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Turkeys, Penguins, & Dinosaurs, Oh My!

Surely your little one is a budding artistic genius, right? Are adorably abstract turkeys, penguins, cats, and dinosaurs laying claim to every available surface? Do you feel a little heartless herding them up and burying them in the recycling bin? Yes? Then making your own mix and match flip book is a great way for you and your child to put both your school portraits and those abundant masterpieces to a fun, silly new use. Continue reading

Photo Booth Post

Having a photo booth at any event creates memories that last a lifetime. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to a photo booth theme, no worries! We are going to give you a couple of options to choose from and get your creative juices flowing!

What about a Carnival Theme? Our Pinterest page/Carnival theme will give you some ideas on putting together a Carnival photo booth theme. We also added a few prop suggestions for you below. Feel free to add or replace any of these props/items with some of your own ideas!

  • A cheap frame, with no picture in it
  • Over sized glasses
  • A mustache on a stick
  • Big, funny clown nose
  • Scarves, boa’s
  • Top hat
  • Chalkboard – This one is really different and fun! Using a chalkboard for a prop is a great way to create spontaneous fun! You can have your friends and family write on the board, something funny and silly then use that prop in their photograph! They will love this photograph for years to come!

Carnival Backdrop Suggestions: Your local thrift store will have plenty of options to choose from, for example, you can get a polka dot tablecloth to hang as your backdrop, or anything colorful and fun that you can hang up or pin up, will be perfect for a Carnival theme!

How about a Western theme? This classic theme is simple to pull together, because it has so many options! Go to our Pinterest page for some Western theme ideas – Pinterest page/Western theme. We added a few prop suggestions for you below. Again, feel free to add or replace any of these props below with some of your own prop ideas!

  • A card board picture frame that has WANTED written on the top, with REWARD $5000 on the bottom. Have your child hold it for their picture. They will love it! See our Pinterest page above for ideas. Again, check our Pinterest page/Western theme out to get a good visual.
  • Cowboy/Cowgirl hat
  • Bale of hay
  • Mustache on a stick
  • A blow up guitar

Western Backdrop Ideas:
We have some backdrop ideas for this theme on our Pinterest page/Western! Your backdrop doesn’t have to be something that hangs down. A bale of hay with simple props around it would be a great backdrop! Another idea is to borrow a horse saddle, set the saddle up on the bale of hay and have your kids sit next to it and take photographs. You can also use your outside surroundings, like your own backyard; maybe use the trunk of a big tree as the backdrop.

When it comes to your accessories, you will need some kind of accessory rack or table to put everything on. It will make it easy from your family and friends to choose what props they will want to use!

Photographer: Most importantly, who will be taking the photographs? You have a couple of options: You can let friends and family take turns in photographing each other, allowing everyone to participate, or assign a (non-professional) person to take all the photos. Lastly, you can hire a professional photographer to come and take professional photographs of your friends and family!

Choosing to have a photo booth at your next event creates an atmosphere of fun photographic moments that will last a lifetime! If you decide to have a photo booth event, please post and share your pictures here. We would love to see them.



135384711 Little Girl with Camera for BLOG

Children have a natural curiosity and a unique view of the world. More often than not, they are noticing things not on the adult radar, so teaching your child to take portraits is an opportunity for you to see the world through your child’s eyes. It’s also a great time for you and your child to bond and connect, as well as a learning opportunity.

If you don’t have a camera for your child, no worries! There are plenty of cameras out there to choose from and we are providing a couple of sites that will help you in your search. We made 2 separate checklists that will give you ideas on what to look for in cameras, as well as how to teach your child to take their own portraits. Let’s get started!

When considering cameras for your preschooler, you will want to consider these things:

  1. How old is your child? Cameras will specify age on the packaging.
  2. What features are you looking for in a camera that will be appropriate for your child?
  3. Do you want to purchase a digital camera or film?
  4. How much do you want to spend?

We found a couple of sites that will assist you in your search for purchasing the right camera for your child. The first site is at Adorama. The article on this site lists features to think about when purchasing a camera, as well as points to think about when teaching your child how to take portraits. The other resource is actually a page on Google that lists quite a few kid friendly cameras. Both of these sites will give you “food for thought” so you can find the perfect camera for your child!

Tips on how to give your preschooler some direction and encouragement:

  1. Take time to train your child on how to use their new camera, let them practice at home first before heading out into the world. You don’t want to stifle them, but giving them a good start, by knowing how to use and hold the camera, will be helpful to them.
  2. Give your child some ideas on what to photograph, give them a little direction to kick start their creativity. They will appreciate this!
  3. Show them simple techniques, like how to center an image in the frame and how to be still when pushing the button.
  4. If it’s a digital camera where you can see the pictures they are taking, encourage them, tell them how great their picture looks, inspire their creativity!

Bottom line is, keep it simple—making sure it’s a positive experience for them. Once you get back home, sit down with your child, and together, pick the perfect portrait or two that you would like to frame. Hang it in your home, put in your child’s room, or in the family room. Your child will be proud to see their portrait displayed, and the memories that go with it, will last a lifetime.





When the school bell rings, it can get expensive quickly. Check out some money saving tips for this 2014 back to school season!

Wait To Start Shopping
We all like to jump ahead with our shopping sometimes, but we all know how fast kids can grow. The closer your shopping is to your local school start date the better your children’s clothes will fit and the better deals you will receive. Plus, if your child is already into trends and likes to play a part in their wardrobe, you might have an interest in waiting to see what is popular when school starts.

Place a “Bid”… Shop Online
Today’s internet can serve as an awesome international yard sale. EBay is a platform for retail merchandise. You can find great deals on clothes, jackets, and shoes. I have found that parent’s auction off their kid’s best items that were most likely for a special occasion and usually only worn once. Don’t forget to check out online coupon codes- at most retailers you don’t have to have a printed coupon, you simply need the code you can get from a quick search on your smart phone. You can also add your email to your favorite retail stores list and  have coupons sent directly to you. Some states offer a “tax free Holiday” that mainly applies to school supplies and clothing.

Buy in Bulk
A simple way to save money is by buying in bulk at warehouse stores. This is a smart way to stock up for the many lunches you will be preparing. I have found great deals on snack food and school supplies as well. If you would like variety, find a friend or neighbor that wants to split the bulk purchase and lower the overall cost per serving.

