What Type of Artist is Your Child?

The really exciting thing about teaching art to kids, is that every child is completely different and has a unique way of creating things. Allow your child to create as they wish, and take a look at the list below to better understand the artist that they are.

The Modern Artist
Does your child just love working with colors and shapes? Lines and squiggles? Do they love to just experiment instead of making actual ‘things’ or ‘drawings’? Then he or she might be a budding modern artist. It is completely natural for some children, even after reaching age 8 or 9, to just love creating geometric patterns and shapes.

The Free Spirit
One of my favorite types of art student, is the free spirit. I generally bring an example to every single class… because young children are visual learners and of course it’s easier to see something, then to spend an hour describing it. The children that take my idea but make it completely their own are free spirits. They go the extra mile to be creative and take the initiative to always ‘do their own things’. The free spirit kind of child, is usually the type that will become a professional artist as an adult 😉

The Perfectionist
The examples of art projects I present, are copied exactly by my ‘perfectionist’ students. They love to replicate every single color and method I use. They don’t like to deviate at all from the project I’ve presented… and that’s completely fine with me! It shows me that they are paying attention and that they love to achieve.

Have a question or concern about your child’s creative development? Send me a message or add a comment below! I’d love to shed some light…

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley designs murals for kids rooms in Jersey City, and offers kid friendly artwork and decor to the community through her business ‘Lady Lucas’.

Check Out The New LEGOLAND Discovery Center

legoland discovery center westchester

Over spring break the boys and I made a trip up to the new Legoland Discovery Center which recently opened in the new Westchester’s Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers. There are several other LEGOLAND Discovery Center locations in the US including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Kansas City. Needless to say the boys were very excited to check it out.

2013-04-09 13.50.42     entrance to legoland

From where I am in New Jersey it is a quick 20-30 minute ride over the George Washington Bridge to get there. It is also close to my beloved Stew Leonard’s as well. It was suggested that we buy our tickets in advance on-line as they stagger admission so it will not be too crowded.  We could not get a ticket until 2 pm, because I bought the day we wanted to go, so I suggest buying a day in advance. Walk Up ticket prices for a scheduled date and time are $29.95 adults and children. However if you buy online, you can save $5!

Upon entering you are directed in to the Lego Factory. The lab technician gives the kids a lesson in how legos are made. It is a nice interactive space with buttons push, levers to pull and more. Before you make you way to the next room, the lab technician gave the boys a special lego.

lego lab     lego lab tech

lego lab painting     Legoland special lego

After the lab you make your way to the Kingdom Quest ride. It reminded me of the Buzzlight Year ride at the Magic Kingdom. You have to hit the targets and save the Princess. It was cute and I thought the design and video elements were well done. They boys were just happy to be playing a video game.

kingdom quest ride     kingdom quest ride 2

Once you are off the ride you make your way to Miniland.  Of course, our Miniland is all about NYC. It is so well done. I am always amazed at the level of detail. There is Yankee Stadium, Times Square, the subway and more.

miniland NYC     2013-04-09 14.01.27

miniland subway     miniland builder

After Miniland, you walk into the main area of the Discovery Center. We first made our way to Lego Races: Build and Test. I was not so impressed with this section, as we could not find any wheels for our racers. The boys liked being able to build, but I did not think it was very organized.

lego racers build and test     lego racers build and test 2

Next to Lego Racers, there is the Earthquake Table where you can build and then turn on the table to see if it can stand up to the earthquake. Next, the table is the Lego Master Builder Academy.  I think it is great for the older kids who want to learn new building tricks.

Earthquake Table     Lego Master Builder Academy

Next to the academy there is the Duplo Village.  This is a great area for the little ones, ages 1-5. They can climb around and there is also a little slide.     Also, not to leave the girls out of the mix there is the Lego Friends area.   It is a cute little house for the girls to play. They even have karaoke.

duplo village     Lego Friends

Next up, is Merlin’s Apprentice. Yes, there is actually another ride here. The kids can peddle their flying boom to make it go up and down. I like that even the little guys can ride as well. There is also the Lego 4D Cinema.  We saw 3 Lego movies, each about 10 minutes long.  The 4D is there are wind, water and bubble (snow) effects. I thought the movies were well done and the boys were thoroughly entertained. The movies we saw were: Clutch Powers, a Lego Racer movie and a Kingdom Quest.

