real earth-friendly craft: making accessories from recycled tees

Photo courtesy of Bettijo B. Hirschi & Aimee Lowry.

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, reuse outgrown or even stained T-shirts to create colorful recycled necklaces, bracelets, headbands and more. In just minutes you and your kids can transform old tees into colorful and fun accessories—recycling has never been this stylish! Most T-shirts are made from stretchy knit fabric that does not fray, which makes it perfect for cutting up.

SUPPLIES: old T-shirts, scissors

INSTRUCTIONS: Gather a handful of old tees, particularly ones in bright colors.

Spread your T-shirt on a flat surface, and find the longest area of your shirt. (For most shirts this will be from the shoulder line to the waistline.)

Using sharp scissors, cut strips of fabric (about 1/2” to 1” wide) down the longest length of your shirt. This will create ribbon-like strips. Your cuts do not need to be perfectly straight, as braided jewelry is very forgiving. If you’re using small shirts, you may wish to cut along the bottom waistline, through both the front and back of the shirt at the same time. When you’re finished you’ll have a fabric loop that can be used as is or cut at the seam to make a flat strip.

Take three strips and knot together on one end, then braid through the length. It works best if you pull tightly, stretching out the fabric as you braid.

Once braiding is complete, cut to your desired length. Tie ends together to create a braided circle. Wear as desired.

You can also use these knit strips unbraided to make bracelets and headbands or to tie on a gift-wrapped package instead of ribbon.

Monthly “Real Crafts” are created just for RAK by Bettijo B. Hirschi & Aimée Lowry, the Arizona moms behind the family-style blog Paging Supermom. For more ideas visit pagingsupermom.com.


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Welcome to my garden! – a springtime collage

By John Bomhoff
Art Studio Manager, Children’s Museum of Phoenix

It’s Earth & Sky month at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. This project teaches children how a seed grows into a plant.

Ages: preschool & up.

Materials: brown construction paper or a brown paper bag cut into 6” X 9” pieces, tissue paper scraps, glue stick or white glue, scissors, birdseed, dried beans, peas and/or corn.

Instructions:

Choose a piece of construction paper and fan-fold it along the 9” side to create furrows to “plant” seeds in.

Create plants and flowers out of tissue paper.

Glue beans, seeds, and plants and flowers in the furrows.

TEACHABLE MOMENTS

Following April’s theme of “Earth and Sky,” we are focusing in the Art Studio on living a “green” lifestyle.  This is a wonderful art project using simple materials that introduces the young child to how a seed grows into a plant.

Any art project lends itself to integrating corresponding literature.  There are many fine books which have a garden theme.  Here are two of our favorites:  The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss is a treasured story of how childhood faith is rewarded.  It is ideal for the very small child. The Flower Ball by Sigrid Laube and Silke Leffler, French authors, is a story about vegetables who crash a ball hosted by some snooty flowers.

Here is an ideal time to review with your child some facts regarding how a seed becomes a plant:

1.  A seed needs soil, water, and sunlight to germinate or grow into a plant.
2.  The root grows downward in the soil to receive water and nutrients for growth.
3.  The shoot grows upward, reaching for sunlight.
4.  When the shoot reaches the surface it becomes a sprout.
5.  The sprout develops green leaves, becoming a seedling.

What a wonderful time to plant an actual garden with your child– even in a container pot!

ABOUT THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF PHOENIX

The mission of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is to engage the minds, muscles and imaginations of children and the grown-ups who care about them. With hands-on, interactive exhibits designed for children ages birth to 10, the Museum focuses on learning through play, with emphasis on early childhood education and school-readiness.

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is located at 215 N. 7th St. in downtown Phoenix, at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Van Buren in the historic Monroe School Building.

Bike helmets: Thinking past the driveway

Photo by Daniel Friedman.

By Vicki Louk Balint

Sixth grader Cathy Horning, 12, of Mesa, rides her bike to Ida Redbird Elementary School in Mesa, and home again, every day. She wears a helmet that fits her perfectly.

But she says she’s one of only two kids at her elementary school who does.

“The kids make fun of me like crazy,” she explains. “They say they’re too popular to wear helmets.”

Every three days a child in the United States is killed while riding a bicycle, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. Every single day, 100 children are treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related head injuries.

