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Winter is Here

Brr. It's cold outside!You might be looking for a sweet winter art project to do with your children. This one is gooey, messy fun.

Make a Winter Snowperson to keep you company this season.

Start with some newspaper strips, Clementine natural glue, a handful of flour, and a bit of water. Make a thin paste (think pancake batter), and begin to dip and wrap the strips around balls of newspaper until you've got 3 balls, of various sizes. Let them dry.
Attach them together with skewers, or a hot glue gun. Paint them white, or lots of colors with Clementine natural paint.

Sprinkle with natural confetti or glitter, let dry.

Start embellishing. Add a jaunty hat, some button eyes, a dough nose, and some wooden bits for buttons. Add some arms made from outdoor twigs, and a broom if you like.

viola! your sweet winter friend.

Mod Fairy House

do you believe in magic and fairies? i do.
so does my friend audrey.

she made this incredible, mod fairy house using only natural materials; clementine glue, markers, glass beads, handmade paper, an inexpensive wooden picture frame, fabric and some unpainted wooden bobbles.

here are some of our materials.

first, she glued down the rugs.

she made a chair that she 'upholstered' with paper.

look at that curvy bed. i want one like that!

what a great fireplace!

she even decorated the tree!

ready to move in.

the artist, age 9

The Nag Factor

Marketing to children is creepy.

The film 'The Corporation' reveals some serious manipulation on the part of children's product manufacturers to perfect the 'nag factor', that is, marketing to children to encourage them to nag their parents to purchase something. Video via Elephant Journal.

Have you ever wondered why Clementine packaging is so clean, lovely and sophisticated? It's designed to attract the eye of the parent. We left off the characters, chaos and noise because we believe that simple is best for children and that our colorful art materials should speak for themselves.

Green Your Halloween

"Halloween candy sales this year will top $2.23 billion" - LA Times

Let's painted-face it. Halloween is big business. A 5.8 billion dollar business in the United States alone.

Of the 43.4 million children ages 3-12 years old in the United States, 9 out of 10 will go trick or treating, consuming 600 million pounds of Halloween candy. With each trick-or-treater outfitted in a costume, at an average spend of $23 each, US consumers shell out more than .8 billion dollars on largely disposable children's costumes.

The crazy joy of running about in a cape, fangs or a crown, not to mention the cheerful extravagance of a pillowcase full of candy aside, it's worth noting that our modern celebrations have some significant downsides on the health of children, and the health of the planet.

More than 1/3rd of America's children are overweight, with more than 17% of them considered obese. One in three children born today will get diabetes, and 2 million children suffer from high blood pressure. This adds up to a generation of children with a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

In addition to the added calories and sugar, conventional candy can contain any of 6,000 chemicals that are used in the manufacturing of processed foods, artificial dyes accused of causing cancer, and a variety of synthetic additives that have been linked to hyperactivity disorder and other ailments. Non-organic coco beans used for chocolate that are grown in full sun (as opposed to shade) are susceptible to disease and therefore require heavy doses of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

The news gets worse. Pippa's sparkly polyester princess dress, complete with a bejeweled plastic tiara, may contain phthalates, cadmium, lead or other toxins. A recent test of multiple brands of face paint found detectable levels of lead inevery one of them. According to UNICEF, coco-bean plantation owners are notorious for child slavery, and paying low wages to farmers due to market deregulation.

Enter Green Halloween

These downsides weighed heavily on Corey Colwell-Lipson, a Seattle area mom, in 2007. In response, she founded Green Halloween - a non-profit community initiative to create healthier and more earth friendly holidays, beginning with Halloween. Working with her local Whole Foods Market in Bellevue Washington, Colwell-Lipson approached individuals, businesses, and other local organizations to help make Halloween in Seattle more sustainable.

Colwell-Lipson hit a deep chord of discontent. Almost overnight, her grassroots Green Halloween movement spread from Seattle across the country through wide-spread media exposure, word-0f-mouth marketing and online buzz.

Now in more than 33 cities across the US, Green Halloween activities and events are being coordinated by volunteers with the help of local and national sponsors like Larabar, Cascadian Farms, HGTV, KIWI magazine, Celestial Seasonings, and Whole Foods Markets.

Volunteers set up family-friendly events to support the Green Halloween goals of the 3 R's (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). Green Halloween events replace conventional candy on trick-or-treat trails with healthier snacks like popcorn, nut bars, organic chocolates and natural gum; focus halloween activities on candyless fun like spooky games and pumpkin painting; and sponsor local costume swaps for a low-cost way to recycle and reuse last year's Halloween costumes.