Merlin's Apprentice     Lego 4D Cinema

There is a nice little cafe with seats so you can sit enjoy a cup of coffee while the kids play. They have the usual snacks at the cafe. You can purchase a Kids Meal Deal which includes a sandwich, bag of chips, & a drink for just $7.00! Add a LEGO Lunch Box for an additional $5.

lego fire academy     2013-04-09 16.02.21
lego cafe lunch

Overall, we had a fun day. I was impressed with the space and thought it was very clean.  It made for a great afternoon with the boys.

ridge hill mall

I also really liked the new Ridge Hill Mall.  There are a lot of great stores and restaurants. On a nice day you can take a walk, get something to eat and enjoy the little playground they have as well. Though I have to say a metal playground with no shade covering, maybe not such a great idea.


Tips to SAVE your Next Vacation

broken luggage

I was reading a post on a Facebook group I belong to and was reminded of some very important travel tips. I know many of you are looking forward to traveling this summer, so wanted to share and hopefully save you the headache and hassle.

Here is one family’s story:

Clients traveling to Rome on May 10. Due to numerous weather related and mechanical problems their flight was delayed and to make a long story short, they didn’t arrive in Rome until very late at night on May 11. Their original arrival time was 9:30 a.m.  Because of the changes in their air schedule their luggage didn’t make it with them to Rome. It didn’t catch up with them until five days later.

When the luggage was finally delivered, they found them zip-tied shut. Upon opening themthey discovered items were missing. Two laptops, one I-Pad, and an expensive diamond bracelet. The lady in the party had also packed her much needed medications in her luggage as well.

And to top it all of, they did not take travel insurance, which would have probably covered those items.

Here are my tips:

1.  Do NOT pack valuables in your checked luggage.  It might be a pain to have to carry all the extra “stuff” in your carry-on, but you will know it is safe. Also take a picture of your bag and the airline tag, just in case.

2.  Pack a change of clothes, medication, and basic toiletries in your carry on bag. Especially, when traveling with children make sure you have everything you might need for at least 24 hours, that means, clothes, diapers, formula, etc.

travel toiletries

3.  Do NOT pack medications in your checked luggage.  As well I always tell my clients to carry an extra prescription when traveling just in case.

4.  BUY travel insurance.  I have written about this before, and I know we all think nothing will happen.  But when you are spending thousands of dollars on your vacation it is best to make sure you will be covered.

5.  Do NOT pack your passport or travel documents in your checked bags. If your luggage is delayed or lost you will be vacationing in the airport.  NO fun.

6.  Make sure to leave  a copy of your passport, license, credit cards, travel documents with someone at home.  As well make sure you have a copy with you as well.  Leave in the hotel safe so you have in case they are lost or stolen.

7.  Call your credit cards and let them know you are traveling. Especially if you will be out of the country. You don’t want to have them decline or lock your card thinking it was stolen.

8.  Turn off your data roaming when traveling out of the country. Call your cell carrier to check on an international plan and rates.  You can rack up a HUGE bill very quickly.


I hope you find these tips valuable.  It is just something to think about and to make you trip one to remember, for the RIGHT reasons.

Thumbprint Fun

Moms, If you’re looking for something super easy and fun to do this week, think of setting up a ‘printing table’ for the kids. Remember those great books you read as a kid by Ed Emberley? Well, thumbprint art is hotter than ever, and can be fun way to express creativity!

For your printing projects you will need:

  • ink pads in bright colors {or paint on a sponge}
  • pencils
  • thin black pens or markers
  • white card stock
  • construction paper

Greeting Cards

Father’s Day is coming up and what greater way to make a cute and simple card for dad! Simply make a nice thumbprint, let dry, and decorate with a pencil or thin marker. See how simple it is to make a rabbit like the ones above? I made these as ‘welcome baby’ cards for my friend who has some baby showers to attend this summer.


Buy some manilla folders / blank note books from the dollar store and have the kids decorate them with thumbprint art. This is a great activity before any new class or semester starts! To make writing paper, take a few sheets of white copy paper out of your printer, and decorate only the top with a line of cute designs. This paper could them be used again to print on, or for writing a letter!

Trading Cards

Trading cards are a great afternoon activity for a group of kids. Cut a bunch of card stock to about the size of a business card and have each child make a thumbprint creature for his or her friend{s}. A great sharing activity and kids love to see what their friends created for them!

Other Ideas

Other easy and fun things to thumbprint could be bookmarks, party favors and gift tags!

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley designs murals for kids rooms in Jersey City, and offers kid friendly artwork and decor to the community through her business ‘Lady Lucas’.

