Posts Tagged “creativity”

How to Encourage Creativity with Playtime Using Barbie and Other Toys

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Barbie Playtime Profile PicNothing like dedicating a whole Saturday to play and by play I mean… with Barbie and my daughter.  And by Barbie, I really mean like 115+ barbies, princesses and Ken dolls. Yeah, we’ve got quite a collection but it allows for some serious creativity.


The creativity and play is mostly in the set up when we pull all the barbies out. It’s not the same experience as playing with a Barbie and a few friends in the Dream House. In the past, when we had a mega barbie play date, we just dumped all the pieces out into the middle of the floor to see what theme grabbed us. This last time we thought about it over dinner and decided on a play theme, although that changed the next day.

(One of our previous and most popular Barbie videos below…)

Creativity comes in many varieties and although my child loves the traditional Crayola type of creative activities, she certainly loves building our play sets together as well. We treat it like a project, where we kind of come up with a game plan. Sure we could just “willy-nilly” our way through but by providing some structure our play date moves in the right direction and ensures we’ll actually get to play in our newly created scene. (Nothing like building and then having to go to bed! Bummer.) So as the parent, I help keep track of time and make lots of suggestions along the way… this isn’t a one-person party. If left alone, Victoria would play with barbie and friends and all the “bits” as I call them… but together I encourage her to think outside of the hot pink plastic pieces and see what we can use around the house to enhance our play set and therefore experience.


Yesterday’s experience didn’t require a whole lot, as she changed the theme from a movie premier with the red carpet to a Broadway show of Peter Pan. (Also new and interesting: she decided she wanted the movie to play in the background and we acted out the parts on set. I would have preferred an audio book version of this idea but Peter Pan was not in our audio library.) In any event, instead of having to make tons of tiny tin foil cameras and piecing together a red carpet, we used a book shelf and some small boxes to create the theater seating. Since the beginning of Peter Pan starts off in Wendy’s room, we used one of the Barbie houses as a major set back drop. We had a film crew and directors on staff as well. It didn’t turn out to be my favorite play set but this time it was all Victoria’s vision… and in the end, that’s what I want. I want her to have the courage and creativity to think outside the obvious and to show others her vision.

BarbieI will say, in this case most of the “set up” was dressing 85 or so naked barbies. Some were dressed in casual attire but most weren’t dressed at all. We have a fair share of barbie clothes but since most of her barbies are older… you just never know what is going to fit the older barbie mold vs the newer barbie body style. But now that these dolls are dressed to the nines… we’ll continue with our other formal wear ideas… Kentucky Derby and Carnival Cruise perhaps?  We brainstormed a few extra ideas and now I’m glad we did because goodness knows I don’t want to have to go and undress this formal wear anytime too too soon. I’m sure we’ll get to the movie premier as well.


Broken down, this is how I encourage parents to enhance creativity during play time:

1. Pick a toy (or several if they work well together). We like Barbie and American Girl for these type of play dates. Transformers, Lego, Dinosaurs will also work.

2. Pick a theme… what’s the story line? Are dinosaurs being rediscovered? Are they magically coming to life in museums? Is Optimus Prime running for President? Is the Macy’s Day Parade coming to barbie town? Think bigger than the play sets your child has, bigger than the pieces.

3. Encourage creative design and thought for the scene and story line. Think of Andy in Toy Story… he used boxes for buildings and his sister’s crib as jail. Clever.

4. Search the house, garage, yard for nontraditional items to make your theme set work. Perhaps rocks from the garden, laundry basket tilted on its side or card board creations. We make this into a little game. For me this is the best part…watching Victoria look at objects differently and the “oh, how ’bout this…” moments.

5. Remember that the set up is a major part of this play activity. Make sure your child understands this before starting or they will “check out”. Let him/her know that we’re going to take some time to set everything up AND THEN we’ll play the scenes out.

6. Watch the clock. Don’t make it such a project that no one wants to play in the end or worse, its bedtime or time to leave and you don’t have time to immediately enjoy all the work put in.

7. Snap a couple photos. It’s not likely you’ll want to keep the card board creatures or fancy displays for years from now… so grab a couple keepsake photos during play time.

8. Most importantly… stay with your child for the actual play time… you’ve spend all this time creating together, don’t skip out on the best part. He/she has been looking forward to this part all day.

