The Doodle Post

imagesI grew up in the suburbs where door-to-door mail delivery was non-existence.  Every afternoon I would walk to the end of my street, key in hand, to collect any mail from our Superbox.  I was giddy whenever there was a letter addressed to me from one of my few pen pals or friends living in distant cities.  My feet would practically float above the ground as I ran up the hill to our house; tearing into the envelope the instant I crossed the threshold.

In the age of the Internet, e-bills, evites and on-line catalogues few personally addressed pieces of mail arrive in our letterbox.  Rarer still anything meant for the boys.

A few weeks ago, to their excitement a cardboard envelop arrived for them from The Doodle Post stuffed with glittery pom poms, glue, orange and yellow striped sticky tape and a dozen cake picks.  The makings of do-it-yourself cake toppers!

The Doodle Post is the brainchild of creative mastermind and passionate art educator Erin Clark-Wynn.  With more than 10 years experience teaching art and several more in advertising, Erin, a devoted crafter and mom of two young girls saw a niche in the Canadian crafting market.

The Doodle Post is a Canadian craft subscription that is delivered to your front door.  These DIY craft projects designed for children 6-12 years old take about 15-30 minutes to complete.  Each box contains the items needed for the craft and a detailed yet simple step-by-step set of instructions with accompanying pictures.

Erin dreams up each project and draws on her years of teaching to ensure that the projects are age appropriate and require little to no adult assistance.  Erin’s passion for art is matched by her passion for giving back to the community.

Each Doodle Post box contains quality supplies from Canadian businesses and a portion of the proceeds from The Doodle Post is directed to Canadian charities that are dedicated to bringing art into the lives of children and kits to those without the means.

My boys were excited to get started on their cake toppers, which coincidentally arrived just in time for a family birthday celebration.

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I was amazed at how well my two boys, ages 6 and 7, worked together to complete this project.  They read through the instructions and laid out the supplies.

The eldest was eager to show off his knowledge of procedural writing skills (that were recently honed in his second grade class) and the youngest excitedly reached for the ruler when the instructions suggested cutting the tape at 5 cm.

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The cutting “Vs” out of the tape, to create the flag, was a challenge for the youngest but with some rarely displayed cooperation with his older brother, the cake toppers came together nicely.

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I asked the boys if they had any feedback and the resounding answer: this is so much fun!

The Doodle Post is so much fun!  It was fun for me to watch the boys create a meaningful craft entirely on their own without any input from me and that was useful!  They were very proud to top their grandfather’s cake with these electric blue pom-pom toppers.

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The Doodle Post is the perfect answer to the question: What do your kids want for their birthday?

The cost of The Doodle Post:

1 month = $12 + shipping

images3 month = $36 +shipping

6 month = $70 +shipping

To learn more about The Doodle Post:

Visit the website: www.thedoodlepost.storenvy.com

Send an email: subscriptions@thedoodlepost.com

Check out Facebook: www.facebook.com/thedoodlepostproject

The Artful Year Autumn: A Seasonal Gem for Creative Fun

We’re adding to our usual writing schedule to shout out for a new and wonderful book for parents!  Jean Van’t Hul, author of the popular arts and crafts blog The Artful Parent, has just launched an amazing eBook called The Artful Year Autumn :: Celebrating the Seasons and Holi days with Family Arts and Crafts.

I’ve long been a fan of The Artful Parent, which is teeming with creative arts and crafts ideas for parents and children to do together.  I’ve got my blog addiction, just like I assume you do too, and I read and admire many homemaking and craft blogs.  But The Artful Parent stands out for me in Jean’s friendly and down-to-earth tone.  Her ideas are inventive and beautiful, and they’re accessible.

I’m no natural in the art realm, but Jean makes me think I can make art with my kids, and it’s her blog that’s my go-to site whenever inspiration strikes and we’re looking for arts and crafts ideas.   I have tried several of her ideas (and I’ve been inspired for many more – they’re on our list!) and a couple of them have been duly noted right here on 4Mothers.

Largely because I have enjoyed and benefited from The Artful Parent as much as I have, when Jean put out a call for people to review her eBook, I found myself writing her a note (I do quite of lot of editing for my day job).  And so I became part of her editorial team, and had the pleasure of a sneak preview into the book, which is filled with myriad ways to mark and celebrate autumn.  There are beautiful crafts, recipes, ideas for celebrating the fall, Hallowe’en, and Thanksgiving, along with a suggested reading list for children.

As I’ve come to expect from Jean’s work, The Artful Year Autumn is filled with creative and fun projects.  The only thing that surprised me was how much she managed to fill into it – it’s a great value at only $9.99.   However you feel about the season that is just now knocking on our doors, you will have a better appreciation for all it has to offer after perusing Jean’s eBook.  It’s truly lovely, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Spinning Art with Boys


For Christmas, my husband got me a salad spinner.  Yep, he did.

Anyway.  I’ve never had a salad spinner myself, because I don’t like single-purpose kitchen tools if I can avoid it, especially one so bulky, and also because I’ve never felt the need for wicking water off my salad greens.  But hubby noticed I was enjoying salads more lately, and so he thought it might be nice.  He had also forgotten to take the price tag off, and the spinner proudly displayed $40.   It’s true that it was made of a special safe plastic and was collapsible, but wha…?.  I tactfully asked, and he agreed, and the spinner was returned.  (For the record, he then got me a pair of skates – yay!)