The message seems to be catching on. An increased number of PVC free costumes, lead free paints and reusable trick or treat bags are on the market, organic candy offerings are up 170% since 2004, and conventional candy companies like Cadbury are exploring the organic and Fair Trade markets.

Visit www.greenhalloween.org to learn more about Green Halloween events in your community. If Green Halloween hasn't reached your community yet, perhaps consider volunteering to help get a local movement started in your town!

Note: For residents of Boulder, Green Halloween and Clementine Art are partnering with the Downtown Boulder Association to green our very own Munchkin Masquerade on the Pearl Street Mall, October 31st. Look for the Green Halloween logo in the window of mall retailers for healthier treats! Contact info@clementineart.com to get involved with our local Boulder Green Halloween efforts.

Are You a Helicopter Parent?

The decision to have a child is momentus. It is the decision to forever walk around with your heart outside your body - Elizabeth Stone

As a child, my parents were unflappable about safety. I played, unsupervised, with a posse of neighborhood kids, rode in seat-beltless cars, skated near fragile ice over frigid pond water, and walked to and from school (gasp) alone! My parents weren’t lacking love, care, or responsibility, but were reflections of the Mad Men era – a time when smoking, littering, and a laissez-faire attitude toward child rearing was the status quo.

I’m not suggesting that we take up smoking, littering, or neglecting children, but besides the obvious risks, there were surprising benefits to a hands-off style parenting style. I learned to test the ice, fight my own battles, and navigate my personal threshold of fear. Because I was allowed to play both sides of a limit, I developed an internal compass that has pointed me toward (mostly) good, safe decisions since.

Was I just lucky?

The world can be a dangerous place. More than 12,000 children are killed each year in car, suffocation, or drowning accidents. Parents must manage the threat of predators, environmental toxins, and disease. In response, modern American parents have tipped the balance on child safety. We’ve got car seats, nanny cams, and a dizzying array of safety gadgets that have, industriously, made a significant dent in the number of injuries to children by preventable and tragic accidents.

They have also scared parents to death, and created a new kind of beast. The emergence of the term Helicopter Parent, for parents who hover, like helicopters, close to their children, whether or not they are needed. Ironically, over-parenting makes children less safe, as it is responsible for the development of emotionally fragile children who lack independence, problem-solving skills, and confidence.

Danger is real. Precautions and common sense attention to safety is needed. Hyper-vigilance, however, can be paralyzing to children and parents alike. We must work to find a balance between keeping children safe, and allowing them the space to grow into confident, independent and empowered beings.

Freedom with Supervision

Allowing children freedom doesn’t mean letting them play in traffic. It means creating safe spaces in the yard, in the park, in the house, to make their own choices, decisions, and yes, mistakes. This is the foundation of learning how to be safe, and developing the critical skill of problem solving and self-reliance.

Choice with Limits

Allowing children to make choices doesn’t mean that they can choose never to eat another vegetable. Caregivers can allow children to make meaningful choices - the kind that empower and nourish them. Let children be in charge of their art, their music, their clothing, and their games. It’s great way to dissolve power struggles, and engender confidence at the same time.

Responding to Toxins

We are lucky to live at a time where we have access to information about what’s contained in the products we purchase, where and how they are made, and what harmful effects on humans and the environment might be associated with their use.

Since I’ve started paying attention, I find myself feeling continuously compelled to push myself toward better, healthier, and more informed choices. All I had to do is pay attention. New legislation called CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Information Act) has regulated testing for lead and phthalates in all children’s products.

Other toy, clothing and product information is widely available on myriad websites like Healthy Child, Healthy World (healthychild.org) and Mindful Mama (mindful-mama.com). These informative sites have a wealth of information, articles and discussions about healthy choices for families and the environment.

Keeping children safe while still encouraging healthy development is about informed choices, thoughtful consumerism, and for caregivers, finding that deliciously sweet spot between terror and complacence.

I Do Art

Via Round Bottom Baby on the super cool website poppytalkhandmade.com

Jessica's "Daily Affirmation"

I need her as my life coach.

A Music Lover's Guide to Children's Tunes

I grew up a music nerd.

Just like the worn cliche, I was a member of the family that sang every folk song known to man in our beater station wagon on long, sticky car trips, and belted out Christmas carols by candlelight around our small-town tree. More unusually, we also sang grace in five part harmony around the dining room table. I even had a barbershop quartet practicing in my den. By the time I went to college, I had graduated to stiff, aching acapella harmonies every night of the week. Even today, I find myself peeved at the religious right for humiliating my experience of the Christian church as a place to sing sacred music for it's own sake.

