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Book Picks

Sure, I feature a lot of apps. I like apps. But I love books. So, here is a selection of cool looking books for incredible prices. Oh, yes, another thing I like…finding great deals for my peeps (yes, that’s you!).

Now, I while dislike bringing business into things, I feel obliged to tell you that I earn a wee amount if you buy a book. So not only are you getting a fabulous deal, but supporting the site too. Currently, this amounts to about a cup of coffee at Starbucks a month (no, not the fancy kind :)


Why I like it? (1) fun, (2) sharks, and (3) super cheap
Grade: 2-4 (7-9 years)
Rating: 4 / 5 stars (Amazon)
Price: $2.16 (may change)

BUY ➜ 


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Shop Kids Clothes & Gifts ➜

We feature the work of independent designers and small businesses that create fun, quality kids products, which are sustainable, ethically produced, and contribute to the local economy Read more ➜

Shop Gadgets for Kids ➜

Shop More…

These personalized stamps are just awesome…and not just for kids! Letter2Love was started by childhood friends and graphic designers, Angie & Samantha. Based in California; originally from Chicago.

➜ BUY on Etsy


Okay, I love this idea…personalized pencils as a gift. Perfect for teacher appreciation or for the kiddos. Personalize with a name of a message. Created by mompreneurs, Dasha & Elena of The Pencil Boutique.

➜ BUY on Etsy


Stay organized with this Cat in the Hat pattern fabric storage bin. Created by 5-star Etsy seller, Baffin Bags, in Tyler, Texas.

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After years as a teacher, Finch & Fox was born. Now Ashley creates beautifully designed personalized gifts, while being the mum to two little kiddos in sunny California. 

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These superb teepees create magical spaces for kids to explore their imagination, while staying indoors. Created in  Skokie, Illinois by Teepee Joy, a small, family-owned business that makes all its products in the USA with American-made materials.

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It’s a beautiful thing when education and good design come together. And these peel-and-stick map murals achieve just that! Designed in Seattle, Washington.

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Beautifully simple mother-daughter necklances are perfect for Mother’s Day, or to honor any freindship. Designed by sister collaborators in Montreal, Canada, their work celebrates life’s journey.
➜ Buy on Etsy


These playful masks by Everfan turn the sometimes-scary into something fun. Created to empower kids. Everfan products have also been used in children’s hospitals as part of owner Scott Chastain’s social mission. Designed in Thomasville, Georgia.
➜ Buy on Etsy


Sparks and Daughters creates personalized gifts, like this adorable rainbow mug, for the special people in your life. Designed in Somerset, United Kingdom.
➜ Buy on Etsy


This personalized nightlight from Stamp Nouveau is a wonderful way to help your kiddo go to sleep. Stamp Nouveau creates personalized gifts and is located in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
➜ Buy on Etsy


The Crayon House is a true family business, built with a passion for working at home to support their growing family. Theirs is a truly inspirational story of courage, hope, & family.
➜ Buy on Etsy


Check out this awesome, personalized “look what I made” name sign by designer, Shannon Sorge. Perfect for stylishly displaying the kiddo’s creativity!
➜ Buy on Etsy


These fabulous, personalized, cushioned lap desks are created by Kerri of KD Designs. Crafter & mompreneur! Made in Missouri, USA

➜ BUY on Etsy

About the Babadoodle shop

Style, quality, and social good.

I have been an avid supporter of independent designers for over 15 years. In the past, I have launched pop-up shows, blogged about design, and had my own online store. Recently, I began to grow Babadoodle.com as a way of helping families and educators get access to free apps through the Tech4Good: Home School Project. But then I realized that I could help more families by supporting independent designers working in children’s products.

As part of our commitment to social responsibility, we always try to support independent designers and small businesses who create products that are sustainable, ethically produced, and contribute to the local economy. Style, quality, and social good.

The Babadoodle website includes some affiliate links. We may recieve a small commission if you buy the products we feature.

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We’d love your feedback!

Hello! I’m Lesley, the founder of Babadoodle.com. I’ve been working on the site for about five years and I’m trying to improve it. So, I would love to get your feedback.

If you fill out the form, you will NOT be added to the mailing list. Your information will NOT be shared with “business partners,” it’s just me :) I may announce the results on the site or social media, but it will not include your info. It will be like, “hey, people really like coloring pages of dogs wearing tiaras!” If you were ever mentioned on the site/social media it will because, for some reason that I can’t imagine, we’d discussed it over email and you really want people to know that you like coloring pages of dogs wearing tiaras. I hope you get the idea.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me here: http://babadoodle.com/contact/

Cheers!

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Arts & Crafts for Kids Blog

Review: iOrnament app

iOrnament is a must have app for anyone who enjoys creating, designing, and doodling. Whether you are a professional artist, designer, or just someone who enjoys being creative, you can design stunning patterns and mandalas, quickly and easily.

Read the full review

To date, I created over 300 mandalas, mostly with the iOrnament app.