But it must have triggered a tucked-away memory of an art project, because several days later I was in a thrift store looking around, spotted a bunch of salad spinners, and remembererd their possibilities.  So I bought one ($2).  Not for salads, but for spin art!

My boys and I just tried it, an idea from the Artful Parent, which is a blog teeming with accessible art activities for young children.  Spin art is totally satisfying, almost mesmerizing work.  To make it, basically you put a circular piece of paper in a salad spinner, plop some paint on it, and spin away.

I had to post about it here for two reasons:

1.  You only need 3 things:  a salad spinner, paint (we used tempera paints), and paper.

2.  It’s a great art activity for boys, and mine (5 and 3) worked at it together, in harmony, for almost an hour.

Each of these reasons needs a little elaboration.  Reason #1 needs elaboration because, well, this isn’t exactly true.  Because of course you need a place to do the art, some smocks or clothing you don’t mind getting paint on (or just turn clothes inside out), and scissors to cut the paper into circles to fit the salad spinner.  But most of us have these things, so the project still counts as accessible! The most important thing to add to this point for the non-salad spinning types out there is that you need a container of some kind to put under the salad spinner or you will be flinging paint all over the room!  I hadn’t realized this at first, but thank heavens before we started painting, the boys were playing with the spinner with pompoms dipped in water (please don’t ask) and I saw the water everywhere.   I used a large circular cake pan as the paint catcher and all was well.

As for Reason #2, of course this activity will engage girls also.  But it’s especially nice for boys (and at 4Mothers, we have boys, boys, and more boys) because there’s a lot of action in making this art.  First, they can shake up the paint in the bottle (warning:  ensure the caps are on tight!) and shake like their lives depend on it, they will.  Then they can undo the cap and squirt the paint on themselves with just a little guidance to avoid pouring too much in.  They can return the lid to the spinner, and of course they get to spin away.  My 3 year old could do all of these steps comfortably, and the full participation was great for him.  Also, his older brother was able to cut circles out of the paper while he waited for his turn, and wrote his and his brother’s name on them.  Which was really helpful, because it is very hard after the first few to remember who made what.

And a couple of miscellaneous thoughts…  First, thicker paper works better.  We used both paper plates and regular paper, and the plates worked better, with less curling around the edges once the paint dried.  And second, I only had one salad spinner and was initially sorry I hadn’t picked up another one.  But as it turned out, I actually think it worked better that the two boys had to share.  The wait added a bit of anticipation but was short enough not to cause frustration, and they got to watch and enjoy each others’ work.

Neither of my sons is particularly interested in sitting quietly and drawing pictures, but I’m convinced they can enjoy making art all the same, and this action-packed art project hits the spot.  The room was full of excitement (“My turn! My turn!”), curiosity (peeking into the hole at the top of the salad spinner while spinning), and encouragement of each other (“Wow, that looks great!”).

That was pleasure enough for me, but as a final bonus, we are making a mobile out of the artwork for their infant brother.  I hope seeing their artwork floating above the diaper table gives them the same pleasure it gives me, and I’ll be asked to give that spinner another whirl.


A Kids Craft Activity You Can Actually Do

If you have spent any time at all in the blogosphere of crafty mothers, you will know that it is overflowing with beautiful and innovative ideas for crafting with children.  As for me, I am helplessly drawn to the crafty creations of the natural living flock, and am constantly impressed by the artistry in the wood and wool crafts.

As anyone who has actually tried to replicate these crafts will tell you, though, they are almost invariably harder to do at home than they appear on the screen.  First, you have to have the supplies (the getting of which can be tough, as I’ve discovered especially with the natural materials I like so much), and then you need to make space and time, which you’re likely to underestimate because who properly accounts for prep time and clean up with small children except their teachers?

Having said all that, I’m not a craft naysayer – not at all.  Actually, I go through quite a bit of effort to ensure that I do some crafting and creating at home with my boys because I value it so much.  But I’m aware of how much effort goes into some of these endeavours, and I know how divided a mother’s time can be, so I’m always on the prowl for easy kids crafts too.  Partly for my own sanity, but also to make a pitch to other parents who might enjoy this version of quality time with their kids but don’t have tons of energy or time to throw at it.

Enter marshmallows and toothpicks. That’s it!

As I discovered this idea from the Artful Parent, with just these two items, you are set up for some serious fun with your kids.  You poke the toothpicks into the marshmallows and see what structures you can make.  If you get different sized marshmallows (highly recommended!) or the coloured ones, you can make some really interesting things.  The Artful Parent suggests stale marshmallows, which might make them sturdier, but I just used fresh ones and they were fine too.

This activity works for a wide age range.  Older kids (and adults) will be able to make quite impressive towers and bridges, but it’s really nice and inclusive for toddlers too, as they’ll be able to poke their own marshmallows and make something too.

Clean-up is a snap and there basically isn’t any prep to do.  And of course you can recycle the marshmallows afterward for rice crispie squares (also an easy make with little people).

It’s not very natural living or Martha Stewart or whatever, but it is do-able, and it’s rare that I’ve gotten that much successful and fun making time with my boys for so little effort.  It’s nice to drool over the creative crafting of the web; it’s better to do what you can when the screen is off.

Do you have any easy crafting ideas to share?