Crafty Blogs

Monday, 22 February 2010

Get your free Doodle Sheets here!


Inspired by my previous post, I have created a series of 6 doodle sheets that are free to download.  I have produced them at A5 size (though they could be made smaller or larger if you choose) and they can either be printed off and used as they come, or trimmed and laminated to make re-usable doodle sheets, as illustrated here.  If laminated, they should be used with special dry-wipe pens to allow them to be wiped clean.  I also punched a hole in the corner of each sheet and tied them together using a keyring so that I could carry them about more easily.

You are free to use these however you choose (except commercially of course!)

Get your doodle sheets here:

Hopefully this will work for everyone - I've not used Scribd before, but it seems that this is the generally recommended way of adding a PDF document to your blog.  I've also just realised that I've stupidly made an error with my blog address on the sheets themselves - aaaghh!!! I shall have to see if I can set up a re-direct now.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Oodles of Doodles

Over the following week, I'm going to follow the theme of Doodles or 'playful' drawing. Today, I'm going to do a review of the Doodle Cards produced by Usborne, which I purchased over Christmas. They are part of a wider trend over the last few years which has seen a number of children's books brought out where you are invited to complete a picture, in fact when I started researching this, I was astonished at how many there are, with new titles coming out all the time.  I bought 'The Boys' Doodle Book' for my son, (there is of course also The Girls' Doodle Book ) by Andrew Pinder (Buster Books) but there are lots of others on a range of different themes, including The Art Doodle Book (suitable for older children, as you are invited to complete doodles 'in the style of' some of the great masters'). There are even grown-up versions such as:

      I think these are a terrific idea, much more creative than simple colouring books, in that they encourage children (or adults) to use their imagination and practice their drawing skills in a fun and entertaining way. They are not really suitable for the youngest children, but once they start to get more confident with their drawing (perhaps around school age, but it probably varies a little from child to child) they're ideal. Having said all that, Fisher Price are introducing 'My First Doodle Book' in August this year, which presumably is aimed at younger children.
      Anyway, Usborne have produced their own version of these as part of their Activity Cards series. Instead of a book, Usborne's version is in the form of a range of Doodle Cards on different themes. There are currently 5 different themes, each containing 50 cards of around postcard size, which are presented in a box rather like a pack of playing cards. This makes them ideal for putting in a handbag for 'emergency' use. Unlike many of the books (which I suppose invite you to colour them in as well as drawing) they are colourful and have a wipe clean surface so the cards can be used again and again. Unfortunately the pen that came with my box didn't work, so I had to go out and buy a set of dry wipe pens, but at least that meant there were then a range of colours to use. The themes currently available are: Monster Doodles, Holiday Doodles, Animal Doodles, Travel Doodles, and Christmas Doodles and they sell for around £5.00.

      My verdict on these is that they are yet another great idea from Usborne, that my children enjoy using, and which I can carry around easily while travelling. I suppose my only (slight) critiscism is that their small size does inhibit the creativity somewhat, but then I suppose that's a trade off against them being conveniently handbag sized.

      This is my first 'book' review post. I suspect it won't be my last as I find that I quite enjoy the excuse to browse Amazon (do I really need an excuse?) researching them - though I do find that the temptation to buy books while doing so is very strong. Amazon are clever at suggesting other books you might be interested in, so I have a very long wish list now!

      Tuesday, 16 February 2010

      New Domain Name

      This is just a very brief post to alert everyone to the fact that I now have my own domain name for this blog: I'm not sure that this will make any difference whatsoever to anyone following or subscribing, since I am still publishing on Blogger and the new domain just redirects to the Blogger domain anyway, but I thought I'd let everyone know 'just in case'.

      Friday, 12 February 2010

      February Featured Artist

      February's Featured Artist has been contributed by Treaclezoo, and was drawn by her daugher Joy when she was 4 years old - it just goes to show that even those most ephemeral of drawings, created on a 'megasketcher' can be immortalized with a camera.  I can see why this one was recorded for posterity!

      The monthly Featured Artist is selected from images uploaded to the Artful Kids Flickr Group.
      If anyone has any masterpieces (drawings and paintings) created by children under 12 that they would like to contribute to the group, your contributions would be very welcome.

      Friday, 5 February 2010

      Creativity for Boys

      I feel the need to get on my soapbox again - it doesn't happen very often, but increasingly, as the mother of 2 boys, I feel the need to defend their right to be creative, though it seems a little ridiculous that I should feel that way.  Over the Christmas holidays, we took a family visit to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester (MOSI).  It's a wonderful free resource, full of steam engines, trains, planes, cars and other bits of technology, and they also have an interactive hands on science gallery specially for kids.  Being the holiday period it was busy, with lots of boys and girls.  While we were there they set up a creative activity to make a decorative snowflake or other decoration, which basically involved lots of glue, scissors and glitter.  As I approached it, my husband said to me 'we've found the girls' table' - and he was right, it was surrounded by about 20 small girls and their mothers, with not a male in sight.  Fortunately this did not put my son off, and he happily approached and got involved, but there were plenty of other boys around in the gallery, and there didn't seem to be anything inherently female about the activity.

      All this got me thinking.  I have already noticed that there seem to be many more creative activity kits out there aimed at girls than there are at boys, and while there is nothing stopping me buying them for a boy, the packaging might put a boy off from using it if he feels it is too girly (boys are often sensitive to these things).  In nursery, creativity does not seem to be gender specific, but once they get a little older it seems that boys, if they are creatively minded, are steered towards model building and science and engineering style projects.  My son once indicated he wanted to learn to knit and sew, and my husband's humorous response to this, was to utter words to the effect of 'over my dead body' - now he wasn't serious, but the comment was made.  If he still wants to learn (he hasn't mentioned it recently) I'll be happy to show him.  Even some of the activity kits which aren't so obviously feminine in nature, are often packaged in a girly way.  The overall impression I get from all this, and which niggles away uncomfortably in the back of my mind is that we are not really encouraging boys to be creative in the way that we encourage girls, and that this is largely an unconscious attitude - the worst kind, because we aren't even aware of it.

      Now I should say at this point, that I am talking very much in general terms.  I know there are some artistic and crafty kits out there aimed at boys, and that art materials are not gender specific, it's just that there seem to be more for girls, and I have yet to see an introductory sewing kit aimed at boys, or even one that is genuinely gender neutral.

      This is not a recent thing - when I was at art college many years ago now, 75% of students on the course were female - and that was for Fine Art - not an especially female subject you'd have thought.  I'm not sure if it would still be the same today, but I suspect it is.  In contrast, if you looked at the most successful visual fine artists of today, I think you'd find that a disproportionately high number would be male.  Maybe that just mirrors lots of other disciplines, where the same thing seems to happen, and is a whole other topic.  It seems that there is a 'science is for boys, arts subjects are for girls' attitude coming into play - an attitude that starts quite early.  So, in the light of all this I think it is important for me to do what I can to encourage artistic creativity in my boys, in whatever form it takes.

      Right, I shall get off my soap box now.  I have no doubt that some of you will think I am talking complete and utter rubbish here, and maybe I am, indeed I hope so, for the sake of male creativity in its widest form!