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a mess-free art exercise with kids!

a mess-free art exercise with kids!

While I am all about making messes to get creative, sometimes I just don't want to have to deal with all the clean-up that's involved (or the clean-up I will have to remind my kids they need to do after ;P). Here's an easy and fun art exercise you can do with kids of all ages from toddler to big kid!

All you need is:
-paper (I cut sheets into quarters so they would be the same size and also to keep them smallish)
-colorful dot stickers (thanks Jordan for telling me about these stickers!)
-black permanent marker

Here are a few exercises you can prompt! They involve a mix of creation and story-telling, and it's fun for you to do the exercises alongside with them, too...

a mess-free art exercise with kids!

Exercise 1: Place 6 dots on your page in six different colors (they should not touch). Then use a Sharpie to draw different facial expressions on each dot. Next, add drawings around each one. They could become an object, a living thing, a person, etc. Finally, tell a story about the six things...it could be one continuous story where all six could all be involved in the same story or just describe each one!

a mess-free art exercise with kids!

Exercise 2: Using any colors you want to make a continuous path from one end of your paper to another. Then, add drawings to make your stickers create a scene. Add a title to your scene. Then, describe it to everyone!

a mess-free art exercise with kids!

Exercise 3: Make a pattern with the dots! You can use any number of colors you want. Then, add either drawings or a title. Now, describe your picture!

a mess-free art exercise with kids!

Exercise 4: Make whatever you want! BUT, create it in mind with the idea that you are making this for someone else and you would want to send it to them in the mail—like your best friend, your grandparents, etc! Finally, describe your scene to everyone.

My kids had a great time doing this art exercise, and it was fun for them to get different prompts throughout. They got excited about sharing their creation, too. Afterwards, my oldest said now she wanted to make something messy because this one was so neat and clean! Ha!

my favorite baby and kid pajamas!

Oh Joy! / Kid's Pajamas
How many of you are LIVING in your PJ's right now?! Whether you're trying to stay cozy or keep your little ones cozy, great pajamas are one of the secrets to pure joy! Here are a few of our favorite brands to find quality and comfy PJ's for your little one...
 
1. Clover has a range of super soft PJ's from baby to kid that are playful, comfy, and so fun! ($34, newborn to 5T)
 
2. Plain Jane has been a long-time favorite since my kids were little. Now, they have adult options for Mom which are all SOOO cozy and you could wear to lounge in all day long. ($40, 2T-10Y)
 
3. Dodo Banana offers long-sleeve sets in super cute patterns. I'm a sucker for any inanimate object that has a face added to it! ($55, 6m-5Y)
 
4. Little Sleepies (from $30, newborn to 9Y) is another super soft brand that ranges in size from baby to kid with fun prints and even some matching ones for Mom!
 
5. Magnetic Me is a lifesaver for those sleepless newborn nights with 3am diaper changes. Their magnetic snaps make it easy to change your babe by the glow of the moonlight! ($36, newborn to 24m)
 
6. La Paloma - If you're in search of modern nightgowns that could also be worn for play, we love these from the new brand La Paloma ($58, size 2-9).

when you're feeling blue...

Good Things List

These times have been an emotional roller coaster for all of us for sure. Some days I feel really great and have a handle on our current state of life, and sometimes I'm totally bummed out. The thing I try and do on those bummer days is to think about all the great things that have happened since quarantine and write them down in a place I can see, look at, and add to. It's fun to get the kids involved, too, when they inevitably miss school and friends and "regular" life. All of us can always be refreshed by looking at and adding to your Good Things list!

diverse kids' books (part 3)...

Oh Joy! / Diverse Books

You all have been loving our series of diverse kids' books, so we're working to bring them to you regularly! Here's a new list filled with lots of great reads, this time for ages 5 and up!

1. Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders; Illustrations by Carol Rossetti

Love Your Body introduces the language of self-love and self-care to help build resilience, while representing and celebrating diverse bodies, encouraging you to appreciate your uniqueness. This book was written for every girl, regardless of how you view your body. This one is recommended for slightly older kids ages 9 and up as they approach tween years.

2. Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love (Pre-order for October 6)

Julián and Marisol set off for some magic and mischief, and when things take an unexpected turn, the pair learns that everything is easier with a good friend by your side. The illustrations showcase a range of family members who are simply FANTASTIC!

3. You are Your Superpower by Ana Maria Medici; Illustrations by Helen Huang

From space exploration to fashion design, journey around the world and discover the unique story of ten girls, all united by a commitment to their passions. In You Are Your Superpower, learn the power of persistence, and find what makes you feel your very best. This one is great for older kids ages 8 and up as they become more aware of their strengths and interests.

