Tag Archives: kids’ crafts

Ireland meets Japan

Famous castle in Himeji, Japan -- one of nine Phoenix sister cities, which also include Ennis, Ireland (Photo: http://www.famouswonders.com)

As wearers of the green celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, all of our hearts go out to the people of Japan. It turns out both countries have cities considered “sisters” of Phoenix, Arizona (we have nine global “sisters” in all).

Families who attend the free “WorldFEST” this weekend can enjoy all sorts of hands-on activities and exhibits in the “Sister Cities Village” — including “making fairy wreaths with Irish colors from Ennis, Ireland” and “competing in a chopstick challenge by Himeji, Japan.”

Festival guests are invited to participate with the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission as they launch a fund drive to assist relief efforts in Japan by making donations at the Himeji, Japan booth in the “Sister Cities Village.”

Other hands-on activities include “learning cattle roping from Calgary, Canada” and “making carnival masks from Catania, Italy.” Just make sure the siblings in your brood know better than to practice the roping techniques on one another.

You can even enjoy “writing your name with Chinese characters from Chengdu, China” and “face painting and pinata-breaking by Hermosillo, Mexico.” Sibs will want to avoid trying those last two on one another too — not that the little darlings would ever consider such things.

Parades are another matter. These are plenty safe to try at home assuming you don’t expect the family cat to lead the march. There’s just a single parade time for the festival so don’t miss it if your family is fond of floats and such.

This weekend’s “Sister Cities Parade” — complete with “colorful flags and festive floats” from Phoenix sister city regions — kicks off at 1pm on Sat, March 19 as part of “WorldFEST,” which takes place at Heritage and Science Park in Phoenix (home of the Arizona Science Center).

“WorldFEST” hours are Fri, March 18, 4-10pm; Sat, March 19, Noon-11pm; and Sun, March 20, Noon-5pm. It features “sights, sounds and tastes from around the world.” Think art, dance and music — plus food/drink and more.

Grown-ups can enjoy “beer sampling & pints” (not so free) and cooking demonstrations by various chefs. But the kiddos will have more interest in “KidsWORLD” — described as “an interactive, educational playground engaging children to travel over seven continents.”

I’m told there’ll be areas where children can “explore rain forests in South America,” “dodge icebergs in Antarctica,” and enjoy “a mini safari through the African jungle.” Not sure how that works — but I’m eager to find out. Let’s hope my height (or grey hair) won’t give me away…

— Lynn

Note: Heritage and Science Park is located at 115 N. 6th St. in Phoenix — near plenty of Valley attractions, including the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Coming up: Finding voice lessons in the Valley


It takes a village

Sometimes it take a village of 19 youth actors from around the Valley

Sometimes it takes a village — which is just what you’ll enjoy this weekend if you attend a performance by Curtain Call Youtheatre, the educational division of the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company.

They’ll present “A Village of Idiots” — Sat, Dec 11 at 7pm, and Sun, Dec 12 at 2pm — at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. The cast includes 19 young actors from around the Valley in a comedy based on “the tales of Chelm.”

But you needn’t wait until the weekend to enjoy Arizona arts and culture. The Arizona Humanities Council holds an “Authors’ Night/Fundraiser” Wed, Dec 8, at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix.

The event features nationally renowned authors Matthew Whitaker and Cynthia Hogue, as well as photographer Rebecca Ross, exploring “the journey of Hurrican Katrina evacuee’s grief and hope through stories, poems and photographs.”

See Joel Sartore at the MAC

“America’s Great Wildlife Migrations” featuring Joel Santore, “National Geographic” photographer, also takes place Wed, Dec 8 — at the Mesa Arts Center.

For the “12 to 21” set, the Phoenix Art Museum presents “Speak & Slam 2.0” Wed, Dec 8, at 6:30pm. It’s their second installation of “original poetry and recitation” — held in partnership with the national “Poetry Out Loud” recitation contest. Young poets can practice performing for a live audience or come to support the readings of other youth.

