What Each of My Children Taught Me

The transformation that happens to a woman when she becomes a mom is something beyond words. The emotions she experiences are way beyond description, and the struggles she faces know no limits.
However, the things that a mom is not aware of are the endless lessons which she attains from her very own children.

So what has each of my five taught me?

My eldest D:
As I look back to that young mom in me, almost 13 years ago, I would smile and observe how much I have changed. I was six months pregnant with my first baby, and I was more than excited to that moment where I would finally wrap him in my arms, drinking in his scent.
I was still living in France back then, and life was not at its best. I was working as a full time teacher, I barely saw my husband due to the hectic work routine, I was homesick, and I felt bitter.
What killed me the most was the fact that I knew I had to keep my baby boy at a nursery at the age of 3 months and go back to work. I was simply not ready for that kind of separation and it tortured me to even think about him being taken care of by a complete stranger.
One night, I put my hand on my round tight belly and prayed with all the strength and faith I had, asking the Almighty to take us somewhere – just anywhere – away from the country. A month later, with happy tears streaming down my cheeks, I was packing to live in Abu Dhabi for a year – or that is what we thought would happen!
From that day on my first son has been my mentor in strengthening my faith and in believing that “To pray is to let go and let God take over.” And so He did!

Whenever I feel uncertain or worried about my big boy now, I know he has his own protectors and I humbly accept the difficult challenges I had when he was smaller.
Being a first time mom, back then, I thought that motherhood came with a manual where everything is perfectly set in place.

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First time mommy has taught me about strengths I never imagined I have. It taught me to endure physical and emotional pain. It empowered me in ways I did not imagine I would, and it made me more realistic than I have ever been.
With him, motherhood was a mysterious deep ocean filled with anxious wild rides through which I experimented all those new emotions with uncertainty. At the same time, I learned to capture unique successful moments through the tangled twists and turns which resulted in the mother I am now.

My 2nd Son R:
The arrival of our second son was a blissful moment. I was delighted to have two little buddies who were there for each other, play with one another, and take care of each other. As I knew that I would not stop at two kids, I welcomed being a mom of two boys with pride.

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Unlike the first time, I had a very smooth delivery filled with confidence and assurance. I even gave him his first bath, a few hours after delivery, knowing exactly what I was doing – not even looking at the nurse standing next to me.
Since the day he was born, I learned that a mom’s love is infinite and grows bigger and bigger with every additional child. That miraculous moment when a child breathes for the very first time and cries out, is just filled with a magical kind of love and gets repeated with every new child born.

My second son came to life with a thirst to learning and acquisition which taught me all about rationalism when it comes to parenting.
I learned that I could not force them to do what I want them to do. For children to learn to do things out naturally, they need to be convinced of its goodness and how well it serves them. It has to become a habit, a mode of living, and it is very difficult to attain. That is why, patience is the key. After all, it takes years of tears and trials for us to reap what we sowed.

I gradually learned to worry less as the frozen fears which I had, as a first time mom, slowly started to melt leaving greater space for me to enjoy them more. It was then that I quickly realized that children grow way too fast, and I wanted to make the best out of motherhood, in the finest way possible. I was more than happy to realize that I was no longer that apprehensive mommy.

My Third Son S:
I experienced the real joy of motherhood with the presence of my third boy. His addition brought me an extra mile of satisfaction. I was more confident, patient, mature, and I somehow knew more about the impulsive traps of parenting.
Being alone with him at home, while the other two went to school, he soon became my companion and my buddy. I spent such precious moments with him, and when the other two came back home, that joy was automatically transferred to them.
My Third, clarified the idea of being easy going and of not judging myself too much. He taught me of being happy for the mere fact of having them with me. His buoyant character and self confidence made me appreciate the presence of my three little boys beyond words. I was so grateful for that contentment which I truly feel to this very moment.