Beach Fun Crafts

Floating Beach ‘Island’

I made this cute craft with some of my classes this week, and the kids were enchanted with the fact that it can float on water! Here’s how to make your own at home:

  • Cut a piece of styrofoam into a ‘squareish’ shape. Leftover packaging pieces work great for this, or you can buy styrofoam in a floral, dollar or craft store.
  • Paint the sides and top of the styrofoam yellow but not the bottom.
  • Sprinkle some sand on the top of your ‘beach’ and insert a cocktail umbrella.
  • Glue some tiny stones and shells on the beach and even miniature animals {like crabs or birds} if you have them.
  • Let you beach dry completely, then float it carefully in some shallow water; like in the bathroom sink.

Rainbow Shells

These will keep the kids busy for a half hour or so before dinner, and look great as a display in your home during the summer months!

  • Select a group of flat, easy to paint seashells.
  • Using a small paintbrush, paint your shells with a rainbow of colors. Purple, blue, orange, pink and yellow work best and really stand out. Acrylic paint works better than tempera.
  • If you want your shells to keep their ‘shiny’ look, add some clear nailpolish to the tops after the paint dries. They will stay shiny forever!

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley designs murals for kids rooms in Jersey City, and offers kid friendly artwork and decor to the community through her business ‘Lady Lucas’.

Mother’s Day Craft Ideas

Moms, you might want to forward this one over to dad 😉 Here’s some simple and cute ideas for Mother’s Day this weekend!

From top left to right…

A Card for Mom
The most important thing to give on any holiday – a cute card! Something I love doing is combining cut paper with markers and crayons. To make a super simple design, glue paper circles to a folded piece of paper and use markers to add faces, petals, stems and leaves. {I also heard there will be a card making station at this Friday’s JCFamilies event in Hamilton Park!!}

Plant Sticks
Shop Rite always has a great selection of plants this time of year… so why not go over and pick out a few pansies and other fun flowers? Then, have your little one decorate some plant sticks to add for decoration. Simply glue a sturdy piece of paper to a Popsicle stick and it’s done! I found these pre-cut cupcake designs at A.C. Moore… but just about any stationery or party store will have something like it too.

Mother’s Day Bunting
What cuter way to decorate your home this weekend than with a cute hanging bunting!  While visiting Paper Presentation in NYC this week, I noticed craft stores are now selling triangle pads of paper for a super easy way to make this decoration, or take a pile of construction paper and cut into uniform long triangle shapes. Decorate each ‘triangle’ with stickers, markers and crayons and attach to a long piece of string for hanging. Add some beads to the string to keep the kids occupied a little longer 😉

Framed Fingerprints
Pick up a super cute miniature frame at Duane Reade or even the dollar store, and add a tiny picture by your little Picasso. All kids love making fingerprint people. All you need is an ink pad and some pencils.

For a video featuring some of the crafts above, visit this link which features me teaching Mother’s Day Crafts on eHow.

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley designs murals for kids rooms in Jersey City, and offers kid friendly artwork and decor to the community through her business ‘Lady Lucas’.

Earth Friendly Crafts

Hi Moms! Monday April 22nd was Earth Day, so in honor of that special holiday I’d like to show you some easy and fun arts and crafts ideas that can be made a home with things you have lying around the house.

Potato People | recycled item: cardboard

This art activity is super fun, and after making these with some of my students this week, I can say for sure kids love them! For this cute work of art, simply cut ovals out of old cardboard boxes. For instance, that Amazon box on its way to the recycling bin 😉 Glue the cardboard ovals on brightly colored paper and have the kids give each potato a different face with stickers, cut paper and googly eyes.

Monster Roll | recycled item: toilet paper roll

What better thing to do with an old toilet paper roll, than to turn it into a monster! To make this little guy above, paint the cardboard roll with a bright paint color and let dry. Glue googly eyes, pom poms, paper and other found objects to create a cute and silly creature!

Radish Jellyfish | recycled item: vegetables about to spoil

Perhaps one of my favorite arty ideas in the last couple years, radish jellyfish are adorable and so easy to create! Simply cut a radish or potato in half and dip into a mixture of white, blue and and green paint. Make prints on a yellow piece of paper and let dry. Add tentacles, eyes and details with markers.

