Headhunting Calendar for 2018

Headhunting Calendar by Pearl R. Lewis
Headhunting Calendar by Pearl R. Lewis

Daily Headhunting

You have to check a calendar every now and again, right? You might as well derive maximum health benefit from this tedious task. Laughter is good for you, isn’t it? So a healthy calendar might throw some laughs your way. And challenging your mind is good for you, is it not? So a healthy calendar might exercise your mind from time to time with questions and puzzles that stimulate your problem-solving skills. And broadening your vocabulary is not too bad for you either, right? So a healthy calendar might get you thinking about words and idioms that you haven’t thought about in years, or which you have never heard before.

Healthy Calendars

The HEADHUNTING 2018 CALENDAR does all this and more. The wall-sized calendar is illustrated with bizarre “heads” from my HEADHUNTER Collection of line drawings. These large-sized illustrations are perfect for coloring, and will appeal to people of all ages. If you want an extra dose of healthy on top of the good stuff already mentioned, pick up some colored markers and store them near your calendar. (If you keep your calendar on your fridge, you can glue small craft magnets to your favorite colored markers and keep the markers on the fridge alongside the calendar.) Coloring is a relaxing, therapeutic activity that your body and mind can benefit from at any time. Add a bit of color to your calendar while you wait for your first cup of the coffee to brew. Add a bit more as you wait for supper to cook. Then stop by and add yet another dash when you steal into the kitchen for that midnight snack. You are free to take all month to color one head! To learn more about the health benefits of coloring, read this article about the effect of art on healing. If you don’t like color, stick with the uncolored line art, but if you want EXTRA BENEFIT from this calendar, go ahead and color like crazy.

What can you expect to find inside the HEADHUNTING 2018 CALENDAR?

Headhunting 2018 Coloring and Puzzle Calendar by Pearl R. LewisThis is a 12-month calendar in the landscape 11″ x 8.5″ format. As you turn the page to each new month, you will encounter a new “head-focused” word or number activity that is integrated with a peculiar (yes, the art may seem a little odd to those who don’t use their imaginations too often) head illustration. If you want to get aHEAD, then you have to get your HEAD into top gear. This calendar is all about helping you do that in a light-hearted, low stress kind of way. This calendar involves the kind of head-scratching that the whole family can enjoy. Challenge each other to use the new words or idioms you discover. See who can solve that month’s puzzle first. And, for those who just NEED to know if they are right (you know who you are), you can find the puzzle solutions right here on this blog. The solutions will be posted in the relevant month. Just relax and take your time, else it may end up feeling like an exam.

Find Calendar Puzzle Solutions Right Here

If you are not in the habit of checking this blog regularly, do yourself a favor and subscribe. There is a SUBSCRIBE button on this very page, so its as easy as clicking a button. Subscribe and you will get the puzzle solutions delivered straight to your email inbox.  Ahh… yes! Convenience!

Where to Find the HEADHUNTING CALENDAR

The HEADHUNTING 2018 CALENDAR is already available from the online Lulu Bookstore.  Get your Christmas shopping completed early this year. You can scratch everyone off the list in one quick shopping trip. Want to leave your colleagues, parents, besties, neighbors, aunts, and uncles unsure whether they should scratch their noggin or laugh their nut off? HEADHUNTING is for everyone, so join the hunt!

 

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Bigger is Better for Christmas Gifting

#ColortheCarols - Color the Christmas Carols COMBO ComparisonIf you have spent any time with me, then you know I struggle to get through a conversation without asking questions. How. Why. When. But it seems I am not the only one with a case of the dreaded questionitis. You have questions, too. And it only seems fair that I should spend some time answering your questions. (By the way, if you would like to ask me a question, feel free to use the contact form on this website to connect with me.)

I am going to devote a few blog posts to answering questions about our family’s newest creative project: the Color the Carols COMBO. If you are not already familiar with this product, you can read more about it how this project evolved in earlier posts on this blog. In this post, we are going to explore why there are TWO versions of this COMBO, and which one is the best fit for YOU.

