Big Kid Small City Feature

I had a fun boost recently when a popular local blog did a feature on me and my private practice! Jill writes the Big Kid Small City blog and highlights family friendly people, places and events in Houston.  You can find the piece about me by following the link:

Big Kid Small City, Powerful Play

Any Houstonians (or visitors to the area) should browse around the blog as there are reviews of local parks, kid-friendly restaurants, and a guide to events in the area for every weekend.


Cupcake Paper Flowers

I hope that everyone is adjusting to the end of summer and the start of school.  It has been a super busy few weeks for me, and far too long since I’ve posted here.  I’ve survived the first week of teaching my college class, which I love, but there is always such a frenzy of preparation at the beginning.  On top of that, I am in training as a PRN (per diem) child life specialist at a local hospital.  I’m super excited about it because I’ll be working primarily with NICU babies and families.  I get to spend time in the hospital and practice those clinical skills while still teaching and working on the practice.  I think it is going to be a good fit and everyone has been very welcoming so far. So, lots of excitement and a long to-do list lately.  Despite all of that, I’ve still had a bit of time for creative pursuits.  I thought that today I’d share a craft project that school agers and teens might enjoy: DIY flowers out of cupcake liner papers and drinking straws.   I created a bouquet of these flowers as part of a birthday gift and thought they were a sweet decoration. This is a simple, inexpensive project with lots of room for customization and embellishment.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper cupcake liners in various colors, patterns, and sizes
  • Plastic flexible drinking straws (the “bendy” kind)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Tape
  1. Gather together your materials. The hole punch is optional.
  2. Choose 3-5 cupcake liners to use for your flower.  I generally use a mix of large and small and patterned and plain.
  3. Cut your cupcake liners into flower shapes.  I created petals by making straight cuts up to the line marking the cupcake base. I then rounded the edges.  You can also gently fold the liner (first in half, then in half again or thirds) and cut a petal shape. For the simplest flowers you can skip cutting and just flatten your cupcake liners.
  4. Layer your cupcake paper flower pieces. At this point, I often cut the petals shorter on one of the liners to make it medium sized (see polka dot layer above).
  5. Create a hole for your straw in your flower pieces using the hole punch or by cutting a small “x” shape in the center.
  6. Thread the top (bendy end) of your straw through the hole.  At least an inch of straw should poke through.
  7. Use small pieces of tape to secure the paper liners to the straw in front and back.  You can use clear tape or decorative paper washi tape (this works well because of its slight give and flexibility).
  8. If you leave your straw as-is, it can still be used to drink with.  In the hospital, these might be fun “silly straws” to use for medicine taking or fluid intake.
  9. To create a center “stamen” for your flower you can cut straight lines in the end of your straw.  Bend back the plastic pieces to create the center of your flower (see final photo above).
  10. Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo

Elementary school  folklorico dancers

Elementary school folklorico dancers

So, here in Texas, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated as a time to honor Mexican and Mexican-American traditions and contributions to our community.  Originally Cinco de Mayo was celebrated primarily in the Mexican state of Puebla as a commemoration of the victory of the small Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.  It was considered a major feat for the smaller and lesser equipped Mexican forces to emerge victorious. While recognized in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily an American holiday.  It has been celebrated consistently in California since the 1860s and in communities with large Mexican American populations since the early twentieth century.  I grew up celebrating Cinco de Mayo at school, learning about Mexican-American folk music, dance and food. While it is often an excuse for margaritas and parties (not unlike the 4th of July?), it also offers an opportunity to learn a little about and recognize the the influence of Mexico and Mexican Americans as part of our national heritage.

So, break out the mariachi music, some bilingual storybooks, some Mexico-inspired crafts and have a fiesta!

From Mommy Maestra, printables on the Real History of Cinco de Mayo.

A few books:
What Can You Do With A Paleta? by Carmen TafollaCada Niño, Every Child by Tish Hinojosa (this is a bilingual songbook)
Diego Rivera, His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh
P is for Piñata: A Mexico Alphabet by Tony Johnston
Cinco de Mayo by Mary Dodson Wade

For great children’s books about the Mexican American experience, visit the website of the Tomás Rivera Book Award Winners

To learn a bit more about Cinco de Mayo:
“Cinco de Mayo- Whose Holiday Is It, Anyway?” from NPR
“Cinco de Mayo” from Wikipedia

Folklorico Dancer coloring page from
Piñata coloring page from
Instructions for kids craft making Papel Picado (cut tissue paper banners) from
Cinco de Mayo Mexican-themed crafts for kids from Celebrations

¡Viva La Fiesta!

Photo Credit: “little folklorico” from arianne via Flickr

Quick No-Sew Ribbon Headbands

Ribbon headbands are a fun craft and so simple to make that you can create a rainbow of colors in very little time. They appeal to a wide age range and only a few materials are required. While you are “practicing” to share with patients in the hospital, why not make a few for yourself or a friend?


  • Ribbon, at least an inch wide, in your choice of color/patterns
  • Ponytail elastics, the thin “no damage” or “ouchless” kind work best
  • Scissors
  • Low temp hot glue gun or tacky craft glue
  • popsicle/craft stick or chopstick
  1. Gather all of your materials and heat your glue gun (if using).
  2. Cut the end of the ribbon so you have a straight edge.  Do not cut the ribbon from the roll yet.
  3. Lay the ribbon down on your table so that it lies flat and thread the end of the ribbon through an elastic hairband.
  4. Fold about 1-1.5 inches of the end of the ribbon over the ponytail elastic and glue the edge of the ribbon down. Use your wooden craft stick to press it down and hold it in place for a few seconds.
  5. Now, wrap the ribbon around your head (or the head of the person who will wear it) until it touches the end of the ponytail elastic.  Hold or fold the ribbon at the spot where it touches the elastic and then cut the ribbon. You should not stretch the elastic when measuring.
  6. Double check the length is right by threading the end of the ribbon through the elastic and folding over. Hold in place and try on the headband adjusting how much ribbon is folded (.5 in- 1.5in) to get the right fit.  You want the elastic to be stretching a little, but not be too tight.
  7. When you find the right fit, glue on the fold as in Step 4. You can make these even more fun by adding glitter glue, paint, or other embellishments.

Hospital Word Search

I just added a free hospital word search over at Powerful Play.  This makes a great waiting room handout. As always, my resources are free to use for non-commercial use as long as you attribute the source. Just click on the image below get to the printable. Happy searching!

hospital word search

More resources to talk to kids about scary news

televisions everywhere

televisions everywhere

Our nation is trying to understand what happened during the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday.  As we learn more about this terrible event there will continue to be constant media coverage of the shooting.  Children and teens may express concern, fear or anxiety over what they see or hear about the event.  It can be difficult for caregivers to know what to say or how to respond when kids have questions.  Luckily, many organizations have created resources and guides to help promote supportive conversations. I posted a link yesterday to the toolkit from Sesame Workshop which is geared toward children under 5.  I wanted to share a few more resources that might serve a wider audience.  Here’s a great page from PBS Parents:

I received an email from Bo’s Place, a non-profit grief support center, that shared links to some really good resources for talking with kids about a tragedy.  I think that these webpages would work well as parent handouts to place in a family lounge or educational bulletin board.  While the information is geared toward helping kids cope with a national tragedy, the advice is also just good information on how to have conversations and provide support when kids express worries or fears.  Here are the links I received from Bo’s Place:

Let’s reach out and share information on how to help kids express feelings and cope.  Please feel free to share other resources in comments.

Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr