Monday, May 16, 2011

Parents = Toy Experts. Meet Maggy from Red Ted Art

Every Monday we'll host an interview here with parents who also happen to be great educators for their kids and wonderful bloggers who love to share their ideas and adventures with their own kids. This week our featured guest / parent / blogger is Maggy of the Red Ted Art. She shares really great tips about crafting with toddlers as well as giving us a little insight into life of bilingual family. Have fun reading! 

Who is Maggy online and offline.

Oooh Michelle, that is a great question… you are right in assuming that I am “someone slightly” different online and offline… online I try and stick to happy, encouraging, crafty… that is after all what Red Ted Art is all about. Getting other to enjoy arts and crafts and to have a go and be proud of what they do. Offline I am ambitious, efficient and crafty… only way to manage the blog and my kids! I do of course also get grumpy like anyone else and I am sure The Englishman can pay testimony to that!

You're big in recycling and you include many recycling materials in your projects. Where do you find an inspiration?

I do love recycling – ever since I have been a child I have been horrified about the amount of waste we produce. Though crafting with recycled materials doesn’t actually reduce that waste – you still have to recycle it in the end – I feel better about at least reusing it a little and not “buying” more stuff.  

The inspiration comes from many sources – ultimately I find the more you do the more ideas you get. But initially it did start with books – “how can I make XYZ for Red Ted from ABC book”, then rummage through our recycling (e.g. our robots) other times I see a shape and I think “Oh my, THAT is a perfect penguin! I also find all the other craft blogs a wonderful inspiration – especially for “generic techniques” that I can then make my own (e.g. using contact paper sticking with toddlers). I do sometimes find myself awake in the middle of the night trying to figure out how to “make the legs of a giraffe” and I can’t sleep until I have “THAT Idea”… not good! But kind of fun!

If I am ever stuck.. I reach for one of Red Ted’s favourite books and try and come up with something from there. I do also have some craft books, but I haven’t really used them much (yet).

Can you share some tips how to engage toddlers in crafting in a fun and educational way?

The problem is that all children are different and I know my children are growing up crafting – so they are a little different – probably more engaged than the average toddler.. however… I do find:

1) If my son can “see” and end result he wants to do it more – so sometimes, I make something first and then we make it again together (e.g. our owl eggs) or other times, I “lay it all out” so he can see the finished craft and all he has to do is stick (e.g. our robot cards). He really gets the “book & craft” idea.. so when we made our saltdough dinosaurs, we used one of his dino books as inspiration and he kept referring back to it, which I thought was very sweet!

2) Sometimes I do a “parallel craft” – I don’t know about you, but my son sometimes paints wonderfully and then goes “mental” and scribbles all over it.. I “remove” the wonderful painting at this point and hand him another piece of paper… or Iet him do his own creation… like when we made our penguins, he also made a little monster:

3) Patience – if they are not in the mood they are not in the mood. Come back to it another day.

4) Sometimes it is good to just “keep it simple”. They still have fun! And masking tape can do wonders even for the youngest amongst us!

5) Try things a different way. I often start a craft “one way” and end up doing it another – if my first approach didn’t work with my son.e.g. our pop up chick cards.

6) Figure out what they like doing – some like colouring, some like painting, some like making things. We have a HUGE love for loo roll men and we can’t get enough of them!

7) I always discuss colours with him – what happens when you mix white with red… if there is an opportunity to count, we do… and we sometimes have crafts specific around the alphabet or counting. We also plant seeds together and watch them grow…and read books related to them.. occasionally crafting plant inspired crafts too. I love last year’s strawberry post!

You're family where your husband's native language is English and yours is German. Do you plan to teach your children both languages, have you already started and how?

I am absolutely hoping to raise the children bilingually. My main approach is to always speak German to them when it “just us” or in German speaking company. And English if with English speaking company. My husband encourages all German speaking which is very important. I also (now) run a German playgroup, have found German mothers in the area and we read a lot of German children’s books. When older, I plan to make sure we go on holiday to Austria at least once a year…

We are also looking at sending them to a German school – if we do, the bilingualism is as good as “sorted”, if we don’t , then I have to work hard at continuing to speak German at home and going on holidays. When older they would get German lessons too for reading and writing. They would hate it, but I think it is the only way to do it in an English speaking country. Let’s hope they go to the German school….

As a parent, pick one toy you can recommend as an awesome toy to every parent with toddler in a house!

Our loo roll men… Seriously, they get played with SOOOO much. But if it were a shop bought toy, I would probably have to say something like Lego Duplo. It is amazing stuff.. the kids adore it and you can make “anything” (very creative toy..). We bought a lot of ours on eBay – which is both cheaper and a form of recycling!

Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog!!!

Maggy x


  1. Thanks for this Michelle! I have always loved all the crafts by redtedart ever since I discovered them. So inspiring and encouraging :) And thanks Maggy for all the wonderful tips:)

  2. Great interview! It was so much fun to get to know more about Maggy - I always enjoy her blog! :) Deb @

  3. I really think the questions asked are interesting. I like the online/offline question. I feel the same way.


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