Little girl smiling with eyes closed

School portraits are a wonderful way to capture your child at a specific moment in time, year after year. The resulting developmental timeline provides joy and brings on the smiles for years and generations to come. Here’s the thing, though: not every day is picture day and not every child loves the lens. If your camera roll features more tongues, tears, turned heads, and tantrums than glee, then read on.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.

 

 

Teddy Bear Picture

It never fails, it is picture day, you have invested so much time and money (planning and new outfits) into this day and your child spills chocolate milk all over their newly pressed outfit right before you walk out of the door!  Picture day can be stressful, whether you are heading to a studio for family portraits or sending your child to school for that classic school picture.  Here are a few helpful tips that can help reduce stress and make portrait day a success.

  1. What colors should I dress my child in?Fancy or casual?
    1. Fancy or casual, will depend on the type of portrait you have in mind and where you want to display it. Depending on the photographer you may be able to do both!
    2. Unless you know what the background will be, solid colors work best. Patterns can contrast with the background.
    3. Try to use colors that compliment your child’s features.
    4. When siblings are being photographed, dress them in complimentary colors, they don’t have to match, but simply complement each other. Complementary colors are any two colors which are directly opposite each other, such as red and green and red-purple and yellow-green on a color wheel.
    5. School portraits are normally taken in the morning, this will help ensure that clothes are free of stains and the children are fresh and happy. If their portrait attire is dressier than their normal attire, you may want to pack an extra set of clothing to change into after portraits have been taken.
  2. Should they dress for the season?
    1. If you know the background ahead of time, it is ok to dress for the season.But keep in mind, some holiday backgrounds may not include traditional colors and your child’s outfit could clash.
  3. Should my child wear his/her glasses in her portraits?Or show his/her braces?
    1. Glasses are a part of your child’s personality, and should be worn for portraits. Although it is perfectly acceptable to ask the photographer to take portraits with and without glasses. Non-reflective glasses are preferred, but experienced photographers know how to avoid glass reflection.
    2. Braces are beautiful, especially on your child. Trying to hide braces will result in an awkward smile that will not reflect your child’s spirit.
  4. How should I style my child’s hair?
    1. Stick with neat and simple. If your child’s hair is straight, and you try to curl it, chances are the curls will fall flat by the time the portrait is made. Use hair products to keep styles intact, but try not to overdo it.  You want your child to look natural…like your child, not a “dressed up” version.
    2. Try to avoid having your child’s hair cut in the week prior to the photography session.
  5. Should I encourage my child to smile for the camera?
    1. Too often parents coach their children to “smile” or “say cheese” when there is a camera in front of them. Even though parents have the best intentions, doing this will result in a forced, un-natural smile that really doesn’t show your child’s true personality. The best expression is a genuine one.  Photographers that work with children specialize in gaining natural expressions and capturing the true nature of a child.   Simply encourage your child to put on their listening ears and have fun.
  6. What if my child is scared of “picture day”?
    1. For the child that is a little shy or scared, try packing a “lovey” or favorite blanket to help them feel more secure. It also brings a special personal touch to the portrait.
    2. If you are stressed or anxious about your child’s performance during picture day, your child will feel it as well and it may add to his/her fear. Try to be upbeat and let your child know how much fun they are going to have playing with the “picture person.”

The best advice is to keep it simple, and your child’s natural beauty will glow, regardless if their hair is a little out of place.

 

 

 

87793558

Teaching your children to be kind to others holds value that he or she will carry on throughout their lives.   A good starting point is to practice this yourself and set the standard for your child. Often called leading by example, this is a fun way to teach your child the value of doing kind things for others and you will reap the benefits of a do-gooder as well!