Stick to the List
Many early education centers provide parents with a supply list prior to the first day of school. Do NOT over spend on school supplies that are not on the list and in today’s economy no one wants to waste money. If you simply feel the urge to indulge, talk to the teacher about their favorites or all year round essentials… maybe you can help supply paper towels, cleaning sprays or other classroom must haves. Another suggestion is to reach out to a family through a community center or church that might be struggling and offer to pick up their school supply list for them. You can also utilize your city’s website and find a backpack drive for you and your children to participate in.

Homemade Secrets
Juice boxes and pre-packaged snack foods can add up. Invest in some plastic containers and seal-able drink cups that are child friendly (they can open them themselves) and fill them up daily with their favorites. In the long run it will be more cost effective if you bake cookies, make pudding, slice cheese and lunch meat, than to buy pre-packaged servings.  Not  only will you save money, you will reduce waste.



Social Media pin board

These days, everyone, including their Mother is on Facebook. Social media has quickly become a major part of our everyday lives. Pair social media with an iPhone, and your employees can capture and broadcast to the world almost any moment, good or bad.  Society as a whole has grown accustomed to sharing and sharing quickly, almost without thinking.

Sometimes, definitely without thinking.

Child care operators just got a big wake-up call about the perils of social media misuse—by truly thoughtless employees. In August, headlines shouted the story http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/20/us/instagram-day-care-photos  of Virginia child care workers who were fired after they posted photos and derogatory comments about kids in their care. A policy was in place and the employees were dismissed. But the damage to parent relationships and the established trust between the families, children and the center’s integrity had been compromised. How did this social mistake impact their overall business… who knows?

Yes, social media is great at keeping us connected and can be a powerful business-builder. People today enjoy the convenience and constant access to conversations from the businesses they like to do business with. They seek out your Facebook page and eventually become brand advocates. And if you’ve ever posted an impromptu picture of a child, you know the joy that can bring to a parent’s day, closing the gap between the office and a not-to-be-missed moment expressed on the face of their child.

Have you addressed the use of social media with your employees? Clearly, hiring respectful people with good judgment who love what they do is your best bet, but having a policy and communicating it is essential. In addition, like distracted driving, social media gadgets can present a safety issue, pulling attention away from kids.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a social media policy template http://www.ericschwartzman.com/pr/schwartzman/social-media-policy-template.aspx  that complies with the 2012 National Labor Relations Board Guidance. And here are a few short take-aways:

  • Employees have rights, including the right to use social media on their own time. But when social media use at home or work impacts their performance, co-worker performance, or business interests, an employer can step in.
  • Employees represent the company and should always be respectful of others. Their communications should reflect the core values of their employer.
  • Employees do have legal responsibilities, which can include refraining from posting about customers, vendors, and co-workers.
  • In case of emergency, social media can be extremely useful to get the word out quickly about what to do and help people find each other. This has been proven by CNN, The Red Cross, USA Today, the United Nations and other large networks as well as local news media.

If you haven’t already done so it may be time to consider the recent headlines as an opportunity to bring up the issue of social media with your staff, and remind them of your current social media policies or get some new policies in place that will reflect  well upon others and your business.

Grandparent getting a gift from grandson

Grandparent’s day is just around the corner, September 13th to be exact! Have you thought about what gift you will give your grandparents? What about a photo gift idea, using photos you have at home? We came up with a few ideas for gifting your grandparents!

Framed photo refrigerator magnet: With a photo magnet, there is no need for wall space to hang a photo, just place it on your refrigerator or a filing cabinet at work. Choose your favorite photo and upload it to our Teddy Bear store. You can start your order now by clicking here! Teddy Bear Portraits Store/Portrait Magnets!

Photograph inside a Christmas ornament: Here is another great gift idea for grandma and grandpa. This creative photo ornament is a gift that keeps on giving, year after year. It can also be a project for you and your family to do together! You could even recycle an old Christmas Ornament and place your favorite photo inside. To see how to make this snowman ornament, go to our Pinterest Snowman Ornament page.  

Gift-wrap this year’s Christmas gift with photo tags: Put a different spin on how you wrap your grandparents Christmas presents this year, and add a photo tag! Find a photo, and print it out on your computer, or go to a local copy place and have them make a copy for you. Cut it into any shape you want—punch a hole in the top with a hole puncher and you will have a beautiful photo tag! Check out our Pinterest Photo Tags page for ideas!

A painted jar with a photo attached to the front. You could paint a mason jar, or any jar, and glue or tape using ( double-sided tape), you could tape a photo of the entire family or just your child onto the front of the jar. Place some beautiful flowers in the jar and you have the perfect gift for Grandparent’s Day! For a good visual of this, see our Pinterest page/Jar with a Photo.

Portrait framed with cup cake liners! Using cupcake liners, green scrapbook paper, and a picture frame—place the photo of your child inside the cup cake liner, glue the cupcake with the picture onto the front of a portrait frame, and make a stem from green colored paper! What a great gift and a very different gift for your grandparents! To see how to create this, go to our Pinterest Cup Cake Photo Liners page.

We love you to pieces, photo frame! This is another clever idea to gift your grandparents. Take an old or new photo frame and purchase a puzzle with big pieces. Write one word on each puzzle piece, making it say “We Love You to Pieces.” Then glue each puzzle piece around the picture frame. To see how to make this clever frame, go to our Pinterest page/Puzzle Photo Frame.

Don’t forget to stop by the Teddy Bear Portraits store for more gift ideas. Make this best grandparents day ever!






Director, ECE, Preschool

Hello Directors! Grandparent’s Day is just around the corner, September 7th to be exact! Have you thought about how your school will celebrate this day? What about creating a photo gift for your families, with the Teddy Bear Portraits FREE Pack O’ Photos, which is our gift to you? There are so many different gift ideas you can create with these photos, here are a just a few of the ideas that we came up with to get your creative juices flowing!

Glass Photo Magnet: Using your FREE Pack O’ Photos, you can make these cute glass photo magnets with your pictures. First, you will need to purchase the following items. You can find these supplies at your local hobby store.

1. Magnets
2. A nesting punch (chose one that is 1 ½ inches in diameter)
3. Mod Podge
4. A Mod Podge Brush

The first step is to take the picture and punch a hole around the area of the picture you want showing through the glass. Next, take the picture and place it up against the glass, so you can see the picture through the other side of the glass. Next, using your Mod Podge, you will gently swipe the Mod Podge across the back of the picture until the picture adheres to the glass. Let dry. Next, you glue the magnet onto the back of the picture, and that is all there is to it. You have just created a beautiful and lasting glass photo magnet to gift your families for the upcoming Grandparents Day, or for any up-and-coming holiday! To view this wonderful gift idea, visit our Glass Magnet/Pinterst page. If you want to see a video on how to use a nesting punch, as well as the different types of nesting punches you can purchase, click here, Nesting Punch Pinterest page.

