Jim Henson: How to Make Puppets (1969)

Oooh Kiddley finds all the best stuff… Here’s a film clip of Jim Henson on Iowa Public Television giving a workshop on puppet making. Totally simple puppets anyone can make. This is in the pre-Sesame Street days, but I defy you to listen to Henson’s voice and not think of Kermit..


NFB Children’s Films Celebrate Cultural Diversity

The old NFB logo.

I just love sending people to the National Film Board of Canada site – they are a national treasure and thankfully seem very keen to provide online access to their vast collection. (Their Christmas Advent Calendar app – a film a day – is always a big hit in our house.)


Here, in one handy spot, are a serious of animated shorts reflecting the cultural diversity of Canadians. We haven’t watched them all yet, but The Girl Who Hated Books is a true gem, and my daughter watched Asthma Tech about twenty times.


Polish Children’s Book Illustrations

On the blog 50 Watts, check out 3 marvellous collections of vintage illustrations:

from the 1950s,

from the 1960s,

and from the 1970s.

Gorgeous stuff. (Warning, once you visit this site, you may never leave! An incredible image archive.)

Illus. by Jan Marcin Szancer for Gulliver's Travels, 1958From the collection of Hipopotam

Illus. by Jan Marcin Szancer for Gulliver’s Travels, 1958
From the collection of Hipopotam

Illus. by Zdzisław Witwicki for Z przygód krasnala Hałabały, 1960From the collection of Hipopotam

Illus. by Zdzisław Witwicki for Z przygód krasnala Hałabały, 1960
From the collection of Hipopotam

Illus. by Maria Szymańska for Dar Królowej Róż, 1971From the collection of Hipopotam

Illus. by Maria Szymańska for Dar Królowej Róż, 1971
From the collection of Hipopotam

Make Your Own Tutu!

Thanks to Different Solutions on Facebook, here’s a no-sew tutu I think even I could make!

Just for fun… Lego birds!

I love this, and it opens up the delicious possibilities for Lego projects beyond Stars Wars…

via. treehugger.com – Gardener Hopes to Teach Kids About Birds Using Legos

p.s. If you’ve never done a Lego kit with your child, it’s fun, satisfying, and (I found) strangely soothing as well. (Instructions are brilliantly simple – a cut above ikea!) Can a zen state be achieved through Lego? Discuss.

Websites and Apps for Kids – Recommendations

Here’s a grab bag of recommended sites for the technologically inclined parent and child.

ALA Recommendations

Some really interesting sites here on the American Library Association recommended websites for kids.

Commonsense Media

The Commonsense Media site covers a lot of ground, but I’ve just been checking out (and appreciating) its great listing of apps, complete with reviews, that is searchable by genre, age level, etc. Get the low-down on some of those ultra-popular games and find out if they are really age appropriate for your child…

Khan Academy

Math Topics, Grade 1 to Adult – Here’s one that a friend recommended for math practice, with topics well organized, and linked so you can do them in a logical order.  From the main page, click on Practice and you will see this chart of topics.  (Site also has videos on many topics for adults as well. As the website says, its goal is to provide a “A free world-class education for anyone anywhere.”)

Poisson Rouge

Preschool and up, all topics –  I’ve never plugged this website on this blog (that I can remember), but it’s been my favourite of the many we’ve checked out since my daughter first went online. Poisson Rouge is a non-profit educational site that is beautifully intuitive to navigate, has alphabets and vocabulary in several languages, as well as all kinds of learning games and entertaining animations and puzzles. I always loved it because she didn’t have to know how to read to explore it, and there are tons of surprises and oddities woven into the site. The games are lovely and stress-free (no points to earn, no high scores, no obsessive replaying). PLUS the art, music, and sound effects are beautiful and well-done. There’s something interesting here for any age of child. Some website games really wind kids up – I find this site to be more hypnotically transfixing…

Peep and the Big Wide World

Preschool Science and Math – If you’ve seen this PBS show you’ll know it covers basic science topics for the very young and inquisitive. The site has very simple games and is quite entertaining.

Keeping it Simple with Toddlers!

The next time you are tempted by expensive toys for toddlers (especially those posh developmental toys!), here’s an excellent reminder of the beauty of simple pleasures:

“Remember these 4 words and you’ll always have Things to Do with a Toddler”

Keep it simple!

Changing “Famous Five” Book Covers

Here’s an interesting post on the Telegraph website, about the changing cover designs of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books in the UK.

I’m not so familiar with these books, but I imagine them comparable to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books in North America, which have also undergone extensive rewrites, redesigns and upgradings over the years.

It’s always interesting to see what adults think will appeal to ‘modern’ children…

(This link thanks to bundleofbooks on Twitter…)

Oscar-Winning Animated Short

Here’s a link to watch the animated short film which won the Oscar this year – The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. A wordless hymn to the romance of books, with a distinct nod to Buster Keaton.

Sing a song. Seriously. Right now!

Here’s an interesting article about the many benefits of singing: “It sounds and feels good” by Hema Vijay.

What particularly interested me was how “MOP” performs –

In his concerts, he simplifies a classical song, breaking it up into phrases, so that even lay persons can pick up the melody and sing it.

I would love to go to a concert like that!

As a related tidbit, when my daughter was a mere baby I remember singing everything as I carried her around, ie. “Now we’re going downstairs” or “Oh the phone is ringing” etc. Now I’m thinking it was doing me as much good as it was entertaining her. (Or maybe I’m overestimating the entertainment properties of my voice…)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.