POSTPONED AND RESCHEDULED:Exploring Tibetan Culture with Sand Mandalas


Exploring Tibetan Culture with Sand Mandalas








Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Homeschool Wednesdays

I thought I would share some of the activities we have been up to recently in our homeschool coop. My daughter and  I recently read the book “Me on the Map” by Jane Sweeney. A very simple and sweet book that encourages the cartographer in everyone! A great introduction to the world and maps. Thus this lesson plan was created. First we read the book………..It was a hit! Next I gave the group a list that looked something like this

  •  A airport
  • A dump
  • A train track/station
  • A residential street
  • A CSA
  • A soccer field
  • A horse farm
  • A pond 
  • A hospital
  • A school
  • A church
and a bucket of toys. Their task was to create a village / town that included all the above. Once the town was created, they were given a large piece of paper and some markers to draw a map of the town. Once this was completed I pulled out this 24 piece “Our world floor puzzle” made by Barefoot books which they worked together to complete. Once completed with talked about the Countries and the Continents and looked for various sites that were pictured on the puzzle.
The next book was 

“My Granny Went to Market A Round-the-World Counting Rhyme” by Stella Blackstone
Next we began making a”Papier-mâché” globe.
What is “Papier-mâché” you ask?
It is French for “chewed up paper!”
We began layering a balloon with our newspaper scraps and using a simple flour water paste to adhere. Once this dried it was painted to look like a globe.
The last activity we did was play a round of “Great States Jr” 
Our group consists of 4-7 year olds. We are presently looking for a few more families to join us.  


Published in: on January 18, 2008 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  


Want to be part of the craft fair and do not know what to make here are some ideas…..


Everyone needs wrapping paper, cards, gift tags and boxes for the holidays! All you need to get started is newsprint, cardstock paper, used magazines, small boxes, paint, crayons, rubber stamps, and embellishments in holiday colors. Then gather the kids and let them go to town!

These can be decorated and embellished several ways:

Wet on Wet Watercolor
Wax Crayon Resist (First example; Second example)
Stamping using foam stamps or rubber stamps or even creating/carving your own

Try making sets. A set of 6 matching holiday cards and envelopes. Or make an embellished set that includes an envelope, card and wrapping paper. Take the opportunity to talk about patterns and repetition, technique and style.

Here are some links to inspire:

Creative ways to re-use old cards
Bird Beak Pop-up Card
Puzzle cards
Kids Craft Weekly Cards Issue

For a more advanced projects try making paper. Here are some links to get you started:

Make Your Own Paper, with Crafty Daisies and Mainly Zaz
Check out this Making Paper Tutorial
And this Making Paper Pictorial

Coasters : These can be made painting ceramic tiles. Cheap tiles can be purchased at home depot. I recommend sticking felt underneath them to protect furnature from being scratched. Another fun coater making method is decoupaging a tile with you favorite image. Remember to coat well with “modgepodge” to waterproof. Coasters can also be made with fabric, cardboard or cork……the opportunites endlesss. Try matching a coaster with a teapot cozy? or placemat?

Another open ended simple gift is making Photo Frames. Again try decoupage you can use old photos, newspaper /magazine clippings, used postage stamps, special finds from your nature walks, kids art etc

For a fun project try “Tomato Can Stilts” click here for a tutorial

Here are a few more ideas with tutorials for older children:

A crayon roll tutorial (for the older child) You could also try a pencil roll or marker roll, or a knitting needle/crochet hook roll, or a needle holder book.

Felted notebook covers

Please do not forget to let us know that you would like to be part of this kids craft show. For APPLICATIONS please email me at and I will email you all the pertinent info. Thanks.

Published in: on November 15, 2007 at 4:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pumpkins Pumpkins everywhere!


