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Free At Home Resources to Help You Survive Social Distancing With Your Child

Free At Home Resources to Help You Survive Social Distancing With Your Child

How has your week been?

Ours has been super busy!  We were not prepared for the announcement that the AOTA conference would be cancelled, crushing our chances to meet and talk with therapists and other educators.  

We also were not prepared for the news that schools would be closed and I would be working from home with my 4 year old by my side for the next month. 

As we moved into our new homeschooling life, I began scrambling for resources to help keep my preschooler engaged, still having fun and learning, and still find time to get MY work done, because my college students I teach were going to online delivery next week! 

I was so heartened to begin to receive emails from different educational companies and learn that that they were making their sites and services free through the summer, in response to the COVID virus complications.  Celebrities, artists, authors, and educators all began to share content and videos for our children to engage with.  We have been loving the virtual field trips to the Cincinnatti Zoo, Lunchtime Doodles with Mo Willems, and the free Scholastic book resources!  I've linked them here in this email. 

Something I came across was museums were putting some of their artwork into printable PDF's that you could then color.  How great, I thought.  This would be perfect to go with the virtual field trips to the museums I saw.  However, when I saw the actual artwork that was chosen for the prints, I wasn't so excited anymore.  What child would want to color this, I thought.  So I decided to create our own resource giveaway for our children at home.

First, check out one of our blog posts we did to help educate children on artists and get them to experience creating different artwork.  Find out how to "Paint some memories" with your children and learn about Matisse. 

Now the exciting part! Remember how disappointed I was with the selection of free printable artwork? Well, probably because we already created an incredible coloring book called "My First Masterpieces" already and I am biased to anything else.  For this week till March 27th we will be giving away a FREE copy of our coloring book with EVERY ORDER.  Now you and your child can learn about and love more art and artists every day you are home together.   

You will get a FREE coloring book with every order - even if you order a bundle, which already contains a coloring book, you will get a second one FREE.  We will send your your free coloring book with your shipment. 

Check out our site, shop our new pen grip, with textured and soft options, and get your coloring book today! 

Stay safe and be well. Till next time,

Nancy 

Merry and Bright!

Merry and Bright!

The holidays are upon us and that means cookies, candy, presents, decorations, and ribbon galore!  When I was teaching elementary school, I loved this time of year (yes, I know all you teachers are shaking your heads in disbelief right now.)  I know, I know, students are filled with excitement and struggle to stay focused with so much going on.   In the midst of holiday parties, concerts, and crafts, it’s enough to make your head spin!

Now that I am in higher ed, and don’t get the chance to do half as many crafts, (though I’m sure my college students wouldn’t mind trading a lecture for a craft), I look forward to the time I can spend with my son creating and living the spirit of the holiday season.  He absolutely LOVES everything about Christmas and would sit for hours making paper snowflakes if I let him.   I’m sharing with you all today some of the fun we have had decorating and crafting together these past two weeks. All our activities are simple, easy, won’t break the bank, and help your toddler practice their fine motor skills!

The first activity is a really simple tree craft.  All you need is a paper plate, markers, crepe paper or tissue paper, and basic decorations like pom poms, stickers, and jewel beads.  You start by cutting the paper plate in half and then take that half and cut it into thirds.  These thirds are then assembled and glued into a three-part tree.  Have your child color the tree, and then add any decoration they want.  My favorite is having them rip the tissue paper (great for fine motor) and pinching it and gluing it on to make the tree a little 3D.  Punch a hold at the top to make it an ornament or glue a magnet on the back and showcase it on your fridge.  Lots of creative possibilities with this one.



Next is one we just did today.  I call it “Merry and Bright” as I helped my son make colored thumb prints around a black swirly light strand to create his own “twinkle light painting” on canvas.  With a small white canvas and some acrylic paint, you and your child can make your own strand of holiday lights.  I started off by drawing a swirly line with a permanent marker (he’s only four, your child may be able to do that if he or she is older), draw some small sockets, and then have your child dip and press their thumb around the black strand to create colorful lights that will surely dazzle.  Crayon Kid made his masterpiece for his grandparents.  Handmade art is a great present for the ones you love. All you need is some paint and some imagination!