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Moreover, I learned to take any failure as a learning opportunity, just like them. I also became more focused on expressing my love towards them, and I deliberately attained the art of apologizing when I make mistakes or behave in a negative way.

The Twins:

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The birth of the twins was a simple reflection of life’s endless miracles, the faultlessness of human formation, and the perfection of how God deciphers His astuteness through us.
I confess I did not really get the chance to fully rejoice motherhood with them, as I wanted to be completely present with each one of them. Of course many are the times when that was not possible. It is then that I accepted the fact that aiming at being the ideal mom would leave me frustrated and hopeless. Slowly, I redirected myself into focusing on the present moment and dealt with what needed to be done first.
The first few months were tough on every one at home. We felt we were all moving in different directions, but the support system I had back then, reduced those worries and made me more focused.

So prioritising my duties according to what suits them best was the key for me to overcome that period.
Finally, the twins’ presence, despite the differences in character, made me aware of the precious bond these two beings have. The love and affection they feel towards one another is unimaginable. Their bond is so pure and true, and the delight they pour into our hearts is heavenly.

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It is really true that “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

With my five I learned all about the ironic feelings of motherhood ranging from hopelessness to success, from acceptance to change, and from certainty to ambiguity. I learned all about perseverance, resilience, fear, guilt, and pride. I also learned about that unconditional love that drives us crazy many times a day. That is why, I will never cease to learn from them, and try my best to exert my patience in the best way possible in order for us to enjoy this period of time together.

What has your child taught you?

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Please share this post on your social media as it helps us connect with other moms and keep the learning opportunities wider.

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Sensing Art

During the summer break, my children and I usually get the chance of doing more art work together. This time we had the opportunity to explore the Johnson’s Pure Protect Exploration Kit which consisted of various products. An instruction book which describes the proper use of each of the ten products was also included. Tang powder bags, food color, paint kit, Johnsons wipes, soap bar, hand soap, and baby shower gel are some of the products found in the kit.

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It was very interesting to observe how each of my children interacted with the various products. My three older boys mainly wondered about the odours mixed into the cotton filled jars, while the twins explored their senses through their hands.

Some innovative ideas were found in the kit; I never thought of using Tang powder to paint a drawing! The feeling of the sugary powder on the skin was sensational especially to the twins who absolutely enjoyed the sticky sandy like feeling rubbing on their hands.

First, we mixed the powdered tang with some water and a few drops of food color, I was surprised that the children were able to tint and have fun trying a new kind of paint. They then covered their hands with the paint and made some hand prints.

Next, we worked on testing our smelling senses through the four different types of essence jars that came along. I covered the boys’ eyes and had them smell the cotton where I have added two different types of essence. They easily recognized the lemon extract but the cardamom concentration was a bit tricky.

We also worked on smelling dried plants from my pot pourri bowl, and I used the remaining essence like lavender and rose.

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After that I gave my twins the cotton in the plastic jars as they continued to smell them while learning new vocabulary trying out words like ‘lavender’ and ‘rose’ after every sniff.

Learning is best acquired through play. Today my children and mainly the twins, had fun as they explored, smeared paint, splattered colors, and sensed new experiences. Luckily we had the Johnsons’ soap and wet wipes to clean the mess they created.

A special thank you goes to Momsguide and Johnsons and Johnsons for providing us with this enjoyable learning opportunity.

Review: Pre-Teens at Ease

In our pre-teen talk last Wednesday at Dots and Links, Joanne Jewell, the founder of Mindful Parenting, took us on an expedition as she transformed the uneasiness we felt towards the teen years into a smoother apprehension. Unlike the toddler years where parenting is a physical challenge, the teen age years are more cognitively challenging.

According to Mrs. Jewel, There are five main changes a pre-teen child goes through where parents feel secluded. However, we should not take things personal as it is all part of their growth.

