Product Review: Effortless Art Crayons

With preschoolers, the go-to project for us is usually one that involves coloring. Our little one, who isn’t so little anymore, has been coloring since she was about one. We started with the large egg crayons, moved on to the triangular crayons and now she is a pencil/crayon/marker holding pro! All of these writing/coloring tools have definitely done their job and have helped LC strengthen the muscles in her hand, which has given her the wonderful pencil grip that she has today. Out of all of these tools, our favorite, and in my opinion, the most effective tool, was the triangular shaped crayons. The triangle shape really helps little ones get a good grip on their crayon, which then helps strengthen the muscles needed for future pencil grip, and it also prevents the crayons from rolling away.



As you may know, starting in August we will be opening up our home to two other preschool aged children to begin our Tot Preschool Program. This is an opportunity for us to begin our homeschooling journey, while also allowing LC to make a few friends and build relationships with them. For this program, I have created a “curriculum” for our year together based on what I know every child will need when they go to Kindergarten. You know, the basics; colors, letters, shapes, numbers, counting, etc. We have already started having one of our Preschool Program friends join us during the week. Jack is a sweet little boy and Lyanna has really taken to being his “teacher”.

We have decided to dive right in with Jack and start our learning journey by exploring, creating, and growing. Every child is different. Jack and LC are no exception to that rule. One of the areas that they differ in is how they hold a writing/coloring tool. With Jack, we are working with strengthening his hand muscles. So, given our success with the triangular crayons, that is the first tool I pulled out for him to work with. AND THEN…. I received a message from a company called Effortless Art Crayons. They wanted to know if I would be interested in trying out their product and giving my honest opinion. The product they wanted me to try? Triangular crayons! I happily agreed and impatiently waited for my package to arrive….

After ripping open our package, my daughter and I had the same reaction… OOHHH! The crayons were beautifully packaged, but the bright colors and cool shape really impressed us both. Of course she wanted to use them right away, but I was impatient and opened them right before bed time, so that was a temporary No. Fast forward to Monday morning, we were both ready for Jack to get here so we could try out our new crayons!

Once we were all set and ready to go, I set the box of crayons in between the kids and told them to have at it! I gave neither of them direction on how to hold their crayons, what they were expected to do, or where to start. I wanted their true and honest reactions and opinions about the crayons. I also wanted this to be another experience where they were free to explore! THEY LOVED THEM! The grabbed a crayon and got to creating immediately! Being that they are two and three year olds, they weren’t telling me how they loved the grip, or how smooth they colored, but I did notice that they BOTH were comfortably holding the crayons and coloring away!

I will admit that I did my fair share of “testing” as well and I have to say that, as an artist, I actually really enjoyed using these crayons. They remind me a bit of oil pastels in how smoothly they glide on paper, but without all the excess material and messiness. I also found the crayons to be the perfect size for little hands. They are smaller than traditional crayons which makes them ideal for those tiny little two year old hands we are currently working with!

I have to say that our favorite feature of these crayons was the shape. The triangle shape does make them easy to grip and an excellent tool for refining those fine motor skills, but it also allows for easy coloring with either end! They can also be laid down on their side and used to create a really cool streak effect! I also LOVE the fact they these awesome crayons are made using 100% recycled materials. As someone who also runs an Etsy shop that produces recycled specialty crayons, I know how time consuming that process can be and it is much appreciated !

I would highly recommend these amazing crayons to every parent, teacher, babysitter, and caregiver. These crayons are perfect for young artists! The colors are beautiful, the size and shape make them a wonderful tool for little hands, AND they are green friendly! Be sure to check out the Effortless Art Crayons website to order your own set.

 

Exploring Our Ocean: Hands On Activities and Project Ideas

 

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Last weekend we finally got our little one her very own fish! We’ve been talking about it for months, but just kept talking ourselves out of it. It’s too expensive. Where are we going to put a huge tank? Do we need to worry about them when we go out of town? She’s going to get bored with it. What if it dies? LC and I stopped by PetSmart earlier in the week to entertain ourselves while we waited for the post office to open. She loves looking at the birds, hamsters, and, of course, the huge wall of fish. This time, I actually stopped someone and asked about what it would take to get a fish. After 30 minutes of questions, answers, and product suggestions, I made up our minds. WE ARE GETTING HER A FISH !

