Glitter Dinosaurs

Repurposed plastic dinosaurs are all the rage lately, so when we scored a large bag of vintage plastic animals and dinosaurs at the thrift shop, I thought we’d glitter them. While most adults would probably use glitter spray paint, I’ve found Mod Podge and a jar of glitter make a more fun, involved craft for kids, without the perils of using spray paint. Because it involves small children and glitter, I’d recommend doing this project over a drop cloth or a surface that’s easy to sweep.




Small, platic dinosaurs or animals


Gloss Mod Podge

Paint brush

Something to use as a drying rack

1) Scrub your toys with a good dish soap to create a clean, oil-free surface for your glitter. (Kids love this part.) Let your animals dry before continuing.


2) Paint your dinosaur with Mod Podge. Encourage your child to cover the whole thing and use an appropriate amount of glue. If they don’t, that’s alright, too. The results will be interesting but it might take awhile to dry.


3) We do this over a box, so if my child uses too much glitter, I can simply pour it back into the jar. Over the box, hold the dinosaur by a narrow part and allow your child to cover it in glitter. Turn the dinosaur until the part you are not holding is completely covered or your child is satisfied with it. A smaller child might not be as thorough, but they will still likely be pleased with the result.

4) I used a mesh basket to dry our dinosaurs. A wire shelf or wax paper are also likely to work well. The drying time largely depends on how much glue was used. You can touch one gently to see if they are done.


5) When they are dry, ask your child to paint glue on to the part you held the dinosaur by. Add more glitter.

6) You can seal your dinosaur with a bit of Mod Podge when it is very dry. I recommend that an adult do this, very gently, using a sponge brush or the tip of your finger. Press it down, rather than brushing across it, or you will brush off the glitter. The Mod Podge is dry when it is clear and no longer milky.

These little guys are great for other art projects. We’ve used them to make tiny scenes, and to decorate gifts.

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Denver Cherry Blossom Festival

Our family likes to attend local festivals, and every summer presents us with a myriad of choices. While I do like to expose my child to new experiences, I think consistency is also good. We have gone to the Cherry Blossom Festival since before he was born, and he seems to enjoy his experiences there. It is held at Sakura Square, which houses Japanese businesses, like the grocery store I frequent. The experience has changed a bit since we had a child, and it’s wonderful to see our little one discover new things and revisit familiar ones.

Today, when we arrived, we were greeted by the sound of taiko drumming. We pursued some of the shop stalls and slowly made our way to the stage. Yesterday morning there were musical performances and dances. Our child must have liked the dancers best this year, because he wouldn’t stop talking about “the girls with the fans” and how pretty their dances were. In past years, he has been most fond of the taiko drummers.

They had a kid’s craft area with three stations, something we did not notice in previous years. On a hotter day, I’m sure it would be a welcome respite from the sun. There were three stations, one for making a cherry blossom card, one for making a paper representation of a kokeshi doll, and a coloring station. Our little one chose to do the cherry blossom and kokeshi doll crafts. The volunteers were very sweet and helpful, and he was excited to use a stapler for the first time.

Afterward, we went into the Denver Buddhist Temple building for snacks. We had a talk about how we behave in church before we went in, because I think it is always important to respect other people’s space. Inside, they had sushi and teriyaki meals, green tea, and a few sweets to choose from. He was thrilled when he was allowed to choose his own treat and selected a plate of pretty, pink mochi.

Inside the temple they also had ikebana and bonsai displays as well as talks on Buddhism . I think any or all of these could be useful teaching opportunities for older children. While our child is much more interested in the new sounds, sights, and flavors, there is definitely more of interest for older children and adults.

The Denver Cherry Blossom Festival is a good choice for young children. It is small enough to navigate easily, and there are interesting performances, fun snacks to try, and crafts for little ones.

At the Art Museum with Kids

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Children will have different experiences at the art museum depending on their ages, temperaments, and interests. It’s probably easiest if you can set aside your own expectations. They will engage with things in the way that is appropriate for them, and they might learn something entirely different than you had in mind. That’s ok. What’s important is that it’s a joyful experience and they want to come back. A good relationship with art, and museums in general, is a gift that will far outlast a particular lesson you had in mind.

  1. Arrive and ask questions.

When you arrive at the museum, check in and make sure your child understands the expectations you talked about. Talk to the staff about what resources for children there might be, any current temporary exhibits your child might be interested in, and what they recommend for children. If you can include your child in this conversation, that will help them get excited about their trip.

2. Learn and plan.

You might have a fair idea of what your trip is going to look like, but I find it useful to grab a map, explain it to my child, and ask what he wants to see. If I have chosen particular things I think he will be interested in, I explain why. If there is a play area or something else you think might be distracting, suggest seeing it after you finish another exhibit. I find that breaking up our trips with play, painting, or time outdoors helps lengthen our stay and makes it more enjoyable. Children need to move. This is also a good time to talk about when you might have lunch or a snack, if that is part of your agenda for the day.