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Peers:

It is very natural that at this stage pre-adolescents seek to spend more time with their peers. However, parents’ role is crucial here as they need to work on moving towards a ‘coaching style’. Funnily enough those pre-teens still yearn to have quality time with their parents even if they do not show it.  Here, parents are recommended to work on LISTENING more and question less. Being non-judgemental about their opinions and friends makes teenagers want to share more things with their parents. They long for a connection and that is what we need to acquire.

Seeking Advice:

When we as parents are up to date with the teen age world, we establish a better relationship with them.  It is advised that parents show an interest in their favourite TV programs, YouTube, Instagram accounts etcetera, and guide them by showing sympathy. In addition, having open discussions about bullying, gender roles, media, and peer pressure significantly decreases teenagers’ involvement in mishaps and trouble.

Beginning Puberty:

Major body changes occur at this stage in their lives. It is essential that we do not fear the fact of starting a conversation about puberty. For example, ask about what they already know and let them steer the conversation. It is essential to note the usage of the appropriate words for body parts. Making the conversations as casual as possible facilitates the talk. For example, Mrs. Jewell suggested having such a talk in the car where eye contact may be avoided and hence the awkwardness of the situation is minimalised.

Changes in the Brain:

In addition to all the physical changes in their bodies, the teenage brain goes through a colossal re-wiring process. It mainly changes in the way they remember, think, reason, focus, pay attention, and make decisions. For instance, teenagers might display some of those cognitive changes through the following behavioral traits: seeking rewards by trying new things, displaying varied and strong emotions, or pushing away and rebelling against the traditional ways of doing things.

Seek more Autonomy:

It is all a natural development and a necessary push to notice that they seek autonomy and parents should not feel rejected. It is only a move towards ‘inter-dependence’ and not isolation. It is not easy to find a balance between the parents and their children. However, keeping the channels of communication open helps a lot. For example, you could say, “Let me think about it, “instead of saying “No” directly. Showing empathy all the way makes your child want to listen to you.

Below is a link that focuses on the choice of words and its impact on our children:

www.facebook.com/brightside/videos/893780620750682/?hc_location=ufi

 
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When I asked the attending moms to describe in a few words what lesson they have learned or what message they would want to share with other parents, I got a few interesting replies which I would like to share with you.

“It was truly a very inspiring seminar. Thank you for organizing it. I think the biggest thing I would take away from this is the importance of listening and appreciating our children’s emotions. When children are especially expressive or can discuss things with you at a high (almost surprising) level, we tend to forget that their brains haven’t yet fully developed. This is something we surely need constant reminders of, and Joanne did just that. She put it back in perspective: that self-regulating their feelings and learning how to deal with whatever situation they face is a skill that our children learn, and it’s probably the most important tool we can provide them with to become successful and happy adults later in life; which is why we have to be conscious of our own behavior with them. So, very simply, listen, empathize, and give them the space to learn.”

“This workshop has changed my ocular towards parenting, I have learned that empathy and empowerment is the route to successful parenting. Punishment and control have short term effect and will not help us equip our kids with the relevant values that will help them later in life.”

“I have learned a few valuable skills and the most important is using empathy first. I usually charge, shoot, drill then empathize.”

“Empathy empathy empathy then transfer your family values.”

“I think I should do things with more ease when dealing with my kids and treat them like friends rather than being hard on them.”

“Would like to thank you for the great workshop, I learned so much from it. The information provided are very useful and I will implement them in my life: 
_ to create an open environment.
_ to listen 
_ to be patient 
_ to learn a new game with my kids.”

“The power of showing Empathy!  When dealing with an angry pre-teens there is no need to express our thoughts or opinion… empathizing could be the answer to a critical situation.  This way, we, as parents, think about what’s the best thing to say and it also allows our son or daughter to absorb what we will tell them later on.”

“The only thing you can control in parenting is your reaction towards your children.”