  1. Why create TWO versions of COLOR the CAROLS COMBO?
    It is said that variety is the spice of life, is it not? We know people like to be able to exercise their freedom of choice, plus we wanted to create variations that would work for a variety of different folk. But we didn’t want to offer too many choices – that makes shopping stressful, and this COMBO is all about de-stressing. So we settled on two variations: the basic COMBO, and the BIG COMBO. Both COMBOs are currently sold and shipped (domestically and internationally) by the Tiger Music Store in Texas. Both COMBOS are ideal as gifts (or to treat yourself) – the BIG COMBO simply packs a few extras into the parcel.
  2. What is the difference between the COMBOs?
    The basic COLOR the CAROLS COMBO includes the following items: a copy of the UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS CD, a copy of the COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS adult-friendly coloring book, an insert that lists all 49 tracks from the album in alphabetical order (so its easy to find your favorites quickly), and a letter from the creators of the product.
    The COLOR the CAROLS BIG COMBO includes the following items: a copy of the UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS CD, a copy of the COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS adult-friendly coloring book, an insert that lists all 49 tracks from the album in alphabetical order (so its easy to find your favorites quickly), a letter from the creators of the product, PLUS a set of colored pencils, a pencil sharpener (because it’s easier to color with sharp pencils), and a ready-to-color Christmas card (and envelope – so you can mail it as soon as you have finished coloring the card).
  3. Which COMBO should I get?
    The COMBO you select for yourself depends on what you already own (or can borrow from your children’s school supplies). If you already own a box of colored pencils or markers, then you probably don’t need a set that contains these items – the basic COMBO will suit you. The colorable Christmas card is a fun item to add your own creativity to, but note that the BIG COMBO only contains one such Christmas card. (The basic COMBO does not include a colorable card.) Need more than one card? You can buy a family-sized set of these ready-to-color Christmas cards directly from my ETSY store.
    If you are buying a COMBO as a gift, and don’t know the recipient too well e.g. you have no idea if they already do a lot of coloring or not, consider buying the BIG COMBO. It includes everything the gift recipient needs to get started right away with coloring. (A coloring book without crayons is a bit like a battery-operated toy without batteries – not so much fun.) The major advantage to purchasing the BIG COMBO is that you can start coloring as soon as you unpack your order. No need to make a trip to the store to get colored pencils or a sharpener. You are ready for coloring action, so there is no excuse to put off starting your relaxing countdown to Christmas.
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COLOR the CAROLS: music and art to celebrate Christmas

Color the Carols COMBO by Eddie and Pearl LewisIt’s the first of October and an exciting day in the Lewis household. It’s RELEASE DAY for the  COLOR the CAROLS COMBO. This COMBO includes the adult-friendly coloring book COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS and the instrumental Christmas CD UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS. The COMBO is the result of a joint effort by my super talented husband, Eddie Lewis, and myself.

Over recent years, our family has been noticing how ragged and worn-out people look as the countdown to Christmas progresses. The festive season has become an exhausting time which many people have grown to dread: the endless shopping for gifts, the over-consumption of unhealthy food, office parties, stressful family get-togethers, church productions, crazy traffic, malls crammed with people, more shopping, and so it continues. By the time Christmas Day arrives, many people just want to crawl into a dark corner behind the Christmas tree and sleep off a month of fatigue and irritation. Where has all the PEACE and JOY that is supposed to be associated with Christmas gone? The Christmas carols advertise this blissful state, yet for many a joyful, peaceful Christmas is just a distant memory from a childhood when things moved slower and life was simpler.

Can we recapture that Christmas joy and peace described in the Bible and the many carols? Can we experience it again this Christmas? Eddie and I set out to discover if this was possible. We wanted to create something that would give people the opportunity to shut out the noise and stress of the festive season for at least a little while each day. Our music and illustration skills came together in what we can best describe as a “Christmas experience”. That may sound a little strange, but that is what makes this product what it is: a soothing balm for weary souls. The combo is designed to immerse you in the Christmas story, by soaking your senses in the story. For a little time each day, as you use this COMBO, you can become part of the Christmas story, rejoicing with the angels and shepherds, and at peace with Joseph and Mary. For a little time each day, as you journey through the COMBO using music and the creative application of color, you can leave behind the craziness of the Christmas season, and soak yourself in the true meaning of Christmas.