3. Ask your child questions.

Talking to children about art isn’t as hard as it sounds. It helps to start with questions that have no right or wrong answer. “How does this make you feel? Why do you think it makes you feel that way?” has led to some very useful conversations with my child. I sometimes simply ask what he thinks is going on or why he gravitates toward a particular piece. He responds more thoughtfully to abstract art right now, and I suspect it is because there are fewer cues about what he’s supposed to think.

4. Teach.

It is very important for your child to understand that the ideas and feelings they bring to a piece matter. That is why I start with broader questions with no right or wrong answer. However, art, especially historical art, often has its own special language you can help your child decode.

If you are looking at Buddhist art, it might be interesting to talk about mudras, the hand gestures often used by the religious figures depicted. If you teach your child a few, and teach them what they mean, it will lead to a deeper understanding of art. Mine also thinks it’s ridiculously fun to spot and identify them.

In Western art, saints are often depicted with certain things to indicate who they are. These things often tell a part of their stories. Teaching your child to recognize a few of them might help them engage with the pieces on a deeper level, and they might have fun spotting them in the gallery. Flowers and plants may also carry meaning. If a plant your child is familiar with from your garden at home carries meaning, that might be a fun place to start.

If you need to brush up on your art history a bit, museums often provide a little information about the pieces. I sometimes scan it and share interesting things with my little one, For older children, talking a bit about historical context might also bring depth to their experience.

  1. Pay attention.

Pay attention to your child’s signals. Are they really interested in something? Talk about it more and try to find similar things to look at. Are they bored? It might be time to move along. The best time to learn about the things the museum has to offer is when your child is happy, excited about the experience, and feels well.

If your child isn’t happy, it might be time to break up the experience a bit. We find outdoor spaces to walk in, have a snack, or play with interactive exhibits. A child simply does not have the same sort of attention span an adult has. Your museum visit should be fun and not feel like a chore, so it’s important not to drag a kid along when they’re not happily, actively engaged. I often find that changing our activities up a bit allows my child to stay actively engaged for longer periods of time.

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One of the main things I hope to give my child is a joyful appreciation of the world around us, and art is a very important part of the human experience. I expect his appreciation for art and ability to find joy and comfort in it will grow with time. While it might be awhile until he can spend 5 hours at the Louvre and talk about art history with me, it is important for him to be able to tell me that a painting of sunflowers makes him happy because they’re yellow. That sort of experience is, perhaps, more important than a more complex, intellectual understanding of art.

Preparing for a Trip to an Art Museum with Kids


Taking children to art museums can be daunting, but we find it fun and rewarding. It has taken some practice, as they are often an unusual environment for children. Kids might not know how to enjoy themselves or behave in a way that is appropriate to the environment. A little preparation can make it a much smoother, more joyful experience. With some practice, our local art museum has become my child’s favorite place to go.

  1. Research the space.

Find out how child friendly the space is, if there are any children’s play areas, if there is a café or place to eat a sack lunch, and what sorts of opportunities there might be for a break. An energetic child might do better if you know where they can have a quick walk outside or a visit to a play area. My child also sometimes needs a quiet break for a cup of steamed milk and a discussion of the things we’ve seen and learned, so knowing if there is a café or place to picnic can also be handy.

  1. Talk about the art.

Kids thrive when they know what to expect, and talking about an experience before you have it is often a good way to make them more comfortable and get them excited. Talking about what you’re going to see beforehand will help them settle in and engage with the art more quickly.

  1. Talk about expectations.

Because my child is still fairly young, I established the expectation that we are going to hold hands in galleries. I explained that even the gentlest touch can harm the art and that lines on the floor and ropes in front of things mean he is not supposed to step beyond that boundary. Everyone should be able to enjoy art, so we have to take care of it. All of these rules about being careful can make art feel a bit unapproachable, so I try to find art we are supposed to interact with whenever I can.

Like libraries of old, art museums are generally hushed and calm, and some children may have trouble adjusting to such a quiet environment. We talk about it beforehand. If your child frequents another space, such as a church, where they are used to using a quiet voice, that is a good comparison to make. I remind my child that we can talk as much as we want, we just have to use soft voices, so that the people around us can have their own experiences with the art.

  1. Find out what resources they have for kids.

Art museums nowadays aren’t always the quiet, imposing places they were when we were children. They often have painting spaces, interactive exhibits, or maps tailored to little ones. Our local Denver Art Museum has little art spaces for kids throughout and offers backpack for families that help make the experience more child friendly. Other museums we have gone to have had painting areas, special maps, or play spaces intended for children.

  1. Remind your child that art is fun and for everyone.

In some of the more stern, cold spaces where art finds its home, it can be easy for a child to think it is for grownups. Remind your little one that art is for them. Talk about some of the different ways you make art at home and how you experience art in everyday life.