Mini Monets and Mommies

Friday, September 16, 2016

Up! eBook Launch: Creative Kids' Building Activities

Everything is looking Up! Yeah, I know – that was super cheesy. But seriously, I’m super-excited to be part of a brand new eBook. And yes, it’s called Up!

Kids' book

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So, what is this eBook and why do you need it? Up! has 30+ projects that include math, literacy, science art and play – with hands-on activities that help your child to make connections, get creative and ask questions. These activities have been carefully chosen to give you a wide range of explorations, across a variety of content areas, while incorporating play, imagination, math, literacy, sensory experiences and art!

Up book

Buy Now

Up! Includes activities from some of my favorite bloggers (and myself too!), and comes with 100 printables. The projects included are intended for children ages 4 to 10 years. This isn’t just a resource for moms and dads, it’s also a fantastic lesson planning reference book for early childhood educators. Each activity includes a materials list, step-by-step instructions and fill color photos (for some extra guidance).

What kinds of activities will you find in Up!? Well, there are plenty. You’ll find ideas to set up and develop block play, using blocks for math lessons, shape-building challenges, construction play invitations, art projects (Calder-inspired kinetic models and even upright weaving) and science projects (rockets, airplanes, parachutes, pulleys and more).
Kids' art

Up! launches September 16th, and is available worldwide for instant download. You pay via PayPal – which means that you can use any currency (and they’ll do the conversion). The price is $14.99. We have a special launch price for you. You’ll receive a 25% discount, that’s $11.25, for the first two weeks (until September 30). This is an eBook, meaning you’ll be sent a link that allows you to download a PDF file containing all of the resources. You can save the file to your computer or iPad. Read it from your device or print out the pages.

Building activities


While you can buy the eBook and download it onto some mobile devices, you may need special apps to do so (and to read it). If you have any doubts as to if your mobile device can handle the PDF, download the file to your computer first and then share it with your smart phone.
Buy Now

The Up! eBook is published and sold by Cathy James at Please direct any customer service queries regarding purchases of the eBook to or refer to the NurtureStore FAQ.

The Up! eBook is protected under
copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Monster Slime for Halloween

Monster slime! Halloween is coming up and you’re looking for kids’ activities that help your little one learn, explore, develop and best of all – have fun. And, that’s exactly why I love making the ooey gooey slimy stuff so very much.

Kids' science

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I’m all about slime-making activities. In the past, we’ve made underwater, solar system, feather and disco versions. One of my favorite things about this art-science activity (other than it combines art and science) is that my teenager still actually enjoys it! Even though my teen still thinks it’s cool (he might not ever admit it to his friends), this is a creative way for young children to build critical-thinking skills, explore science concepts and create.

So, you’re starting to think, “Eww! Slime? Isn’t that awfully messy for the kids to make?” Um, not really. This recipe is surprisingly simple, and impressively not messy. I’m not saying it’s completely clean. Come on, that wouldn’t be any fun at all, right? But, it’s not something that’s going to flow all over your family room. Okay, it’s completely possible that those itty bitty shreds of glitter will manage to embed themselves into every crease and crevice in your home. Does that really matter in the grand scale of things? Let’s just say this – don’t mix your slime up in the middle of your white living room rug, on your favorite dining room linen or anywhere that you’ll freak out if your kids get a few sparkles on.

Before starting, ask your child what she thinks will happen (in other words – make a prediction) when she mixes up the ingredients. As you go through the creation process, encourage your child to make observations (basically, she’ll tell you what she sees as it happens). When she’s all dine making the Halloween monster slime, sit back and let her play. One note: Let’s not give your very young child total freedom on this one. It is NOT taste safe. That means it should not go in, on or anywhere near your child’s mouth (nor should it go in your mouth, her brother’s or the cat’s). Always supervise your child while creating and playing with this monster-themed goo.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Fine black glitter

·        Purple glitter

·        Water

·        Liquid starch

·        Clear Elmer’s glue (do not use the white school glue, it will give the black glitter a gray look)

·        Googley eyes

Here’s What to Do:

1. Mix equal parts of the glue and water. I like to use ½ cup of each. You can use more or less, depending on how much you want to make.