Pumpkins in the cornfields,
Gold among the brown,
Leaves of rust and scarlet
Trembling slowly down;
Birds that travel southward,
Lovely time to play;
Nothing is as pleasant
As an autumn day!
(Carmen Lagos Signes)

(Water colour activity: Sit children at their art table. Place a damp piece of watercolour paper in front of them. Tell this poem 3 times. Then place a small amount of red and some yellow water colour paint infront of them. Give them a paint brush. Retell the poem as they begin to work)

There are a plethera of books on Pumpkin some much better than others! Here are my two current favorites:

Pumpkins by Ken Robbins

Pumpkin Circle:The story of a Gardenby George Levenson

Here are a few links to fun Pumkin activities: (click on the words creatures, snakes, owls and celetrial below for activities)

Pumpkin Creatures: SnakesOwls and some celestial pumpkins! And here is an owl one.

and here is a recipes for “Autumn Spice Play Dough

1 cup water
1 T. oil
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Orange food coloring (2 parts yellow to 1 part red; paprika or carrot juice also make a
nice natural yellow dye)
Mix together over low heat. Knead when cool, adding more flour if needed.

Published in: on October 21, 2007 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Collage Workshop Fun

zoe’s collage

Originally uploaded by HerbalT

tony’s collage

Originally uploaded by HerbalT
Published in: on October 18, 2007 at 3:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interview with an artist:

Mischa Epstien Alvarado

How did you become an artist?
I actually was taking some time off to stay at home and started cutting paper and here I am. My first piece was Moon Grazing.

Did your family encourage you?
My family has always been behind me 100% between my Wife , Parents and Siblings I always have someone helping me at a show or event. It always feels like I have an entourage. It’s a great experience to be so supported.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Springfield, MA. When I was younger I spent alot of time at the Quadrangle. They had the library and a lot of museums and it was alot of fun. By the time I was 12 I was an assistant camp counselor. It was the most fun I ever had working at any camp.

Do you have any siblings?
Yes, three. I have an older Brother who is 39 named David, an older sister who is 34 named Audra and a younger brother who is 19 named Max. My older brother has two children who both commissioned Original pieces of artwork for their birthdays this year.

What is a collage?
For me a collage is a piece of artwork made of many pieces. No matter if the pieces are string or news paper clippings or bright paper.

Describe how a piece comes together for you?
For me a piece comes from many places. I did one piece that was inspired by the neon lights outside of A to Z in Northampton. It was this really cool image of a green frog catching a bug with its tongue.

Have you ever made paper?
I’m just starting to get into making paper. It’s quite a process!

What was your favorite subject in school?
To be honest I loved writing and literature. I never thought I would be a visual artist. My plan was to be a director.

Is there an artist who really inspires you?
I don’t think one artist in particular inspired me I think pieces of artwork do.

What is your favorite picture book?
My favorite picture book of all time is called On The Day You Were Born. It’s about the whole world rejoicing about new life.

What is you favorite color?
Wow! That’s a hard question. I don’t think I have one. There are combinations of colors that I really like. I love hot pink with bright orange and lime green.

Tell us about your favorite piece you have made?
My favorite piece is called When Ships Pass In The Night. It’s actually sold really well. It’s ships passing in front of mountains. It was inspired by when my wife and I both worked during Christmas and we worked completely opposite times of the day. That’s the piece that matters most to me and I think that’s why people love it so much.

“When other artists see a tube of red paint they see a fire truck,
When I see a piece of red paper, I see that same fire truck.”
Mischa Epstein Alvarado

Published in: on September 3, 2007 at 1:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Spring Tea Party!

Here is a reprint of an article I received by email…..I just loved it…..

Dear Teachers,

Every spring this is my favorite class activity! I wanted to share it with you because “my kids” enjoy it so much…

When I was a child I used to think bunnies and flowers and eggs were all about Easter. Then I moved to the Middle East. In Egypt, every year, Christians and Muslims celebrate spring together using the themes of flowers, bunnies and eggs! In Iran, the New Year falls on the first day of spring every year and is a national holiday. They celebrate by creating nature tables of springtime items such as wheat grassgrown in little pots, goldfish swimming in small bowls, shiny coins, colored eggs and flowers. Two years ago I visited Iran during No-Ruz (the new year) and was amazed at the variety of nature tables I saw at all the hotels, restaurants and homes! Now, when I plan my April crafts I don’t limit the bunnies, flowers and eggs to Easter Sunday but I celebrate all month with these spring crafts – you might even find me
dying eggs in May! One of my favorite crafts is called “The Spring Tea Party”.