The coloring book (COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS) takes you through the Christmas story, from the prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ to the fulfillment of the prophecy. Each full-page, hand-drawn illustration is accompanied by a page with the scripture which forms the basis for the drawing. This page also includes an extract from a well-known carol that relates to the scripture and the illustration. To deepen the experience of exploring this scene, this text page also includes reference to one or more (sometimes as many as six) carols from the UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS album. It is recommended that you play the CD as you color, and pay particular attention to the referenced carols for that page. (This text page is also framed and includes design elements from the accompanying main illustration, so there is plenty of opportunity to add color.)

There is no shortage of documentation available online to support coloring as a relaxing, stress-reducing activity. (If you want to read more about the impact of art therapy methods such as coloring on health, you can read this blog post.) Music has similar powerful health benefits. By combining music and art (to take advantage of the health and well-being benefits of both streams of creativity) with the uplifting effects of scripture, the  COLOR the CAROLS COMBO offers a unique Christmas-focused experience. When you open the book, turn on the music, and settle down to meditate on one moment in the Christmas story, you choose something better, something more joyful and more peaceful, than the rush and the stress of today’s Christmas season where it is easy to forget WHY we are celebrating. Treat yourself to a worthwhile Christmas experience this year – and then share the joy and peace with others.

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Final Stretch for 2016 Christmas Project

Christmas Coloring Book by E and P Lewis
Final checks to the illustrations for the Christmas carol coloring book.

Who doesn’t love a cheerfully bright and colorful Christmas? This year, my husband (the embodiment of multi-facetted creativity) and I set out to develop a cheerful, creative product that would embrace the best of Christmas. We wanted this to be a joint creative project that would pool our individual talents, and yield something that would give people a real-time break from all the craziness that Christmas has devolved into. We chose to embark on a project that would blend the visual and hearing senses in an experience that revisits the joy and peace of Christmas. The end of this project is in sight, and the product (which is perfect for gifting) is due for early release in October 2016.

My husband’s half of the project is the listening experience. And it is an experience you will want to have – the music is hauntingly beautiful, and will put you in the mood for the best kind of Christmas. When you have brain-fry and mall-fog from the Christmas shopping that makes you wish you could skip Christmas this year, this is the music you need to be listening to. The CD (which will also be available as a digital download) features a blend of old (read that as VERY well known) and not-so-common Christmas carols. What sets this collection of Christmas carols apart is that the entire album is played exclusively on trumpet. (Technically, it’s not just trumpet, as some of the recordings do feature flugelhorn, but I think of the flugelhorn as falling under the instrumental umbrella of the trumpet.)  The CD is perfect for listening to on its own, but it comes into its own when you couple it with my half of the project.

My responsibility was to develop an adult-friendly coloring book that would amplify the experience of listening to the Christmas carols on the CD. Coloring is a great way to unwind at the end of a stressful day, and the festive season has become notorious for taking our stress levels up more than just a few notches. We wanted to develop a coloring experience that would keep the user’s attention on the Christmas story (after all, that is central to why we celebrate at Christmas), and provide plenty of opportunity to indulge in the use of uplifting, vibrant colors. And we wanted to double the relaxation and joy-infusing effect of the coloring by coupling it with mood-uplifting music.

Each page in the coloring book represents a stage in the development of the Christmas story. Those familiar with my drawing style will know that this book won’t look like most of the coloring books you find stacked up on the shelves at the grocery checkout. I like freestyle drawing, and the blending of reality with the abstract. This book is an expression of how I see the Christmas story: a little humor, a little abstract patterning, many fun spaces to color, and a lot of Jesus. And each page is directly related to one or more of the carols on the accompanying CD. Each full-page illustration comes with a list of the carols that are referenced by the illustration, an extract from a carol, and the scripture that forms the foundation for the illustration (and the carols).

