My Favorite Artist

  Joey Ahlbum/Self-portrait

Joey Ahlbum/Self-portrait

It's true. Joey Ahlbum is my favorite artist/animator. And we are very lucky to work with Joey at Happy Owl. Before our days at Happy Owl I had the pleasure of assisting Joey in animation and I filmed most of his work on a gorgeous 35mm Mitchell camera. I recently asked him a few questions about his work and here is his response:

1) What is your favorite color and why?
My favorite color is blue. I love looking at the sky, it always calms me down and 
makes me happy.

2) What was your process to create the look of Rusty the Squirrel?
I usually start with sketches. I'm lucky to live near a park that has a lot of 
squirrels so I can go there and draw. Then I turn the sketches into a cartoon and add fun details like Rusty's glasses. (I wear glasses too!)

3) What was it like animating for Elmo's World?
It was really great. Great scripts and I got to work with the great Andrea Martin as the main voice over person. She's so talented. Not to get too technical but this was before a lot of the newer computer programs so even though we used the computer to add the color we still animated and inked everything by hand so… it was a lot of work.

By Kathy Minton/Happy Owl Kid Apps

 

5 Favorite Summer Books

Reading to your child is one of the best things you can do. They are listening even if they are up and moving around. Toddlers need to be active as it’s one of the ways they learn about their world. Now that summer has arrived here are my five favorite summer reads for preschoolers.

SUMMER by Alice Low – All the wonderful things that summer brings.

THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats – There is nothing more satisfying than reading this book on a very hot day.

NO DAVID!  By David Shannon. No muddy footprints, no cookies, no, no, no. This was my son’s favorite book.

ALL WET! ALL WET! By James Skofield. Exploring the forest on a rainy summer day. Encourage your child to do the same with you on a rainy day.

LUCY THE DINOSAUR: SUMMER GAMES by Joey Ahlbum. My favorite illustrator and animator of all time – Joey Ahlbum. This summer read features the adorable pink helmeted Lucy the Dinosaur.

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By Kathy Minton

Favorite Family Picnic Treats

One of my favorite summer memories is sitting under a splendid oak tree looking up at the green leaves and blue sky eating a perfect peanut butter and fluffernutter sandwich. Peanut butter and fluff makes for a satisfying meal as you have your dessert and lunch all in one meal.

However if you’re looking for snacking picnic options here are some of the best and easiest treats to take along:

Trail mix – An assortment of favorite nuts, dried cranberry, whole grain pretzels and dried banana chips is one of my favorites. Let your child pick a handful from each to make up individual packets.

 Chopped veggies – have your toddler pack them up. You can never go wrong with carrots or celery and they are so easy for dipping.

 Fruit skewers – arrange by color – all green or all red. So fun to eat.

And if you’re looking for something sweet:

Graham crackers with vanilla, multi-colored or chocolate frosting. Your toddler can help spread the frosting on the crackers.

 So go outside and enjoy the summer!

by Kathy Minton/ Happy Owl Kid Apps

 

 

Be Proud of Your Preschooler and Show It!

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It was just about a year ago that Buzzfeed posted an article on a preschool show I created, Gullah Gullah Island. I am so proud of the show. Even today it has legions of fans and millions of views on YouTube.

Of course it did not happen in a vacuum. There are so many people who contributed and made it a great show. My co-creators and the cast were fantastic. All the writers and the composers, animation and puppet creators were superbly talented.  Joey Ahlbum’s animation is called out in the article. He is our Creative Designer at Happy Owl Apps and there is no one better than Joey. What a blast that show was to make and I am so proud to be called out on Buzzfeed for the work we did.

How about you – is there something you’ve created that you are incredibly proud of? I bet your preschooler creates something magnificent every day. It could be a drawing or learning to write a letter. Be sure to let them know how proud of them you are. It feels good!

Here's the article.

by Kathy Minton/Happy Owl Kid Apps

My 3 Favorite Tips For Any Preschool Science Project

1) PLAY THE PART

Lab coat, goggles, magnifying glass. What 2 to 5 year old doesn’t love dressing for the part?  I love this picture of my local elementary school doing a supervised science project in full out science gear!

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2) GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY

Everybody knows about mixing colored food drops in milk but did you know a simple mix of cornstarch and water is equally fun? It  makes for a gooey, colorful and tactile project. 

I love this video demo.

3) GO OUTSIDE

Create a simple nature box. Go outside with your preschooler and let them pick the most interesting objects they can find. You can work together to identify what each object is.  My favorite version uses a shoebox lid as the frame. Then your toddler can glue the found objects within the frame. Adding some paint can be fun too. 

