My Top 10 Favorite Blogs

Kids jumping for Jeff Koons’ Balloon Flower  by Erica Berger


I will be taking a blogging break through the end of the year.  Should you need a cultural fix before then, I’ve put together my “Top 10 List” of favorite blogs to tide you over.   If you have any comments or ideas for CultureChild, feel free to leave them in the “Comments” section at the end of this post or drop me a note at  Thanks for reading!  GMom

My Top 10 Favorite Blogs

10.  Jumping in Art Museums, because art IS and always should be fun.

9.  Vintage Waldo.  If you spot Waldo in any artworks, be sure to let them know.

8.  t(w)eensgosocial, because this site broaches important issues—cyberbullying, children’s online privacy issues and tween media usage among them—in a smart and non-sensationalist way, and parents need help staying a step ahead of their kids who use the Internet.

7.  Dad-O-Matic gives a dad’s perspective on child rearing and offers creative media projects in its “Family” section and an interesting “Education” section, to boot.

6. Mom-101,  because Liz Gumbinner offers hilarious, eloquent, witty and ever-so-cool insights on the art of parenting (and on parenting with technology for design-conscious moms at Cool Mom Tech).

5.  and  4.  HYPERALLERGIC (Sensitive to Art and Its Discontents) and Arts Beat by The New York Times are not kid-centric, but they help me stay up on cultural and art world happenings.

3.  Stay tuned for the exciting things to come this fall at the new Children’s Museum of the Arts.

2. To “get more out of NY with kids,” check out Mommy Poppins.

1. NYCkidsARTS offers the most comprehensive guide for kid-friendly dance, festival, film, gallery, garden, history, library, museum, music, park, theater and zoo happenings in the five boroughs.

This week’s “Collaborations” pieces: Family Clay Sculptures

During the early winter months, our family joined several other neighborhood families on Saturday mornings for clay workshops at our local community center.   My daughter chose an ocean theme for our family.  We used our imaginations and looked through a book on sea life, sculpted various creations and then glazed them.  A local clay studio fired the pieces and returned them to the community center each week.  

We gave away most of our clay works as holiday gifts to relatives, but these sea horses (photographed by my daughter on my iPhone using Instagram) and a few others—like “Alien on a Surf Board,” “Erupting Volcano” and “Seal Balancing a Ball” (sadly, with a broken tail)—are proudly on display in our home. 

More Ways Cultural Institutions Are Using Tech and Social to Interact with Kids

Part two of a two-part series

The second half of my series on how New York’s cultural institutions are using technology to help kids interact, collaborate and use social media with their families to enhance their experiences with the institutions features Art Babble and The Brooklyn Museum of Art.


ArtBabble is a video site dedicated to art and artists and features high-definition video content from more than 30 partners around the world—Corning Museum of Glass, MoMA, Museum of Art and Design and The New York Public Library among them.  It was conceived, initiated, designed, built, sculpted, programmed, shot, edited, painted and launched by a cross-departmental collection of individuals at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA).

The “Channels” section allows visitors to sort through “A to Z” video topics, such as “Animation,” “Origami” and “Robots.”  You can also sort by the artists’ names or by the names of the institution partners.   However, there is not a way to sort content appropriate for elementary and middle-school-aged children.

Emily Lytle-Painter, a lab coordinator at IMA offers these video suggestions for younger audiences:

Empire of the Eye: The Magic of Illusion: Introduction, Part 1

“The Magic of Illusion”—presented in a seven-part podcast series—is a film about how we see, what we see or what it is we think we see.  Al Roker guides viewers on a journey into the secrets of illusion, utilizing special effects to illustrate the artistic and visionary discoveries of the Renaissance. While Copernicus and Columbus were changing our understanding of the world, the Renaissance masters were dramatically changing the way we see that world.

Robots – Nemo Gould

Kinetic sculptor Nemo Gould took SJMA on a fascinating tour of his studio/workspace. He talked about his robot creations and talks about the robot that he specifically built for the exhibition “Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon.”

Lino Tagliapietra—Voices of Contemporary Glass

Lino Tagliapietra grew up on the island of Murano, the center for glassmaking in Venice.  Today, he is recognized as an accomplished artist, and he is widely regarded as the best glassblower in the world.   The video features an interview with Tagliapietra as he demonstrates Venetian glassblowing techniques.

Other noteworthy videos for this audience include:

Robert Lang Teaches Origami: Duck

Installation of Gabriel Orozco’s Mobile Matrix at MoMA

For Parents: How to Engage Your Children in Art

Laurie Simmons: Choreographer Helen Pickett

Moving East Gate/West Gate by Helicopter


Brooklyn Museum

First off, I must say the website for the Brooklyn Museum is really well organized and easy to navigate.  The “Exhibitions” section features not only current, upcoming and past museum exhibitions, but also includes three tabs that you can access for more information.  Most exhibits feature four tabs:

“Media,” which includes YouTube videos, including the show’s installation, as well as Tumblr and Flickr slideshows relative to each exhibit, for most shows;

“Talk,” which features blog posts and visitor comments;

“Print,” which includes the exhibit catalog, if there is one, and a “Teachers Packet;”and

“Events,” which include opening parties and gallery talks.