2. Add the liquid starch. Mix in the same amount that used for both the water and glue. I used ½ cup, because I also used ½ cup for each of the other ingredients. Now the slime is getting – well, slimy!

3. Sprinkle the black glitter in. Keep pouring it in, and mixing it, until the slime is completely colored with it. Okay, so you can use a spoon or your child can sue her hands. I find that the hand-mixing option is the easiest – and most fun.
Science activity

Goop recipe

4. Mix a few pinches of purple glitter in too!
Sparkle project

5. Drop a handful of googley eyes in to make the slime monstrously fun.
Halloween crafts

You can store the play goo in a plastic ware container (with the lid tightly closed) or in a zipper baggie.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Halloween Finger Painting with Clay Kids' Art Activity

Finger painting? In your house? With your ivory walls and bone-colored carpet? Hardly. You want your child to explore and experiment with art. But, honestly, the mess scares you.

Halloween craft

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Hey, there’s no shame in the fact that you want to run the other way, screaming, when your little artist says, “Mommmmmmy! I want to paint. Now!” Seriously, who has time to wipe paint-covered finger prints from their walls, tables, chairs and floors?

Okay, so you’re thinking, “But, aren’t I supposed to let my child explore all things process-based?” Yep. I’m completely for it. I spent the better part of a decade bringing process art activities to parents and children as a museum-based arts educator. That said, as a mom, I totally understand the, “I don’t want that mess in my house” mentality. There were plenty of moms who brought their kids to our museum classes for that exact reason.

Sometimes you really don’t mind the messy art projects. But, even if it’s okay in your house – when you travel to grandma’s or take the kiddos to your in-laws, it might not be. That’s where painting with clay comes into play. Your kids can get a fine motor workout, explore different textures, blend colors and create a ‘finger painting’ without ever actually touching paint. Instead of the typical temperas, you’re going to swap in modeling clay!

Your child can try this art activity on its own. Or, you can add another layer to it and create Halloween art. How? Check out the easy (and almost mess-free) process…

Kids art
Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Soft modeling clay – I’m not saying you should go into the craft store and unwrap every box of clay. But, I have been known to feel a box or two (or more) of clay. I’ve also returned clay for being way too hard. It shouldn’t feel like a rock. If it does (or won’t spread at all) being it back.

·        Card stock paper or cardboard (cut the side off of a box)

·        Googley eyes

Here’s What to Do:

1. Pull the clay apart into dime-sized pieces. This makes it easier for your child to spread.

2. Finger paint! Your child can press the clay (piece by piece) onto the board. Then, she can use her fingers to spread it out. Add more colors to mix and blend them.

Kids' crafts
3. Press googley eyes into the clay, making a monster masterpiece for Halloween.

Children's art
Call it a monster, a ghost or whatever you want – it’s artsy Halloween fun!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kids' Painting Art Activities: Without a Brush!

Kids’ painting art activities require a brush, right? Not always! Sometimes it’s entirely possible to help your child get as crafty as she wants, without a store-bought ‘painting tool’.

Kids' art

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Okay, so you went out and bought a crazy-big pack of paintbrushes. You’re set! Or not. In something like 30 seconds your preschooler turned those brand new brushes into much-covered, crusty, sticky things that barely resemble anything that could be used for art-making. The bristles are bent and matted together, making it awesomely difficult to actually use them for anything at all.

It happens. A lot. When I taught children’s art classes, I was constantly helping the kids to keep their brushes in working order (obviously the museum where I worked frowned upon buying a constant stream of new ones). But, younger children always seem to have the desire to mash, smash and generally smush brushes onto paper. And, sometimes you’d rather let your little artist explore and experiment with painting art activities than sit next to him and say, “Please don’t break the brush.”