9. If you can help it… DON’T TEAR IT DOWN right away. Let the kids come back to the play set for “round two”.



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Art Splash – Interactive Family-Friendly Children’s Art Program at Philadelphia Museum of Art

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While this article is sponsored by the Philadelphia Museum of Art by way of complimentary program admission, the opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. #sponsored

Creative – Engaging – Inspiring:  Art Splash

Art Splash Logo

Art Splash is back for a third year… bigger and better than ever. We’ve had the privilege of attending this amazingly organized family art program each year. Evolving year over year but always true to being educational, creative and engaging for families, not just children.

Art SplashThis year’s program design is no disappointment with a new space in the former library, featuring a super cozy art lounge – perfect for reading, cuddling and building with blocks. drawing on blackboardThe Art Splash studio also features a huge wall chalkboard, allowing children to express their creativity and build off each others’ designs. And of course, no art studio would be complete with out workshop space for creating artistic projects.

Professionally executed, this Art Splash program has it all… a little something for everyone. This year’s theme was inspired by the children’s book A is for Art Museum, showcasing the alphabet through various famous pieces of art. This book has proven to be a successful concept in engaging children in art and has become the perfect backdrop for the newly created exhibition A is for Art Museum located adjacent to the Art Splash Studio.


The Art Splash program runs through September 7, 2015 and offers many components: art studio projects, interactive exploration, book signings and festivals. There is so much to consider that I suggest bookmarking the Museum’s Art Splash page to get all the details. Here are the highlight:

tablet pose with viaA is for Art Museum App. Guests can borrow a tablet from the Art Splash Studio equipped with an interactive and highly engaging self-tour tool. This app features art for each letter of the alphabet using way-finding technology to enable families to further explore the museum. art splash tabletThe tablets are protected in a sturdy hand-held case, designed for little one to carry. As you use the interactive map to find your way through the alphabet (not recommended to go ABC order, btw) the app will automatically sense when guests arrive in the room, offering a picture of the featured art piece for that letter. Families will then have clues, stories, history, activities, audio, etc elements to accompany the art. It’s all part of the adventure of discovering and “unlocking” the masterpiece art on display and participating as a family.  Brilliant.

art splash t is for treeA is for Art Museum Exhibition. Again inspired by children’s book by the same name, co-authored by Marla Shoemaker and Katy Friedland. The exhibit has three main sections: A for Animals, R is for Rivers and T is for Trees. Hands-on activities encourage children to get up close, pay closer attention to the details and offer their own creativity within the exhibit. a is for artMagnetic fabric leaves on a giant tree correspond with several pieces of artwork featuring nature and trees. Children are asked to select a leaf and match the color/pattern in the artwork adjacent to the mural tree. Hands-on activities such as these really embrace children’s tactical needs. No longer are all art museums consider “no touch”.

Splash Studio. “Let you creativity soar at the Splash Studio with new art projects throughout the summer.” (Press Release, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

June 30 – July12 R is for River
July 14 – 26 U is for Up Close
July 28 – August 9  T is for Trees
August 11 – 23  S is for Shadows
August 25 – Sept 7  A is for Animals


Family Festivals & Art Workshops. The Great Outdoors festival is being held on August 2 (10 AM to 5 PM) with the Okee Dokee Brother’s playing at 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM. Seating is limited so get there early. There music inspires children and parents to go outside and be creative. Family Art Workshops are being offered July 18 & 25 for Painting Up Close; August 1 & 8 Clay Creatures and August 15 & 22 for Nature Prints. Registration is required and classes are in addition to museum admission prices.

Art Splash Author & Illustrator Series. “Your favorite children’s books come to life in this interactive series. Mingle with the authors and illustrators, and enjoy inspiring readings.” (Press Release, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

July 15 – Flotsam by David Wiesner
August 26 – Wolfie the Bunny by Anne Dyckman & Zachariah Ohora

Family Tours. Highly suggested, entertaining and educational Early Bird or Art Explorers family tours. These tours take you on a path through the museum to introduce children to pieces of art through discuss, music, drawing, story and more. Having been on a couple of tours, I must say these are definitely a highlight to our summer visits to Art Splash.

Art Splash 2015The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. 215-684-7840


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Lego, Mega Bloks, K’Nex & GoldieBlox

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A Construction Christmas Wishlist… by Greg Wolbert

Ho ho ho, Christmas is on the way and with that come wish-lists and letters to Santa. This year, one of the most sought out toys are creation toys such as Lego, Mega Blocks, Goldieblocks, and K’nex. These toys allow children to enhance their critical thinking and creativity.