Here's how to do it.

by Kathy Minton

 

My Five Favorite Father's Day Gifts

With Father’s Day just around the corner here are my 5 favorite gift ideas:

Thumbprint Mug – Daddy and me. So adorable! And so easy.

Painted Rock – Daddy Rocks - Go on a nature walk (see blog post below) and let your child choose a rock that they want to paint.  Then let them paint the rock any way that pleases them. You can write the words on the rock when they are done.

Superhero Dad –Your toddler’s handprint and footprint. So fun! There are lots of hand print ideas out there but I am partial to superheroes.

Matching Outfits – When I was five years old I vividly remember wearing a matching yellow seersucker dress and kerchief with my Mom. Such a wonderful memory.  To this day I am crazy for yellow seersucker. Dads like to do this too. My neighbor told me that her son and husband like to wear matching high top sneakers. How cute is that!

Photo Collage  - It’s amazing what a toddler can say so make it a lasting memory. You can make a photo collage out of it. Or you can prompt them with questions like this example below. Either way it’s a forever treasure as they are only little once!

So there you have it. Simple, fun and meaningful gifts from your toddler to the world’s greatest Dad. Enjoy!

By Kathy Minton/Happy Owl Kid Apps

3 Top Tips for a Toddler Nature Walk

Recent studies have shown that Americans are spending less time outdoors.  Many of us work in a cubicle or are driving in a car with no time for a “forest bath”. With little ones at home there’s nothing better than to say, “Let’s go for a nature walk!”  Here are my top 3 tips to engage your toddler on a walk:

 

1)   BRING SUPPLIES – snacks, magnifying glass, a baggie for collecting, crayons and paper. It’s amazing how the world looks under a magnifying glass. If your child is inspired have them draw a picture of what they see. Be sure to start a collection with your toddler of interesting walks or leaves. You can bring them home and study them together later.

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2)   USE YOUR 4 SENSES - See, hear, smell, and touch. Skip the taste sense – you don’t want your toddler eating dirt! Listen and identify birds, look at the clouds in the sky and smell the air or flowers. Pick up a rock and feel it’s shape in your hands.

 

3)   TAKE IT SLOW AND PAUSE WHEREVER YOUR CHILD TAKES YOU. Let your child lead the walk. If they want to stop at a patch of dirt and look for rocks let them. You may only go for a short walk but there’s so much to learn from a patch of dirt or a spider’s web that you find along the way.

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Sharing the natural world with your toddler inspires them to have a love of nature and for the earth itself. What an amazing gift to share that love with your child. Happy walking!

By Kathy Minton/Happy Owl Kid Aps

Oh No! Toddlers on a Plane: My Top 3 Travelling Toddler Tips

My son who is now 18 was not an easy traveller.  As a toddler he was always on the go and very busy. So when the opportunity came to travel with him and my family to Ireland I hesitated for a moment. What was I going to do with a 3 year old on a transatlantic 7-hour flight?

 To answer that question I turned to my fellow Moms and here’s what I learned and what worked beautifully for me:

 #1: ONE WRAPPED PRESENT FOR EVERY HOUR OF THE TRIP

I brought along 10 – just in case. These do not need to be expensive – a coloring book with a box of crayons, a small stuffed toy or a book.  If your child is being good on the flight give him a present! If he’s not being so good let him know he will not get another present unless he or she behaves. Be sure to wrap each present before you leave for the airport.

 For our return trip I collected about 10 little items to surprise him on the flight. Let’s just say leprechauns was a big theme and there are endless variations of inexpensive leprechauns you can find in Ireland, everything from pencil sharpeners to musical stuffed toys. It was a nice way for us to remember our trip and my son played with those toys for many years to come.

 #2: SIMPLE CARD GAMES

This is actually quite fun and you’d be surprised how many hours it can fill. There’s nothing quite like a game of Fish or War.  If you’re not sure how to play a particular card game, just Google it for instructions.

 One handy trick I learned is to purchase a simple cardholder. Toddler hands sometimes have difficulty holding up a bunch of cards and you can pick one up at any local toy store.

 #3 MOVIES AND MUSIC

Don’t be afraid to load up your I Pad or DVD player with movies and age appropriate games that relate to your trip. For instance I made sure we had a copy of Disney’s 1959 movie Darby O Gillis and the Little People.  It got my son excited about our trip and primed to go leprechaun hunting while we were vacationing in Ireland.

Of course if your child has a favorite go to series bring that along too. You can’t underestimate bringing the comforts of home while travelling with your little one. Wrapping them up in their favorite blanket or using their favorite stuffed animal as a pillow while watching their favorite series always works.

 So there you have it - 3 Mom tested tips that really work. You’re welcome and enjoy your trip!

By Kathy Minton/Happy Owl Kid Apps