Take time this season to support aspiring performers

Chandler-Gilbert Community College invites community members to attend a free “Student Actors’ Showcase” Fri, Dec 10 at 7pm in room Agave 155. 

They’re also offering a free event Mon, Dec 13 at their Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center — a “Winter Sampler” featuring various vocal and musical ensembles. (Reservations at 480-732-7343 are required.)

The Phoenix Art Museum presents “PhxArtKid Day” Sun, Dec 12, for children ages 5-12 and their adult companions — which is free with museum admission. This “Gifts of the Season” event features exploration of art and the opportunity to create original art with a holday theme.

Adults and kids can attend the Phoenix Art Museum’s “Holiday Festival” Sun, Dec 12, from noon to 8pm — which features the 12:12pm unveiling of a new work of art. Other activities taking place at various times include a scavenger hunt, balloon dancing and more. Think strolling musicians. Adorable critters. And an ice igloo.

Make holiday cards at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix presents “Holiday Cards” Dec 7-12 in their art studio. It’s for children and adults who’d like to spend some time making artwork together — and it’s just one of many family-friendly activities and events they offer on a regular basis.

Exciting art projects can also be found at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, which routinely offers times for children to create art while they’re at the museum to enjoy its many kid-friendly exhibits.

Young Arts of Arizona opened a new exhibit last Friday at their “Purple Space Gallery” in Phoenix. It features artwork by students at Phoenix Country Day School, who were inspired by an “Interpretations of Nature” theme.

If architecture is your thing, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art invites you to attend a free event on Sat, Dec 11. It’s the 11am-2pm “official public dedication” of the Soleri Bridge and Plaza. Related events (some with limited seating and/or an admission charge) are also scheduled — including a “VIP Tour of Cosanti,” a lecture/panel discussion and more.

"HAIR" has a tribe rather than village vibe

Broadway lovers can enjoy the touring production of  “HAIR” this week at ASU Gammage. If you like a bit of brunch with your Broadway, you can enjoy brunch on campus at the University Club before the Sun, Dec 12, matinee performance.

Dance aficionados have several options this week, including the “Breaking Ground 2010” dance and film festival presented by CONDER/dance Fri, Dec 10, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Enjoy dance at Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents a “Student Dance Showcase” at 8pm Fri, Dec 10, and Sat, Dec 11, at their Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler.

And those who donate cans of non-perishable food items to United Food Bank through a food drive at Kriti Dance in Chandler this weekend can enjoy a free trial class in Bollywood style dance Sun, Jan 9, 2011.

Finally, there’s the fine art of civic engagement — which you can practice this week at the State Capitol. Thurs, Dec 9, at 9am, the Arizona Capitol Museum will “celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Arizona Constitution with the opening of a new exhibit.”

It’s titled “We the People of Arizona….” At 2pm Governor Brewer and Secretary of State Ken Bennett will join others in commemorating the centennial of Arizona’s Constitutional Convention.

It really does take a village…

— Lynn

Note: Comprehensive daily listings of family-friendly events in the Valley of the Sun are always available online from Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Always call ahead to confirm event details — day/time, location, cost, age-appropriateness and such.

Coming up: A true Broadway baby

Photo credit: “HAIR” photo by Joan Marcus

Art in the checkout line?

Brown paper bags coupled with markers and scissors make fun craft projects, but I have something else in mind for the man who last bagged my groceries...

Sometimes it’s hard to snag a single bagger at the grocery store, but somehow I managed to score two on my last trip. I enjoyed watching their playful “my hometown’s better than yours” banter — and was tempted to side with the gentleman from Chicago given the city’s wealth of art museums.

But then his talk turned to Arizona, and he began to rail against the city of Phoenix for its supposed lack of arts and culture. He’s lucky the eggs were already bagged. I’d just seen “Romeo and Juliet” performed at the newly renovated Hergerger Theater Center downtown, while folks across the way at Symphony Hall enjoyed Ballet Arizona’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

I went into serious myth-busting mode, which I’m going to do a little more of in today’s post. Since running my post on this week’s hidden art treasures, I’ve heard from oodles of folks with more art adventures to share — which I’m happy to pass along for your weekend planning pleasure.