With the release date set for October 2016, we are definitely in the final stretch. The music has been recorded, the illustrations are finished, and the final product is coming together. The combo product will initially be sold through Tiger Music, an online music store that ships internationally, but you will be able to buy the CD and the coloring book separately at a later stage. Stay updated by subscribing to my blog (there’s a button on the side of this page), or to my husband’s blog.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift that is cheerful, uplifting, colorful, joy-inducing, stress-relieving, and plain FUN to use, this CD and coloring book combo fits the bill.

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Love in Scripture: Free Adult Coloring Pages

Fruit of the Spirit: LoveIn celebration of the release of my latest coloring book, “Fruit of the Spirit Colouring Book“, I have a gift for you. You can collect your own FREE copy of “LOVE” in my store. Visit the FREEBIE section of the store to load your cart with digital products that are currently offered as gifts to all my readers.

Why do I give some products away?

I believe most customers are not true risk takers when it comes to shopping (and rightly so). Most want to be able to open the box and look inside BEFORE they hand over their hard-earned money. Digital products (which, by their very “virtual” nature, cannot come with a return option) are particularly challenging for the less adventurous shopper. I want my customers to purchase my digital products with confidence, and having the opportunity to look inside a book or color a sample page goes a long way to building confidence in the products I create.

Is there a catch?

No. Free is free! If the price tag says ZERO, then you won’t be charged anything at checkout. You don’t need to add other products to the cart to be able to receive a FREEBIE. Of course, I would love to have you buy other items from my store, but you are not obliged to. I want you to enjoy using the FREE products, and I would appreciate hearing how you experience the items. Feel free to stop by and leave a comment here.

 

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FRACTONIA at Amazon

Fractonia by P.R. Lewis at Amazon.com“Fractonia” is now available for Kindle e-book readers. Unlike Google Play, Amazon is not offering a special introductory price for the ebook. However, Amazon has enabled the popular ” text-to-speech” option for this book. “Text-to-speech” is available on the following devices: Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle (2nd generation), and Kindle DX.

Amazon does offer a preview of the book, albeit disappointingly short. If you are interested in seeing a little more of the book before you decide to purchase, I recommend a visit to Lulu. Lulu is offering a more detailed, downloadable preview of the book in ePUB format. You can also purchase the ebook or the print version of “Fractonia” directly from the Lulu bookstore.

Purchase the Kindle-formatted version of “Fractonia” from Amazon.com.

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What Sane Person Writes a Novel about Fractions?

fractions“Mathematics is boring. Why do we have to study it anyway?”

“Do I REALLY have to finish all my Math homework? It’s just the same stuff over and over, and it makes no sense to me.”

“I hate doing these algebra exercises. They are SOOOOO boring.”

“I don’t understand this. It’s stupid. Why can’t I do something useful with my time?”

If you are a parent or teacher, then you have probably heard it all. The whining. The complaining. The angry outbursts. For a logical and emotionless subject, Mathematics has an uncanny ability to draw passionate responses from young people. It’s seldom a “YAY, I have Math homework” kind of response. No, it’s more like “ARGHHHH, I HATE Math!”

So why would anyone choose Mathematics as a starting point for a youth novel? And note that we are not talking about some mystical and captivating mathematical subject like String Theory or Equations of Relativity. No, sirree! We like a challenge, don’t we? Out with the exciting stuff, so we can sink our teeth into a common, garden-variety subject: fractions. Yes, you read that correctly. FRACTIONS. Not eye-popping fractal mathematics, mind you. Just regular fractions with numerators and denominators: those little number beasts you encountered way back in grade three of four.