Lastly, we spent the day today finishing up our decorating.  We finally got the tree finished as well as spent some time decorating our windows with holiday decals.  I never thought about this, but these are great for fine motor skills as our kiddoes have to pinch and press to get the decals off the paper and onto the glass, and your child is working on a vertical surface the whole time, which also is really great for strength and stability.

I’ve loved sharing some of our holiday fun with you. I hope it inspires some holiday crafting magic in your house.  These everyday crafts and activities are so great for our kiddo’s development, and they are fun!  No worksheets here!

I wish you all a very blessed holiday season.  We want to thank you for following us and supporting us in our endeavors to bring art and accessibility to others.  We can’t wait to see you all in the New Year. 

Happy Holiday’s from The Effortless Art Family,

Jason, Nancy, and Crayon Kid

 

Are You Ready to Relax?

Are You Ready to Relax?

     It's back to school time! Time for new supplies, new clothes, new teachers and classrooms, and high hopes for a positive new school year!  I remember always feeling a little "jittery" come back to school and a little nervous with all the unknowns that lay before me.  This is par for the course for many of our kiddos and usually these bouts of anxiety fade away within the first couple of weeks of the school year.  As a former elementary school teacher, I can attest that the teachers were just as nervous as the parents and children!

     But what about those students whose anxiety doesn't fade and who many struggle to regulate and calm themselves when they are over stimulated by their classroom environment?  As a special education teacher, I tried to have "sensory toolkits" set up in my classroom for my students to prepare for their sensory or anxiety needs.  But each child is different and they really benefit from personalized approaches.  Plus, my classroom was one environment.  What about those times when I did not see them, like the bus ride to and from school, or those tricky transitions to and from lunch and recess?  I talked to many parents who needed those same materials and tools at home and for their travels as well.  

     My students really needed a cool, hip, sensory travel pack that they could take with them, looked like a typical backpack, and still was functional for their needs.  I came across The Relax Pack when we were exhibiting at the AOTA conference in April this year, and I remember thinking, "Wow, if only I had this when I was teaching!"  The Relax Pack was created by pediactric occupational therapist, Aparna Guttery, who specializes in treating children with sensory processing differences and special needs. She designed this backpack to help support children with:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • ADHD/ADD
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Anxiety
  • And for ALL children in need of extra comfort

     Aparna knew the children she worked with and so many others deserved more effective and discreet tools to help support them being their best selves.  The easy accessibility of these tools are perfect for our kiddos to have on hand to help them overcome those challenging times with with success. Some of these unique patent pending features include a Hug Belt, which is a built-in neoprene compression belt for soothing deep pressure, Fidget Strips, which are interchangeable and removable sensory strips to fidget with, and D-rings to attach chewies to the RelaxPack so you will never lose them again! 

In addition, the backpack has:

  • A headphone port to play comforting music
  • A built-in protective tablet and phone sleeve
  • Mesh pockets for water bottles and to store Fidget Strips
  • Clip to hold keys
  • Built-in pouches and pockets to keep organized.

     I absolutely love this backpack and know it would have been so beneficial for my former students.  Our goal when serving students is to meet them where they are, understand their needs, and work to remove the barriers that are preventing them from succeeding.  Sensory regulation, attention, and anxiety are challenges that many students will face in one capacity or another at some point in their school experience.  RelaxPack is made to help students navigate and overcome these challenges with  "fun and function."  You can learn more about this produce and Aparna on her website, www.therelaxpack.com.  You can use code RELAX10 until October 1 for $10 off your purchase. 

Have you tried RelaxPack? Do you have other sensory tools that you love?  Comment and let us know about either below.

Till next time,

Nancy