Photo Tag Gift Idea: Directors, you can use your FREE Pack O’ Photos to make a precious memory photo tag! Using a regular hole puncher, punch a small hole in the top of the picture. Then lace the picture with a ribbon or string or any kind of decorative lacing to create this one of a kind photo tag to gift your families for grandparents’ Day, or for any holiday! Check out our Pinterest Photo Tags page to see a visual for this idea!

Cubby Personalization: Directors, here is another idea for using your FREE Pack O’ Photos for your children’s cubby! You can create an identification photo to personalize your child’s cubby. They will know exactly where their cubby is located when they see their picture! To view these FREE downloadable picture frames that you can place your child’s picture in, go to our Pinterest page/Cubby Photo Frames.  

DIY Photo Holiday Cards: You can make these easy DIY photo cards to gift your parents for any holiday! This could even be a class project! You will need the following supplies: Construction Paper, glue, cup cake liners and your FREE Pack O’ Photo picture! For details on how to create this card, go to our Pinterest Page/DIY Holiday Cards.

We hope we’ve given you some great ways and ideas to use your FREE Pack O’ Photos for this up and coming Grandparents Day! You can use these for gifting your parents, with all the above gift ideas! Call your local rep to find out more about how to get your FREE Pack O’ Photos today! And don’t forget to stop by the Teddy Bear Portraits store for more gift ideas.





The first day of school at any age is tough on both parents and children. Prepare your child for preschool by explaining to them what adventure they are about to participate in. Forecast what their day to day will look like. The better you can explain the easier it will be for them. At our preschool orientation we were well educated on their daily routine, we learned all about the morning routine, when snack time would start and what afternoon play entailed. Even though the day to day will change a little, the routine will most likely be just that, a routine. Reviewing this with your child prior to them attending preschool will help them adapt. Take them on a tour of the school before their first day to familiarize your child with the surroundings.

Have a countdown- Help your child keep track of when they will begin attending preschool. Start a calendar with a countdown system and make sure they are included with crossing days off. Try giving them a sticker book and point out each day where they will put a sticker and at the end that is when they go to school. You can also, have them color- in squares and get them used to staying in lines… As adults we naturally we may want to simply draw a line through the date, but this will help to keep the concept fun!

Nap Time- If your child is going to participate in a preschool program that provides nap time allow them to take their comfort toy. This will help them to get comfortable in their new surroundings and they can adjust quicker. It doesn’t matter if it is a favorite blanket, comfy pillow or their favorite Teddy Bear…  It can ease their fear if they select their own take along toy.

It is important to remember that routines are very important to children and starting school might be an adjustment. Each child is different and should never be compared… having said that if your child struggles with separation anxiety, try to remember that they need to see your confidence in where they are going. It is very hard to leave a child when they are upset; however children pick up on your comfort levels. It is very important to talk about and explain where you are going and to always say goodbye. Your tone, voice and attitude send a message to your child even if they are too young to fully understand your explanation.

cooking, meals, meal, family, quick, preschool, recipe, cook, kitchen, food

Master Quick Casseroles, Say Goodbye to Fast Foods

Ever looked for quick and easy recipes only to find ingredients that are too exotic for your kids? When your day has been packed and everybody is starving, it’s hard to come up with quick, budget-friendly recipes that are quick and easy to make at home.

Enter the humble casserole, which can be whipped up in surprisingly a few minutes. But your kids won’t eat casseroles, you protest!  We have some strategies to solve that in a later post. But first, let’s go back to Home Economics 101: Once you know the basic elements that make up a casserole, you’re free to tailor ingredients to your family’s liking — and what you have on hand. You’ll also know how to stock up your pantry and freezer and pre-cook starches so you can always dish up a satisfying, heartwarming entree in just a few minutes.

We love this idea from Amy Dacyczyn’s Complete Tightwad Gazette, page 625. Here’s her basic formula for a generic casserole:

1 cup main ingredient, e.g., tuna, cubed chicken, turkey, ham, seafood, etc.

1 cup second ingredient, e.g., thinly sliced celery, mushrooms, peas, chopped hard-boiled eggs, etc.

1 to 2 cups starchy ingredient, e.g., thinly sliced potatoes, cooked noodles, cooked rice, etc.

1 ½ cups binder, e.g., cream sauce, sour cream, can of soup, etc. Go healthier with mashed beans, egg whites, flax meal, low-sodium soups, etc.

¼ cup “goodie”
seasoning 1/4 cup “goodie” (pimiento, olives, almonds, water chestnuts, etc.)

Seasoning to taste

Topping, e.g., cheese, breadcrumbs, etc.

Mix together in saucepan and heat for 10 minutes on the stovetop — done! Add a side veggie or salad and serve up a fast, nutritious, yummy hot meal.

Trent at The Simple Dollar blog suggests healthy substitutions for the binder and toppings. He also recommends buying your starch in bulk. Check out his recipes for these casseroles: chicken-broccoli; tuna- potato; ham, apple, and sweet potato; Reuben; and others in various posts.

Get super smart and double the recipe to pop one in the freezer, and save even more time and energy.  Stay tuned for more to come!






Were you lucky enough to have one special friend in childhood who truly “saw” who you were as a person? Childhood friendships can be pivotal in shaping who we become as adults. Because these friendships are so important, consider using these strategies to help keep your kids connected with their friends during the summer.

1. Make plans

Contact the parents of your child’s friend. Share contact information and make plans to meet periodically so your children can maintain their relationship through the summer.

Ideas? Check out local movie theaters for special summer movies at reduced prices. Plan a get-together after watching the movie and share an afternoon. This allows children the opportunity to reconnect and parents to get acquainted.

For very young children, plan regular play days. A sleepover with school friends is a great way to stay connected. Pitch a tent out in the backyard. Plant a child’s garden. If you have a good relationship with the other family, you may want to plan some activities where you meet for a day trip, for instance, going to the zoo or even a joint vacation.

2. Get technical, with limits

Most children and teens have cell phones. Your child may want to spend the entire summer texting with their friend, which is one a way to maintain a friendship, but don’t let it prevent actual connecting in person. Set ground rules about using cell phones to create openings for other activities and relating in person.

Many families have email and Facebook accounts, and these are helpful tools to coordinate activities with families whose kids are friends with your kids. Exchange email addresses or connect through Facebook. Educate your kids on Internet safety and stay close when they are online to monitor what’s happening.

Another idea? Online games such as Club Penguin, Bean Babies, ToonTown Online, Neopets and Free Realms. These games are set up so children can connect with old friends and make new ones in a safe virtual world. If you are wary about these games, start playing them yourself, and allow your child to play only when you are playing.

3. Rediscover the tried and true

If your children aren’t ready for high-tech yet, remember ‘good ol’ Ma Bell’ or whatever telephone service you use. You may want to set up times for calls to encourage connection, or if needed, set limits on telephone time.

Finally, if your child is serious about staying connected with friends, suggest that they send postcards or letters, especially if you family’s traveling or visiting special places in your area where you can get fun postcards. Not only will they keep in touch, but they will also improve their writing skills.





Family reading book

Reading is an important component in your child’s creative and cognitive development.  More importantly, it can be one of the most enjoyable activities that will provide entertainment and educational benefits.

Here are a few tips to help you engage your child and make reading a regular part of his/her daily life and routine.

1. Schedule regular reading times:

It is important to schedule reading activities at a time during the day or evening that doesn’t conflict with other routine “fun” activities and that will be manageable for the parent(s) involved.  Early evening after dinner is usually good – especially in the summer.  Stories at bedtime or bedtime stories have been successful for many parents, but it is a good idea to vary the times as the child grows older.

2. Book selection 101:

Choose a topic or character that your son or daughter likes.  This may sound simple, but often parents will select books that they enjoyed reading as children, rather than focusing on their child’s interests.

3. Small doses:

Children do not have a seasoned or long attention span, so you’ll be more successful in your efforts if you start with one chapter.  You can always continue but reading one chapter is a good starting point.

4. Encourage open dialogue/questions:

Asking the child what they think about something that occurred engages dialogue and increases their understanding.  You want to set the stage for this not only to be entertaining but a learning experience as well.  It also allows a parent to monitor the reading capabilities of his/her child.  This will be especially helpful in understanding how your child learns best.

5. Use visuals/visual aids:

Pop-up books or books with a lot of pictures will be extremely helpful in allowing your child to visualize a story and begin to use his/her imagination.  Also, some storybooks have pictures that can be used for coloring.

Lastly, try to create excitement through your tone and how you communicate about your reading activity.  After all, this is an exciting new adventure!




parenting, mom, kids

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived lives of the parents.”  Carl Gustav Jung

The family unit is busier today than ever before, and we wanted to share with you five ways to make parenting a little less stressful.

1. Keep a gratitude journal – Research shows that keeping a gratitude journal reduces stress by reminding you of all the good things in your life. We found a list of books to get you started at Good Reads.  You don’t need a fancy journal—it could be a spiral bound notebook or any kind of writing journal. However, if you want something a little fancier, check out this site at  Baby Zone.

2. Schedule time for relaxation and fun – For those busy moms, here are 11 secrets to getting better organized found at Good House Keeping.  Scheduling time with your family for fun and relaxation has many rewards. We found a site; Growing Weisser  that lists a variety of activities you can do this summer with your family and children. So you can relax together!

3. Exercise with your kids – We found this awesome site at Cure Joy  that lists 7 tips in what exercises you can do with your children. For all you busy moms out there, this site gives you options on how you can (de-stress) your day, and spend time with your family.

4. Do something just for you – Even if it’s just once a week, or once a month, find something that you do, just for you.  This article at Elephant Journal  lists 50 things you can do for yourself. No excuse!

5. Enjoy each season of being a mother – Each season changes from day-to-day and week-to-week. This site explores how to view each season with a grateful mind-set. Abundant Moma

Parenting is the hardest job in the world. We hope we’ve given you plenty of ways to help you be the best parent you can be. Please leave your comments; we’d love to hear from you!











Child playing laughing puppies

Summer months can be fun for your family and pets.  But, when the temperatures rise, you have to take extra precautions to keep everyone safe and cool. We need to take extra care with our pets because they have that extra “coat” of hair and can overheat faster than we can. Here are a few tips to keep your pets cool during the summer months.

Never leave your pet in the car

Temperatures in the car can easily exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of seconds. We hear stories all of the time about children and pets who are harmed as a result. It’s easy to think, “I just need to run into the store for a minute”, but think before you run that last errand, because nothing is worth your pets life.

Bring along the H20

When temperatures rise, we lose more water and so do our pets.  They need to stay hydrated just as much as we do, so make sure that you bring along an extra bottle of water and a bowl so that your pet can take a drink if you’re traveling with your pooch.  Or, make sure their water bowl is full if they’ve been in the backyard for a while and throughout each day.

SPF for dogs ?!

I know that some of you might have trouble with this one…SPF for my dog, really?  Yes, your dog can get sunburned just as easily as you do and it can result in the same damage that we can experience – redness, dry and itchy skin, and even skin cancer.  Focus on putting sunscreen on their nose, the top of their ears and the skin around their mouth for protection while exposed to the sun.

Hair, hair everywhere

We all know that dogs are prone to shedding.  So, giving your four-legged friend a shave or trim for the summer can be the best way to cool them off and save you from all of the clean-up  – at least for the summer.

Limit exposure during high temperature “peak” hours

Limit taking your dog for a walk between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the hotter days of summer.  They can suffer from heatstroke if they are out in the sun – long walks or “ball throwing” games are not a good idea during these hours.

Know heatstroke symptoms

Heatstroke must be treated as an emergency.  And, recognizing the signs is an important first step.  If your dog displays the following signs, please call a veterinarian immediately: panting, staring, anxiousness, doesn’t respond to commands, warm and dry skin, high fever, vomiting and collapse.

Our pets are like family to us and we have to take special care of them in the summer.  So, follow these guidelines and your “Fido” or “Fee-Fee” will be much happier!

Funny baby car parents

Have you ever put your child in the car seat in the summertime, then dashed back in the house to grab something you forgot? It may seem like a minor transgression —we’re talking a few seconds or a minute. But did you know that a car interior can reach 110 degrees Farenheit in as little as ten minutes on an 80 degree day? Cars can be one of the most dangerous places to be in the summer; injury and death can result.

So play it safe and smart this summer with these tips:

1. “A minute” can mean forever

Tragedies have occurred when kids or babies were left in a closed car “for just a minute.” In only a minute or two, temperatures in a closed car can rise to lethal levels. Even with windows cracked, a car in the sun will become an oven within a few minutes.

2. Keep your mental focus, look twice

We’ve all read tragic stories of parents who forgot they left their child in the car. It seems incredible, yet it’s also easy to imagine the case of an exhausted, super-busy parent who is so used to the same frantic routine every day that they forget what they have—and haven’t—done. It’s easy in this age of distractions to think you dropped the baby or child off somewhere when he or she is still in the car.

So before you get out of your car in the summer, carefully look in and under every seat (some kids have been known to unbuckle themselves from their car seats and sneak into the foot well). It’s only too easy to think a hiding child has already been dropped off, or didn’t come along. Make sure all infant seats are empty before you step away from the car.

One more critical point: communicate! Children have been left in a hot car because one parent thought the other parent had gotten the child out. When you get inside your home or to your destination, take a head count, pronto.

3. Leave pets home

Countless dogs have met their end in hot cars. Here’s a simple rule: Don’t take pets on errands in the summer unless everywhere you stop allows a pet inside. The temptation can be too great to “just run into the store for a minute.” Leave pets at home in air-conditioning when you run errands.

4. Park in the shade

Just a little shade or a sunshade resting on the dashboard to block the windshield can reduce a significant amount of heat. Take the angle of the sun into consideration when you park to keep your car in the shade as the sun moves.

5. Add your own shade

Consider having your car windows tinted to keep the interior cooler. You can get temporary stick-on shades that can be peeled off when summer’s over.

6. Crack windows

Cracking car windows does not make a car a safe on a hot day, but it can reduce the heat a few degrees, making it more comfortable when you get in.

7. Carry cold water

In the summer, it’s always a good idea to pack an insulated cooler bag with cold water and a freezer block.

With these few precautions, you can hit the road for summer while children and pets stay safe.

Child playing sparkler house

Remember comparing your sparkler to the spray of fireworks into the sky on a balmy 4th of July evening?   The 4th of July holiday is synonymous with cookouts, beach fun and of course fireworks.  However, to make it enjoyable and safe for, here are a few fireworks safety tips from our friends at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

Some cities have strict guidelines for fireworks.  So, before you make your “plans” and especially if you’ve moved or are vacationing in another city, be sure to check out your local guidelines. Most “city” or governing websites have these listed under their “frequently asked questions.”  We want you to have a safe and happy 4th of July!




450718415 fourth of july 2014


Have kids start today on these projects for July 4th July and you’ll be ready to light up your daycare facility or deck and yard at home with patriotic decor by Independence Day!

We especially love Adrienne Vaudrin Burdine’s pinboards for preschool projects. Her picks give you hundreds of the best projects by theme. For Flag Day, President’s Day, or Independence Day, you’ll find lots to keep little hands and minds busy on her America themed board Adrienne burdine.

Here are a few to check out:

1. Patriotic kid portrait project  – This is a great way to use Teddy Bear Portraits. Or—photograph kids in a patriotic pose, saying the pledge of allegiance. Tape some white paper in a shallow box, and let kids get crazy making an abstract red-white-and-blue background to mount the photo on by rolling marbles dipped in paint on white paper. Mount the portrait on the background when dry.

2. Toddler-safe sparklers - are made from straws with a burst of narrow paper strands tucked in one end. With these, even the tiniest patriot can light up the night with a burst of energy running around the yard waving a sparkler in celebration.

3. Handprint 4th July flag on canvas - So simple, but how proud will your kids be when they can show this off? Putting the project on canvas board adds substance and permanence that help kids take pride.

4. Glitter handprint fireworks – Kids love to use their bodies to draw and the results are so reliable everybody is sure to feel successful. With glitter stripes, these fireworks sure are safe for fingers!





Children playing chalk sidewalk

Spring and summer are fantastic times to have back-yard parties that include family and friends.  It can be challenging creating a party for both children and adults, but if you organize it well, it can be a fun experience for everyone – the children can play with others and adults can have a little “adult” time.  Here are a few steps to get the party started:

Get the kids involved:

Decorating for a party can be fun and, depending on your child’s age range, they can be great little helpers for this task.  One idea: Take a garden table and put a tablecloth down, cover it in confetti and other stones or gems.  Another idea: Put a cover on the table and you and your child can draw all over the tablecloth to create fun, creative designs.  Or, if you want more precise designs – create the outlines of palm trees, beaches, beach balls and sand buckets.  Then, let your child color between the lines!

Create informal seating:

Add blankets, benches, inexpensive rugs, throw pillows or stools for more relaxed seating for both kids and adults – giving the yard a picnic-like feel.

Separate dining areas for children and grown-ups:

I remember sitting at the “children’s’” table as a child.  I couldn’t wait to get to the “grown-ups’” table.  Now that I’m older, I understand why we sat at separate dining tables.  It gives adults a little
“grown-up” time and allows kids to just be kids.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  You can designate separate dining areas for children and adults by choosing smaller tables and chairs or create a picnic area for the children with the dining table for the grown-ups.

Create snacking and activity stations for the children:

Allocate an area to have snacks and drinks for children that allows easy access for them to help themselves.  Try to keep the sugar to a minimum if at all possible and try to ask parents if any of their children have food allergies.  Also, if you want to keep it low maintenance, ask each parent to bring one of their child’s favorite snacks. Low maintenance and you won’t have to worry about the child having something that they like – especially for those picky eaters!

Activity stations can be spaced out around the yard.  Here are a few popular outdoor children’s activity ideas:

Chalk Art: A popular and inexpensive activity.  All you need to purchase is the chalk and designate an area of your sidewalk or driveway for the children to draw on.  Waa-la, let the creative fun begin!

Bean Bag Toss:  It’s easy to find bean bags and all you need to do to prepare is to create a target – you can easily find out how to create a base by doing a Google search for “bean bag toss” or “corn hole”.  It’s an easy, fun game for both adults and children.

Scavenger Hunt: Hide a list of items in the yard and designate teams for the hunt.  This is a fun game and teaches children the value of teamwork.  Everyone can contribute to this one!

Waterballs: Somewhat of a new item, this ball is hooked up to your hose in the yard and acts as a fun sprinkler for the kids.  Waterballs create an entertaining way for kids to cool off on a hot summer day!

Slip n’ Slide: A slip n’ slide is like a back-yard water park for your kids.  This will keep them occupied for a while.  Make sure the kids are monitored and set up a drying station with towels and plastic chairs.

Child-friendly back-yard parties can be great fun for both adults and children alike!  So, get your checklist started and pick a weekend…the summer will be gone before you know it!

Children playing camping backyard

SUMMER! What to do? Where to go? How to entertain your kids? Are these thoughts running through your head? Not to mention to find ideas that you can afford and that EVERYONE in the family will enjoy! Try creating a “Summer Bucket List”. This not only encourages family engagement, but with everyone participating and agreeing upfront on summer activities it decreases the stress involved with each activity. A “Summer Bucket List” will also help you stay organized and plan so that everyone (including parents) gets to enjoy summer! Below are a few ideas to get you and your family started.

1. Enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Summer means warmer weather. Warmer weather means outdoors activities. Consider planning weekend picnics in the park. Plan a family outing to the local swimming pool. Take a hike or ride a bike. The idea is that the weather will make you want to get outside and be active. Visit your state park or national park websites. Most of them have summer activities geared towards children and families. These programs are usually FREE and teach children about appreciating nature, while learning helpful tips such as: recognizing poison ivy, hydrate while hiking, caring for bug bites, traveling in pairs, how to use a compass and much more!

2. Many communities have creative opportunities, some of which are free or inexpensive. Summer art in the park, outdoor movies in the park, arts camps, astronomy in the park, city festivals and arts fairs are common activities families can enjoy. You may also be able to find outdoor summer theater or concert series that will give your family something to share, while providing an opportunity to be creative at the same time. A great way to learn about your community’s summer events is to visit your Chamber of Commerce website. Find their calendar and start to plan! Most of these activities will be free!

3. Plan and plant a summer garden. Think of the joy on your child’s face when they eat the first ripe tomato from your own garden! Of course, there is plenty of hard work to keep families busy leading up to harvest, but keeping a family garden is a great summer activity for the family to share. If you have a large crop, you may even want to consider selling your produce at a road-side booth or stall at the local farmer’s market. This would be a great learning experience for one and all. You could also donate the extras to seniors in your neighborhood or to a local shelter.

4. Summer reading is very important for young children. It is important for adults to be involved and encourage children to read. A great way to generate some interaction is to plan a family read-aloud for the cooler summer nights. Invite extended family members and friends over to join you. You can even have the adults read a story and let the children act them out. This could become one of the activities they remember most from the summer. As your children want to stay up late because it is summer, you have some extra hours to fill as well. A great item to add to your “Summer Bucket List” could be to add a family game night or movie night to a week night. This encourages some fun family time in the home.

5. Take your lunch outside! Kids love to eat outside! Set up a picnic table and chairs underneath a big shady tree or umbrella. Put together a basket of books and create story time at the park or the backyard. After story time, play a game! Remember the traditional game of Twister? Spray paint the game board on your backyard grass and have some fun falling all over each other. Take the games outside and enjoy the fresh air while you play Monopoly or Candyland.

6. Your family may enjoy camping out but circumstances simply forbid you from taking a camping trip. You still have options! Pitch your tent in the backyard and enjoy the same fun just a little closer to home. Remember to bring some essentials as if you were leaving for the forest! Giving your children flashlights is a simple way to add to the fun!

7. Plan a “Good Samaritan” act each month. Think of a family that has fallen on hard times or a charity that could use some help. Do random acts of kindness for people in your neighborhood – weed an elderly neighbor’s flower garden, mow a single mom’s lawn, gather canned goods from your neighbors and take them to the local shelter or food bank. There are so many good things your family could do if you just put your minds to it.

These are just a few ideas of things your family can do together during the summer. Take some time to sit down together and talk about things you would like to do. Obviously, everyone will want to do their “own thing” as much as possible during the summer, but think of the benefits of spending time together as a family.  Children grow up so fast, so make this summer a season of family memories that will last a lifetime.




Family playing frisbee

Summer is here, now what? If you are like me, you probably have summer reading lists running through your head, along with, what are we going to do today- swimming pools, playing at the park, play-dates, bowling and children museums! Hold up -that can all be overwhelming first thing in the morning, unless you plan. In my house we have a summer routine similar to our school days routine. If your kids are too young to go away to camp and you are living on a budget that doesn’t allow for major travels, why not bring some summer-time fun home! Make a list of daily activities and plan accordingly. From DIY crafts, to outdoor games, swimming, parks and reading!

Reading List – Check out your local public library! I know our kids may never know the simplicity of the awesome Dewey Decimal System and all that it can do, but that doesn’t mean we should shelter them from the public library. I encourage you to check out your library and see what they have to offer. Most have a children’s summer reading program that not only encourages them to read daily, but have weekly challenges that offer rewards. Our local public library has a Wednesday program that offers a puppet show, an animal show, a story time and many other fun activities. All of these are free and in today’s economy what parent doesn’t enjoy free? For a free reading list and a reading incentive program check out Scholastic.com Have your kids be a part of setting the world record by logging the amount of time- they spend reading a day.

Outdoor games- We created a giant tic tack toe board to play outside. We took a white sheet and made squares with duct tape and made some large X’s and O’s out of plywood. If you are not too handy with wood, different color frisbees will work as well. Do you remember the game Twister? We made an outside Twister board by spray painting colored dots on the grass! Have you ever tried lawn bowling? All you need is some 2 liter drinks to act as pins and a ball to knock them down. These are fun and easy ways to entertain the kids in your own backyard! Plus it brings some fun family game time to the backyard. Create an outdoor activity each day in the backyard and mix it up for fun. For more ideas on backyard games check out our Pinterest page.

Take it outside- Enjoying the park can be more than simply “playing” at the playground. Not only is it a great place to get some outdoor exercise in each day, but the modern park is a great place to learn about nature. An idea to engage your child is to take them on a walk around the park and have a list of items they need to find during the walk. Our list typically includes Cardinals, turtles, fish, squirrels, red flowers and cedar trees. My children also enjoy having races and the openness of the park allows for them to run around. This gives me the opportunity to discuss rules of a game, winning and losing, all while maintaining a team environment with sportsmanship. We also talk about recycling and littering while we are at the park and we always bring gloves so we can help clean up by putting trash in its proper place. Engaging in these types of activities opens up dialogue during playtime, providing valuable lessons and allows for the camp atmosphere.

Indoor Crafts- Children LOVE to create… with today’s technology the world is at our fingertips! The ideas are endless of what we can create; homemade playdough, chalk ice, noodle necklaces, handprint calendars, paper-plate animals, and message boards! The majority of children absolutely love to be a little artist. They love to color, paint and draw. Arts and craft time is a good way to play inside and cool off from the heat during your homebound summer camp. It also allows for children to work on their fine motor skills. The first camp art craft could be to decorate an apron. You can get plain aprons for a low cost at a craft store and now they will have something to wear each day during arts and crafts time. A “neat” way for toddlers to paint is by putting their paints in little glue bottles, this cuts down on some of the mess! For more fun inside crafts check out our Pinterest page.