Here are a few mandalas that I have designed using iOrnament. For more, check out the Mandala Gallery

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Doodling, drawing, and coloring is rewarding – at least, your brain thinks so

While coloring and zentangle-styled doodling books seem to be everywhere, there has not been much research in its benefits. However, recent research shows that the brain’s reward pathway is activated while doodling, drawing, and coloring, which can improve mood and sense of pleasure.

I consider myself a skeptical optimist. If someone says, “research shows that drawing is good for the brain,” I want to believe them, but I also want to dig a little. If that research also includes some sort of brain imaging, well, then I’m really going to get excited. Excited, but skeptical.

In this research, Functional near Infared Spectoscopy (fNRIS) was used to show brain activation  by measuring blood flow to parts of the brain involved in the reward system, specifically the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). While wearing the fNRIS, a headband-like device, participants colored a mandala, doodled within a circle, and also free drew anything they wanted. Participants also completed before and after surveys regarding previous art experience and self-perception of creativity.

The results showed that on average, when compared to the rest condition, all three forms or creative self expression showed increased activity in the reward center of the brain. However, the artist subgroup showed negative activity for coloring, whereas non-artists saw an increase. While not statistically significant (boring, but important math/research stuff), doodling showed the most increase over the rest condition. In addition, after the art making activities, participants reported improvements in their self perception around having good ideas and their ability to solve problems.

What does this mean, and why is this important? It shows that even brief periods of creative self-expression – the entire experiment was about 20 minutes including the rest periods – activates the reward pathways of the brain, which in turn can improve our mood and sense of pleasure. While this can help all of us navigate our day-to-day lives and stresses, it could be especially beneficial to those at risk for mood disorders, such as depression, or in regulating addictive behaviors (which also activate the reward pathway).

As I said before, I always like to approach research, especially that which I want to believe, as a critical thinker. This was a small pilot study, so while the results are promising, they are not conclusive, but instead provide a solid platform for future research as well as insight into the therapeutic benefits of creating art for all skill levels.

As a sometimes-artist myself, I thought it was interesting that artists did not respond to the coloring activity. While I have created many coloring pages, especially mandalas, I enjoy creating them, but not coloring them. It also emphasizes the importance of finding a mode of therapy that suits the individual, and that the obvious answer may not always be the best.

An example of this was a few years ago when I was in hospital, I remember being offered a bedside art session. It was the last thing I wanted to do, especially when I was cheerfully told that “you don’t need to be good at art.” But I know that for many in hospital this low-stakes way of being creative is a beautiful form of bedside therapy, often during one of the most difficult times of life.

This research builds on existing evidence to the benefits of creative expression as therapy, but also how simple and brief this therapy can be to be effective. With cost and access concerns around healthcare, especially mental health, this becomes ever more important.

 

References:
Girija Kaimal, Hasan Ayaz, Joanna Herres, Rebekka Dieterich-Hartwell, Bindal Makwana, Donna H. Kaiser, Jennifer A. Nasser, Functional near-infrared spectroscopy assessment of reward perception based on visual self-expression: Coloring, doodling, and free drawing, The Arts in Psychotherapy, Volume 55, 2017, Pages 85-92, ISSN 0197-4556, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2017.05.004. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019745561630171X)

Artwork: Lesley Taylor © 2017

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My Summer of Mandalas

This summer I created over 50 mandalas. That’s a lot of mandalas! These four mandalas were the top mandalas on my Instagram feed (check it out and follow me), and I will be adding these to the site soon.

Why so many? For the next two-years I will be returning to college to study psychology and it’s going to be an intensive 2 years with year round classes – yep, no summer vacation for me. With college and being the mum to 3 children, I know I’m going to be busy, but I also want to keep this site going.

Most of the fifty mandalas will eventually make it to the site, and to date I have scheduled monthly mandalas to be posted for the next year and a half. My goal is to post mandalas to the site until my course is finished. I have no idea what will happen at the end of the next two years, and it’s quite strange to plan so far ahead.

Creating these mandalas has both relaxed and invigorated me – and it is my research into the mental and physical health benefits of creativity that has inspired me to continue adding designs.

Finally, it is my sincere hope that you enjoy coloring these mandalas as much as I have enjoyed creating them.

With love,

Lesley

Featured Mandala Designs:

Floral Mandala (top left)

Modern Mandala (top right)

Modern Mandala (bottom left)

Japanese Floral Mandala (bottom right)

 

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Top Coloring Pages of 2016

What a year! By the end of December, we would have published 66 free mandala coloring pages and 200 coloring pages in total! But what is most interesting is that our #1 page on the site was not a coloring page, but the blog post, “Can Creating Art Improve Brain Function and Well-being? Seems so.

Still, the heart of the site continues to be our coloring pages, so here are the 10 most popular coloring pages on the site.

Enjoy!