Lego pieces

Lego was founded in 1932 and has since become the largest block building manufactures in the world. Lego has manufactured over four thousand sets, all of them ranging from stand alone boxes to blockbuster movie recreations. Lego has even created to scale models of the worlds most magnificent wonders. Examples of their finest sets include Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Disney Princess series, as well as the White House, Taj Mahal, and the Big Ben bell tower. Lego sets can all be combined to allow an unlimited amount of re-usability and creativity.


Mega Brands/Bloks is one of the most direct competitors of Lego. Mega Bloks, while they have a very similar brick building system as Lego, have more detailed accessories within their play sets. Their mini figures have articulated joints for a wider range of poses and movement. However, they don’t have the same interchangeability as the Lego mini figures. Mega Bloks has a variety of play sets and series such as the every popular Barbie and Hot Wheels. They also have building sets around Hello Kitty, Skylanders, Sponge Bob and Power Rangers.


A relatively new toy is Goldieblox. Goldieblox is a girl focused creation building play set. Goldieblox are designed to inspire girls to become builders and engineers. There are a number of sets from zip lines to cars to spinning machines, and each set contains a set of challenges for the girls to complete using only a set number of pieces contained in the set. These sets help shape young girls critical thinking skills. Watch Victoria’s video review below from a sample sent from #SweetSuite14 of Blogger Bash NYC.


K’nex are a free flowing building series that use rods, orbs, and magnets to construct imaginative works. This is an award winning intricate construction building system, established in 1992. K’nex come in a variety of box sets, featuring different characters and/or functions (Super Mario, Angry Birds, roll-coasters, raceway, etc). In distinct fashion, K’nex building play sets offer flexibility in creation and design allowing unlimited engineering and innovation during play time.


Children, both boys and girls enjoy the satisfaction of creating play sets, especially those partnered with favorite characters such as SpongeBob or Barbie. Any of the above brands would make excellent educational toys for this holiday season.


We’d love to hear which building sets are your favorite; leave us a comment below. Send us a picture of your son or daughter’s creation at and we’ll select a few to be featured on our Facebook page.

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Second Hand is a Helping Hand… Consignment Blessings

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Sale, Discount, Bargain… Consignment

Easily these signs get me excited because like most, I love a good bargain. Finding toys, books and clothing at a fraction of a price, just makes my day. Naturally, I jumped at the invitation to a presale event with Just Between Friends Consignment earlier this week. Check out my video below for a peek at my sale finds.

Consignments sales are perfect for building your personal library of resources. Creating a lesson plan around animals or pirates, multiplication practice or chemistry… definitely check out the treasures to be unburied at these sales. I like to look for educational puzzles and games, items for teaching geography, tools for learning states & capitals, and period costumes. I picked up some items to round out our Adventure Series: Horsing Around lesson, including an American Girl riding outfit – cap, boots and all. I also grabbed a toddler Renaissance outfit and a microscope, among some other toys and shoes for everyday events. Beyond the learning toys I found, I also came across larger sizes of Renaissance dress-up wear (girls and boys), pirate costumes, 20’s Flapper Dress, arts & craft supplies, science experiments, and building kits. There was such a variety!

Microscope found for $5

Tables and tables of games and toys

Just Between Friends makes shopping (and consigning) easy with two fall events:

JBF Western Main Line (Oaks)

Thurs, Sept 13 – Sat, Sept 15

Greater Philadelphia Expo Center – Hall C


JBF Reading Fall Event

Thurs, Sept 27 – Sat, Sept 29

Greater Reading Expo Center

Saturdays at both sales are Half Off Days!!

You must check out these articles on this event with excellent tips for shopping on consignment and the advantages of becoming a consignor.  Super Exhausted with Sherry and Delco Deal with Kelly and A Life In Balance with Barb.

Disclosure:  I was invited to a presale blogger event at JBF Consignment and given a shopping credit in exchange for this post.  All the opinions and tips expressed here are strictly mine.

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How to Beat Kid's Summer Boredom

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Sure there are so many things to do for the summer, and every child anxiously awaits the last day of school.  But nonetheless, they experience days of total summer boredom and with that comes nothing good, including the messiest play, mischief, migraines for parents and constant whining.  So here are a few simple suggestions to shake those days up and avoid the pitfalls of overly boring, super hot-n-sticky days of summer.