Snack it up- Kids can be so silly during snack time and really enjoy eating when we as adults make it fun. You might have noticed the trend of “fun foods.” Now parents with toddlers know how difficult it can be to get a toddler to focus and eat in general, let alone eat something healthy. A tip is to make snack food fun! Remember this is supposed to be “camp” so let’s have a good time. If you are going to serve grapes and pretzels for a snack, shape them on the plate in a way that they create a tree. Try using a cookie cutter to make shapes out of your watermelon and other fruits. Turn their sandwich into an owl by simply cutting the bread a little different and adding cucumbers for the eyes and a piece of cheese for a nose. What could be more fun than an edible craft?  This will not only add some fun to meal time, but it will encourage them to try new foods as well. These edible crafty creations only take a few minutes to make and your children will love them. Visit our Pinterest page for more ideas on how to make food fun!

Hanging out at home can be fun and exciting… again the key is developing a routine and creating a schedule of activities to help create a fun, educational and family focused summer camp environment. If you need to take a break and get away for a day, try a children’s museum so that your kids can continue to be engaged and learn. Children’s museum and discovery centers are usually reasonably priced and lots of fun. They typically offer real world scenarios for your child to playfully participate. The last time we went, we enjoyed checking out groceries, delivering mail, playing in a rock query and putting together giant wall sized puzzles. This can be “field trip day at your camp.”  Remember the most important part is being together as a family and with a little imagination you can go anywhere.

Little Girl at the Piano 146896227

A young child, who is taught how to play a musical instrument early on in their developmental years, gives that child an enhanced ability to learn. Research has shown that children who get involved with music grow up to be good problem solvers with strong thinking abilities. One reason for this is that music exercises their memory skills. Music also enhances their focus from having to pay attention to whatever musical instrument they are learning how to play, or song they are learning how to sing.

In an article found at Radio Facts.com, Dr. Peter Simon, President and CEO of The Royal Conservatory of Music, says, “Music, as we know, is one of the most powerful means available to further human development and build great communities and societies. …” He goes on to say, “… music education is a very powerful tool for attaining a child’s full intellectual, social and creative potential.”

If music can assist any child in how they learn, as well as assist their cognitive abilities, then it’s worth looking into just to see what your child’s musical aptitude is.

We found some music sites that will be a good place to start in finding the best musical direction for your child.

  1. PBS for parents talks about Music education in how music is beneficial to a child’s development.
  2. Need help in picking out the right instrument for your child? Helping Your Child Choose the Right Instrument  would be a good place to start!
  3. What about musical games and books? At Groth-Music  you can find lots of creative ideas to get your child engaged in music, whether that’s through a book or a game!

If you decide to move forward in your musical search and find an area of music that your child has an interest in, let us hear from you—post your pictures, leave comments, tell us all about it—we would love to hear from you! In the end, it is our hope that we have given you reasons why music matters when it comes to your preschooler.





What Do Kids Think of Portrait Day? Ask Chelsea

Photographer Ashley Curtis’ Makes a Lasting Impression

At every photo session, Teddy Bear Portrait’s photographer; Ashley Curtis, spoons up her own brand of silliness to keep kids smiling. However, Ashley may have ended up with the biggest smile yet, from her most recent Portrait Day at Elite Preparatory Academy in Orlando, Florida, who wrote this note of thanks in appreciation from one of the children, Chelsea.

      Letter from Chelsea
[Written Parental Consent to publish]

The entire team at Teddy Bear Portraits is thrilled that Chelsea and Ashley had fun, got some great shots, and took time to share their story with us.

Photographing children, and doing it well, takes someone who loves what they do. Ashley pours her heart into creating the kind of experience for children that make smiles come easily. Chelsea is one delightful little girl who doesn’t miss a detail and is generous about spreading smiles, too.

Blog Pic Drawing__IMG_1412 (2)Chelsea depicts the portrait table, backdrop and subject — herself!
[Written Parental Consent to publish]

How would you grab the attention of a room full of preschoolers and keep the fun rolling through a session—photographing 20 or 30 kids? Ashley has a few tricks up her sleeve, including a bit of silliness that involves calling kids by the wrong name. They quickly get the joke and join in, which in this session ended with the kids renaming Ashley as “Sally.”

Ashley makes an effort to keep kids involved in the entire shoot, so by the time they’re all under the lights, they have a high level of comfort with the entire process. Ashley says her number one trick is to “… ask the kids to say a word, like ‘turkey,’ then when they do, I say, ‘did you call me a turkey?’ that gets the laughter going every time, and we keep going from there.”

Blog Pic _MG_6251       Blog Pic_MG_6255 (2)       Blog Pic_MG_6253 (2)
Chelsea’s smile is enough for two!
[Written Parental Consent to publish]

Each of our photographers are trained to work with children, and each brings their own creativity into play. For example: Ashley selects props with care, as she knows kids love the intricate garden seat she uses with the tree backdrop, shown above. Ashley also ramps up interest by giving kids a voice, for example: letting them choose the color of a flower to hold, or to pose with a favorite toy, like Chelsea’s Beanie Baby; Ronnie. Sadly, Ronnie could not be coaxed to smile. (There’s one in every crowd, isn’t there?)

Ashley joined Teddy Bear Portraits last year and shared this selfie she took during her training.

Ashley - Teddy Bear Portraits PhotographerAshley Curtis – Teddy Bear Portraits Photographer

With a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography from Valdosta State University, in Georgia, Ashley wanted to use her creative talents, but also hoped to work with young children. She initially considered careers such as early childhood education or child psychology. As a portrait photographer for Teddy Bear Portraits, we think she has the best of both worlds; using her skills to capture portraits of exceptional quality and create upbeat experiences for kids — good enough to write about!

Thank you, Chelsea and Ashley.





Fathers Day __ 478386339

There is a surefire way to make any Father’s Day gift more meaningful: integrate a photo of someone he loves, to hear call him “Dad.” We’ve got loads of online gift items that fill the bill — featuring our portraits or your original photography. We also love the ideas below from bloggers and crafters for making photo gifts for Father’s Day. Have young kids join in the fun —  and get in the picture.

1. Capture several generations of fathers in one photo.

Do you have portraits of multiple generations, such as great-grandfather, grandfather, and Dad? Have the youngest or most senior family member pose with portraits of multiple generations. Head to your local photo shop or kiosk if you need help enlarging an old snapshot.