Don’t even think about popping off about how you’ve nothing to do in the Valley if you don’t get out there to enjoy at least one of these art offerings. Arts and culture is grand and growing in plenty of Arizona communities, but you won’t know if you don’t go…

First, for military veterans, active duty service men and women, and their immediate families — the Phoenix Art Museum offers complimentary admission on Veterans Day (Thurs, Nov 11). At 3pm the museum presents a special Veterans Day lecture that explores “the way artists have helped shape the country’s ideas of war.”

For educators, there’s the 19th annual “Party for Educators’ Appreciation” event at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, playfully dubbed the P.E.A.C.H. If the name makes you hungry, just head next door to the Wildflower Bread Company — which has one of the Valley’s tastiest breakfast menus at affortable prices.  Or hit the produce section.

If pie is more your style, skip the grocery store altogether and get to know some of the folks who elevate pie-making to a fine art. I hope to find them gathered at this weekend’s “Pie Social” presented by Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row.

The “Pie Social” sounds like a lot more fun than a midnight dash to the fridge for a mug of ice cream to gobble in guilt and solitude in front of the television or laptop. And it’s for a good cause — the afterschool programs of Roosevelt Row and Phoenix Elementary.

You can pie with pride on Sat, Nov 13, from 2-6pm at Fifth St. and Roosevelt in downtown Phoenix — where folks will gather for community pie tasting, celebrity pie tasting, pie crafts, silent auctions and more.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to treat your kids to a trip on the light rail, consider making a day of it by partnering pie with a trip to other downtown art adventures. You’re unlikely to find a better weekend weather-wise, and it’s a great way to enjoy together time before the holiday rush swoops in.

It just so happens that the 5th annual P.A.P.A. event (Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts) occurs that same day at 5pm — starting at 5th St. and Roosevelt. It’s described by organizers as “the world’s only parading art fair” and includes all those must-haves like magicians, balloon twisters, silly hats, lively music, and fun contests with prizes

If your greatest adventures consist of solo trips to the grocery store, you might be ready for your first experience with the “Pandora Showcase” coming to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts this weekend and next.

It’s perfect for those eager to reconnect with the inner woman underneath all those layers of mommyhood. You can enjoy evening shows on Fri, Nov 12, and Sat, Nov 13 — or a Sunday matinee performance.

It’s being presented by the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which produces “theatrical works by and with women for our community,” including recent plays not previously produced in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

I may have to postpone my pandora for a bit to experience that odd ’50s coupling of prejudice and polka dots as only Phoenix Theatre can present it. I hope to attend their production of “Hairspray,” which opens Fri, Nov 12.

Lizabeth enjoyed a sneak preview with the folks from QSpeak Theatre and came home with a fabulous review — something along the lines of “My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.”

It seems the show presents a bit of a challenge, however, if you’re troubled by feeling the uncontrollable urge to dance along. Personally, I think you should just go for it.

In reality, I’ll likely spend the weekend in teen taxi mode. It’s a busy weekend for the Southwest Shakespeare Company, and Lizabeth will be joining her fellow “Wenches and Knaves” for some fun happenings — which include a festive food and wine tasting Fri., Nov 12, that benefits the company’s education programs (SSC’s intern company will perform “Romeo and Juliet”).

Pie. Pandora. Peaches for teachers. Oodles of theater options for kids and adults — and plenty more. The next grocery store bagger I catch promulgating the myth that Phoenix lacks a vibrant art scene gets the paper variety right over his big head.

— Lynn

Note: No grocery checkers or baggers were harmed in the making of this post. I should also note that the checkers in question do not work at Trader Joe’s. During our last trip to Trader Joe’s, in fact, their fine folks went above and beyond to help us find raw pumpkin seeds for roasting and even pointed out that they were made in the U.S.A.