Nerd or not, I loved music. It only took a few minutes out west for my musical tastes to evolve toward the freedom and heart of the independent musician. Under countless influences including the Boulder Theater, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and my own experiences on the Boulder singer-songwriter scene that defined the 90's for me, I tuned my guitar, and showed up for Open Mike Night at Penny Lane more often than my friends wanted to come.

When children are steeped in music, it enters the bones, the skin, the breath, and the memory. It lifts, soothes, explains, and comforts. Honest music spreads the stories of life before us like a book. Love, absurdity, loss and joy ask children to connect in an authentic way with the musician, the music and each other.

The power of music was transforming to me as a child. After my grandfather's stroke, we found he could no longer speak, but amazingly, he could still sing. We all experienced a blessed moment of relief from the excruciatingly frustrating loss of communication with only a few lines of music. Just last weekend, it only took a single bar of song, a sampling from the Barbershoppers Harmony Festival on the Pearl Street Mall, for tears to spring to my eyes for my late, barbershopping papa.

Music runs deep.

I am always on the lookout for music with meaning. With integrity. With a soul. For children, these qualifications are especially important, and even harder to come by. I believe that the makers of music for children underestimate them; underestimate their ability to sense complex rhythms, word play, and real feelings. I like my children's music to be real, and sweet and important to them.

Here are just a few of my favorites:

1. Woody Guthrie: Songs to Grow On. This album is simple, rhythmic, percussive and funny. The songs are just plain sweet, and about as stripped down and under-produced as you can get.

2. Elizabeth Mitchell: Catch the Moon. I love her style. It's soothing, playful, and multicultural in an effortless way. Her voice is like honey. I could listen all day. An added bonus: Lisa Loeb is a guest artist.

3. Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas. I've heard tell that the executives assigned to updating 'A Charlie Brown Christmas,' wanted to pull off the classic jazz soundtrack and substitute something more 'child appropriate'. I'm glad someone talked them out of it.

4. Jerry Garcia and David Grisman: Not for Kids Only. Drawn from their vast knowledge of roots and folk music, the friendship, humor and genius musicianship in this album is unmistakeable.

5. Various Artists: Daddies Sing Goodnight: A Father's Collection of Sleepytime Songs. A charming collection of world class bluegrass and folk musicians (who also happen to be daddies) like Townes Van Zandt and James Taylor (performed by the Seldom Scene) makes for a heartbreaking, lovely collection of almost all original tunes.

5. Dan Zanes: Rocket Ship Beach. A former member of the Del Fuegos, Dan Zanes and Friends perform family music with humor, energy, respect and groove. He mixes children's songs with traditional folk, bluegrass and world music.

7. Bev Bos and Michael Leeman: Come on and Sing. These two are the king and queen of the teacher's conference musical workshop (more nerdiness, I know), but they are responsible for making tens of thousands of teachers sing, laugh, cry, and learn songs to sing with children. That's pretty cool.

I'm sure we'd all love to hear about what music you've enjoyed listening to with your children, what music was important to you as a child, and what makes you want to dance, so leave a comment and join the conversation.

Create Your New School Year: Vision Boards

Intention is a force in the universe that allows the act of creation to take place.

- Dr. Wayne Dyer

Sometimes I create things that I can hold in my hand. Other times, I create things in my life that I can't literally see, like the outcome of a dear hope or wish. I'm a believer in the maxim "positive feelings will attract more positive circumstances" and what you put your mind to, tends to show up.

The start of a new school year can set the tone for how that year will turn out.
The concept of a vision board (also known as a goal board, goal map, or treasure map) has been around for generations, but it’s gained a renewed interest and popularity after they were featured in a DVD documentary movie called The Secret.

I love the idea of making vision boards with children. The concrete images make their hopes and dreams very clear. The process provides children with a creative opportunity to self-reflect, dream, set goals, and creatively express their hopes through intentions. As an added bonus you're creating a 'snapshot' of your child in scrapbook form that will create great memories for both of you.

The first step is to create a list of intentions. These are the intentions of a young friend of mine...

Next, we found visual images to go with them. I love to scour the flea markets for the best vintage postcards, trinkets and other symbols of the intentions on our list.

To accompany the images, I pulled out decorative handmade paper scraps, pretty stickers, and Clementine Natural glue. I arranged all these items on a blank white background (white's not necessary, I just like it).