2. Photograph kids holding over-sized message to dad.

This example shows kids holding oversized letters, spelling out “ Dad,” composed in a multi-image frame. This one uses dimensional letters. Here’s another sweet variation. Have kids write out messages to Dad on small chalkboards, then photograph them holding the boards and frame as a collage.

3. Make a photo memory jar or snow globe. Pull together a few small photos and laminate them. Add meaningful trinkets that represent Dad’s interests. . . perhaps fishing lures or golf  ball? Add to a jar with glycerin, glitter and seal. Voila, a memory jar!

4. Visit our online shop for personalized gifts — perfect for summer!

Overdue for a truly special Father’s Day gift? Stop by our online store and pursue our photo gifts, personalized with a portrait . Dad will be happy to un-wrap a sleek stainless steel sports bottle featuring either a portrait taken by us, or a candid shot of yours. Other great gifts for Dad and perfect for summertime are a cooler bag or T-shirt, as well as mugs, coasters, desk accessories and more, all personalized with an image.




flag, memorial day, holiday, kids, learning, america

How to Help Kids Understand Memorial Day

If you have served in the military or know someone who has—Memorial Day holds a special place in your heart as the day to honor those who have died serving our country.  But in the decades since Congress made Memorial Day part of a three-day weekend, the meaning of the day has been lost for many people. For many, Memorial Day is not much more than the official launch of summertime.

We’re all for summertime, and love an excuse to get outdoors, gather with family and friends, and crank up the barbeque! But it’s important to observe the true meaning of Memorial Day, to remember those who gave everything to protect our many freedoms. Memorial Day is an opportunity to ground children in history and to anchor their lives in tradition and gratitude for those who have sacrificed for us.

What does Memorial Day mean to you? It started with honoring the fallen in the Civil War. Do you confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day? Veteran’s Day, in November, honors all who have served in the U. S. military.

Here are some ways to observe Memorial Day with your children and help them understand the significance:

  • Attend a Memorial Day parade and explain why it’s important, why members of the military are participating, and what our flag means.
  • Celebrate family members or friends who have died in service.
  • Visit a local cemetery and decorate military graves with small flags or flowers. Perhaps care for a military grave that appears neglected.
  • Observe the National Moment of Remembrance: Pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on those who died protecting our freedom. Explain to kids and ask them to participate.
  • Do you know someone who has served? Have your child speak with a Veteran and ask why it was important for them to serve our country, and what was it like?

The two books below are also recommended for preschoolers:

  • Memorial Day: Our Nation’s Pride Set 2, by Karen Latchana Kenney
  • Memorial Day, by Rebecca Rissman


Artwork Blog Post 5.18.14

Save Memories: Ditch Clutter by Photographing Kids’ Artwork

Is your refrigerator plastered with artwork from your child’s school projects?  As the school year wraps up, expect even more paper to come sailing through the door, only to land on your kitchen counter, or any spot in your home that is a clutter magnet.

While we might love to hang onto all those, crafty, heartfelt memories, doing so can turn our homes into a cluttered mess. If we save too much, we can’t care for it, and it often ends up damaged and tossed out years later. That’s hardly a way to treasure the artwork or to remember a stage in your child’s life.

Photography is a solution that puts together the best of both worlds — toss the papers but save the memories. If you capture those memories digitally, you can even keep a copy in the digital “cloud” or on media offsite like ARTCHIVE that is specially designed to keep, protect and create gifts and keepsakes with your child’s artwork.   As a bonus you will have an archive in case disaster strikes, such as a flood or fire.

What to keep, what to photograph?

Consider keeping a few pieces of original art each year. Ask your child which ones are their favorites, and perhaps frame one or two. Talk with your child about photographing the rest and why it’s a good idea to let some papers go to recycling. Make sure this is agreeable to the artist and be sensitive to the needs of your child. Some kids may not care much, while a true budding artist may warrant keeping a larger collection. Be sure to label and date what you keep, and look into getting acid free document storage boxes to preserve the keepers.

Tips on photographing art

Our friends at About.com put together several good tips on taking photos of artwork. Here’s a summary, be sure to pay them a visit for more details:

1. Place your lens square and level with the artwork. You can mount the art at eye level, crouch, or even stand over the art.

2. Choose good but indirect natural lighting. Direct sunlight is a no-no. If all you have is artificial lighting, use at least two sources, angled at 45 degrees to the object.

3. If you have a tripod, use it. Otherwise, try to stabilize your arms against your body or an object.

4. Forget the flash. Light from a flash can wash out the color and reduce contrast, and also create glare.

Photography is a great solution not only for cutting down on artwork but for preserving memories of toys, outfits, and even the way a child’s room was decorated, when time comes to let go of the objects themselves.




Encourage your child blog 5.15.14

Feeling Proud of Finishing Preschool: How Praise Matters

Time flies, and before you know it your baby is out of preschool, which is sure to bring a mix of feelings. You hate to say goodbye to those cherubic cheeks and your role as the absolute center of their universe but are thrilled to see them grow.

All parents hope their children will experience pride in their accomplishments, and finishing preschool is a milestone worthy of attention. Children who learn to feel pride build the confidence to handle setbacks with grace and meet new challenges.

At Teddy Bear Portraits we offer graduation packages to help promote that special day in honor of the accomplishment! We provide families with portraits of their little preschool graduates in caps and gowns along with their very own custom diploma. You might mark preschool graduation with a special event, as simple as a trip to the ice cream shop or other outing: a family dinner or small party.  Let kids know you recognize their efforts — and the key word here is efforts. It is important to capture these moments as well.

Praise efforts not outcome

Did you know that how you praise your kids might make a difference not only in their self-esteem but also in how they approach the next challenge? The secret is to emphasize the effort rather than the outcome.

Research shows that children praised for their effort had more fun, wanted to take problems home to practice, and wanted to try harder problems, more than children who were praise based on pronouncements such as “you are smart” or “you are a good artist.”

This short video from the University of California Berkeley explains and provides examples of how to give effort-based praise.

Another idea: ask kids what they are most proud of. And when they “fail” or run into challenges, ask them how they could do something differently. You may need to be an active coach in helping a young child think along these lines.

We’re sure that our readers who are trained in early childhood education or with loads of experience with preschoolers have some great ideas on praise. We’d love to hear your suggestions and success stories.

By the way, congratulations all of you parents and guardians of preschool graduates. We appreciate all of your hard work and efforts! And we know from the portraits we take that you’ve all got some very sweet outcomes.