Fractions in all their simple glory were the starting point for “Fractonia”. So is this a story about fractions? (Are you yawning and shaking your head in disbelief?) Yes, but probably not in the way you think. When I was at school and fractions were introduced to the class, the teacher talked about picking apples from a tree. (That was in the days when children actually went outside and climbed trees, so students could relate to the image of apples hanging from a tree.) More recently, while doing research for a new project, I took a look at some junior school materials focused on fractions. The apples were gone from the chapters about fractions. In their place, the reference to pizza slices appeared more often than anything else. (It seems the “an apple a day” phrase has been replaced with “a slice of pizza a day“.) Imagine this pizza being cut into pieces. Your friend eats one slice. You eat five slices. What percentage of the pizza is left? Is this stimulating your imagination and encouraging learning, or is it just making you think that you are hungry? Is there a different way to visualize fractions?

I set out to create a story that would give readers an entirely new perspective on fractions. Why? So they could better understand fractions? No – so they could know it is possible for something as “boring” as fractions to become interesting just by changing our perspective. I wanted to paint an imaginative picture over those sad pizza slices with no story to tell – a picture so unexpected that it would encourage readers to create their own imaginative ways to view subjects they found “boring”. In my experience, an interested student is more likely to learn and overcome learning difficulties than a student who is bored with the topic they are studying. In her article entitled, “How the Power of Interest Drives Learning“, Annie Murphy Paul says the following: “When we’re interested in what we’re learning, we pay closer attention; we process the information more efficiently; we employ more effective learning strategies, such as engaging in critical thinking, making connections between old and new knowledge, and attending to deep structure instead of surface features. When we’re interested in a task, we work harder and persist longer, bringing more of our self-regulatory skills into play.” If we learn better when we are interested, why not find a way to make what we have to learn interesting and engaging? It seems like a simple, common-sense way to ensure we learn more and enjoy doing it.

At its core, “Fractonia” is less about Mathematics and more about attitude. Yes, fractions are part of the story, but no, the story is about exploration, discovery, and possibility. It’s about taking responsibility for our own learning. Our learning is not our parents’ or our teachers’ responsibility – it is OURS: yours and mine. We don’t have to wait for our teacher to make the subject exciting or justify why we should study it. We don’t need to be entertained before we can learn something. No, the process of learning is an adventure that can be created and hosted inside your very own imagination. Go on the adventure, or stay home and mope about how boring everything is.

If you have never had a teacher show you HOW to create your very own learning adventure, sit down and read. But don’t read to be entertained – read to discover. Read so the book can become your teacher and show you how to create your own learning adventure. “Fractonia” is my adventure with something as simple as fractions. Other authors will take you on different adventures. You may not be ready to write your adventure in a book, but you are ready to have an adventure. There are no age limits on learning – we never outgrow a good adventure. What will your next adventure be?

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The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics

The Dot and the Line by Norton JusterLove stories abound, even in the world of Mathematics. Mathematics may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of romance, but it does boast its fair share of romantic dramas. Norton Juster took the time to document one such love story in “The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics”. As in all love stories, there are well constructed characters, although these particular characters cannot claim to be multi-facetted. Meet the “him”: a boring, straight line. There is the “her”: a gorgeous dot. And then there is “the competition”: the bad-boy squiggle. Line falls for dot, but squiggle gets in the way. What is line to do when dot gets tangled up with squiggle? Mathematics holds the key, and line is determined to unlock the solution to his problem.

“The Dot and the Line” was published in 1963, and turned into a short film (shown below) in 1965. Apparently, Norton Juster found inspiration in the mathematics fiction classic “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” (1884).  “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” was written by an English school teacher named Dr Edwin Abbott. The story plays out in a two-dimensional world where women are simple line segments and men are the more complicated polygons. It may sound like the kind of geometry lesson that will put hairs on the chest of any women’s libber, but you won’t know for sure until you read it. “Flatland” is a lot more than mathematics in an easy-to-read, story format, yet it remains best known for how it opens up the concept of dimensions and challenges us to explore new perspectives. Sadly, this quaint book went largely unnoticed until Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity (in which the fourth dimension of time plays a significant role) was published in 1915. Thankfully, someone mentioned this extraordinary book in the same Nature article as Einstein was mentioned (1920), and “Flatland” rose to join other mathematical works of note. I discovered “Flatland” many years ago in the basement of a university library, and hope many more students had the curiosity to pull this book from the dusty shelf after me. If you have not read “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions”, do yourself a favor and borrow or buy a copy.