“It’s been a pleasure attending the seminar. I really liked it and it made me change in knowing how to deal more wisely and positively with my kids and everyone else whether friends or family members. It even gave me positive energy to keep on trying to find solutions to any barriers or problems I’m facing.
I wish everyone could share their experiences as well since we all keep on learning from each other.”

“First of all I would like to thank you for this great opportunity you have provided us with. Show sympathy with your kids before you judge them.” 

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We ended the seminar with a raffle draw and a group picture. In that regard, I would like to thank all the attending moms and their great participation in the workshop. I would also like to acknowledge Dots and Links for their hospitality, vouchers, and support, Mrs Jewell for the informative guidance she bestowed to us, with whom we will be working on organizing more workshops in the future. Chateau de Sable, and Layan Emirates Gifts for the vouchers and gifts.
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You have all participated in making the event a unique one with its success.

 
I would love to hear your stories, the challenges you face, and concerns that worry you in order to work on preparing for Mrs. Jewell’s workshop in the near future.

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Tweens and Teens

We all agree on the fact that children of this generation are growing up way too fast. The influence of social media along with the exposure to the global society are playing a major role in having our children subjected to neoteric occurrences at an early age.

Like the toddler years, we confront adolescence with fear wondering what went wrong with our parenting methods. To make things worse, we either blame ourselves for failing to be the perfect parents or accuse our teens of being impolite and rude.  We do not realise that those teenagers, like when they were toddlers, are aware of their increasing independence which is formulated in many ways. For example, they simply say NO because they can! We might not accept that now they understand their ability to refuse abiding by the rules. Moreover, their vocabulary and analysis have increasingly developed to argue back for hours.

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In particular, the ages 7 to 12 are the most crucial since we slowly start noticing our child’s transformation in attitude and the development of various opinions.  Amidst this chaos, this teenage phase is also confusing to the parents especially since very little advice is provided before the teen years kick in.

Being a mom of five I observe different personalities, characteristics, and attributes amongst them. Like any concerned mom, I am always keen on finding the best way to assist my treasures in becoming the contented and successful adults I wish them to be.

For the upcoming event, Mrs. Joanne Jewel, a Parenting and Educator Consultant, will be discussing with us the adolescent years. She will also clarify and share with us ways in preparation for those changes. The aim of this seminar is not only to accept that these changes will be taking place whether we are ready for it or not, but also to empower us as anxious parents to live with it and tackle it in a less challenging manner.

Therefore, I would like to know your worries about the teen phase:

What are some of your concerns, fears, or challenges that you have faced or might face?

How do you view the teen years?

What are your top three behaviour problems in pre-teens?

What is one thing you would want to learn more about?

It would be a great service to us as concerned parents if you share your apprehensions with me! Together we can support each other in leading our teens to a safe harbour. Try not to miss this exclusive session this coming Wednesday. For more details please check the flyer attached below.

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Managing Our Children’s Diet

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With the collaboration and coordination of King’s College Hospital clinics, thehelicoptermommy invites you and your child to attend a seminar on “Managing Our Children’s Diet”
By: Dr. Rachel Leiper – Family Medicine
For: mom or dad and one child aged 9 to 13 years
When: 27/02/2016 from10:30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m
Where: King’s College Hospital Clinics Shining Towers Khalidiya
For free registration please:
1. Follow thehelicoptermommy
2. email raniahussant@gmail.com
Include: a. Your name and number
               b. Your child’s name and age
Limited places
Valet parking service is available

‘Anger Management with Children’ – Event Review

Last Saturday, we were delighted to welcome thirty moms who attended our seminar, “Anger Management with Children”, presented by Mrs. Mardam Bey (Relationship Coach). Not only there was an opportunity to have a deeper vision on parenting, but moms shared their struggles, pondered on certain solutions, and cheerfully left with a new parenting revelation along with vouchers and prizes offered by Silkor Laser Medical Center and Layan Emirates Gifts.

