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Lois Ehlert, and Why You Won’t Find Many Structured Crafts on This Blog

This fall, I decided to join up with the Virtual Book Club for kids. The September author was Lois Ehlert. After borrowing nearly every book she ever wrote from our fantastic library, my kids picked Boo to You! as the book we would use for an activity.

Lois Ehlert inspired mask

My kids are HUGE fans of crafts, but they see home as a space for them to make whatever they want, not for structured crafting – which they do plenty of at school.

Emma (6 years old) and Johnny (4 years old) both started off making the cat from the cover of the book. Johnny made the same initial circle with eyes and a nose that Emma made, and then he was done with the activity. Lily (3 years old) Emma was going to decorate it, but decided she wasn’t really interested in that. So she made a mask, and then decided that a mask with eye holes would work better:

Lois Ehlert inspired mask - now with eyes!

She said she left the ears off so that it could double as a mask representing different animals – particularly a raccoon, which she is currently exploring as a costume option for Halloween.

This works for me – the purpose of joining the book club is to explore different authors. We enjoyed many wonderful hours of reading through Ehlert’s books and discussing the fascinating techniques she uses to make her pictures. My kids especially enjoyed figuring out what materials were used to make each picture. Exploring Ehlert’s books taught my kids to look for and appreciate details in illustrations – and that there are many ways to make a picture, beyond simply drawing.

Interestingly, Emma did not pick her favorite Lois Ehlert book for this activity – when I asked her, she said that Hands : Growing up to Be an Artist is her favorite, which makes a lot of sense for my art-loving (if not structured craft loving) girl!


Do you have a favorite Lois Ehlert book?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

25 thoughts on “Lois Ehlert, and Why You Won’t Find Many Structured Crafts on This Blog”

  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    Reading this post and the comments makes me want to read more by Lois Ehlert! I’m familiar with her name but nothing beyond that. Cute craft!!

  2. Two Chicks and a Hen

    We’ve actually read a lot of Lois Ehlert, but I think our two favorites are “Snowballs” and the one about the squirrel–I can’t think of the title right now.

    1. “Snowballs” was another of Emma’s favorites. I know the squirrel book – “Nuts to You!” I think it’s called? Very cute!

  3. Oh, I need to check out “Hands”! Your Ehlert results are pretty close to ours :) I’d say my favorite is “A Leaf Man”, and Anna’s favorite is “Snowballs”

  4. I don’t have much time for structured crafts. The ideas that S and I manage to come up with always seem to come from one of our imaginations, or ideas that we work on together. I do find ideas on Pinterest (not usually structured to begin with), but even then they are only used as a starting point, and hardly if ever, look anything like what the original pin was! I must say, I think it’s so much more fun to just let your little one’s imagination fly wherever it wants to go! :)

    I’m not familiar with this author, but your daughter’s favorite book by her sounds wonderful. I’m about to head over to our library’s website to try to find it!

    1. Your approach sounds a lot like mine! Lois Ehlert’s illustrations are fantastic, and her text is very clever. I hope you enjoy discovering her!

  5. We love all of her books. We used to do a lot of structured crafts and a lot of free art before the kids were in school. Now, they prefer to do their own crafting and art at home, but I try to supply a variety of art supplies for them. Every once in a while, we do a craft or art project that is structured. They are lucky to have a great art teacher in school too!

  6. I think it’s wonderful that your crafts are unstructured and this post is a good reminder to me that we need to do more of that!

  7. I love this post! You are such an inspiration to be creative with your kids, and it doesnt have to be fancy supplies or hard instructions. I always shied away from crafting because I have zero skills, but I think Ill dip my toes back in it for the sake of my kids. :)

  8. Carolyn @ Pleasantest Thing

    We also have spent hours this month reading Lois Ehlert books- many of which were new to me. I’m so happy we joined the book club. My 14 month old loves RRRalph and my 4 year old loves Wag aTail (the one we chose for our activity this month).

  9. I just posted our Virtual Book Club experience…what fun! I completely relate to the anti-structured craft feeling…sometimes I have (I think) fantastic ideas, but my little guy just isn’t interested in my plan. Our Leaf Man activity worked well for us because it was very open-ended and driven by him. Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. We read lots of Lois Ehlert books for this month’s virtual book club, too. Her art is wonderful. My son loved “Boo to You.” Every time he sees a black cat he says, “Boo to you!” now. He chose to do a project for “Leaf Man” though. :)

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