  1. Mandala Coloring Page #6

    Mandala #6

     

  2. Floral Heart Coloring Page

    Floral Heart

     

  3. Mandala Coloring Page #33

    Mandala Coloring Page 33

     

  4. Happy Birds Coloring Page

    Happy Birds Coloring Page

     

  5. Mandala Coloring Page #42

    Mandala #42

     

  6. Baby Dinosaur Coloring Page

    Baby Dinosaur

     

  7. Pterodactyl Coloring Page

    Pterodactyl Coloring Page

     

  8. Reggie Robot Coloring Page

    Reggie the Robot Coloring Page

     

  9. Love Birds Coloring Page

    Love Birds Coloring Page

     

  10. Mandala Coloring Page #20
    Mandala Coloring Page 20
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Top Coloring Pages for June 2016

We thought we’d amuse ourselves and see what the most popular coloring pages on Babadoodle.com were last month. We weren’t surprised that 7 out of 10 were mandalas, since we do have a lot of them on the site (41, last count). But we were surprised that one of our first mandalas, the creatively named Mandala #6, made the list. Mandala #38 and our first Harley Motorcycle coloring sheet got the most love on our Facebook page. It was pretty quiet on Pinterest…and even that was mostly me! :)

Always feel free to sent us a note and let us know what you’d like to see more of. In the meantime, Happy Coloring!

Mandala Coloring Page 36
#1 – Mandala Coloring Page 36

Harley_Motorbike_Coloring_1
#2 – Harley Motorcycle Coloring Page

#3 - Mandala Coloring Page #35
#3 – Mandala Coloring Page #35

Mandala-6
#4 Mandala Coloring Page #6

Mandala Coloring Page 37
#5 – Mandala Coloring Page 37

Mandala Coloring Page 34
#6 – Mandala Coloring Page 34

Pterodactyl-blue
#7 Pterodactyl Coloring Page

Rico
#8 – Rico Robot Coloring Page

Mandala Coloring Page 38
#9 – Mandala Coloring Page 38

#1: Stars & Stripes Mandala
#10: Stars & Stripes Mandala

 

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Being Creative Can Reduce Stress: Even If You’re Not Artistic

Even if you’re the type of person who exclaims, “I can’t even draw a straight line!” being creative can still significantly reduce your stress levels.

In a new study of healthy individuals, researchers at Drexel University found that participation in 45 minutes of creative arts was linked to a significant drop in the level of the stress hormone, cortisol. Interestingly, this drop was not dependent on artistic ability, experience, gender, or the type of materials used.

In the study, participants were allowed to be create whatever they liked with markers, collage, clay, or a combination, and without the expectation that they needed to finish. Before and after salivary cortisol was taken to assess stress levels, and participants were also asked to provide feedback about their experience. On average, cortisol was reduced by just over  17%. Some feedback from participants included that project was enjoyable, aided self awareness, and put them in a state of flow, but also that the process was challenging at first, which they overcome. Others said they would like to create art again in the future.

While we all have stress, high levels of ongoing stress is linked to negative outcomes in even otherwise healthy people. The ability to modulate day-to-day stress is important for everyone, but for those with mental and physical health issues, reducing stress can be even more important to their physical and psychological wellbeing.

It is important to mention that this was a pilot study that didn’t include a control group and the sample size was relatively small, plus not all participants saw a decrease in cortisol levels. That being said, other studies have also shown decreases in stress during creative projects. These studies followed a therapeutic approach, often a specific art project, and led by a professional, rather than free-form creative expression.

Ultimately, being creative – even if you’re not a natural artist – can reduce your stress in a way that is non-invasive, cheap, and easy to do almost anywhere. So grab a pencil and scribble away!

 

References:
Kaimal, G., Ray, K., & Muniz, J. (2016). Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making. Art Therapy, 33(2), 74-80. doi:10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832

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Can Creating Art Improve Brain Function and Well-being? Seems so.

Can creating art improve the way our brains function and how we react to stress as we age? Yes, according to a study out of Germany. I enjoy a good fMRI study as much as the next person – what do you mean, you don’t – so was thrilled to see all the beautiful neuroimaging included as part of the study. For me, it adds extra dimension and insight to the working of the brain that you do not always get with psychological research.

The 10-week study measured the effect of creating art versus appreciating art on 28 retirees, 14 men and 14 women. After the study, those retirees who created art showed improved brain interactivity in areas of the brain associated with well-being and memory, as measured by fMRI. The study also saw significant improvements in psychological resilience, such as how we deal with stress.

I won’t go into too much of the neuroscience, but basically, creating art increases functional interactivity within the brain’s default mode network (DMN). Whereas dysfunction of interactivity is linked to neuropsychiatric disorders, such as major depression, schizophrenia, and autism. It is also linked to chronic pain. In addition, age relate declines in these areas are linked to reduced working memory.  If you want a lot more detail, check out the study here or an excellent Huffington Post article the covers the study in more detail here.

Unfortunately, just visiting a gallery for a little art appreciation doesn’t seem to have quite the same effect, but pair it with a trip to the café for a glass of wine, and you’ll be fine. That’s not science, that’s experience!

References:
Bolwerk A, Mack-Andrick J, Lang FR, Dörfler A, Maihöfner C (2014) How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. PLoS ONE 9(7): e101035. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101035

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