip for families and especially accommodating for every age group. Older kids can read and learn details about the art exhibits, create art and there is plenty to keep their younger siblings busy and engaged.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

Graphic Novels

Illustration credit to Robert Geronimo as published in Little Maia’s Coral City Adventure.

Does your kid get excited about comic books? My girls fell in love with comic books at age three. Mr. Whatever Mom is a self-professed comic book “geek.” Other than the most recognizable superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man, I really don’t know much about comics. I enjoy them as an art form, but I never developed a passion for comic books like my husband’s. For him, sharing that passion with his kids is really something special.

My girls are almost five now, so we are often hunting for age appropriate (non-violent, appropriately-dressed females) comic books. Enter Little Maia. We first met Maia and her author Robert Geronimo at the New York City Comic Convention a few short weeks ago. Among all the big marketing booths and retail vendors sat Robert and his team from Ascalon Press with these amazing books about Little Maia.

Maia is a little girl who takes on big adventures. In her first adventure “Little Maia and the Coral City” she is swallowed by a large sea monster and finds Coral City, a world below the sea. Then she takes an adventure on the Lunar Express in “Little Maia and the Lunar Express” and travels through space. (Coincidentally the sea and outer space just happen to be two of our favorite topics).

Graphic novels Robert Gernoimo

Little Maia Adventure Books

Both books are so beautifully illustrated you don’t even need words to tell the story. This is perfect since these are picture books without words.  Kids get to make up the dialogue and narrate the action at the turn of every page. Maia is a brave little problem solver who finds her own way home. She doesn’t have parents telling her what to do or saving her from her perils. She is all on her own. The fact that she isn’t a superhero with mysterious super powers and a secret identity makes her relatable for any kid, not just for girls.

Little Maia and The Coral City

Illustration credit Robert Geronimo

Kids take on the role of storyteller through these books and can really become part of the adventure. It is amazing to hear my kids create inner monologue for Maia, give her the power to be brave and make up conversations between characters. They never tell the story the same way. They embellish it more and more each time.

Little Maia and The Lunar Express

Illustration credit Robert Geronimo

Parents can get in on the story by asking questions that help their child delve deeper into the characters and the storyline. “How do you think Maia feels when the thunder hits?” “What do you think she is saying to those little aliens?” “What would you do if _____?” These graphic novels have become an opportunity for my kids to connect with their own ideas of bravery and at times their own emotions. It’s amazing to see how much learning is happening while reading a comic book!

As a mom I feel Maia is a wonderful portrayal of a young heroine showing that even girls take on monsters and travel through space. As a newly-minted comic fan I really enjoy the intricate details of the illustrations. The pictures give the story a flow even nonreaders can follow. These are great for preschoolers, early readers and beyond!

What comic books are your kids reading?

You can find Little Maia and the Coral City and Little Maia and the Lunar Express on Amazon. Great gifts for kids!

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

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