1.  Catch the sunset.

Sunset on the Delaware River


Catchin The Suns Rays

We are fortunate to live close to a park situated on the Delaware River… making an amazing backdrop for the day’s end.   The playground provided plenty of entertainment while we waited for each stage of the sun setting.  For my toddler is was a great lesson in colors as well, as we watched the sky transform from blues and greens to oranges and purples.  Just an amazing summertime thing to do.  We didn’t stay long after, but you could certainly take advantage of the light evening darkness for catching fireflies.  For more educational ideas, look for shapes in the distance and clouds.  For us, the bridge provided angles and triangles.  Talk about the different types of clouds, fresh water vs salt bodies of water, and perception of objects (like will that barge fit under the bridge when it looks too large?)  Test your little one to find the best angle to go down the slide or why sneakers might make you go slower.  And be sure to just sit back and enjoy nature’s beautiful daily artistry. 

Pillow Tower Fun

2. Build a tower of pillows.

Pillow Tower Tumbling

Almost like building blocks but bigger and softer.  Bed pillows, sofa pillows, even the decorative throw pillows add a different dimension to your child’s creative structure.  How high can they stack?  How about tunnels or geometric shapes?  Of course they are fun to climb and topple on top of.  The bravest moms might allow sofa cushions in the mix and/or pillow tosses and fights.  (Confession – I wasn’t that brave mom!)

3.  Themed play… in our case it was Star Wars.

These light sabers totally distract kids (and big kids) from unpleasant storms, heat waves or any boredom.  Part of the charm is that these toys rarely get played with, especially for the young one… so I encourage parents to dig deep for something that the kids rarely get to lay their hands on.

Everything Barbie

Another suggestion: clear a play area and pull out ALL of something for a huge focused playtime activity.  By example, we’ve done this with Barbie… lots and lots of Barbies, furniture, clothes, pets, etc and had one big community of Barbie.  Same idea with Little People making a large platform with all the different pieces arranged to create an interactive community (city, farm, circus).

Catching Some Quiet Time

4. Take a trip to your local library.

We enjoyed a variety of picture

Quiet Time At the Library

books and then had some quiet reading time to ourselves.  Unfortunately we missed the children’s story hour by 30 minutes but now we know better.  Be sure to check out the schedule of events at your library since most have programs for families, especially during the summer.

5. Break away from routine.

Find an opportunity to break your schedule.  Enjoy your breakfast outdoors or perhaps an informal dinner on the deck.  Put on a bubbles parade with music and dance.  Consider summer rain showers as natures sprinklers… and dance in the rain.

Picnic With My Brother

Picnic With My Cousins

6.  Create a Fort.

Sharing Our Fort

Pillows, blankets, cushions and large stuffies enable some cool creations.  Once complete, grab your flashlight for some shadow fun.  Pick out some favorite books and read by flashlight in your new cool hiding place.  Challenge your kids to build a tunnel, multiple entrances and hideaways within the structure.  For added educational fun, consider discussions around the pyramids and ancient castles that were cleverly designed with tunnels, secret spaces and defense in mind.

For more ideas visit Kelly Whalen’s article “25 Frugal Ways To Keep The Kids Busy This Summer” at  She includes handy tips like finding free camps, discount museum admission, garden tours and so much more.  Share with us:  What’s your coolest boredom buster?

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A Creative Corner Of Havertown

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Creative hot spot alert!!

Recently, my daughter and I were invited to share in a morning of creative fun with the Creative Clubhouse in Havertown, PA.

Open floor space for puzzles and reading

As a prearranged session, the owners (Amy and Jess) were well prepared for some little ones that morning.  As a mother, I was very appreciative of the center’s organized design, variety of activities, and atmosphere of playfulness.  I felt at ease to sit on the floor with my daughter for some magnetic fun or to piece together a puzzle and loved the huge chalkboard wall where we could freely doodle about.

Although my morning was centered around a two-year old, Creative Clubhouse is just as equipped for the school-aged group, in fact one of the things I love most about this facility is there ability to engage both the younger ones and the older kids simultaneously.

Creative Clubhouse holds a variety of classes for consideration for the elementary school age.  The Powerful Pencils session is a creative writing workshop for ages 6-10.  Green Art is also designed for that age group.  World Art and Kitchen Lab and Puppets With Pencils offer a couple more choices for Kindergarten to about 3rd or 4th grade.  The Color Me Creative is suggested for those between 8 and 10 years old.

Let’s Paint!

Of course you could pop in for one of the Open Studio time slots, similar to our experience with multiple    crafting stations open and flexibility to move about the studio’s resources.   Please check out their website for dates, times, class information, pricing and of course membership details.

Lastly, let me point out the Creative Clubhouse also hosts birthday parties… with an exciting themed package complete w/ pizza or snack option to make the party planning all the easier.              484-504-9884

More puzzles and games!

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