The Education: Youth and Family Programs section features online activities to explore, including Ancient EgyptBrooklyn Expedition and, my favorite, theJean-Michel Basquiat Street to Studio.  The Basquiat activity introduces kids to the famous street artist and allows them to “Exlpore the Paintings,” “Create an Artwork” in Basquiat’s signature style and “Send an E-card” featuring one of his paintings along with a personalized message.  The section also includes family guides to current exhibits and listings of gallery talks and events for children.

Additionally, the museum has an app for the iPhone and Droid (Brooklyn Museum Mobile) that acts as a guide to the museum, provides easy access to its online catalog and functions like a social networking site by allowing users to recommend their favorite art to other visitors.

Learning Leaders says family engagement equals student success

Learning Leaders, an organization for which I volunteer and support, recently posted this short video on its YouTube channel featuring comments from some of our nation’s most influential thought-leaders discussing the correlation between family engagement and student success. 
On May 11, Learning Leaders is hosting a forum on the importance of family engagement on at NYU.  To find out more or to purchase tickets, click the link below:
Learning Leaders’ mission is to help New York City public school students succeed in school by training volunteers who provide tutoring and other school-based support, and by equipping all parents to foster their own children’s educational development.

This week’s “Collaborations” piece: “The Keyhole That Unlocks Pink Sands Beach,” Anonymous

CultureChild: Parent-child Art Projects
I’m on an island vacation this week for my daughter’s spring break, and believe it or not, we are finding lots of creative things to do at the beach—we’re taking breaks in the shade to draw, making Origami and creating solar prints with sand dollars, shells, found objects and sun-sensitive paper (using Toysmith’s Solar Print Kit).  We’ve also been building a giant sandcastle.  

Remember how much fun it was to build sandcastles as a kid?  Well, it’s still fun.  One gentleman took a shovel to the sand and carved out a giant keyhole.  Almost all the children—locals and tourists—and many of their parents who have visited a certain section of the beach on Harbour Island during the past two days, have contributed to what the kids dubbed “The Keyhole That Unlocks Pink Sands Beach.”  Lots of smaller popup villages made of sand drippings are cropping up around it.  The kids are sure having fun and keeping busy!

Kickstarter helps Brooklyn elementary school students raise funds for a documentary


Parents of burgeoning thespians and playwrights take note of: Mc.B—a short documentary about Shakespeare and children.

Kickstarter, the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world, is trying to help a group Brooklyn public school students (and their drama teacher) raise the funds necessary to complete the final edits of their documentary and enter it into various film festivals.

Kickstarter’s description of the project follows:

So many people are visual learners that connect all subjects through artistry. As communities continue to have financial cutbacks, the arts are often the first thing to be removed from today’s educational environment. This documentary is intended to be a refreshing reminder of the critical role art in education has in developing positive youth initiatives.

Mc.B is a short documentary that highlights the positive effect arts education has on children. Watch these third and fourth grade children, from a public school in Brooklyn, tackle the challenge of performing Shakespeare’s play MACBETH.

The students explore primal emotions of greed, envy, and how their decisions affect themselves and others around them. Observe as the students slowly become more and more engaged with what they are performing on stage, until at the end, almost every student is riveted to hear more. The back-and-forth between the adults and students seemed to be as an unfinished novel to them, as if they had read the first half of the book in their own families, and now were obsessed with seeing how the book might end.

The “chapters” are endless: When are kids old enough to make independent decisions? What if a kid is involved in drugs or violence—when should an adult step in? What if you don’t? Might they die? What builds and destroys respect? What is conflict resolution? As the documentary captures the real life experiences, it also provides an active school–family relationship that is foundational for a solid educational atmosphere.

Interview with Blaine Zuver, founder of ArcticTropic: Delving into world culture through travel

ArcticTropic Founder Blaine Zuver in Chile

Recently, a reader, Linda Mills who is the senior vice provost for undergraduates in the Global Network University, NYU Abu Dhabi, posed a question in response to my post on Putting Learning into the Right Context for Children.  She asked, “How do we prepare the next generation for talking and working across traditional divides?”

My response is: invest in our future by teaching children to appreciate, learn from and have a positive impact on other cultures from an early age—as early as possible.  We can broaden their knowledge of the world through travel and cultural exchanges like the Thorn Tree project in Kenya as I mentioned in an earlier post.

While traveling through Miami during my daughter’s spring break, it seemed fitting to speak with other parents on the subject.  Saturday, I sat down with inveterate traveler Blaine Zuver, founder and director of ArcticTropic, his high-end adventure travel website and blog, to further discuss introducing children to different cultures through travel.  Some of his thoughts from our discussion are below.

CultureChild: Tell me about ArcticTropic and why you started the blog.

Blaine Zuver: ArcticTropic is an Adventure Travel portal.  The site links to adventure travel websites from around the world—more than 1,100 destinations in 117 countries—providing direct booking and advertising.  About a year after launch we decided to add a blog so that other travelers and I (as the blog’s director) could share our travel experiences.