Pediatric Trauma Coordinator Jim Boise, R.N., CFRN, of Maricopa Medical Center, says that bicycle accidents and/or bicycle accidents involving an automobile account for roughly 10 percent of pediatric trauma cases at MMC. According to the Maricopa County Safe Kids Coalition, head injury is the leading cause of death in bicycle crashes and is the most important determinant of death and permanent disability. Proper helmet use reduces the risk of brain injury by about 90 percent.

Priscilla Horning, Cathy’s mom, can’t figure out why kids would tease her daughter for making the decision to protect her brain. But they do.

Priscilla says her family has a particularly heightened awareness of brain injuries. In the days before helmets were available, an older sibling of Cathy’s fell from a bike and hit her head, breaking her arm and two front teeth and sustaining a concussion. And because Priscilla’s brother survived brain cancer and now runs support groups for victims of brain injury, he’s inundated with information on what happens when kids get hurt.

“He deals with hundreds of people who have survived a bike, motorcycle or car accident, not just those with brain cancer,” says Priscilla. “It’s amazing what you learn.”

For the Hornings, bike helmet use as a health behavior is a given. But for other families, experts say, the tension of making a fashion statement or being “cool” often overrides the safety factor, especially among older kids. Parents who participated in the C.S. Mott poll say that the other barriers to helmet use include the cost, along with the fact that their kids “simply don’t like wearing one.”

David I. Rosenberg, M.D., has spent 25 years on the front lines, taking care of young patients soon after injuries first occur. As a pediatric critical care physician at the Arizona Children’s Center at MMC, Rosenberg sees the outcome of bicycle, all-terrain and other wheeled recreational vehicle accidents when young patients are admitted to the emergency department.

“Generally speaking, the ones who have the worst injuries weren’t using the proper safety devices,” he says. “Being on this end, to see children who come in dead, or with bad neurological injuries who will never be the same…it’s very frustrating as a pediatrician to have kids suffer life-altering trauma that could have been prevented.”

Although the most serious bicycle accidents often involve an automobile, children can sustain critical or even fatal head injuries simply by falling off a bike and hitting a vulnerable area of the skull—just over the ear or just above the spinal cord, for example. “It can be a minor fall,” says Rosenberg, “but a very serious injury.”

Bike helmets protect the head with a strong Styrofoam lining and an outer coating of polycarbon that absorbs a significant portion of the impact so that it is not transmitted to the brain.

Estimates from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data show that if all kids between the ages of 4 and 15 used a helmet whenever they rode a bike, 40,000 head injuries and about 50,000 scalp and facial injuries could be prevented every year. Helmet use is higher in states where helmet laws exist, according to the C.S. Mott poll; yet only 21 states have them. Arizona does not.

A helmet law would certainly reduce the number of children who are hurt or killed, says injury prevention specialist Tracey Fejt, R.N., but it shouldn’t take a law. “Parents should know that kids can die,” she says. “It’s head injuries we’re talking about. When we’re talking about bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller blades and roller skates, head injury is the number one injury. And we can’t fix your brain. Once it’s injured, it’s injured.”

Fejt organizes outreach programs through her work at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, visiting classrooms monthly to educate children on safety issues and prevention. As part of a partnership that incorporates this safety information into the curriculum, schools agree to call themselves “helmet-required schools” and Cardon Children’s provides all students with helmets—free of charge.

Does it work?

When Fejt began working with schools in 2008 with assistance from the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program, the percentage of kids using helmets was very low. “I had maybe a one percent rate of kids wearing helmets. And now we’re at 70. Am I going to reach everyone? Probably not. You’re going to always have those kids who think they’re 10 feet tall and bullet proof and don’t need helmets. But a lot of kids there wouldn’t have been in helmets if I hadn’t been here.”

Cathy Horning has been brainstorming ways to increase the number of kids at her school who wear bike helmets. Among her ideas: working with the student council to do a fundraiser to buy and decorate helmets, talking to her principal about a helmet rule for the school, maybe convincing just one or two popular kids to wear helmets in hopes they’d start a trend. “It’s really important to the school and to Arizona,” she says. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Priscilla is proud of her youngest daughter; she only wishes that parents would see the issue with the same clarity and concern as Cathy does. “People really don’t think past the driveway,” she says. “It is fun to have the wind blow in your hair—but it’s not worth it. If you hit a crack or dip in the road or try to avoid a car and you fall and hit your head on the curb, it could be the last thing you ever do.”

