kids’ artist trading cards

The project I had really been looking forward to doing with my kids in February was The Great Backyard Bird Count. I was talking it up for weeks in advance, we had all our bird checklists printed out, binoculars at the ready…and then…when the weekend arrived, so did the rain. And not just a little rain, non-stop downpours for all four days. So unfortunately no birding for us.

Luckily, I had a great indoor project also lined up thanks to two resourceful moms in the blogosphere, Erin and Blair who organized a Kids’ Artist Trading Card Swap based on the same guidelines as the “grown-up” ATCs. Over 900 children from all over the world participated (amazing for such a low-key, homegrown effort.)

Since my kids had a lot of pent up energy from all the rainy days, I knew a careful session of watercolors or pastels was out of the question. So I decided to train their creative energy into something with a good physical component–hammering! They picked out leaves from our garden (carrot tops were the favorite), taped them to the pre-cut cards (Bristol board), covered that with a sheet of parchment paper and hammered away. The first few were messy green blobs, but eventually they each figured out the knack of how much and how hard to hammer to get a result they were happy with.

After they finished making their cards (five each), they had fun addressing the envelopes and using their globe to find all the places they were sending them. Then we had an exciting trip to the post office where they picked out their own stamps and had a lengthy Q&A session with the postal worker about how long it would take for their cards to arrive and how they would be transported.

Now the return cards are starting to arrive in the mail, which they are absolutely thrilled about and displaying proudly. My friend Jacqueline also gave me a great suggestion to use Google Earth to show them the locations of the other kids in their swap groups. Seeing the difference of residences from an apartment building in Manhattan to a rural home in North Carolina and then flying around the world to England and then Australia, was very dramatic for them.

I am so glad to be part of a network of mothers around the world who connected our kids in this way. And huge thanks again to Erin and Blair for organizing!

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