art & culture

This week, TLB Music‘s mini camp theme is Little Artists!  One of our campers craft activities is creating a water lily pond using Monet’s famous series Water Lilies as inspiration.

Student Materials:
a large green paper plate, green lily pads, pink tissue squares, crayons (green & white)
a glue stick, sponge brushes, paint (purple, dark blue, light blue, green & white)

Teacher Materials: scissors

Teacher Prep: -cut lily pads out of green paper in a variety of sizes
-cut small squares of pink tissue paper (I used 1” and 2” squares)

Project Intro:
Claude Monet was an impressionist painter from Paris, France. Impressionism is a 19th century art movement. (ask kids to try to say “Impressionism”) This movement was actually named after one of Monet’s paintings, Impression, Sunrise! Small, thin brushstrokes are one of the main characteristics of these paintings.  Look at Monet’s works of art. What do kids see? Monet’s most famous series of paintings is Water Lilies, which depicts Monet’s garden in France.  There are approximately 250 paintings in this series! Today, we’re going to create our own water lily ponds using the technique of Impressionist painters.


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Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield MA- 111 years ago today! His children’s books, written under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, are unlike any others, filled with completely unique stories and characters, always delivering timeless, inspiring messages.  Here are 10 of my favorite quotes to read and share in honor of his special day.  Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

1. “Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is you-er than you.”

2. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

3. “Only you can control your future.”

4. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

5. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

6. “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

7. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

8. “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”

9. “If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

10. “And the turtles, of course…all the turtles are FREE. As turtles and, maybe, ALL creatures should be.”

Happy Birthday, E. E. Cummings!  The American poet was born in Cambridge, MA on October 14, 1894.  Today, in his honor, I’m sharing two of my favorite E. E. Cummings poems: “anyone lived in a pretty how town” and “You are tired”.  The first one is best read aloud to truly appreciate the rhythm of his words and the second is perfect for quiet contemplation.

anyone lived in a pretty how town

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
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One of my favorite artists, painter Gustav Klimt, was born on July 14, 1862 in Baumgarten, Austria- 152 years ago today!  I’ve chosen 10 of my favorite Klimt paintings in honor of his special day.  His style is perfect for introducing to children.  After viewing his works (ex:  Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 is great for identifying shapes, Country Garden with Sunflowers is perfect for identifying colors), ask kids to draw their own Klimt-inspired work of art.  Happy Birthday, Gustav!

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Today, we mourn the loss of one of this world’s greatest authors and poets, Maya Angelou.  In her honor, I’m sharing the beautiful quote above and one of my favorite poems, “Phenomenal Woman”.  The poem, published in her 1978 collection And Still I Rise, is so incredibly powerful and moving, like all of her writing.  First, read the poem then listen to Maya read it in the video below.
Rest in peace, Maya Angelou.

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French Post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau was born on May 21, 1844- 170 years ago today!  Rousseau’s story is so inspiring- he was entirely self-taught.  Henri was born is the Loire Valley in France.  He went to Laval High School, where he excelled in drawing and music.  His father, who was a plumber, couldn’t afford to support his son’s desire to pursue the arts.  In fact, Henri had to become a boarder at his high school when his parents’ house was seized!  After finishing school, Henri worked for a lawyer, served in the army for four years, and then, after his father passed away, he returned home to care for his mother and work for the French Customs office.

It wasn’t until he was in his forties that he began seriously painting.   At age 49, he retired from his job so he could focus on his art!  To support himself financially, he worked odd jobs, like performing as a musician in the streets and teaching violin lessons.  During his time (and still often today) critics didn’t treat his paintings as true art.  They called his technique childish and his works flat and ordinary.  But he continued to follow his dream and paint, regardless of the criticism or his lack of formal training.    My favorite fact about Rousseau is that, although he is known for his depictions of colorful jungle scenes, he never traveled to any jungle- in fact, he never left France!  He used illustrated books and the Botanical Gardens in Paris as inspiration.  If you analyze his paintings, you’ll see that there are lots of animals that could have never been seen together in reality.  I absolutely love Rousseau’s paintings- they make me smile.  To me, they represent the power of passion and imagination.  If they are childish in any way, it is in their childish spirit- Rousseau’s inner child who refused to give up on his dream.

 Love this.

Here are my 6 favorite Rousseau paintings in honor of his special day!

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Russian painter Wasilly Kandinsky is one of the best artists to introduce to young children. His works use lots of colorful shapes in abstract compositions, perfect for shape/color recognition and imaginative thinking. I incorporated several of his paintings in TLB Music‘s Winter/Spring curriculum, “Colors with Cozmo”.  Here are 12 of my favorite Kandinsky paintings for kids! First, identify the colors and shapes in each painting then ask children to tell you what they see in each one. After looking at the paintings, make sure to print my Kandinsky Coloring Activity for Kids!

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was published on April 10, 1925- 89 years ago today! It’s one of my favorite books and had me entranced with New York City long before I moved here. In honor of its birthday, I gathered some of my favorite quotes from the novel.

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Last week, we hosted our first annual Halloween Costume Party at TLB Music!  Our amazing staff teamed up to transform our music studio and playspace with giant cobwebs, bats, jack-o-lanterns, lights, balloons, LED candles, and more.  We created a Trick-or-Treat table filled with yummy vegan sweets like YumEarth lollipops, Dandies Marshmallows, Newman’s Own Cookies, and fruit.  I also baked almost 300 mini brownies!  (Brownies are so easy to veganize:  just substitute eggs with flax eggs in any brownie recipe.)  Continue reading to see my photos from the party!

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On November 1, 1946, the first NBA (then called the BAA) basketball game took place in Toronto. The game was The New York Knicks against the Toronto Raptors at Maple Leaf Gardens and the event drew in over 7000 spectators, most who knew very little about basketball! The Knicks won 68-66. Some fun facts I learned today:

-Basketball players salaries were around $5000 per season.*
-The first BAA teams paid a $10,000 franchise fee.*
-If you were taller than the tallest Raptors player (6 ft 8 in), you could attend the opening game for free!

*Source: “The First Game” by Sam Goldaper on the NBA Encyclopedia.
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{About the Photo}

On August 14, 1945, when the surrender of Japan was announced in the United States, ending World War II, everyone took to the the streets to celebrate. In Times Square, a photographer named Alfred Eisenstaedt was taking pictures of the spontaneous scene and spotted a young sailor running around kissing every woman he could find. Just south of 45th street, the man grabbed a nurse and Alfred captured the moment of their kiss, with the intersection of Broadway and Seventh in the background. The photo, entitled V-J Day in Times Square, was published a week later in a Life magazine spread and become one of the most iconic images of the era.

Did you know that another view of the same kiss was published in the New York Times? This one is called Kissing the War Goodbye, taken by photo journalist Victor Jorgensen:

(click here to enlarge photo)

photo source 1
photo source 2

Today is National Lasagna Day! This is one of my favorite recipes from my Vegan Recipes & Foods Pinterest board. Doesn’t it look delicious?  It is the Vegan Lasagna with Basil Cashew Cheeze from Oh She Glows, photographed and reviewed by 86 Lemons.  Basil cashew cheese is one of the best vegan foods I’ve been introduced to in the last couple years!  It is so diverse:  you can spread it on bread and crackers, bake it on pizza, make creamy sauce with it, or cover it with breadcrumbs and pan fry!  Make your own following the recipe above or buy a pre-made version, like the amazing basil cashew spread called Basilcotta from Regal Vegan.

We recently walked the High Line on a sunny Sunday and snapped some pictures to share.  Click the pictures below to enlarge! For information about the High Line, visit
Photo Credit: Carina Zimmerman
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(click image to enlarge)

Joan Miró was a Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born on April 20, 1893. This is one of his best known works: Harlequin’s Carnival, painted in 1924-25. To view a gallery of Miró’s works dating from 1912-1971, click here.  As we clicked through his collection, we loved watching the evolution of his painting style over the decades!

New Orleans-born Mahalia Jackon was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite singers. The “Queen of Gospel” sang at the 1963 March on Washington before he gave his speech! Take a couple minutes today to listen to her powerful rendition of “How I Got Over”.

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