So, if you don’t have a brush left (and your child really wants to paint) or you’re just looking for something different to do – try this easy recycled option! Seriously. It’s low-cost and helps your child to get even more creative. He’ll have to figure out how to use the items that you’re giving him to create his artsy masterpiece! Your child will also get a fine motor workout (using the different materials to paint requires him to move his fingers and hands in different ways). If you do have one of those super-sticky brushes, you can also toss that into the mix. Why? Your child can use the other end (the handle end) to create paint-covered point prints or even roll the entire length of the brush (the handle and all) through the paint to make lines.
Child's art

Now, on to the art activity…

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Paper (we used card stock, but you could also use construction paper or poster board)

·        Scraps (really, any left-over art item—such as fabric, felt, tissue, cut pipe cleaners, cardboard, paper)

·        Tempera paint

·        Scissors

Here’s What to Do:

1. Gather the scraps together. Your child can cut some of them into smaller sizes (if needed). He can also crumble pieces of paper or bend pipe cleaners, making new shapes to paint with!
Felt pieces

2. Pour the paint onto a palette. If you don’t have an actual palette, use a piece of thick cardboard or wax paper as an easy (and totally affordable) alternative. Use a rainbow of colors or create a color-mixing kids’ art activity by choosing only the primaries (red, blue and yellow).

Kids' crafts

3. Give your child a piece of paper to paint on. He can dab the scraps into the tempera, and then press them down onto the paper. He makes ‘brushstrokes’ with fabric, prints with pipe cleaners or anything else he can think up!
Kids' paint

Don’t worry if your child isn’t painting ‘something’. Encourage him to explore the process of painting. Doing so lets him make his own discoveries, while getting creative!

Children's art

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Purina Beneful Originals Has a New Formula, and We Have a New Healthy Recipe for You Too!

This shop has been compensated by CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewBeneful #CollectiveBias

Dog food is kind of a big thing in my family. With two Olde Boston Bulldogs that are, um – energetic to say the least – our little Oliver and Lulu need all the nutrition they can get. Seriously. It’s like having two toddlers running around. So, when I saw that Purina Beneful Originals was reformulated I was all in!

Steak Veggies
I’m going to admit something – for many, many years, I wasn’t a dog person. I was totally a cat person. From our first cat (a tabby named Albert that we got when I was 7-years-old), I’ve always been all about felines. That was until I met my now-husband. He’d always had dogs and when we moved in together, that also meant moving in with Duke (his Shepard mix).

Fast forward 17 years, and we’ve had four dogs (including our current two) and one human (that would be our almost 15-year-old son, who by the way, is very much a dog person).
Puppy dogs
This brings me back to the nutrition thing. That’s why we feed our dogs Purina Beneful Originals. And, I’m glad we do! Why? Because now Purina Beneful Originals and IncrediBites has a new reformulation – with meat as the #1 ingredient and NO sugar added! It was actually created with dog owners in mind, using real feedback and relying on two years of research.

Obviously the dogs aren’t the only ones in the house who need a healthy diet. My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last spring. Now that the dog’s main dish is sugar-free, it matches pretty perfectly to my son’s new meal plan. Not that we ate a high-sugar diet (type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, and NOT a disease that is a result of lifestyle choices), but there’s always room for improvement. Healthy eating isn’t an option for us, it’s a must-do.