4. Lucy’s Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson; Illustrations by John Thompson

In preparation for back-to-school, this is a fun story that helps kids make sense of their emotions and makes this new reality more relatable and less scary. It is a wonderful tool to continue the conversation about germs, viruses, the pandemic, and what families have to do to keep themselves safe. A portion of proceeds from sales of Lucy's Mask will be donated to frontline workers and first responders.

5. Cilla Lee Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan; Illustrations by Dana Wulfekotte

Her baby sister is about to be born, and Cilla needs to become a bestselling author before her family forgets all about her. So she writes about what she knows best―herself! This is a novel bursting with love and humor, as told through a bright, irresistible biracial protagonist who will win your heart and make you laugh. I love this book for chapter-book reading levels around ages 7 and up!

6. Mighty Kind Magazines

Mighty Kind, a magazine for compassionate kids and their grown-ups. Each issue of Mighty Kind celebrates the role of kindness in bringing the world closer together and empowers kids to get out in the world and be kind. 

7. Foodie Friends by Habbi Habbi

The Habbi Habbi books teach Spanish and Chinese in a way that's easy and fun! There is a whole range but this new one—The Foodie Friends join kids as they explore their favorite foods and decide what to bring to a party.

Please note: a Reading Wand is needed for this book to work and is sold separately or as part of a Set. 

8. Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer; Illustrations by LeUyen Pham (Pre-order for September 8)

A little girl carries a big message—and finds it thrillingly amplified by the rallying crowd around her—in an empowering story for the youngest of activists.

9. Kamala and Maya's Big Idea by Meena Harris; Illustrations by Ana Ramírez González

An empowering picture book about two sisters who work with their community to effect change, inspired by a true story from the childhood of her aunt, US Senator Kamala Harris, and mother, lawyer, and policy expert, Maya Harris.

See Part 1 and Part 2 for more! I will keep adding to my list, and you can always find more of my favorite kid's books right here.

"You're Okay!" arrives in less than a month!

You're Okay! by Joy Cho / Illustrated by Angie Stalker

Our second kid's book in the Oh Joy! Story Book collection, YOU'RE OKAY!, arrives in ONE MONTH on August 4th! Written by me and illustrated by Angie Stalker, all of the books in this series emphasize qualities to instill in our little ones to help them become kind, strong, creative, and capable humans. YOU'RE OKAY! follows a hedgehog and friends while exploring a variety of emotions, supporting one another, and learning how to be your very own champion. 

You're Okay! by Joy Cho / Illustrated by Angie Stalker

Every day is full of little ups and downs. No matter what happens or how you feel, you are you, and you are okay! Interactive lift-the-flaps will engage readers in this sweet and encouraging book about managing everyday struggles and feelings! Pre-order now to add to your collection of Oh Joy! Story Books for your little one's library!

(Top photo by Lily Glass)

masks for kids!

masks for kids!

With COVID-19 cases quickly rising again here in the US, many states have mandated that masks should be worn for ages 2 and up when outside of your home in a community setting. It's the easiest and safest way to protect ourselves and others. There are a growing number of great options for kids, so here are a few of my favorites! Since masks should be washed after each day worn, we have a handful for each of our kids so that we always have clean ones available.

1. The Mighty Company glitter face masks (3 for $55, ages 6-11, one mask donated for every mask sold and 20% of profits to NAACP Legal Defense Fund), 2. Kira Kids star mask ($10, ages 7-12), 3. Kira Kids tie dye (2 for $16.50, ages 3-6), 4. School Mask Pack (pre-order 5 for $30), 5. Mochi Kids happy mask ($19.50, one mask donated with each purchase), 6. We Are Aurora Masks (located in South Africa), 7. Cubcoats (2 masks for $13, ages 4+, 10% donated to Feeding America).

kids' books that show diversity (part 2)...

kids' books that show diversity (part 2)...

As a follow-up to our first post in 2017 about diverse kids' books, here's an updated version with a few of my family's favorites right now. Ranging in ages from 0-10, these books focus on authors and characters of color, characters who break the traditional molds of what was expected of them, stories of real life people who broke through barriers to accomplish great things, and stories that speak to kids even at a young age.

1. Look Up with Me by Neil deGrasse Tyson is a biography on the beloved astrophysicist and great for ages 4 to 6 and especially for kids who love science and exploring the stars.