Ashley Lucas is a local illustrator and crafts designer based in Jersey City, NJ. She is the author and illustrator of various children’s books and has contributed to such popular sites as eHow and ModernMom. Her specialties in include holiday crafting and making art ‘cute’ for young children! Ashley designs murals for kids rooms in Jersey City, and offers kid friendly artwork and decor to the community through her business ‘Lady Lucas’.

Help your child Grow and Learn – with Touch!

We all want our children to be the smartest, healthiest, and most socially adept they can be. And there is so much we can do! But one of the most important ways we can nurture our child’s minds and bodies is through touch!

Believe it or not loving and compassionate touch such a coddling and rocking your infant will help hormone levels, dendrites in the brain develop, it will improve immune function, weight gain, and food absorption, to name just a few. In toddlers and youths, it will help brain function resulting in faster processing of information, it shows that they are more adept at sports, stronger, they heal faster, and that children who are touched, hugged, and carried by their parents are more socially adept and can handle stressful situations better.

So.. as a massage therapist who has been dealing with this for over 14 years, I can tell you I’ve seen my share of what massage – therapeutic touch in general – can do!

Ways to implement beneficial touch for your child on a daily basis are as simple as playing with their hair, holding them in a rocking chair or holding them and rocking them with your arms, rubbing lotion on their backs and arms and legs, even learning a few massage techniques and talking to them about them importance of compassionate touch! (in my opinion this last one is quite important 😀 )

When it comes to post partum and even pre-natal depression, massage on mothers has shown to be highly effective. In fact, studies that deal with physical trauma and emotional trauma that incorporate massage – have always shown that massage has a beneficial role. To quote Dr Tiffany Fields “Just adding massage makes such an incredible difference… In everything we’ve done, massage is significantly effective. There’s not a single condition we’ve looked at—including cancer—that hasn’t responded positively to massage.”

If you have any furthers questions about how to incorporate touch in to your daily life, please contact me at [email protected] or call 551-689-0763


Quick and Healthy Toddler Snacks

Any mom will tell you that feeding a toddler can be a tough job. It’s especially hard to make sure they are eating healthy meals and snacks. Here are some great ideas for quick and healthy toddler snacks that will leave you feeling better about what your tot is eating – plus they are great for the whole family!

Fruit Smoothie:

This smoothie is so quick and easy to make. Kids sometimes drink quicker than they eat, so this one is a timesaver. Plus, you can edit the ingredients to fulfill many different nutrition needs and tastes. Try your child’s favorite fruits (frozen works great, but you can use fresh), instead of milk you can use orange juice or even water to thin the smoothie out, if you are looking for a lower glycemic index use agave syrup instead of honey. Hiding greens in the smoothie, gives it a highly-nutritious punch and you can’t even taste them with all the other flavors happening.

Note: I’ve found that the easiest way to make this is with an immersion blender (like this Cuinsinart model) – it takes just a few seconds to blend and cleanup is a breeze. But, feel free to use a blender!

1 Cup of low-fat Greek yogurt (like 2% Fage)

½ Cup frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.)

Handful of frozen spinach, kale or any mixed greens

¼ Cup milk or another liquid of your choice

1 Tbsp honey

Combine the ingredients in a cup or pitcher. Blend with the immersion blender until all the frozen fruit is pureed. Add more liquid if you want a thinner smoothie.

Frozen Blueberry Treats:

These treats are perfect for spring and great for moms on-the-go. This is an easy and healthy snack that kids love. I call them “blueberry candies” to entice my son and he loves them. Plus, they are a great snack for mom, too!

1 container of blueberries

½ Cup Greek yogurt (and kind)

2 Tbsp honey

Wash and dry the blueberries. Mix the yogurt and honey in a bowl. Using toothpicks, coat the blueberries in the yogurt mixture and place them on a cookie sheet or plate. Once you are done, place them in the freezer for 1 – 2 hours or until frozen. Pop the yogurt covered blueberries into sandwich bags and you have a ready-to-go yummy snack.

Homemade Granola:

This bakes for 30 minutes, but the prep time is easy. Once it’s made, it’s a healthy quick snack for the whole family! You can add so many different ingredients to this granola to make it your own. Try different nuts, oil and dried fruit. It’s a very versatile recipe. Grab a baggie of granola on your way out the door, add milk and eat like cereal or add to yogurt parfaits.

3 Cups rolled oats

1 Cup sweetened, shredded coconut

1 Cup sliced almonds

½ Cup dried figs

½ Cup dried cranberries

1/3 Cup sunflower oil

1/3 Cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, coconut, almonds and dried fruit together. Add the oil and honey and stir until mixture is completely coated. Pour mixture onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the granola is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Once granola is completely cooled, store in a container and enjoy!