Homemade chocolate Easter bunnies

Photo courtesy of Lin Sue Cooney.

By Lin Sue Cooney

When I was a child, I could always count on my mom to put a chocolate bunny in my Easter basket. I couldn’t wait to bite off an ear to see if it was solid or hollow inside. The poor guy never lasted very long. He was devoured before breakfast with a mug of hot cocoa. Even back then I was addicted to chocolate! Though he was made of a rather bland milk chocolate, I thought it was a fancy treat.

Now that I’ve developed a taste for dark chocolate, those drug store bunnies just don’t cut it anymore. So I’ve learned to make my own.

All you need is a bag of candy melts that you can buy at Michaels. For a dollar more, I recommend the gourmet brand name Guittard, available at ABC Cake Decorating at 28th Street and Indian School in Phoenix. They come in dark chocolate, white chocolate, strawberry, lemon or mint (which smells and tastes just like a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie).

Fill a squeeze bottle with chocolate pieces and zap in a microwave 30 seconds at first, and then 10 seconds at time until the chocolate melts. Be sure to stir each time with a chopstick so it melts evenly. Then put the lid on the bottle and gently squeeze the chocolate into plastic bunny molds you can buy at Michaels, ABC or online. There are literally dozens to choose from, so you can have a cute bunny, an elegant one, big, medium or tiny.

Use a toothpick to gently push the chocolate to the edges of the impression. Lay completely flat in the freezer for five minutes, then invert onto a soft, clean dishtowel, tapping the edge of the mold lightly. The chocolate bunnies will drop right out. You can even find molds that hold a lollipop stick if you want a bunny sucker.

Make him extra fabulous by tying a thin ribbon around his neck. Then just wrap that darling bunny in a cellophane bag, tuck him into an Easter basket, and watch your kids hippity hop around the house with excitement.

Lin Sue Cooney is the evening news anchor at 12News and the mother of Taylor (26), Zach (23), Seamus (10) and Wen (9). She and her business partner, Cindy Leech, run Sweet-Stops, where they make specialty confections and host cooking classes.

Frog puppets that catch flies!

By John Bomhoff
Art Studio Manager, Children’s Museum of Phoenix

The  Children’s Museum of Phoenix teaches children about the life cycle of frogs with this clever craft.

Ages: preschool (with help) & up.

Materials: 6” or 9” white or green paper plates, stapler,  scissors, white glue, crayons,  green construction paper cut into 2” x 4” pieces, red construction paper cut into 2” X 6” pieces, red yarn cut into 8” lengths,  ½” X 1” pieces of black crepe or tissue paper.

Instructions:

Fold a paper plate in half.  Cut another paper plate in half and staple that half onto the first plate.  This makes a hand hold so you can hold onto the frog’s head to “catch flies.”

To make frog eyes, draw two elongated “n” shapes on two pieces of green paper with crayons.  At the tops draw eyeballs.

Cut out the eyes, fold up a flap on the bottom, and glue them onto the top of the half paper plate to create stand-up eyes.

Draw and cut out a long skinny tongue out of the red paper.

Take a piece of yarn, place it under the tongue, and glue this inside the mouth on the bottom of the paper plate.

Pinch a piece of black crepe or tissue paper in the middle to form a bow shape.  Tie this at the end of the yarn to create a “fly.”

Use crayons to decorate the frog – green spots, etc.

Put the frog on your hand and try to “catch” flies.

TEACHABLE MOMENTS

This is a wonderful project where your child can learn about the life cycle of frogs while making a toy that reinforces hand/eye coordination.  You can share the following poem as you show pictures of how frog eggs become tadpoles and then adult frogs.

Five Little Tadpoles

Five little tadpoles swimming near the shore.

The first one said, “Let’s swim some more.”

The second one said, “Let’s rest awhile.”

The third one said, “Swimming makes me smile.”

The fourth one said, “My legs are growing long.”

The fifth one said, “I’m getting very strong.”