Okay, Ollie and Lu (our little nicknames for the dogs) get the good stuff with the NEW Beneful Formula! Dry Dog Food Reformulation – and they are incredibly happy about it (or at least they seem so, as they can’t exactly tell me). I love the idea that the new formula has meat as a main ingredient, and wanted to recreate a similar ‘meal’ idea for our family. With that in mind, I got a few steaks and an awesome array of fresh veggies. The result? A rainbow vegetable and meat recipe that’s a total parallel to the new Purina Beneful Originals. I can also take care of getting both meals (the Purina for our dogs and the ingredients for my family) at one place! The reformulated Purina Beneful Originals is available at most grocery stores and retailers such as Target and Walmart (and who doesn’t like getting everything in one easy shopping trip?).
Purina Benefuls

Before I get into the recipe specifics, I need to make an important point – this is not a dog food recipe. The new Purina Beneful Originals takes care of that. I treat my dogs to a tasty meal with it, so there really isn’t much else they need. One thing they certainly don’t need is ‘people food’. Are our dogs part of the family? Yes, of course they are. Do they sit at the table and eat with us? No, they don’t. People food isn’t made for dogs. That’s why our Ollie and Lu get their Purina Beneful Originals, and not the meal from our plates.

Also, dogs often have sensitive stomachs. Our little Lulu certainly does. Even though we’ve been feeding them Purina brand food for what seems like forever, we didn’t want to just dive right in with the new Purina Beneful Originals. We started slowly adding it to their existing diet. This let them get used to the new formula, without giving them any tummy issues. Eventually we phased out the old food, and were able to completely feed them the new one.

Okay, okay, and onto the recipe. And, by the way – it’s totally simple. I’m not exactly ready to audition for Top Chef. So, this is easy enough for even the novice to try. But, it’s still super-healthy, completely colorful and tasty.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Steak -- look for a thick cut or if you want to go the easy, non-slicing route, get cubed steak from your butcher’s section.

·        Rainbow veggies – pick whatever’s in season (I used yellow, green and red peppers, zucchini, beets and radishes).

·        Fresh mint

·        1 lemon

·        Olive oil

·        Skewers (the shish-kabob kind)

Here’s What to Do:

1. If the steak isn’t cubed already, cut it into cubes.

2. Put the steak into a mixing bowl, and drizzle the olive oil on top.

3. Finely chop the mint. Add it to the mixing bowl.

4. Cut the lemon in half. Squeeze the juice into the mixing bowl.

5. Mix everything in the bowl. Cover with foil, and refrigerate for one hour (if it ends up being longer, that’s okay too).

6. While the steak is marinating, chop the veggies. If you’re using beets, slice them lengthwise.

Rainbow veggies
7. Add the meat and veggies (except for the beets) to the skewers. Alternate the meat with the vegetables.

Meat recipe
8. Grill the skewers (if you’re cooking beets, grill them separately) until the meat is completely cooked. Never eat raw or undercooked meat (you can pull off one cooled piece of meat from a skewer and cut it in half to make sure that it’s completely cooked).

Serve the steak and rainbow vegetables on the skewers or take everything off before you add it to the plate. That’s it! It’s so very simple. Maybe it’s not as easy as opening up a bag of Purina Beneful Originals.  But, like the Purina Beneful Originals reformulation, it spotlights meat in a refreshingly healthy way.

Benefuls Food
Are you ready to try Purina Beneful Originals new formula? Sign up for a free sample here.
What's your favorite healthy meat recipe? Share it with us in the comments section below!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Kids' Art Activity: Craft Felt Painted Collage Landscape

What kind of kids’ art activity are your little ones making today? If you’re not sure, this summer landscape idea combines fabric collage with painting – in a totally creative way (your kids’ creativity that is).

Children's art

Your child looks out the window, and what does she see? Go ahead, ask her. She’ll probably give you an answer that sounds something like, “Trees, plants, grass, sky and clouds.” Now ask her what colors she sees. Chances are she’ll say, “Green grass, a blue sky, a yellow sun, a green and brown tree.” Right?

This art idea doesn’t necessarily follow what your child actually sees. Instead, she can take what’s in front of her and change it – using her own imagination.

If the weather feels like cooperating, take your child outside. Have a seat under a shady tree in the backyard or get ready for a park-side art activity. If going outdoors isn’t an option, take a look out of the window.

Now, ask your child to draw what she sees using colored pencils, crayons or markers. She can create a realistic landscape, with the colors of nature.