Here’s a list of items to help you get started:

  • Open doors for others.
  • Let someone go in front of you in the grocery line.
  • Allow a car to go ahead of you.
  • Help an elderly neighbor with shopping or yard work.
  • Volunteer your time with a local non-profit.
  • Donate canned goods to your local food bank.
  • Make a birthday card for a family member or friend.
  • Say “please” and “thank you” often.
  • If someone drops something, bend down and pick it up.
  • Compliment someone – just say something nice.
  • Pay for the person’s lunch that is behind you in the drive-thru.
  • Adopt a soldier and write letters with your child.
  • Start a neighborhood beautification effort and go out walking and pick up trash in your neighborhood or local park.
  • Visit your local animal shelter.  Even if you don’t adopt a pet, you can offer to distribute treats or take a dog for a walk.
  • Donate $1 to your local charity at the check-out.
  • Start a can collection for a food drive and enlist your child to help.
  • Go through clothing with your child to donate to the local Goodwill.
  • Teach your child to write “thank you” letters just to thank someone for being a good friend.
  • Have a lemonade stand to raise money for a local charity.
  • Share a snack with someone.
  • Take blankets to a homeless shelter.
  • Volunteer to ring the bell for the Salvation Army.
  • Visit the elderly in a nursing home.
  • Have children bring toys to your child’s next birthday party for donations.

Once you start practicing “giving”, it is truly contagious.  You’ll find your child adopting those habits and incorporating them into their own lives as they grow older.  And, you’ll be so proud when you see them practicing those acts of kindness and teaching their children!

Mobility concept, Instagram, Vina, Smartphone, Iphone

Have you ever been interested in making movies? No lights? No camera? No problem! The Pew report states that 56% of American adults own a smartphone. Chances are, you have one too! A smartphone can be more than just a device to play games on, make phone calls or send emails. You can capture and share creative videos of your child with your family and friends. Two great apps that allow you to create and share videos are Instagram and Vine.

What is Vine?
A free app by Twitter that is available for iPhone and Android that allows you to create and share videos up to 6 seconds long.

What is Instagram?
A free app by Facebook that is available for iPhone and Android that allows you to create and share photos and videos. Instead of 6 seconds or less like Vine, you are able to create videos up to 15 seconds.

Both have their advantages, so make sure you give them each a try and see which one you like best. I personally prefer Instagram over Vine due to photos and 15 sec video clips, along with more editing options and creative image filters. It may be best to find one that most of your friends and family are on so you can share with them. If you are worried about the general public watching your videos, be sure to change your privacy settings. You can manage your permission setting and only approved people will be able to view your videos.

What should I video?
The most important thing to remember in any video is to have fun. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to pretend to be an expert. Make it exciting, from videoing you and your child cooking or reading their favorite book, have some fun! Capture the moments you want to remember and you will enjoy sharing with others.

One advantage to a smartphone is the accessibility and ease of use. You do not have to worry about missing that special moment! Most phones have the camera feature readily available. This helps to eliminate stress and worrying about having to set up and allows you to video those special moments on the go. Both Instagram and Vine allow you to stop and start the video. You can video one action for a couple seconds and stop, and then you can start again from a different location. Take advantage of it.

10 video ideas to help get you started:

  1. 15 Sec cooking show
  2. Your child’s favorite toys talking (puppet show)
  3. Tour of your child’s room
  4. Singing
  5. Dancing
  6. Vacation moments
  7. Baby’s first (walking, talking, etc.)
  8. At the park
  9. Fashion show
  10. Saying “hi” to grandma and grandpa

Remember to have fun! Make your videos creative and exciting. Don’t be afraid to try new things; you can always delete a post. If your child is old enough to use the phone, let them make their own videos. Instagram and Vine have both made it extremely easy to use. Go give it a try!

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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!

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!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Teddy-Logo

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.

 

 

Mothers Day - Gift Idea 5.8. Blog Post Image 2

Four Photo Gifts for Kids to Make for Mother’s Day

Clear off the tables, set out the glue, roll out the ribbons—Mother’s Day is near. It’s time to make gifts for mom. One way to make this year’s project a hit with kids and mothers is to make a photo gift featuring the child’s image.

We found four craft projects that do just that. Ask parents to send spare photos of the child to school for use in crafting. This is a fun and very special way to use those small Teddy Bear portraits from us! Another option is to photograph kids at school or daycare and print the images on a desktop printer.

1. Photo accordion card – These cards are darling and variations are endless. Here’s a sweet example we found for Grandparent’s Day that’s easy to adapt for Mother’s Day. Kids learn to fold, glue, and decorate.

2. Photo bookmark – Mom will love the surprise on the back of this bookmark! It involves photographing kids full-body front and back, so your center staff will need to be handy with a camera and desktop printer. Kids have fun posing for the photos and then glue together the project. Why not add ribbons or yarn and laminate?