Five little tadpoles will soon be frogs.

                                      They’ll jump from the water and sit on logs.

 

ABOUT THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF PHOENIX

The mission of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is to engage the minds, muscles and imaginations of children and the grown-ups who care about them. With hands-on, interactive exhibits designed for children ages birth to 10, the Museum focuses on learning through play, with emphasis on early childhood education and school-readiness.

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is located at 215 N. 7th St. in downtown Phoenix, at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Van Buren in the historic Monroe School Building.

real earth friendly craft: Fun and colorful jewelry from recycled tees

Photo courtesy of Bettijo B. Hirschi & Aimee Lowry

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, reuse outgrown or even stained T-shirts to create colorful recycled necklaces, bracelets, headbands and more. In just minutes you and your kids can transform old tees into colorful and fun accessories—recycling has never been this stylish! Most T-shirts are made from stretchy knit fabric that does not fray, which makes it perfect for cutting up.

SUPPLIES: old T-shirts, scissors
INSTRUCTIONS:Gather a handful of old tees, particularly ones in bright colors. Spread your T-shirt on a flat surface, and find the longest area of your shirt. (For most shirts this will be from the shoulder line to the waistline.)
Using sharp scissors, cut strips of fabric (about 1/2” to 1” wide) down the longest length of your shirt. This will create ribbon-like strips. Your cuts do not need to be perfectly straight, as braided jewelry is very forgiving. If you’re using small shirts, you may wish to cut along the bottom waistline, through both the front and back of the shirt at the same time. When you’re finished you’ll have a fabric loop that can be used as is or cut at the seam to make a flat strip.
Take three strips and knot together on one end, then braid through the length. It works best if you pull tightly, stretching out the fabric as you braid.
Once braiding is complete, cut to your desired length. Tie ends together to create a braided circle. Wear as desired.
You can also use these knit strips unbraided to make bracelets and headbands or to tie on a gift-wrapped package instead of ribbon.

—Monthly “Real Crafts” are created just for RAK by Bettijo B. Hirschi & Aimée Lowry, the Arizona moms behind the family-style blog Paging Supermom. For more ideas visit pagingsupermom.com

Chalk Silhouettes

By John Bomhoff
Art Studio Manager, Children’s Museum of Phoenix

The  Children’s Museum of Phoenix shares how to make a beautiful chalk silhouette of your favorite outdoor scene.

Ages: preschool (with help) & up.

Materials: 6” X 9” piece of bright colored construction paper, 6” X 9” scrap pieces of paper, 6” X 9” piece of black construction paper, colored chalk, scissors, glue sticks or white glue and pencils.

Instructions:

Choose a piece of brightly colored construction paper.

Take a scrap of paper and tear off a skinny edge the length of the long side of the paper.

Rub a heavy line of chalk on the ripped edge of the scrap paper.

Place the scrap paper on top of the colored construction paper so that they fit together perfectly.

Holding down on the scrap paper, rub the chalk off the ripped edge onto the construction paper.  Remove the scrap paper and you have now created a serrated line of chalk on the construction paper.

Tear off another skinny edge off the scrap paper, rub chalk on the edge, hold it on the colored paper, and rub the chalk off the scrap paper onto the colored paper.

Repeat the process until you reach the bottom of the scrap paper.  Remove it and notice the beautiful rows of chalk lines you have created.

On the black paper draw a simple outdoors scene.

Cut out your black picture and glue it onto the colored construction paper creating a silhouette.

TEACHABLE MOMENTS

silhouette  (sil’ oo et) noun, a representation of the outline of an object, as a cutout or outline drawing, filled in with black

This is a wonderful opportunity to inform your child that we have borrowed words from other languages to create our English language.  Silhouette has its origins as a French word.  In the 18th century, before the invention of cameras, artists created a silhouette of a person by cutting their profile out of black paper and mounting it on white paper.

ABOUT THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF PHOENIX

The mission of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is to engage the minds, muscles and imaginations of children and the grown-ups who care about them. With hands-on, interactive exhibits designed for children ages birth to 10, the Museum focuses on learning through play, with emphasis on early childhood education and school-readiness.

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is located at 215 N. 7th St. in downtown Phoenix, at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Van Buren in the historic Monroe School Building.