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Mrs. Mardam Bey focused on three main points in parenting:

  1. Parenting is a growth process and any growth comes in pain.
  2. Biggest enemy of parenting is knee jerk reactivity.
  3. Kids throw tests at us and how we can learn to respond differently.

As she thoroughly explained these ideas, she gave us the opportunity to share our worries, fears, success, and mostly on how we can focus on ourselves and make the right decision when faced with a specific struggle.  Once we are angry we forget our skills of communication and without the latter, solid relationships cannot foster and grow.

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For this post, attending moms shared their reviews of the seminar and their visualization on dealing with anger management. They were asked to describe how they benefited from the session in one sentence, and below are some of the answers I received:

“Be more patient, try to stay calm, and know how to pick your battles,” mom of 2.

“It was a great awareness session that had covered in details certain important and daily interactions between parents and kids with proper guidance,” mom of 3.

“Explain your anger, do not express it, and you will open the door to solutions instead of arguments,” mom of 2.

“I learned that I am the one who can control my anger. I always have a choice; get angry and crazy or stay calm and use better communication. It is a choice that will affect my actions and my relationship with my kids, now and in the future,” mom of 3.

“Anger can be a terribly harmful emotion if it is not controlled. If we as adults learn how to control our reactions we would teach and reflect on our kids positive attitude towards any situation,” mom of 3.

“Today was my first time to attend a session like this. It was amazing as I could freely express myself. I will try to apply what Rasha said, be calm, reliable, and not to take our children as enemies,” mom of 2.

“The seminar today made me realize that our kids are not robots to be programmed by us. They like and dislike many things just like us. We have to respect and embrace that quality,” mom of 2.

“Raising children is a learning process for both children and parents as well,” mom of 3.

“Parenting is not a battle and casualties are not acceptable. You should have the power to control yourself,” mom of 2.

“I learned that I need to be more diplomatic when dealing with my daughter, thank you for the conference,” mom of 1.

“Today’s workshop was an opportunity for me to stop, reflect on my relationship with my two girls and gain new insights on how I can make this relationship grow. Very informative session and great initiative. Thank you,” mom of 2.

“I learned to be more patient and more relaxed,” mom of 3.

“It was a very interesting session that made me think and re-think about the things we do without thinking…my favourite part was imagining my kids in 25 years,” mom of 3.

“Using the ‘guntlet’ method in addition to the exercise ‘In 25 years from now’ I believe are the keys to resolve day to day issues in our relationships with love and attention rather than authority and rules. The session was concise and engaging! Thank you again for all the effort you put and for all the ongoing ‘giving’,” mom of 3.

“The session helped me realize that it is possible to create a smoother relationship with my kids by doing things differently,” mom of 2.

“I found this ‘Anger Management with Children’ course very beneficial as it gave us useful tools to control one’s anger, to manage responses, and to develop an ability to stop before saying or doing something we might regret,” mom of 2.

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Mrs. Mardam Bey ended her session by the following video which I recommend to be watched as it shows us the importance of “being” rather than “doing” for ourselves and our children.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltVPj6-5xpo

It was a fantastic morning that ended up with a raffle for five lucky moms who won a super treatment from Silkor.  A big thank you to Rasha, Eliane, Lama, and Nesrine; your continuous support and cooperation were incredible. I would also like to thank each and every beautiful mom who attended. Without you this would not be happening. We look forward to seeing soon, and remember parenting is not a war – it is about building a relationship where we agree on things together. Once we have established such a strong foundation, there won’t be any room for anger to rule us around.

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Art Attack

Since I believe in the importance of art in a child’s development, art work has been a major part of my children’s upraising. One of the things that I work on with my children is having them explore their bodies through art.

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As we have just returned from our summer break, we were only able to sketch and scratch a few scribbles on paper. Yet starting this week, I set a schedule where every Sunday we will have a session of art attack.

In her article “The Importance of Art in Child Development”, Grace Lynch states seven development benefits to art. She strongly believes that “simple creative activities are some of the building blocks of child development.”

