New Page for Made to Play!

Just a quick note to say that I created a new site page for my book, Made to Play, where you can find info, download actual-size templates for the projects in the book, or ask questions. Here’s the link: http://madebyjoel.com/madetoplay Thanks everyone! Joel

Baby Play Mat with Vintage Neil Bradburn Fabric

We got to spend all of last week at my mom’s house. Among the exciting fun with grandchildren, I got to spend some time with my mom too. We made this play mat for little E. I was lucky enough to somehow end up with this very cool strip of fabric from London that my mom bought in the late 60’s. It’s a fantastic elephant design by Neil …

Cedar Box Dollhouse and Art Books

I actually got to enjoy an afternoon alone this week. I decided to go look at art books and magazines. One of the shops had some empty cedar cigar boxes for a couple of dollars, so I got one to try out as a small dollhouse. I love the smell of the cedar, and it ended up looking pretty cool too. I also found a couple of vintage art books; one about abstract …

Travel Size Paper City Paris!

It seems like we’re always in the need of more kids activities for restaurants and travel. Shortly after I made Paper City Paris, I wondered what a miniature version would look like. Finally, this week I had the time to try it out. It was really fun redesigning and simplifying the folds and structures. For example, the people in this set are so …

Wood Burned Doll Blocks

Today it was decided that we needed more people for the dollhouse, so I got out some scrap wood and had the kids draw figures on the pieces. Then I took my woodburner and traced over their drawings and made some “doll blocks”. It was so fast and fun that I had to try making a drawing, too. The dolls really helped spice up the doll house, …

Baby Girl and the Giraffe

Baby E got ahold of my son’s old giraffe toy that I made when the twins were little, and she is having a pretty good time with it. I just used some natural canvas fabric and drew on it with non-toxic fabric pens. It’s held up really well over the last two years. I might have to make another one now, so she can have her own. Nice!

More News From the Christmas Cat

The little Christmas Cat from the Holiday gift tags got the job of posing for my sister Lori’s little piano holiday album, “Playing for Christmas.” You can listen to it here on iTunes, if you’d like. Happy Holidays!

Fun Evening of Collage Art with the Kids

Last night I got out my paper scraps and glue to make a collage gift card for my friend’s birthday party. (He loves Datsun 510 wagons.) And once my kids saw what I was doing, they wanted to join in, too. So I gave them a piece of paper and let them dig through my box of scraps. They were so focussed: searching through the scraps, cutting pieces …

Knights Battle: Made by Joel vs. Lego

My son and I are big Lego fans, and he just got a new knight that has a moveable arm. It looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I’d try and make a wooden version so we could have a friendly dual. We had a great time making a little video too. (Spoiler alert: Lego wins :) We’re already drawing up plans for additional wooden knight accessories, …

Guest Post | Embroidered Holiday Gift Bags How-to and Giveaway!

By Wendi Gratz (Giveaway info below to win these bags!) Hello again everyone! Way back in July I posted here about some basic info you need to start embroidering – and I shared some of the details about how I stitched up one of Joel’s Paper City designs. As soon as I saw Joel’s holiday designs on printable gift tags. I knew I wanted …

Dressy Cats Winter Holiday Sets for Hanukkah and Christmas

The Dressy Cats are here to celebrate the winter holidays with you! The kids and I had a great time making these sets. We did Christmas, Hanukkah, and two new kitty cousins that came over for the festivities. Templates are below, if you want to print them out and play. Happy Holidays! If you enjoy an activity and would like to support my continuing …

Guest Post | Caroling Party for the Holidays: A How To For Your Kids & You

This Guest Post is by my sister, Lori Henriques Caroling is Catching! As a music teacher, I often find myself inviting people over to perform or participate in some kind of music. One of my best memories is a Richard Rodgers Centennial celebration back in 2002 in which guests were instructed to BYOP: Bring your own performance of a Richard Rodgers piece. …

Dinosaur Kid Crafts and Activities

My son is really enjoying dinosaurs these days, so in case you have any dino-fans around, I thought I’d share some of the activities we’ve been doing – paper clip cutout toys, building dino skeletons in the yard, a pretty awesome interactive dinosaur book on the iPad, and jurassic artwork. This first one is some simple paper clip cutout …

Portland Monthly Magazine

My favorite home-town magazine, Portland Monthly, was very kind to do a review of Made to Play in their November issue. You can read a pdf of the article below if you’d like. Thanks Portland Monthly!     Click on the image below to read the article in PDF.  

Holiday Gift Tag Templates

My kids love wrapping and decorating presents. So in preparation for the winter holidays, I thought it would be fun to make some gift tags that they could cut out or color. I also teamed up with Lisa Mundorff, who is a children’s book illustrator and very clever holiday card creator over at Dear Ida. She made some sweet tags that my kids wish …

DIY Paper Necktie For Kids

My wife took the kids to see the Pinkalicious musical today here in Portland. My daughter had a pink dress all picked out, but my son realized he had nothing pink to wear. So we quickly made this paper necktie together with an old cover of an Art Forum Magazine. It was very fast to make. We cut out the main shape of the tie, then glued on some strips …