Hinamatsuri 2015

This is our second year in a row visiting Hina Matsuri Doll Festival.

Hinamatsuri is a Japanese holiday taking place on March 3rd. It is  Girls’ Day in Japan and colorful dolls are displayed in every home with girls.

Local Japanese community celebrates by getting together for a festival. The festival includes an amazing doll exhibition, ikebana and bonsai display. Tea Ceremony demonstrations and various acts celebrating Japanese culture are presented throughout two days.

We went today not just as guests, but also participants, D. along with his dojo-friends were doing a karate demonstration. We also got to see singing and Okinawa dancing acts, as well as Taiko drums performance.

Now a few pictures from the festival

hina matsuri denver

all the dolls are amazing works of art

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Week’s Roundup: Jan.19-25, 2015

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Wow, this week was intense! This will be a long post, as I plainly didn’t have time to make smaller ones during the week.

Photo of the week:

Butterfly pavillion

Made lovely memories in the Butterfly Pavilion

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Art Museum with Children

Today we went to  Denver Art Museum, always a joy to roam around it while looking at amazing art variety collected there. Our trip today brought to mind a post I made a very long time ago at my old (now closed) blog. Four years ago we were lucky to attend a workshop in DAM that taught us how to help children enjoy paintings. As children grew we added some of our own games as well. I apply these ways to looking at art albums at home and online as well.

Games to Play in an Art Museum

For children going to an art museum can be a challenge and quite an overwhelming activity, and I find that these little games help to keep even my very wiggly 6 y.o. interested. For D. these became a beloved part of a museum trip, he’s looking forward to them every time we go.

  • Portraits: Look at face expressions and try to guess the mood and/or personality traits of the person depicted. For older children looking at the details in costume and trying to guess the occupation or era in which they lived is another fun activity (D. loves looking at swords and hats)
  • Still life: What’s on it? Is it cold or hot? What would it taste like (for food)? What would it feel like (for other objects)? Would you take it home and why or why not?
  • Landscapes: Discuss weather, smells in the air, what would you do if you happened to be in the picture right now… etc.
  • Tell a story. Never miss an opportunity to tell a story about the scenery in a painting. I remember making up stories while looking at paintings one of the favorite quiet games of my childhood. Another interesting way to play would be to find a picture that would continue the story- this might be easier to play if there are several pictures of the same artist or the same style (that’s where postcard or stickers sets come in handy to play at home). For older children it’s a lot of fun to make up a name for a painting on the spot, describe the painting in two words only, remember your favorite painting/sculpture and write a short story about it (D. had a blast writing about Fox Games by Sandy Skoglund today)
  • Imitate a picture. Creating living pictures was a popular entertainment before the age of radio and TV. It’s a good idea to try and imitate a pose on a picture. If there are more than one willing child, creating a tableau can be a fun party game.
  • Find a color. Pick a color and try to find it on a picture or on many pictures in the gallery. At home we tried to play it bingo-style using playing cards sets from different museums.
  • Live inside a picture. Pick a painting and try to imagine yourself inside it. Where would you hide? What does it feel like? This activity is my absolute favorite, children love it as well. gorgeous landscapes are the best for it.
  • Pick a theme and try to find it on pictures, for example children pick a boat and try to find it on paintings throughout the museum, whoever gets the most of their chosen item wins the game.
  • Sketch! As children got older it became fun for them to try and copy a picture they see and particularly like. So we always carry small sketchbooks and a pencil case (those are available at DAM as well). It is not always allowed (sometimes there is plainly no room to sit) especially for travelling exhibits, it is good to check beforehand for areas where it’s permitted. It is absolutely rewarding to see children’s versions of great paintings.

Other tips:

  • For the activities listed above I find it easier to pick one game per visit for small children and for older to combine a couple.
  • Prepare for a special exhibit. It is always good to plan a trip, and it’s worth it to look an artist over and pick a painting to keep a look out for.
  • We don’t go to every hall in one visit, but rather concentrate on one or two.
  • We usually stay for two hours at the most. Hunger is another thing to consider, especially for younger kids.
  • Museums often have activities for children such as art backpacks and bingo cards, for example, so please check with your local museum for available activities.

Other resources to check out:

Google Art Project

Freely Educate just posted Art History Lessons for children 1st-8th grades

10 Best Art Museums for kids

How to make a trip to an art museum fun from Artful Parent


We enjoyed first 5 days of holiday season and the 5 that followed were just as delightful, although quite busy. So what did we do?

Day 6: Cookies day

We made our first batch of cookies, the absolute favorites- Oatmeal Cookies. This recipe came from the message board I’ve been a part of for a very long time, and I’m sorry to say I don’t know who was the original creator of this recipe. But it’s an absolute win every time (recipe below)



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Bird walk

Last Sunday we went birding for the very first time. Local Audubon Society does monthly walks in different locations in Denver Metro Area and most of the events are free or low cost. It was a wonderful 3,5 mile walk and me and children learned a lot about spotting, identifying and recording our sighting from Master Birders. We will absolutely be back for another walk at the first opportunity. Find an Audubon Society near you via their website 

There is and excellent book list with activities on Cornell Lab of Ornithology page. We are only just starting our adventure in bird watching, but the simplest activities are easily implemented , the feeder can be built from simple materials at hand such as milk carton or bottle, simply watching birds in one’s own backyard and enter sightings into e-bird database

Some pictures from our outing:

will we be lucky today?

will we be lucky today?

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October in pictures

October just flew by. Why does time rushes like an express train these days? It seems  that the biggest challenge for me is to slow it down, and still I fail somehow. I did not have time to blog, but we did have time for some nice outings, nowhere terribly new and yet, because of the season and its colors, these places felt truly magical.

Hudson Gardens

I love weekdays there, the garden is empty save for a few moms with very small children and elderly people. We love to bring our sketchbooks and this time around we just took our time admiring splashes of orange and red everywhere.

splashes of red

splashes of red

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September weeks 3 and 4

Summer moved on, and fall is slowly moving in. It was pretty hot in our parts these past two weeks (upper 80s yikes) , and only now it starts to cool down a little.

So what have we been up to?

Learning at home : We are moving along with our school nicely, however I realized once again that it is simply impossible to get everything done the way I planned it. I get carried away and forget that there is plenty of time for us. D. continues to work on his violin and makes a wonderful progress.

Best memories: I asked children to quietly do origami and they made it an art activity.

C.'s storm skies

C.’s stormy sea

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