Tag Archives: toys

Holiday Shopping List 2012

With Thanksgiving a delicious, but increasingly distant memory, the holidays are now upon us! One of my {many} favorite holiday childhood memories is of watching the holiday TV specials—Frosty the Snowman, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and of course Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Do you remember Hermey, the elf who runs away from the North Pole because he wants to be a dentist? I like to think that perhaps he isn’t the only one and that there are elves working for Santa who dream of being firefighters, teachers, accountants, and even artists. So with Cyber Monday upon us, I’m stepping into my role as an art-loving elf and sharing some of my gift ideas for 2012.

For the littles (ages 2-4):

It’s nearly impossible to choose just one thing from the Mama May I shop, because everything is so beautiful, simple and well-made. The toys are open-ended, colorful, and inviting. Pair these counting acorns with the color sorting bowls for dramatic play, color recognition, sorting, and counting.

This Charley Harper take on the classic children’s puzzle not only introduces young children to the work of an American modern artist but also spans the breadth of the living world—mammals, insects, fish, amphibian and even a mollusk!

For the big kids (ages 5-8):

Painting has never smelled so good! GLOB’s natural paint set uses fruits, vegetables and spices to add color and scent to your child’s masterpieces.

When a Kiwi Crate arrives in the mail, you’ll be guaranteed hours of fun and exploration. Themed crates are filled with art materials, creativity sparks, science experiments and more. And with a monthly subscription, this is the gift that will keep on giving!

For the biggest kids (ages 9-12):

This isn’t your grandfather’s duct tape! With bright, modern prints and your child’s imagination, the possibilities are endless for what you can make with this Kid Made Modern Duct Tape Kit. I gave this to my nephew for his birthday, and he immediately tore into it with all kinds of ideas for things that suddenly needed tape. (And in a pinch, you can probably borrow a bit to tape up those boxes for the post office).

“Don’t worry about mistakes. Making things out of mistakes, that’s creativity.” Peter Max’s words set the tone for what Make Art Mistakes is all about—doodling, playing, imagining, creating. Quotations from artists mix with sketching and writing prompts, art concepts and mini-art lessons in this creativity sketchbook for budding artists. Pair this with a set of colored pencils and you have a great gift for the kid on the go.

Happy gift-giving!

Posted by: Leah

**All recommendations are purely my own!**


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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Babies & Toddlers, PreK

Friday Photo: Home Sweet Home

Everybody needs a home, even friendly frogs and turtles! After visiting the Reves Collection during Toddler Art, our young friends were inspired to create one Home Sweet Home with the fun materials available in Arturo’s Nest.

Posted by: Mary

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Jill Foley-inspired Puppet How-to!

Don’t miss your chance to experience The Living Room, an incredible installation at the Museum created by Dallas-based artist, Jill Foley! This is your last week to be transported to the magical world of her imagination and enjoy a truly unique and interactive work of art with your family.

While exploring The Living Room, you’ll meet many of Jill’s unique puppet characters. Have your kids pick out their favorites and point out the materials that they are made from:

A fun follow-up for your visit is for your family to create puppets of their own! Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your trip to the Museum:

  • Choosing a character. Some of Jill’s puppets are based on works of art or artists in the Museum’s collection. Have your kids pick out one or two works from the galleries that they really like and use them as a jumping off point for their creation.
  • Bring a sketchbook when you visit. Encourage your young artists to sketch from the works of art they chose–it’s a great way for them to build their skills! It’s also a great source for ideas–talk about their drawings with them, what they like best about them, and how they will make their puppet.



