Postcard Writing with the Amabie (the Japanese Yokai that can stave off epidemics) | #curatedquarantineideas

Day one of quarantine with the kids, and we’re (knock on wood) off to a good start. I recognize I have a huge advantage in that a) I am primarily a stay home parent, b) I homeschooled my oldest for a year, c) I am an early childhood teacher, and d) my backyard is pretty much a playground. But even with all this on my side, the reality of social isolating is daunting and a huge pressure on parents. Luckily there are amazing resources and ideas being shared all over the place for folks to do with their kids, and I thought I’d share some ideas too.

Atlas’s Amabie Postcards

Today’s activity is a simple one: postcard writing, but with a pandemic twist. ;) My dear friend Rebecca shared this amazing website which taught me about the legend of the Amabie in Japan.

“As legend has it, in the 1800s a mythical yokai appeared off the coast of Kumamoto, Japan. The Amabie, as it was called, was described as a mermaid-like creature with long hair, a beak and 3 legs. It made several predictions related to bountiful harvests and, before disappearing back into the sea, left the locals with some advice in case of an epidemic. According to records, “If an epidemic occurs, draw a picture of me and show it to everyone,” said the yokai.”

So we ran with the idea for our daily writing activity (one of the two more structured times we have scheduled). Using blank white postcards* (an easy purchase on Amazon), Atlas drew his version of an Amabie on the front of the cards (I encouraged him to reimagine it a little for every postcard). Then on the back he wrote asking his friend to send him a joke and signed his name off. We researched jokes online (which was a lot of fun) and I wrote down his favorite joke under his message, so his friend got to enjoy it too. We will find a new joke daily.

*The beauty of using postcards is that there is a nice space to draw, a small space to write (so there is no pressure to write a lot), and postcard stamps are less expansive than regular stamps.

We made a list of all the friends he would like to send a postcard to, and he chooses two a day to write to. Then he crosses them off the list once he is done. This way we can keep track of who he has already written to. :)

Face Painting With Watercolor Pencils

Do your kids love having their face painted (or in my kids’ case, their entire body besides their face)? Then get yourself some watercolor pencils and call it a day. Nothing beats them for basic face painting, especially when you have kids who like to DIY.

My favorite for the job are the $4 MÅLA pencils from IKEA. Just dip the sharpened end in water and get painting! The best part is the ‘paint’ just washes off with water. Pro tip – make sure to let them dry out (tip up) when done so they are easy to sharpen for the next go round.

Art With Kids – It’s The Process Not The Product (so just have fun)

For young children, it’s the process of making the art that matters vs the end product. They are interested in the way the colors mix, the drip of paint and glue being squeezed, the feel of the materials, and the enjoyment of peeling as many stickers off a sheet as possible. They don’t care if their end result always ends up baby poop brown 🤷🏼‍♀️, so neither should you.

Have fun with the making together. Get creative with the materials and tools you use (Pilot was very excited to have ‘space paper’ (foil) to paint on). And don’t feel pressure to save everything they make. Also remember that this is why it’s important for even young children to have good quality (which doesn’t have to mean $$$) materials. How can they enjoy mark making if the crayons and pencils they are using don’t leave a lovely bold mark?

Creating an Early Morning Play Invitation (which equals more sleep for you!)

My Atlas is an early riser but the rest of us are not. The temptation is always to wake us, so in an attempt to earn a little more sleep, we’ve started setting very intentional play invitations for him to wake up to. Plus snacks! ;) This one was left for him and a buddy who slept over. It only took me a couple of minutes to set out, but it bought us quiet until after 7am! #winwin

Mirrors | #curatedPSA + #unexpectedtoys

You might have noticed that I use mirrors in all my installs – inside and out. Aesthetically, they are an easy and inexpensive way to make your space feel bigger and brighter. I love adding large mirrors on walls opposite windows to reflect light, over desks and work spaces, or hung low to the ground so our small humans can watch themselves play and learn (side note – all kids love looking at themselves in the mirror).

A long or full length mirror is also essential for your dramatic play nook (how else can you admire yourself post dress-ups?).

Outside I often hang mirrors over/around sandboxes and mud kitchens, but you can choose to hang anywhere where you want to add a little more dimension.

You can look to thrift a large (my general go-to) or get something simple like the NISSEDAL mirror from IKEA.

I also love to use small mirrors in play. You can buy acrylic mirror sheets, which are non breakable and make a really lovely play surface – for inside and out (note they will eventually get scratched). I’ve also used smaller square mirror sheets to create mirrored trays for a more portable play surface/display case.

I also keep a couple of table top/hand mirrors with my art cart. They are great when drawing portraits or for adding a new dimension to still life artworks. You can also use the acrylic mirror sheets as a washable canvas.