3. Mini picture magnet – This project is simple but adults should cut the foam board backing or use another material. Repurposed jar lids will do just fine. All you need is backer material, glue, photos, and magnets or magnetic tape. Cut photo to fit, glue to backing, and attach magnet. So easy, kids can make a collection with not only their photos but also their art or letters to spell out a message to mom.

4. Portrait cookbooks – These mini cookbooks feature a large portrait of the child on the cover, decked out in a chef’s hat. We suggest supplying preprinted recipes for a favorite kid snacks, and having kids assemble the pages and decorate. Kids adept with scissors can cut out the chef’s hat and other elements.

These photo gifts are all keepers, sure to bring a smile to any mom regardless of errant glue, snafus, bent corners, or other endearing signs of tiny hands at work.

 

 

 

 

TB Summer Promo PIC

Directors, Book Summer Beach Portraits and Enter to Win a Visit from Teddy!

Hey everybody, if you haven’t heard yet, our plans are really heating up for summer.

Teddy is so happy to be out of hibernation that he’s packed his beach bag, put on his sunglasses and grabbed his beach ball. He’s itching to surf up smiles with fans — but where should he go?

How about to your Child Care Center or Preschool?

When you book a Summer Beach Portrait Day at your center, you’ll automatically be qualified to enter our contest and to win a live visit from Teddy at your center. Plus, we’ve put together beach-themed props, free gifts for kids, and incentive options for centers we think you’ll really warm up to. To get full details go to – www.visitfromteddy.com

Summertime is portrait-time

Little kids change so fast, why limit portraits to the school year? Plus, the Summer time is the perfect time to get siblings together in front of the camera! As kids, we measure our lives by the summers and special memories; like a day at the beach, the smell of sunscreen, dripping ice cream cones, and wet sand between our toes. A professional portrait can capture these fleeting days and the fast-changing character of a child’s sun kissed face at a certain moment in time.

So start a tradition at your center — summer portraits — and win a chance for a live visit from Teddy that will be sure to be a highlight of the entire summer.

Fun freebies for all kids, flexible incentives for centers

We’ve packed Summer Beach Portrait Day full of freebies for kids perfect for time in the surf and sand. Beach balls, sunglasses… check out all the goodies in store, regardless of portrait purchase! And kids are sure to also have a blast posing for their “beach” portrait in the form of fun props.

Flexible options let you pick the incentive that’s right for your center.


Don’t miss out on the fun – enter by May 31!

Surf’s up, and Teddy can’t wait to know where he’s heading next… maybe your preschool center or daycare? Be sure to book your session by May 31 to add your center to his list of fun possibilities.

 

 

 

Mother's Day - I Love You Mom 5.6 Post

A Message of Appreciation for Mother’s Day

It’s almost Mother’s Day, time to let mothers everywhere know how much we love and appreciate them. In the spirit of Mother’s Day, now’s a great time to remind all the important people in our lives and business know how much we value them, as moms, dads, other guardians, grandparents, and customers.

First, we’d like to send a big bear-sized hug of appreciation to every mother. Moms, you totally amaze us with all you do — Happy Mother’s Day!

Next, Teddy Bear Portraits would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers, our center directors, and all of their wonderful teachers and support staff. We so appreciate having the opportunity to capture each child’s unique character in a portrait — one we hope mothers will treasure forever! Our work is only possible because you all generously open your doors to our professionals and work closely with us to make Portrait Day a fun, safe, and memorable experience for every child.

We value the opportunity to serve centers, children, and all guardians. We are committed to delivering exceptional portrait photography and portrait products, including new opportunities like our upcoming Summer Beach Portraits. Directors, don’t miss your chance to win a visit in person at your center from Teddy when you book a summer portrait day by May 31.

Directors, if you’re running a daycare or preschool, Mother’s Day is a great reminder to stay in touch with your clients with a message of appreciation. A personalized card is always thoughtful, or perhaps you could put together something that every parent will enjoy, such as a sneak peak into what his or her child is doing.

Are you using social media? Parents might like an insider’s look into what happens behind the scenes at your center, getting to know more about each person on your staff, or a fun look day in the life of their child at your center.

Happy Mother’s Day, and thanks to all for all you do. We appreciate you.