The nice lady that we spoke with suggested a Betta fish. Apparently they are the easiest fish to have and take care of since they don’t necessarily need a filter system. Which made me think of that poor goldfish on Elmo’s World….

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Meet ” Dragon Fish “, the newest addition to our family. Lyanna picked out his lovely tank ( which was on clearance ! ), some marbles, and an unnecessary plastic plant. $ 30 later and she was on cloud nine all day ! Since she has been obsessing over her new friend, I thought I could take advantage of this interest and spend some time teaching her about the ocean and some of the other creatures that live in it. We have been having tons of fun ! We’ve been reading all of our books about ocean animals, putting together sea creature puzzles, watching YouTube videos, and have, of course, been doing several different projects and activities. I really wish that we had an aquarium closer to us because I would love to take her there to finish out this unit. For now, we will just have to continue to browse through YouTube and play with our crafts. Below you will find a list of simple project ideas and hands on activities, complete with detailed instructions and linked supply lists. Enjoy !

Under The Sea Sensory Bin

This was one of our favorite activities this week! It’s super hot outside and very humid. This activity was great for letting us be outside and enjoying the fresh air, while also cooling us down. I say cooling ” US ” down because almost all of the blue water in the bin was all over me towards the end. Thanks to our time at the lake, Lyanna thinks it’s hilarious, and helpful, to splash me with water. This sensory bin activity was very easy to put together. Here is a list of what you will need to create your very own ” Under The Sea ” exploration:

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Tupperware Container or Bin ( Large )

Blue Gems

Blue Food Coloring ( or Liquid Water Colors ) 2 to 4 drops

Ocean Animals Figurines

Water

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Now just combine all of these items into your container, or bin, and let your little ones go at it! If you wanted, you could even add glitter or seashells to your bin. We did our play time outside for obvious reasons and I suggest you do so as well. The best part of play at this age is that it gets messy while they are having fun and learning! I told you, super simple ! Lyanna played with this for hours and we actually still have it set up in the garage for her. During her time playing in the bin, we talked about each one of animal figurines. We talked about what they were, what they ate, and any other characteristics we remembered about them from our reading and YouTube sessions.

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Here is another simple sensory play activity. Lyanna was given this awesome book for her birthday and she LOVES playing with the figurines that came with it. It features a short story and a large ocean scene fold out that she plays with the figurines on. We borrowed them for our activities this week 🙂 . For this activity, we reused our blue gems and figurines, but added some homemade playdough to explore with this time. Click here to check out our recipe for making your very own playdough. You only need 3 items that you probably already have in your house! Here are the items you will need for this sensory activity:

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Sea Creature Figurines 

Playdough 

Blue Gems or Marbles

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Lyanna has a newfound love for playdough and asks to play with it all the time! Playing with playdough is great for building children’s fine motor skills as it works their little muscles in the arms and hands. These muscles need a lot of training and attention, so squishing and rolling playdough is perfect for focusing on these developments. Adding elements to playdough play, like gems and figurines, is a great way to expand a child’s imagination and creativity. During this activity, LC “created” her own “fish tank” for her little plastic friends just like how we had done previously in the week with her new fishy friend, Dragon Fish.

Paper Bag Jellyfish

Out of all the videos we watched, LC’s favorite was definitely the jellyfish ones. She loved to watch them slowly glide through the water and their colors change with the light of the sun. Click here to view our favorite jellyfish video. We created our own jellyfish using a brown paper bag and some other supplies we had around the house. Below you will find the list of supplies you will need and the steps to take so you can create your very own jellyfish.

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Step 1: As promised, this project is super easy to do. We ended up making 6 of these little guys. The first thing to do for this project would be to have your little ones color their bags.

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Step 2: If you’re going to use glitter, or anything else that needs to dry, to decorate your jellyfish, I would do so now. Give it time to dry before moving on to the next steps.

Step 3: Glue on your cute googly eyes. We gave him some eyebrows. LC said that he needed them and I totally agree!