  • Heavyweight paper (poster board, construction paper, etc.)
  • Wire (i.e. pipe cleaners, florist wire)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Collage materials: fabric, decorative paper, feathers, etc.
  • Optional: paper fasteners, hole puncher


  1. Draw your character. I based my own puppet on the work of art below. I really liked its cape, and began thinking about superheroes:
    1. Kachina (katsina) depicting Hemis Mana kachina, United States: Arizona, Hopi people, c. 1915

  2. Cut out your drawing. You can use your collage materials to add to your character’s costume and other details.
  3. If you want, you can stop here. Tape a piece of wire to the back of your creation and you’re all set! However, if you want some ideas for making your puppet move, read on…
  4. Give your puppet joints. Cut out your character’s arms and legs and punch holes at the points where they will attach to the body:
  5. Use paper fasteners to connect the pieces together:

*Remember that your puppet can have as many joints as you want. See if you can think of other ways to make your puppet move, like:

Have each family member share their finished puppet. What is their character’s name? What work of art inspired them? As a group, write a short play starring everyone’s characters: find a space in the house to perform, use everyday items as props, and put on your own performance!

Posted by: JC


Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Art Projects, Children’s art, Just for Fun

A Little Help for Santa

There are only 11 more days until Santa’s big day, and if you are like me, you might still be searching (or scrambling!) to find just the right gift for that last person on your list. Never fear—I’m here . . . to be your secret holiday helper. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite gift ideas for the budding artist on your lists. They range from art supplies and art kits to books and blocks.

Schoodio To Go Box, $35

This art bag from Schoodio comes STUFFED with all kinds of art materials. I love the open-ended possibilities it presents for your child, and no two bags are the same, so you can order multiples for your children and they’ll each getting something unique.

Fingerprinting Art Kit, $11.50

One of my favorite summer camp ideas with 4 year olds is creating fingerprint creatures. They always come up with creative critters. I like this set because the ink pads are perfectly shaped for just one finger, and it comes with extra stamps to add fun details. Find it at Paper Source.

My First Mosaic, $11.99

This is an easy, quick project that also helps your child practice her small motor coordination. The kit from Alex Toys comes with pre-printed images, but it would be fun to have your child create her own drawing and then turn it into a mosaic with the stickers. (Even better, you can then come visit some of the fantastic mosaics at the Museum!)

Make Your Own Monster, $24

Ok, who doesn’t want to create their own monster? This is a kit more for older children (ages 7 up), and because of the monster theme, it introduces sewing in a fun way to both girls and boys. I found it at ReForm School which is a super fun site to find lots of other treasures!

Winterscape Stamp Set, $30

This stamp set from Yellow Owl Workshop allows children to play with the idea of layering stamps to create a landscape scene. They’ll be focused on creating a picture, but they will also get hands-on practice with concepts related to space in art—how to make a two-dimensional space feel like it is three-dimensional. There is also a cityscape version. If you are in town, we have these stamp sets in the DMA store!

Colorframes, $46.75 (currently on sale!)

For the builder in your family, these beautiful blocks from Learning Materials Workshop offer an endless variety of combinations—tall towers, long train tracks, quaint houses. The varied hues of the blocks guarantee that the finished results will be worthy of displaying as art!

Mala Tabletop Paper Holder, $5.99

Have an ambitious artist, but no room for a studio? Turn your kitchen table into an art studio with the Mala Tabletop Paper Holder (find it at Ikea). The holder is portable, so you can create art in the afternoon, and then easily stow it away and clear the table for dinnertime.

Charley Harper: An Illlustrated Life, $32.97

This may officially be a coffee table book, but it will fascinate children and adults alike. With pictures of animals, insects, nature, and birds, you will find yourself poring over these beautiful reproductions by the American artist Charley Harper. When I flipped through the pages, I found all kinds of inspiration for art projects. You can find this at Amazon.

Need more ideas? Here are some of the places I gathered my suggestions from: Parents Magazine, LMNOP, Real Simple, and Cookie Magazine. Happy shopping!

Posted by: Leah

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Teens + Toys = Design Contest Fun!

JC Bigornia is our guest blogger today! He is the Coordinator of Family Programs at the DMA and enjoys creating works of art in the C3 Studio with children and teaching families and teens in the galleries.