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Benefits of Crafts for Children and Adults

Pottery as a craftCrafts can be fun, but are they good for you?  In a Kidspot article entitled “Benefits of Craft for Kids“, the author lists a handful of the benefits for children engaging in craft activities. Did you know that crafting stimulates the child’s imagination to create their own entertainment, and helps grow their confidence in their own ability to make decisions? In response to the question “Do Arts & Crafts Help A Preschool Kid?, Naudain Academy suggests that crafting contributes to the development of a variety of valuable skills including social, communication, fine motor, and problem solving skills. Most educators and parents seem to agree that crafting is highly beneficial for young children, but the confidence wanes when asked to consider crafts for older children and adults. Is there a point at which doing crafts becomes a waste of time?

Let’s define a craft activity, because it is often confused with art. Crafting is a goal-oriented activity, where the end result is well defined (usually by some external source like a set of instructions). An art-focused activity is an open-ended, expressive activity where the end result is less clearly defined by an external source and is instead usually determined by the artist. For example, if you are doing a craft to make a paper box with specific dimensions, the end result may not be perfect, but if you followed the instructions, you should end up with an item that is clearly identifiable as a paper box with a predictable size. An art assignment may be stated this way: “paint a picture of your mother”. About all you know in advance is that the end product will involve paint and possibly something that resembles a woman, but it is the artist who decides what the picture will look like. Although creativity is most often associated with the arts, crafting activities can (and should) be designed to stimulate the imagination and motivate the crafter to think outside the box.

So let’s again visit the possibility that crafts stop being beneficial once children reach school age. Are crafts really a waste a time for older children and adults? I believe crafting remains beneficial throughout a person’s lifetime. I also believe that the most beneficial crafts are those designed to stimulate the imagination i.e. craft-oriented arts or art-oriented crafts. When the benefits of both arts and crafts are married in a single product or activity, you get the most bang for your buck (if you think of learning and developing skills as an investment in yourself or your children).

So how are crafts good for you?

  1. crafts offer an opportunity to practise the skill of following instructions
  2. crafts encourage the development of a practical skill (e.g. cutting, sewing, carving, color coordinating, etc.) that can often be used outside the craft environment
  3. crafts have a clearly defined end point which enables and develops the skill of self-evaluation (i.e. the crafter can compare their progress to their goal or expected outcome throughout the process)
  4. crafts develop patience
  5. crafts offer the reward of a sense of accomplishment once the goal is achieved
  6. crafts offer the opportunity to create practical or useful items, thereby providing a tangible return on the time and money invested in the project
  7. crafts demonstrate, in a practical way, the link between having a goal and taking steps to achieve the goal
  8. crafting helps you de-stress by forcing you to focus on the task at hand and distracting you from thoughts or activities that exacerbate anxiety and depression

If you have the choice, select a craft activity that stimulates your imagination, encourages problem-solving, and requires creative thinking. Next time you have the option to buy entertainment products, consider buying a simple craft kit instead. The benefits of crafting extend well beyond what the average video game or movie can offer you. Crafting is good for you, and you don’t need to be an artist to craft.

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Create Your Own Greeting Card Characters