Step 4: Now, LC is still a bit intimidating by scissors and refuses to touch them just yet. Since Step 4 is the cutting portion of this project, I went ahead and did this step for her. If you have a child that is still perfecting there cutting skills, I would draw guiding lines on the bag for them to follow, like I have done in the pictures. Help your little ones cut on the lines and you’re almost there !

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Step 5: We scrunched the jellyfish’s “tentacles” to make them look more realistic. When I say “scrunch” I mean like how you do to your hair when you’re styling it. I can’t be the only one that still does that ! And now you have a new, not slimy, jellyfish to play, pretend, and explore with !

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These paper bag jellyfishes were definitely a big hit with our little one. She’s been holding on to them for days and protecting them from the dogs. Our dogs occasionally chew up her toys, so she is going the extra mile with her new jelly friends and making sure she is not putting them down for a second. At all. Now, on to the next super simple and easy project idea …..

Paper Roll Brucey

Okay, I probably could have come up with a better title for this project. I’ll work on that. This is yet another simple project to do with your children, but I would say the age group to complete EVERY step would be at least 3 or 4. There is cutting involved and the teeth portion can be a little tricky for little hands with emerging scissor skills. Lyanna happily colored the roll and pointed to where she wanting the eyes, but cutting small triangles out was just not happening for us just yet. For this project, you will need:

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Step 1: Color the paper towel roll with either the blue crayon or marker. For us, we used crayons and they created a very cool texture. It almost resembles that smooth, but “traveled” look all sharks have !

Step 2: Give your friend a mouth ! Cut two triangles out of one end of the paper towel roll. This is one of the parts I was talking about earlier that may be a bit tricky for little hands, but you could always draw guiding lines from them to cut on.

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Step 3: Using your blue paper, cut out three triangles. These will be for your shark’s fins. Glue these triangles to your sharks body. While the glue is out, go ahead and give him some eyes !

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Step 4: Using your white paper, create some chompers for your sweet toothless friend. Cut small triangles out of a strip of your paper. Now, you can choose to use your triangles as teeth and glue them on one at a time, or you can use the strip of paper that they were cut out from as your teeth ( That’s what we did and it was definitely easier ! )

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And now you have an adorable little shark! Unfortunately, this little guy didn’t last too long in our house. The dogs got it. I guess they either didn’t like the look in his eyes or they thought his eyes looked tasty. We’ll be making another one soon since someone keeps asking for her “sharky dude”.

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When I started planning out our week of sea creatures, I happened to see this cute video about creating a moving fish with just paper, glue, and scissors! This project idea came from Krokotak’s Facebook page and you can visit them and watch the video by clicking here. I would highly recommend you find it and watch it! For this project you will need:

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Step 1: For our moving fish, LC colored a piece of white paper for us to use. I thought some bright colors would make a cool design on our first fish friend.

Step 2: ( See Picture Below ) Fold the bottom right corner over to the left side.

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Step 3: ( See Picture Below ) You will be left with a rectangular piece. Cut this portion off, but safe it for later !

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Step 4: ( See Pictures Below ) Open back up your folded piece of paper. You’ll be turning this piece in to a kite shape. Once you fold and make your folding lines, open back up your piece of paper.

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Step 5: ( See Pictures Below ) Now fold your piece of paper back to the original folding where it was just a triangle ( Step 2 ). Now it’s time to cut and start to turn this into a fish ! View the pictures below to see where and how far to cut. Note: Make sure you cut all the way to the 2nd folded lines. If you don’t, your fish won’t move right. Trust me, I messed up the first time too.

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Step 6: ( See Pictures Below ) Open your piece of paper back up. You’ll be applying glue to first panel on the left in order to attach it to it’s matching counterpart on the other side.

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Step 7: ( See Pictures Below ) Now that you have your fish shaped, you’ll need to add some other little details to actually make him look more like a fish. I’ll wait until your finished playing with the fish…. I know, it’s cool ! Shape your fish’s head to look more like…. a fish’s head.

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Step 8: ( See Pictures Below ) Remember that rectangular piece you cut off in the beginning? The piece I told you to save? We need it ! Cut your fishy friend out some eyes, fins, and a bottom lip with this piece.