Coming up: Strolling through Old Town Scottsdale, Mommy musings on mega-movies, Art adventures: Heard Museum North, Holiday theater happenings

Crafting creative thank you cards

When I was still in the single digits age-wise, my mother often told me I could make a living wrapping packages and writing thank you notes. I loved getting the shapes and colors just so, perfecting the penmanship and adding special touches that showed recipients my efforts were meant for them alone.

My mom always made the act of thanking people feel like a creative, expressive enterprise. I admit that my dad’s side of the family was often better at getting thank you notes out the door, but their approach felt more obligatory and less joyful somehow. When my own turn at parenting rolled around, I blended their approaches into a new style all my own.

Do what you should do, but think all the while of what you could do.

A simple “thank you” with signature on a store bought note certainly meets our obligations to those who have given us gifts, but I like to add that extra bit of TLC that says ‘this is more than something I felt I had to do. This is something I was genuinely happy to do.’

Even preschoolers are plenty proficient for this task. Just get them to a table or easel with some finger paints and let them swipe and swirl away on a large sheet of paper you can later cut into card size abstract paintings they can attach to a blank note card with a chunky glue stick made for pudgy little hands.

Before children are old enough to write their own comments inside the note, they are old enough to tell you what they’d like to say so you can add their quote to the note. They might say something like “I like the train because it fast” or “My new doll is pretty pink.” It’s all good. Any sentiment they share will be appreciated by those who receive it.

My dad used to correct my grammar and penmanship at every turn, and the thank you notes he expected to receive from me were never fun to write. We sometimes worry as young parents whether things like children writing letters backwards reflect poorly on us somehow. The sooner you let that one go, the better. Anyone who judges a child’s thank you note harshly for imperfect spelling or handwriting needs to do some improving of his or her own.

Once your child is old enough to write, let your child write his or her own words and simple sentences. Up the fun factor by moving past white thank you cards and black ball point pens to hand decorated cards with sentiments written in colorful markers or crayons.

You can buy white note cards at the stationery store, buy blank cards (in various colors) at your local craft store, or make them yourself using card stock (or even construction paper). Pick something that will fit easily into the envelopes you plan to use. Your child can decorate them in any number of ways—using rubber stamps and colorful ink pads, glued-on glitter or sequins, stickers and more.

Try drawing faces on thumbprints or tracing your child’s hand onto the cover of the card (relatives who get one every year will have a precious record of how your child has grown through the years).

Once your child outgrows glitter and stickers (some of us never do), he or she might want to try something more sophisticated—adding a favorite poem or quote to cards, creating a collage on the card’s cover using cut outs from magazines, printing out a digital photo to grace the card’s cover or writing “thank you” in a lot of different languages.

If you run short on ideas, check the websites of children’s and crafts magazines that feature arts and crafts projects for youth. FamilyFun magazine has several ideas for homemade thank you cards—including a style crafted ala the “cootie catcher.”

Think origami thank you notes. Think thank you notes written on balloons or miniature beach balls you deflate before sending in envelopes to recipients. Think thank you notes written in crayon, and then washed over with watercolor paints. Think thank you notes embroidered in a basic stitch onto a bright piece of felt.

These won’t be the fastest cards your children have ever written. That’s the beauty of them. Cards that reflect the real time and tenderness that went into them send a powerful message to those who receive them: I respect the thoughtfulness that went into your gift, and I want to honor that.

Throw up a card table, gather some craft supplies, and sit down with your child to create some one-of-a-kind thank you notes. Or invite friends to get together for a thank you note party. Everyone can bring supplies to share, along with their thank you/address lists, and you can make a fun afternoon of sharing ideas and swapping materials.

Nobody said writing thank you notes had to be tedious or tiresome. Think of them instead as a great way to help your child transition from the hectic holidays back into the real world—a world with just a bit more whimsy thanks to your child’s creativity.


Note: If starting from scratch feels too daunting, check out card-making kits or idea books from folks like Klutz. Their titles–including Handmade Cards and Create Your Own Paper-crafts Cards: Flowers–are available online or at many local book, craft or toy stores.