 November’s Late Night marked the second of what I hope will become a continuing program for teens linking the Art Studio and experiences with works of art in the galleries.  In years past, I’ve been approached by many parents eager to find something for their teenage son or daughter to participate in.  Recently, a conscious effort has been made to offer more for this under-served demographic.  From film camps, tech-based programs, Creativity Challenges and more, teens can experience a wide range of activities that cater to their interests.  We hope to expand on these terrific programs by adding unique and relatable workshops in the studio.

 In July, we created a graffiti-style mural inspired by artist Mark Bradford; this time, we took a peek at the world of high-end toys by holding a design contest using works of art in the All the World’s a Stage exhibition as our inspiration.  Participants were given time to explore and sketch in the show then returned to the Art Studio to make their designs.  The top five eligible entries were posted on the Museum’s Facebook page, where an online vote determined our first, second, and third-place winners.  The grand prize is a 7-inch Munny D.I.Y. toy that the winner can customize however he or she wants!

Photos of all the submissions can be seen on our Flickr page.

Toys and art, you say?  Before raising an eyebrow in skepticism, it should be said that the two actually have very much to do with each another.  For those unfamiliar with so-called “designer toys,” they have grown quite a following in the past decade and represent a very real link between pop culture and the art world. 

What separates them from your average Transformer or My Little Pony is the fact that they are designed in collaboration with artists of all types, from street artists, graphic designers, and illustrators to fine artists. Contemporary artists like Takashi Murakami have started to bring designer toys into the mainstream (he has exhibited at MOCA and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, among others).  And with the advent of do-it-yourself designer toys, you can create your own custom work of toy art!


I think the real value of the Late Night activity was not only offering something that was fun, but that it allowed everyone to respond to what they saw in the exhibition in their own way.  I was blown away by the creativity of all of the designs, and excited to see the works of art people chose as their inspiration, and how they integrated them into their drawings.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves, and I was impressed not only at how involved the adults became in their own designs, but the dialogue and interaction that took place between parents and teens in the galleries.

If you have a teen at home who’s looking for something different to do, have them check out the DMA—I think they’ll definitely find something to pique their curiosity!   We plan to offer more teen programs at future Late Nights; more information will be available on our website. 

For more information on Munny D.I.Y. toys, go to the Munny Facebook page and Kidrobot website!

 Munny and Dunny artwork copyright © Kidrobot, all rights reserved, all wrongs righted.  Munny & Dunny & Kidrobot are trademarked.

Posted by: JC 


Filed under Art Projects, Late Night, Teens

Yellow + Blue = Green

Think that an art museum is the very last place you want to bring your busy toddler? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! Arturo’s Nest is a play space at the Museum just for children ages 4 and under. Inside you can read a favorite book from our children’s library, play with art-related games and toys, and climb on bright, squishy cushions. It’s a great place to take a break or get out your energy, and no one will get in trouble for making noise, touching things, and even running around a little. In fact, we know it’s been a day of serious fun when we walk into the Nest and find toys scattered everywhere, books piled up on the reading bench, and the hand sanitizer almost gone!

In November, all the toys and featured books in Arturo’s Nest focus on COLOR. We have:


Color puzzles for kids who like to put things together.


Color sorting boxes for kids who like to take things out and put them in again.


Books about color for every age—simple board books, I Spy books, and charming stories.

And lots more! Arturo’s Nest can be where you spend your entire visit, letting your child play, read, and explore. Or, you can make it an extension of your experience at the Museum. Spend some time in your favorite gallery searching the art for your child’s favorite color. Then come to Arturo’s Nest and continue to explore color through toys, games, and books.

Stop by and say hi! Arturo’s Nest is in the Center for Creative Connections on Level 1.

(And a very special thanks to a favorite parrot–Arturo–for posing for the camera!).

Posted by: Leah

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Filed under Arturo, Babies & Toddlers, PreK