Diaper Bag Roundup

All diaper bags are not created equal. Some are better for travel, while others are perfect for an evening out with baby. With all the choices out there these days, it’s hard to decide which bag is right for you. Here are some of my family’s favorite diaper bags and when we like to use them.

For Travel:

OiOi Baby Bags Canvas Satchel 

This low-profile bag is perfect for when you’re on the move. The strap is long enough to sling over your shoulder, like a messenger bag. It isn’t huge, which is actually a good thing when you are traveling. You can’t fit too much in there, so it stays organized and doesn’t get too heavy. The straps have magnetic closures in the front, so access to the gusseted front pocket is easy. The main internal compartment has elasticized pockets for easy organization. Plus, there’s an insulated side pocket with a zip closure, perfect for bottles or long, tall sippy cups. The bag comes with a large padded changing mat, insulated bottle holder and a wipes case. We used this bag while traveling to Costa Rica when my son was 18 months old. It was perfect for the plane – not too big and easy access to everything. As a bonus, this bag is very gender-neutral, so Daddy’s won’t have any issue strapping it on and carrying it.

For Events:

timi & leslie Annette Convertible Diaper Bag 

This bag actually looks like a cute purse! If you are going to an event like a wedding or party, this bag won’t make you feel sad about leaving your handbag at home. The exterior is made of easy-to-clean faux leather (PVC free) and boasts attractive hardware in a gold finish. The cross body strap is detachable, so you can go hands-free. Plus, it comes with matching stroller straps, so you can hang the bag safely (and stylishly) from your stroller. Seven interior pockets and a center divider zipper pocket give you various choices for organization, along with the three exterior pockets. Accessories include their specially-designed changing pad with a mesh pocket for storing extra diapers, a zippered sack for soiled clothing, an insulated bottle tote and (my favorite) a stylish clutch with interior credit card slots and zippered pocket. All this and it looks adorable! I save this bag for special occasions. It’s nice to have a fancier option.

For Daddies:

Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag 

Although this bag proved too small for me – this is my husband’s go-to diaper bag. Sure, they make diaper bags marketed specifically for “dudes,” but this bag has everything a daddy needs. It’s smaller, compact and more convenient to carry than most bags, plus it comes in an array of colors! The exterior is made of durable poly-canvas, so it will take a beating (and it’s easy to clean). One of the best and most convenient features of this bag is the patented Shuttle Clips. You can easily take the shoulder strap off or use the clips to attach securely to a stroller or shopping cart. This bag works great with strollers. Low-profile magnetic closures make getting in and out of this bag a snap. The front boasts two large pockets and there is a cell phone pocket on one side and an adjustable mesh bottle/water bottle pouch on the other. Eleven pockets in total give many options for organization. The shoulder strap is padded and long enough to wear across your chest, for easy carrying. It also comes with the easy-to-clean Skip Hop changing pad, which fits neatly inside the interior of the bag. My husband always kept this bag really stripped-down – carrying just the essentials. It is still his favorite baby/toddler bag.

For Everyday:

Skip Hop Bento Ultimate Diaper Bag 

I always felt like I never had enough room in my diaper bags…until I got the Bento bag. Yes, it’s big, but if you are looking for a bag that you can carry with you all day long – look no further. I recommend this bag for long days out at the park, museum, day trips, etc. The exterior is made from the same durable poly-canvas, which is easy to keep clean. The patented Shuttle Clips offer many carry options, such as removing the shoulder strap (there are padded tote straps, as well) or attaching to a stroller. The shoulder strap can be worn messenger style across your chest, for hands-free mode. Fifteen pockets offer limitless organizing options, including five mesh pockets, two insulated bottle pockets (on the outside of the bag) and (the best part about this bag) the Mealtime Kit compartment. This insulated zipper compartment is on the bottom of the bag and includes an eight-piece kit with insulated cooler bag, three plastic CLIX food containers (BPA- and Phthalate-free) and a flat freezer pack. This little compartment really makes the bag for me. It’s so convenient to cut up some fruit, cheese and other snacks and take it to-go! This also comes with the padded changing pad, which fits into the interior pockets. I can’t even tell you how many things I have fit into this bag. From the basics like diapers to full clothing changes and even items for me – this bag can haul it. Remember, if you overfill the bag, it does get quite heavy, so you may not want to carry it around all day, but it conveniently straps to strollers or carts.