The general idea of the craft is that the children all get to make their
own herbal tea and THEN dye some eggs with that same tea! You can make
this a little silly if you want by making invitations for the eggs and
inviting them to the tea party. Or you can make this event completely
sacred and solemn. It is your choice what to do with the event. However,
here is the basic formula:

Spring Tea Party

Supplies Needed:

Rosehips tea (Pink Dye)
Blackberry tea (Purple Dye)
Cinnamon Tea (Orange/Brownish Dye)
Chamomile Tea (Green Dye)
Lavender Flower Tea (Blue Dye)
Turmeric Spice Tea (Yellow Dye)

SEE-THROUGH Tea Pots or Glass Jars or French Coffee Press

Boiled Eggs

Tea Strainer


1. Boil a pot of water

2. You will need a spoon of herb for each cup of water you put in the
pots, jars or coffee press so calculate how many spoons of herbs you
will be putting into the pots and divide this by the children you are
working with so each child can spoon the same amount of herbs into the

3. Teacher or parent should then pour the boiling water over the herbs
and let steep for ten minutes.

4. At this point the children can pour some tea to drink. Use small cups
so that they may “taste” a little of each one. Have sugar, honey and
milk available for them to add to the tea if they like. Depending on
which container you use you may need to strain the tea through a
strainer to pour it out and the children may need some help. But
don’t strain the tea and THEN serve it because we are going to leave
the herbs in the “pot” for the dying later!

5. After the tea-tasting party is over you can add boiling water to the
herbs in the pots again if there is not enough water left in them. The
pots should be at least ? full. You can also add more herbs for a
deeper dye.

6. Have the children drop the eggs into the tea pots – one at a time.
This usually results in giggles. Leave the eggs over-night. In the
morning you will have colored eggs! You do not need to use vinegar.

7. The next morning show the kids what happens when the eggs “drink the
tea” too!


Kristie Karima Burns, Mh, ND

Kristie Burns is an naturopath, herbalist and iridologist who lives in
Des Moines, Iowa. She offers herbal and natural healing classes online
and in your home or business (for small groups) as well as online
Waldorf lesson plans and summer school ideas. She also does online and
office consultations & iridology readings and runs a discount Waldorf &
natural living supplies Ebay store.

You can visit her website at:

You may re-print this article for distribution as long as you keep the entire article intact, including the information about how to contact me. Thank you!

Published in: on April 7, 2007 at 2:19 am  Comments (2)  

Easter Activities

Mud Season………the favorite time of year for many of our little people. Here are some links to projects with an Easter theme

Chalkboard Easter Eggs

Egg Shaped Sidewalk Chalk

Colorful Easter Basket and more-Martha Stewart

Serge a Sweet Easter Bunny

Bunny Doll Pattern

Bunny Pattern (OUTLINE)

Needle Felted Bunny

Happy Crafting!

Published in: on March 27, 2007 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

What do we do on snow days?

Great paper templates here!

PS. Her book “The Toymaker” is great!

Published in: on March 20, 2007 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Children’s Art Exchange w/Mutianyu China

Did you know that the town of Shelburne Falls has a sister village in China, Mutianyu? At the Childrens Art Museum in March the monthly theme is “Our Friends Around the World. We will be coordinating an art exchange with the children of Mutianyu where the artwork will be on permanent display at the schoolhouse there. Mutianyu welcomes approximately 1.6 million visitors a year as tourists pass through the village to visit the Great Wall.

Please submit your artwork by March 21st. We especially welcome artwork that shows aspects of life in the Hilltowns. It will be on display at the Children’s Art Museum until it makes its way across to China.

If you would like to read a little more about China here is a starting point…

Colors of China (Colors of the World) (Paperback)
by Shannon Zemlicka (Author), Janice Lee Porter

China ABCs: A Book About the People and Places of China
by Holly Schroeder (Author), Jeff Yesh (Illustrator)

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes by Nina Simonds (Author), Leslie Swartz (Author), Boston The Children’s Museum (Author), Meilo So (Illustrator)

Published in: on March 13, 2007 at 2:02 am  Comments (1)