I will briefly summarize only four of the main points and I recommend you read the whole article as well. (www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-importance-of-art-in-child-development )

Motor Skills:

As per Ms. Lynch, holding a paint brush or scribbling with a crayon helps in developing a child’s fine motor skills. Moreover, the use of scissors is essential as it develops the dexterity children will need for writing.

Language Development:

When children make art and they try to explain what they did, they are expressing themselves and learning how to communicate. In addition, their vocabulary is also increasing.

Decision Making:

Art education strengthens problem-solving and critical- thinking skills. As the child is indulged with an art piece, he/she is working on certain decisions as to what colors need to be used, how to make certain drawings, etcetera.  “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about children’s art education.

Improved Academic Performance:

Recent studies show that there is a correlation between art and other academic achievements. Children, who are regularly subjected to art work at an early age show more involvement in participating in a math or science fair, or win an award for writing a poem or an essay.

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Below are the art activities for the twins which will be carried out early on Sunday mornings:

Free style Painting:

This is quite a messy activity, but it is real fun. I did it with the twins in the kitchen where it is easy to clean after.

Materials

  • Different A3 white paper taped on the floor
  • Paint
  • Plates and brushes

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Directions

  1. Dribble paint onto the plates. Use several different colors.
  2. Have your child explore using his/her body – mainly hands and  feet – and his/her senses to discover the paint on his/her own. if the child is not comfortable, using a paint brush comes in handy.
  3. Allow the painting to dry.

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Cork Printing:

Materials

  • Wine bottle corks
  • Liquid tempera paint in a shallow pan
  • Paper

Directions

  1. Let your child grasp the cork at one end and hold it upright.
  2. Press the cork into the paint then onto a piece of paper or newsprint.
  3. If you like, use tempera paint in several different colors.

Bubble Wrap Printing:

I love this activity as it shows the child how he/she can leave trace or prints behind him/her. It also works on the sense of touch as the child explores the cool and soft effect of the bubble wrap around his/her tiny cute feet.

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Materials

  • Bubble wrap packing material
  • Tape
  • Liquid tempera paint (several different colors)
  • Paintbrush
  • A3 paper taped on the floor

Directions

  1. Tape the bubble wrap around the feet of your child (I kept their shoes on)
  2. By using a brush, have his/her feet painted then have him/her walk around the A3 paper until he/she loses interest.

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Foot Tracing:

This is a fun and kind of neat art activity. It makes the child visualize the differences of sizes and words like big, medium, small can be focused on.

Materials

  • Drawing paper
  • Crayons, markers, or paints

Directions

  1. Have your child stand on a piece of paper while you trace around his/her feet with a pen or crayon.
  2. Then trace your own feet and/or siblings’ feet and compare sizes.
  3. Color the feet with crayons, markers, or paints.
  4. Older children may want to use crayons, markers, or paint to add nail polish and funny rings to the toes.

Pasta Art:

This activity involves fine motor skill development and it also teaches a toddler about patience. If your child is likely to eat the glue-covered noodles, substitute corn syrup thinned with a little water for the glue. Many toddlers, on the other hand, might enjoy just playing with the warm pasta shells which is also part of discovery.

Materials

  • White glue (or corn syrup)
  • Food coloring in 2-3 different colors
  • Containers for glue
  • Cooked pasta shells
  • cardboard

Directions

  1. Decide how many colors of glue you want to make, and pour the glue into that many containers.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring to each glue container, using a different color for each container.
  3. Show your child how to dip the pasta shells, one piece at a time, into the colored glue, and lay it on the cardboard.
  4. Repeat, using different colors of glue, until your child tires of this activity.

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There are millions of art ideas found on the web, but I would love to hear from you by sharing your own personal experience with us.

While my children and I do art, we feel relaxed, composed and serene. These are great characteristics children can try to acquire at an early age. Art work is in fact a great evolving pleasure.

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