2. Queer Heroes by Arabelle Sicardi celebrates the achievements of LGBTQ+ people through history and from around the world with a diverse selection of 53 inspirational role models accompanied by short biographies that focus on their incredible successes. Great for ages 6-10 and especially for those who are starting to do school book reports on notable people in history!

3. Little People, Big Dreams has a whole series (this one is on Rosa Parks) that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This one is great for toddler to little kid ages.

4. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty champions STEM, girl power and women scientists in a rollicking celebration of curiosity, the power of perseverance, and the importance of asking “Why?” I love this one for older toddlers to little kids.

5. Another by Christian Robinson is great picture book from baby to toddler that allows the reader to explore all the possibilities the world brings. He also just came out with You Matter which I've recently added to our library as well.

6. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. This one is great for ages 6-10...my oldest read through this with a few biographies every night until she finished.

7. Work It, Girl: Oprah Winfrey by Caroline Moss helps us discover how Oprah became a billionaire CEO and media mogul in this true story of her life. I love how you can also learn 10 key lessons from her work to apply to your own life. Great for bigger kids to tweens.

8. The Wall: A Timeless Tale by Giancarlo Macri and Carolina Zanotti is about the benefits of diversity and encouraging kids to see how helpful it can be to work together. This is a very visual book on what can be a serious topic that makes it easy for smalls kids to understand.

I will keep adding to my list, and you can always find more of my favorite kid's books right here.

how to talk to kids about racism...

A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory

The other night, we found ourselves explaining to our kids what happened to George Floyd and so many other Black Americans recently. It’s a story we didn’t expect to tell because it’s a story that shouldn’t have happened. But it did happened and incidents like these have been happening for centuries.

Maybe you know we are all equal, and you know that these actions are horribly wrong. But have you consciously sought out to be anti-racist? Have you attempted to make sure that you don't allow for it in your communities, in your speech, in your family, or in your future? Maybe now, you are in a place that you are angry and you're really trying to understand. Maybe you have never known how bad things are because you grew up in a neighborhood where everyone looked like you and therefore never experienced it. Maybe you did grow up in a diverse area but because your skin is light, you never experienced racism.

If you haven't started yet, today is the day to implement anti-racism in your home. Although you may have wished you knew more earlier or you did more sooner, it's never too late to start. I don't have all the answers to fix this, and I am not a certified teacher. But what I do know and what I can share with you is how we have been active about introducing anti-racism into our household at an early age and how we actively teach our kids about racism.

Here are eight ways to start...

1. Introduce the topic of racism early. Often with topics that are controversial, uncomfortable, or serious, parents assume that they need to wait until their kids are older to talk about it. I have found that around 5 years old, a real conversation about topics like race can be understood on some level. Every child is different, so if you feel you can have a conversation with a younger child, then do it.

2. Don’t shy away from these conversations. Your kids can understand more than you think. If you've ever been sitting casually at home when one of your kids ask about sex, why two men can get married, how a man can change to become a woman, or why our skin color is different than someone else's, don't put off having those conversations. You and your partner may look at each other awkwardly wondering who will take the lead on answering the questions, but now—in that moment—is the time to do it. Don't brush it off, don't wait until another time. And definitely don't tell them you'll talk about it when they are older. Everyday that is pushed off is a missed day for your child to become a better human with your help. You’re adding to their lack of awareness by not telling them when they ask.

3. It's ok if you are not an expert. It feels easy to deflect conversations about racism when you’re uncomfortable and you aren’t prepared and don’t know what to say. Often parents think they need to have read a plethora of books on a topic to say everything exactly right. Sure, you should read books, read articles, and do as much as you can to educate yourself. But you don't need to be an expert. Speak to your child in a way they can understand and learn best. Does your child do well with visuals or pictures? Get kids books to help them and you. Do they learn well from examples? Tell them stories. Also, you are an expert at your own life. Have you personally experienced racism? If so, tell them what happened. You can also use stories from history to help give examples.

4. Walk in other people's shoes. Ask children how they would feel if someone was racist towards them. Children are naturally empathetic people. Giving them analogies, examples, or asking them to put themselves in someone else's shoes is the easiest and quickest way to start explaining this topic to a child that may have no idea that racism exists. Kids start learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks as early as pre-school and kindergarten. These are stories from history you can have at home, too. While you're at it, remind them that some of these injustices STILL happen today.