Rainy Day Crafts "Make a Face" DIY Card KitDeveloping learning materials requires mental flexibility. You have to bend your thinking to wrap itself inside and around the project objectives. Some days, you are faced with heavy, academic projects, where the highlight of the day coincides with you spotting that delinquent isosceles triangle masquerading as an equilateral. Other days, the challenge is less academic and rather reminiscent of carefree playtime. But therein lies the delight of learning: there is no one right way to encourage learning. Variety keeps the learning experience engaging for the developer and the user of the learning materials. Learning materials can take the form of textbooks so heavy they could serve as lethal weapons if you tapped them a little too vigorously on someone’s head. But learning materials can just as easily evolve as toys, art assignments, woodworking tasks, sewing projects, or some other imaginative activity. Some people may not consider craft kits to be more than a pre-planned activity to keep children busy, but crafting is a wonderful way for children (and adults) to learn on a number of different levels. Craft kits lean towards the “playtime” edge of the learning spectrum, so the lessons learned by crafting are not always obvious in an academic sense. It’s unlikely that an activity such as making a handmade greeting card will directly affect your ability to ace your next calculus test. However, making greeting cards along with any other crafting activity you engage in, should  be stimulating your imagination while contributing to your skill repertoire. (Next time you buy a book or toy for your child, ask yourself what they will gain by using your gift.)

One of the highlights on my work this month was the opportunity to design a new greeting card kit. The first run of these “MAKE A FACE” DIY card kits were released last week. These kits are currently available from Zisubu Artique, a craft store on Etsy.

When I sat down to design this kit, I wanted to give families the opportunity to gather around the kitchen table and make something unusual together. But, I didn’t want something so unusual (in the bizarre sense of the word) that it would be destined for the trash bin. I like to make practical, useful craft items for myself, so I usually try to maintain that same objective when designing for others.  Greeting cards are an enjoyable way for people of all ages to share their thoughts, encourage others, and practise gratitude. And what better way to add value to the words you share, than by making the greeting card yourself? The “MAKE A FACE” DIY card kit contains most of what you need to make a character-focused, handmade greeting card. You add the craft glue and a marker pen (or colored pencils, if you prefer). A pair of scissors is not required, unless you want to take your creativity to the next level. Even though this looks like a children’s craft item, don’t be fooled. It’s best to stock up on enough kits to satisfy the whole family, because no-one can resist googly eyes. The “MAKE A FACE” kit is the kind of kit that will bring out hidden creativity in everyone from the pre-schooler to grandpa.

Crafting has the tendency to become tedious if it’s too easy, so I like to throw a challenge into my kit designs, even if its just a small challenge. Don’t be alarmed – the “MAKE A FACE” kits involve a little more than gluing. Yes, you get to draw! And yes, I know some people are terrified of drawing, because someone way back in their past made them believe they are useless at drawing. If that is you, then today is your day to start afresh. Treat this kit as if it is your first drawing assignment ever, and remember that the character you create is all yours.  You can’t draw your character incorrectly, because your character comes from inside your head. If he ends up with a crooked smile, broken nose, messed up hair, and squint eyes then BRAVO! THAT is your character and you created him to look that way.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Included in the kit are five blank head shapes. They are your foundation for character development. I cut these heads free hand, so every kit is guaranteed to have five unique starter characters for you to play with.  You can use all five heads on your card, but I prefer working with three heads.  Glue down your favorite heads in any arrangement you like. Now add the googly (moving) eyes. The eyes are everyone’s favorite bit, but watch out for “jumping eyes”. The googly eyes tend to build up static and may jump out of your hand when you try to free them from the package they come in. Hold on tight or you will crawling around on the floor looking for eyeballs.

Once the heads and eyes are glued in place, you can free your inner creative genius. Start small by adding a curved line as a smile. If that doesn’t seem too scary, add a wild hairstyle, a scarf, perhaps a bowtie, or even a hat. Still feeling the flow of creative juices? Go on. Don’t stop now. Add a body. Remember that there are no rules here – the creature you create can be terrestrial or alien, so don’t worry if you end up with three legs and seven hands. Mistakes can evolve into something  quite remarkable, if you permit it.

If you are doing this activity as a family or in a group environment, encourage the participants to talk about the characters they are creating. Share ideas. Develop a story together. This is a great opportunity to help young people develop story-telling skills.

When your character card is complete, turn it over and attach the “made especially for you by….” label provided in the kit package. Sign the label so the card’s recipient knows who put in the effort to make such a memorable greeting. Then give your handmade card to someone and let that person know you how much they mean to you.

 

 

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