After she’s done with the real-life drawing, it’s time to make another landscape. But, this time she’ll create a colorful version that is more imaginative than ‘natural’.

Craft project

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Card stock paper (thicker paper holds the collage and paint better than construction or drawing paper)

·        Scissors

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        Craft felt – in vibrant colors such as bright pink, red and aqua blue

·        Tempera paints

·        A paintbrush

Here’s What to Do:

1. Cut the felt into shapes. This lets you add in a math lesson to this kids’ art activity. Have your child name the shapes as you show them to her.

Kids' craft

2. Create a landscape, using the shapes. Your child can collage the felt onto the paper using the glue. This is like putting together a puzzle. For example, a tree is three rectangles in a line with a circle on top.

3. Let the glue dry.

4. Pour quarter-sized pools of paint onto a palette or a piece of wax paper (it works as an inexpensive barrier that keeps the work surface clean – or at least, cleanish).
Art activity

5. Paint the felt. Your child can add details or change the color of the felt. Mix the hues, making new ones too!

6. Paint the paper. Your child can add extra colors to the paper as well.

Kids crafts


Compare the two pictures – the realistic drawing and the painted collage. Ask your child to tell you what the differences are and why she choose the colors and shapes that she did!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Oil and Water Kids' Art and Science Experiment

Okay, so we all pretty much know that oil and water don’t mix. But, does your child know? This kids’ science exploration also doubles as an easy art activity!

Children's art

To be honest, this activity didn’t exactly turn out as planned. The beginning idea was to explore marbling paper – with regular ol’ items that you’d have in your kitchen. That said, it didn’t go so well. The marbling part never really happened.

That’s okay. If I had a penny for every failed art activity – well, you can figure out the rest. Art activities don’t always come wrapped in a pretty little box with a perfectly curled ribbon on top. They can be messy and they often have completely unexpected results. But, that’s the joy of art!

This combines both art and science into one discovery-oriented activity. Start it off by making a few predictions. Ask your child what he thinks will happen when he adds the oil to the water. Will it mix into one new liquid? Won’t it? Why or why not? You’ll be adding food coloring later. When you get to that step, stop and ask him to again predict what will happen.

Keep in mind, this is an exploration and not a project where your child ‘make something’. Snap a few pics along the way. This gives you something concrete to remember. It also allows you to document the process. Print the photos, hang them up and use them as a starting point for a discussion later on. You won’t have an actual concrete ‘project’ to talk about, so doing this lets you reinforce the learning – even after clean-up time.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        A shallow pan – we used a shallow pie pan

·        Water

·        Veggie, olive or canola oil

·        Food coloring

·        Something to stir with – we used a chopstick, put you can also use a spoon, a straw or a stick

Here’s What to Do:

1. Fill the bottom of the pan with a shallow layer of water.

2. Drop a few drops of oil into the water. Watch what happens.
Science experiment

3. Stir the oil. Again, watch what happens. After your child has made a few observations, add some more oil to see what happens.

4. Drip food coloring into the oil and water. Start with the primary colors if possible (red, yellow and blue). Drip the first color in. Watch what happens. Drip in the next, and so on. Let your child see what the colors do, before he starts stirring. Observe, and talk about how they move and if they mix or don’t. Let him to tell you why he thinks this happens.

art activity
5. Stir the colors. Start slowly, seeing what new colors come from the primaries. Ask your child to tell you what he thinks will happen if he continues to stir them.
Color mixing

6. Keep stirring.

Science exploration
Make a point of exploring how the water and oil affect the color mixing. You can add to this kids’ science and art activity by making a second pan that just uses water and food coloring (in other words, don’t add the oil). Compare and contrast how the two are different, asking your child why he thinks the liquids behave the way they do.

How did your child’s oil and water color mixing experiment turn out? This is what happened to ours! Tell us what happened with yours, and share your child’s art and science experience in the comments section below.
art activity