5. Don't assume that kids are colorblind when it comes to race. It's not enough to say there is no color or "we don't talk about skin color because we don't want our kids to see the difference". It's true that small children often don't see their friends by their skin color. I remember having a conversation with Ruby when she was 4 or 5 and referenced her being Asian. She said, "I'm Asian?" She didn't know she was any different than her friends until she was told in pre-school by a girl with blond hair that "light hair is better".

6. Surround your kids with diversity. Actively seek communities, schools, play groups, and friends where your kids are surrounded by families and kids that are different than your own. If you already live in a non-diverse neighborhood and cannot easily change this, you can also expose them through food, cultural institutions, museums, books, toys, and more. They need to see more to learn more. This is helpful also for kids under 5 who may not be old enough to have meaningful conversations just yet. Actively seek art for your walls, books for kids to read, and toys that show kids and people of color... not just your kid's color.

7. Kids watch who you are to understand who they should become. This is the time to check in with your own bias, actions, privilege, judgements, and way of being that your kids might pick up on. Having these conversations with them will help you reconnect with yourself. But remember, if you want your kids to become anti-racist, you have to truly be anti-racist yourself. There are so many resources right now that people are sharing on social media, so start with your own education to be better equipped for your children as well.

8. The bottom line is—you have to have uncomfortable conversations. We all have to be better to help support Black Americans and to help create REAL CHANGE. We have to do everything we can which includes educating the future of America so that one day they can live in a country and world where people treat others appropriately, kindly, peacefully, and worthy of all the same things.

If you personally have any other tips or resources you would like to share, please leave them in the comments below. I don't have all the answers, and we can all learn from one another.

PS. Some other book lists and resources shared by readers:
Books for Diversity
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Kojo for Kids
Librarian Annette
Embrace Race

(Photo above A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory)

store and display your kids' masterpieces...

Oh Joy Tips - Kids Art Storage Rubys Masterpiece

I've suddenly found myself with more masterpieces created during my family's morning live drawing sessions than I know what to do with. Luckily, we have some great ideas about how to store, scan, or display all that artwork your kids are making right now! Check out some of my favorite tips...

Oh Joy Tips - Kids Art Storage Mixbook

1) Make a Photo Book!  Scan all your kids' artwork (taking a clear photo on your iPhone works!), and put everything into a bound book. You can put them into all of our fun and bright Mixbook designs. This offers a way to remember all the art without having to physically keep it all and bound perfectly together to enjoy for years to come!

Or, for a low-tech version, glue/tape them into a notebook! This is fun for dimensional art or if you truly can't part with the original.

Oh Joy Tips - Kids Art Storage Containers

2) Storage Containers. DIY some fun containers to store everything neatly (try a container per child) and have an easy place to store everything when it's complete. Check out all our tips for keeping your containers organized and curated here!

Oh Joy Tips - Kids Art Storage Display

3) Make A Colorful Display!  Everyone needs a little color in their lives, especially now! So make fun colorful displays and hang up those masterpieces as if they belonged in a museum. You can have rotating "guest artists" if you've got multiple kids in the house, or use all the blank walls to feature everyone. You can use the dowel rods in this tutorial, or simply use bright and fun washi tape

Oh Joy Tips - Kids Art Storage Hangers

...if you don't have dowel rods lying around, try this fun alternative with "fancying up" some hangers for displaying your art.

I hope everyone is hanging in there and doing okay safe at home!  Let me know what you're filling the non-working portion of your days with...arts and crafts projects? Music or outdoor fun? Snacks and Netflix? I want to hear all the ideas you have to stay healthy and happy.  

(Photos by Lily Glass and Casey Brodley, styling by Julia Wester, production assistance by Jess Hong.)

bathtime just got cuter...

Oh Joy! for Tubby Todd Bubble Bath

I am so excited to announce our newest collaboration - Bubbles and Books with Tubby Todd! Tubby Todd is one of my very favorite kids' bath brands, and we've worked together to create a Raspberry and Black Currant Bubble Bath inspired by our first ever kids' book, Be Curious! Read along with our curious cat while your little one enjoys a bubble bath! 

Oh Joy! for Tubby Todd Bubble Bath

The bubble bath is a relaxing and fun scent of raspberry and black current sure to be a favorite of kids (and parents!). We're so excited to add this Oh Joy! version to our daily bath routine!

Oh Joy! for Tubby Todd Bubble Bath

If you already have BE CURIOUS!, add the bubbles to your nighttime routine. Or, if you haven't picked up the book yet, you can order the book and the bubbles as a perfect pair. Together, they also make great birthday and baby shower gifts! Either way, bath time just got a whole lot cuter!