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Step 9: Add these little features to your fish’s body and you’re done !

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If you found this directions to be a little confusing, I would highly recommend viewing the video tutorial for this. You can find it here.

Well that ends our sea creature week. We hope that you enjoyed our projects and activities and hope that you were inspired to do at least one of them with your family. We had a lot of fun this week and it makes me sad to think we only a month or so left of summer 🙁 . As promised, here is a list of wonderful books all about different sea creatures:

Happy Crafting ! xoxo




Crayola’s ” My First ” Easy Grip Washable Markers

Product Review

Our little one turned two last week and for her birthday, she received many lovely toys, clothes, and other gifts. One of these gifts was a set of Crayola’s Washable Marker from their ” My First ” line. That word… ” washable “. HA! I’ve come to understand that word is defined differently by different people. It’s washable, meaning that bright red streak across your kid’s shirt will come out in the wash, MAYBE. If you treat it three times with Oxyclean, wash it more 4 times, light a candle, and pray. Just MAYBE.

I was a little cautious about trying these just yet, but once Lyanna saw them in her art basket, she wanted to use them immediately. I have to say, I did actually like these markers! I loved the bright pigments of the colors and how smooth they were. They reminded me a lot of dot markers. I will say that the one thing I didn’t like was how long it took to dry. With any other type of marker, you do have to give it time to dry before resting your hand on the ink. It seemed like it took a little longer to dry than other markers, but I would assume that is because they ARE washable.

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That’s right…. THEY ARE WASHABLE. In an effort to prove the packaging wrong, I let her color with these markers wearing her clothes still. I usually strip her down to her diaper, but I just wanted to test out this description. After washing it, and of course treating it with Oxyclean, the marks did come out. No trace of them! The description on the packaging also said ” made for little hands ” and I have to say that that is true also. Lyanna had no trouble gripping these markers and enjoyed coloring away.

I would highly recommend this product to anyone looking to color with their kids, especially the young ones. Now we didn’t let her color all over the carpet, I wasn’t going that far to prove if washable actually meant washable. I would still use caution when coloring on, or near, fabric items that can’t be put in the washing machine. If you would like to purchase these markers, there is a link at the beginning of this post or you can just keep scrolling 🙂

*** Please Note: This is a non-sponsored post. I am, in no way, paid for my opinion about this or any other products by the companies mentioned. ***

Click this image to purchase this item

Crayola’s ” My First ” Line Product Reviews

My daughter will be two years old soon. Just like her mother, she loves to color.  Or scribble really. So we have been stocking up on art supplies just for her. Some product I have come to love, while others have been hidden in the back of our closet. Crayola’s ” My First ” line has definitely been up there on my list of favorite product. Since this is a blog about arts and crafts for kids, I thought it was be fitting to also share some reviews of art products as well.

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First up is the Crayola My First Crayola Scribbled Egg Crayons. My first thought was that these eggs were adorable and they are big and chunky to match the baby’s fingers! As an educator, I know how important it is for children to learn how to properly hold a pencil. I see these crayons as the first step in that process. As advertised on the box, they were truly easy for her to grip and test out her scribbling abilities! Let’s be honest, most of us spend a majority of our day typing or touching to create text, but holding a pen in your hand is still a valuable skill ! I love this product ! They are a great ” first crayon ” for babies and toddlers.

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Next up is the Crayola My First Double Doodle Pad. Okay, now on to more “real ” crayons. I have always loved the triangle crayons for little ones just starting out and this kit comes with three of them. I have mixed feelings about this product. While I love how easy it is for my little one to color on the white board side, I hate how much you have to scrub to get the crayon OFF of the board. The other side of the board, the gel like side, is fantastic. It is truly mess free and I loved how she was able to engage in a quite sensory board !

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Conclusion: I would highly recommend both of these products for purchase for your little ones. Instilling a love of art at such a young age has many benefits and when products like these offer this experience with a minimum amount of mess, it’s a no brainer. You can find these items for purchase through the highlighted links above. The links will take you to Amazon ( LOVE AMAZON ! ), so if you have an Amazon Prime Account ( which you should ! ) you can get these items even faster and with free shipping.