Does Sidewalk Chalk Have Lead?

by Tiffany in Children, Crafts

A reader recently emailed me and asked about a concern that came up among her local moms group. Some moms insisted that sidewalk chalk has lead in it and others insisted it doesn’t. So which is it?

Well the connection between sidewalk chalk and lead became headline news in 2003 when several stores recalled chalk for lead. The good news that there haven’t been major recalls since, indicating that reformulation has occurred. BUT the chalk that was recalled was not major brand chalk like Crayola it was off brand or generic chalk made in China and used by stores as their own “brand”. I believe Target was one of the offenders in the 2003 recall.

These days the Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) certifies 3 brands of chalk as lead free and safe for children.. Crayola, Prang , and Rose Art. These are well respected brands and you can feel at ease using them. Personally I would avoid off-brands you may find at discount stores like Big Lots, or those found in cheap gift baskets (like Easter baskets) or cheap art sets. If it doesn’t have a recognizable and respected brand… I wouldn’t buy it. Chances are they won’t contain lead but I err on the side of safety just in case. I also prefer Prang to most of the other brands. They are more expensive but they also have more sustainable products (such as their soybean crayons) and their web site has tons of safety data  on each product they sell. You can also make your own sidewalk chalk and take charge of the ingredients yourself or buy homemade chalk made by artisans on Etsy, who I am sure would be happy to disclose their ingredients.

All in all I think parents can feel at ease letting their kids play with sidewalk chalk but as with ANY product we have to stay informed and be vigilant. In the meantime encourage your kids to get outside and “create”.


Eco Stars Recycled Crayons

by Tiffany in Children, Crafts

If given the choice I will usually opt for soy or beeswax crayons. The conventional ones made from petro products are not a favorite. I will usually make an exception for recycled crayon products though because you are buying used instead of new. The fact that Eco Stars are made from recycled materials, along with the fact that my youngest needs to work on his grasping skills according to his therapist at school, made me think this product might be a good fit for us. Theses crayons are melted down into cute little stars and they are perfect for my son’s little fingers to grasp.

The box is also made form recycled materials so all around a pretty earth friendly product and the color array is good too. They are also pretty exciting to a four year old as well. No idea yet if it is helping with his grip issues but its not as if crayons will go unused in this house!

These, along with our beloved crayon rocks, might just be the cutest crayons ever.

Drawing with Eco Stars Crayons


Eco Stars Recycled Crayons

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

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GLOB Natural Paints

by Tiffany in Crafts

Natural eco friendly watercolors

Painting outside on the porch is what my kiddos spent most of this gorgeous day doing. I made some paper dolls for my daughter using some Trader Joe’s bags I have had laying around for a couple months. After cutting them out I set all the kids up with some natural paints from GLOB. My youngest boy just painted on paper and my oldest painted a cardboard house.

The paints use plant materials for their color… pomegranate, blueberry, tangerine, basil, plum, and lemon verbena. They even have their fruity smell still.. YUM! You mix some of the paint powder with some water, adding more water for thin paint and using less water for thick paint, and away you go. Using these is a bit more work than buying a plastic bottle of liquid paint from Walmart but I rest easy knowing they are using safe, non-toxic paints and that they are low impact.

The doll template is from the website for Family Fun magazine. I just love all the crafty stuff for kids in their magazine and much of it is perfect for natural families oddly enough.

Wishing all a lovely, warm, watercolor weekend!


Paper Dolls

Child Painting with watercolors

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

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Arts & Crafts Hour – WW

by Tiffany in Crafts

Drawing with Colored Pencils


Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

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Rain Sticks – An Unplugged Project

by Tiffany in Crafts

unplugged projectThis morning my two oldest kids were itching to do an art project. After a couple minutes trying to figure out what to do I decided that we had all the necessary ingredients for making Rainsticks.

Rainsticks are ceremonial musical instruments that are/were used to invoke the rain spirits. They are typically made by people who live in the deserts of northern Chile. And they are traditionally made from dead cactus tubes with hundreds of cactus spines hammered into the tube. Tiny pebbles or stones cascade gently through the tube, sounding much like rain. I am sure you have probably seen them before at arts and crafts festivals.

We did not have cactus tubes on hand unfortunately. When we lived in Arizona we could have found these easy within the state land that formed our back yard but alas Ohio is short on cactus. ;) So we used cardboard mailing tubes, nails, and rice. We decorated our tubes with Tempera paint.

We hammered a couple dozen nails into our mailing tubes, filled with a cup or so of rice, tested to hear the lovely sounds they made, and then painted. Here are some pictures. The kids are quite proud of their rainsticks and we had a fun time making them. They are out trying to invoke the rain spirits right now. We could use the rain!

If you have any mailing tubes laying around this is a great way to recycle them.

Making Rainsticks

Painted Rainstick

Completed Rainsticks