ArcticTropic Blog quickly became the most popular part of the site and helps lead visitors into the other revenue-generating areas where trips are booked and ads are clicked.

CC: Why did you choose the name?

BZ: ArcticTropic encompasses all points of adventure travel from the arctics to the tropics and all points in between.

CC: You mentioned families are booking adventure travel.  What sorts of trips are they booking?

BZ: Children age six and up are ready for adventure travel, in increasing strenuousness, as they get older.  One of the easier (and very interesting) trips is a cruise to the Galapagos.  Nights are spent aboard comfortable ships, while days involve hiking and snorkeling to see the exotic wildlife.  Adventure travel does not mean just sports; travel to exotic locations like India, China or Morocco are very enlightening for kids.  Closer to the U.S., there are Mayan pyramids in Yucatan, Mexico, and many adventure sports in Costa Rica, which are safe areas for families.

CC: What sort of adventure travel have you booked with your own kids?

BZ: My older son, now 14, was traveling to exotic beaches in southern Brazil before he turned one.  Here, I drove my family through remote Indian villages, where we stayed in little bungalows.  I also took them on a driving trip from Mexico City to the coast, over dirt roads past active volcanoes, where we went horseback riding along the Pacific beaches.

This summer, here in the U.S., we will travel the deserts and mountains of California and Nevada—hiking, climbing, horseback riding and rafting.  In the summer of 2012, we plan to go horseback riding in Mongolia, where we will spend the night in yurts.  My sons will be 11 and 15 then. On the same trip we will visit China and Siberia.

CC: Is travel (adventure or non-adventure) a good way to teach kids about different cultures?

BZ: Yes, especially if the trip creates opportunity to be with and see how local people live.  A trip to the beaches of Cancun is very much like staying in the U.S.; there is not much interaction with locals except in a service capacity.

When in a city, take the metro, not just taxis.  Eat in local restaurants, not just famous five-star places.  When driving, try to take back roads rather than just the main highways.

CC: In your opinion, how do we prepare the next generation for talking and working across traditional divides?

America is a large and somewhat isolated country when it comes to perceptions of other cultures.  We are separated by large oceans and have a media that tends to generalize everything from an American point of view.  Travel, to other countries and becoming immersed in the local culture, even if only for a short time, opens a child’s mind up to a completely different world view that can be integrated with our own world.  These impressions will stay with the child for his or her lifetime.

This week’s "Collaborations" pieces: Mix-ups by Tom, Louis & Jack Shannon

Mix-ups: Parent-child Art Collaboration
Mix-ups by Tom, Louis & Jack Shannon
When his sons Louis and Jack were young, renowned artist Tom Shannon used to draw “mix-ups” with them, the game where participants fold a sheet of paper in thirds, take turns drawing and concealing the head, body or feet of a person (or creature) and passing it on to the next person.  The Surrealists called this art form “Exquisite Corpse.”  

One year, the Shannons bound all of their creations into a book and gave it to the boys’ mother.  These are two of my favorite drawings from the book.  Mix-ups are a fun way to enjoy art with kids.  And you never know what you’ll create. 

CMA is Expanding to a New, Bigger Location

Photo Courtesy of CMA

The Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) in Soho announced this week that it will be opening a new 10,000-square-foot museum site at 103 Charlton Street (at the corner of Hudson Street) in October 2011.

CMA says the new space will allow the museum to expand its art education programs for young artists, ages 1 to 15, offering more of everything: “more  inspired messiness, more opportunities to make art with CMA’s super-talented Teaching Artists, more programs for tweens and teens, new programming for 10-to 15-year olds, a new media lab, bigger and better exhibits, and more free programs.”

According to its website, CMA will serve 70,000 visitors in its first year open—and 25 percent of free of charge thus expanding its outreach to ensure that communities in need throughout NYC have access to the museum’s innovative approach to the arts.

The new space will also feature:

— a 2,000-square-foot exhibition space;

— a state-of-the-art media lab and sound booth offering CMA’s award-winning, stop-action animation program, through which children ages 6 to 15 can develop, create and edit their own animated films;

— a Clay Bar, which houses a clay workshop and  will be equipped with materials for creature- and puppet-building;

–dedicated tween and teen events;

–two classrooms, two art studios and a special “Wee Arts” studio for toddler programs;

— plus a café.

To learn more about CMA’s expansion plans and capital campaign click here.

Where’s Waldo in Art History?

Matisse’s The Dance (Image from  

I LOL’ed when I read about this tumblelog on my favorite art blogazine,Hyperallergic.

Fans of the Where’s Waldo books can test their art history prowess by searching for the beloved red- and white-striped character camouflaged among various masterpieces at Vintage Waldo.

Waldo’s peripatetic time travels span Italy’s Renaissance, where he makes a cameo in Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment; 1909 France, where he appears in Matisse’s The Dance; and in 1960s New York, where he turns up in Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Prints. Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Edvard Munch’s The Scream are also very funny.

Check the site’s archives: Can you find Waldo in each and name them all?