I let it dry overnight. Stay tuned to see the embellishments with Clementine natural paint and markers tomorrow.

Suncatchers with Colored Glue

Clementine natural glue works perfectly with color. Add a teaspoon of Clementine natural paint and stir until the paint is incorporated. I made a whole set!
Squeeze colored glue on a clean, plastic deli lid. Make swirly designs, dots and patterns.
Let dry completely.
Pop dried glue out of the lid.
Punch a hole, and hang on a string in the window.

Catch the Sun with Crayons

Use those pesky crayon bits and ends to make a luminous suncatcher.
You'll need: waxed paper, crayon bits, and an iron set to warm.

Break up the crayons and sprinkle them on waxed paper. You can use a grater if you like. Thin and light pieces are best.
Place another sheet of waxed paper over the crayon shavings and press gently with a warm iron.

When your suncatcher is cool, cut it in any shape you like, punch a hole in it, and hang it in the window with a pretty ribbon.

Groovy Scratch Art: Clementine Natural Crayons

Remember Scratch Art? Many of us enjoyed revealing the rainbow colors hidden beneath smooth, dark paint.

Simply color (hard!) on a piece of heavyweight paper with Clementine natural crayons until the whole sheet is covered.

Paint a layer of dark blue, black or purple paint over the crayon and let dry.

Unfold a metal paperclip or use a wooden skewer to scrape a design into the dried paint with a crayon layer underneath.

Circles and Dots

Young children and major, modernist painters have more in common than you might imagine. Shapes, color and a fresh way of seeing ordinary objects is a start.

Peter Reynolds has written a darling children's book that is a must for every budding artist's library. The heroine in this story decides to paint dots. In fact, she paints a whole art show full of them.

Wassily Kandinsky made lots of dots too.

Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian painter, and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first modern abstract works.

For circles at home, make watercolor paint with Clementine natural paint + water. Use Clementine creamy crayons and crayon rocks to make more circles.

For the Little Who Likes Trucks More Than Painting

If your little is more interested in cars and trucks than painting, here's a great way to combine the two! I found the funniest little vintage car at the flea market. When you roll it, the money in the back pops all around.

Splat some paint onto a blank sheet of paper and drive the car right through the paint! The wheels make all kinds of groovy tracks.

Endless entertainment.

What children learn: color mixing, cause and effect (wheels make tracks in paint), inquiry, troubleshooting (too much paint), pretend play, observation.

Colored Sandies: Sand and Glue Painting

Sand Painting is the art of pouring colored sands, powdered pigments from minerals or crystals, and pigments from other natural sources onto a surface to make a painting.

Sand Painting is a part of many indigenous cultures including Native American, Aboriginal, and Tibetan Buddhist.

All you need to make sand paintings at home is some colored sand, Clementine natural glue, and some heavyweight paper.
A second option is to sprinkle sand on a sticky surface such as clear contact paper (above).

What children learn: color mixing (blending), the properties of materials (sticky, grainy), how things work (glue is sticky), design and planning.

'Don't Forget Me' Journal

A truly special vacation should live on in memory. Making a travel journal with your child is a way to combine art, early literacy, and scrapbooking all in the same meaningful activity.

To make a pretty journal you'll need: heavyweight cardboard, recycled white paper (for the pages), pretty paper (for the cover), ribbon, hole puncher, Clementine natural glue, a paintbrush (for the glue) and embellishments.

Brush the back of your paper with glue and center the cardboard in the middle.
Snip the corners and fold the paper carefully over the edges until the paper is flat and smooth.

Repeat with the front cover. Place a stack of paper between the covers and punch 2 holes with a heavy duty hole puncher.

Bind your journal with pretty ribbons or a circle clip.

Embellish the front with stickers, drawings, paintings or writing.

Once you have your journal, then collect the following:
  • Writing and drawing tools: markers (thin and thick tip), crayons, colored pencils
  • Camera (Polaroids are fun for immediate gratification)
  • Glue stick
  • Envelope—for collecting special treasures — a feather, a ticket stub, a note from grandma
  • Each day, you and your child can pick one or more memories to record. Children younger than 5 will likely draw their memories and tell the accompanying stories verbally. Parents can record the child's words (preferably verbatim), underneath the drawings in caption or story form (book format helps literacy development). Let your child take the photographs and glue special treasures in the book as well.
At the end of your trip, you’ll have a delightful collection of child-centered memories to look back on. Don’t forget to have your child ‘read’ it to you before bed.