Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Easy, DIY, Homemade Ghost Stamps - Perfect for Scrapbooking, Card Making, Halloween

I bought a box of erasers at a garage sale for 50 cents over the summer. I liked the way they looked in the box. I never thought I would use them to make stamps.
My box of erasers were green, but the more popular pink erasers work too. 
I cut an eraser in half with an x-acto knife. This allowed me to make two stamps from one eraser.
I sketched a ghost on the flat side of the eraser with a pencil.
Then, I cut the ghost out with an x-acto knife.
I cut and sanded a small piece of wood.
I glued the ghost eraser to the wood with E6000 adhesive. I like this adhesive because it dries very quickly and it is very strong!
Within minutes I was able to stamp white ink on black construction paper.
I added the ghost face with a colored pencil.
These stamps would be great for Halloween cards. 
Is this craft kid-approved? I called upon my children to find out. 
I did most of the cutting but my son got to pull his ghost shape out.
Time to glue.
His ghost turned out great!
Yes. Kid-approved!
Do you want to carve a face into your stamp? Carve half-way down and then peel out the shape.
I know a few good books you could read before and after this craft!
Have fun!
The next day, my youngest daughter got really into this craft. She designed the stamps and I cut them out.
She preferred to have faces on the ghost stamps. 
DIY Homemade Ghost Stamps
Please Pin to Pinterest!
I used the stamps as a craft station at a local Apple Festival. They were a huge hit!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

BATTLE BOO Drawings from Center Elementary School

Check out these awesome Battle Boos created by students at Center Elementary School!

Space Bot, Speeddee Boo Bot, Cat Battle Boo, and Spiker Boo (clockwise starting in upper left).
Space Bot is flying by the Little Dipper, a rocket, and a moon. Speedee looks very fast! I love that Cat Battle Boo has a #10 as an earring! Spikerboo would make a great #30 in Series 3 (It shouts, "SPIKED!"). 
Rocket Mouse, Love Bot, Mysterious Bot, and Fasto Five (clockwise starting in upper left). How cool is Rocket Mouse! It looks like Love Bot showers hearts down as it flies around. The eyes on Mysterious Bot are very mysterious indeed! Fasto Five has a satellite on top of its head!
I love Boo-Horn! The drawing is amazing! I really like what the student wrote to me too:
"Dear Mr. V, Thank you for taking your time and energy to come to my school. You really inspired me to become an author-strator. Also, for teaching me new art skills. And telling me that children's book ideas are everywhere. Also, I will find my author-strator glasses and write a story!"
Spidekes, Rainbow VV, Zero Zoomer, and Fireshooter. (clockwise starting in upper left).
The flames coming out of Spidekes are intense! The note from the student who created Rainbow VV states, "You've inspired me to make a book. It is called Awesome Sauce." Well, I think Rainbow VV is "awesome sauce" and I can't wait to read your story!  Zero Zoomer has its own theme song -- "Zooming, Zooming all around. Zooming Zooming to the save the town!" It looks like Fireshooter shoots flames out of its eyes! Whoa!
There were so many more Battle Boos too! I loved each and every one. Thank you so much!

Do you want to make your own Battle Boos?  Download the FREE printable!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


On July 17, 2012, I was sitting in the cafeteria at the University of Findlay (not as a student, but as an attendee at the Mazza Museum Summer Conference). I can't remember what I was eating, but I am sure I was enjoying a tasty drink from the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine.

I wanted to write at lunch so I chose a table in the back. I hoped to be inspired by the creative energy I had just experienced during a presentation by the amazing picture book creating duo, Susan Stevens Crummel and Janet Stevens.

I wrote in my journal, "What would ghosts collect? How would they acquire the items? Would one ghost have the collection or would they trade and add together?"

I initially answered the questions with a few ideas -- "Boo-bots, Battle Boos!, Boo-ba-loos." Also, I wrote "Collect all 20. 30."  There were even ideas of boo bucks being used to buy the toys and the toys came in multiple series. All of these ideas would find their way, three years later, into THREE GHOST FRIENDS AND THE BATTLE BOOS! (Except for the Boo-ba-loos. I don't know what that idea was all about.)

This idea sat in my journal for over a year. It was during the Halloween season of 2013 that I returned to the idea when I took a graduate class about teaching common core math concepts to early elementary students. I wondered if I could incorporate the concepts I was learning in the class into the story; dot patterns, ten frames, and other visual math stuff. During each class I doodled and wrote down ideas in the margins of my notebook.

First, it was doodles of robot-like ghosts with wheels, which had me leaning toward the idea that three ghost friends would collect toys called Boo-Bots.

Then, I wrote "# Boo-Bots -- Dot Rows". This got me thinking that the toys could have numbers on them and maybe three ghost friends could build with them and make dot rows that could be visually counted by the reader. However, building dot patterns, like on dice, would be difficult to make by stacking and building toys.

Later in my doodles, the Boo-Bots lost their wheels and appeared with rocket boosters. I thought, if the Boo-bots could fly then I could visually show the Boo-Bots flying in dot patterns.

So, I had the idea of unique flying robot-like toys that would appear in visual patterns for young readers to count. However, I didn't have a story.  The idea sat in my journal and notebooks and occasionally rolled around in my head.

In August 2014, I had just published BABY BEARDS! and was looking for the next project to work on. I decided to try drawing the robot-like ghost toys on the computer with the hopes that a THREE GHOST FRIENDS story idea would pop into my head.  The wheels returned on the initial drawings. I liked the drawings but wasn't totally crazy about them. I knew that each toy would need to be unique and maybe even have its own name. The thought of coming up with 20 unique toys was a haunting idea. However, I didn't know it then, but it would be the key to unlocking the whole story.

In September 2015, I had the idea to illustrate one page of a THREE GHOST FRIENDS book every day during the month of October. I thought working on the book during the Halloween season would help the idea come out. Plus, having the accountability of sharing a drawing each day on social media would be motivating.

I thought a structure like this would be feasible because it was the first time in ten years I had mornings free to work without interruptions. My oldest two children were in school all day, and my youngest two children attended school in the mornings. I had two and half hours every day to work on my writing and I was feeling ambitious.

I started working on the idea at the beginning of September to get my ideas organized so I would be ready to start illustrating in October. However, I was surprised when ideas started pouring out once I look at the toys as Battle Boos instead of Boo-Bots.

I walked my youngest two children to school each day and on the way home I would have idea after idea in my head for the story. As soon as I walked in the door I would write them all down. By the end of September I was creating 20 unique Battle Boo toys; Captain Boo Beard, Secret Agent BOO7, and General Boolius Caesar.

I decided not post anything on social media. I was now motivated by the new ideas. I worked 4 to 6 hours a day illustrating the book until I had a working proof to send to my editor and to test with the students at my oldest son's school.

After many (MANY!!) minor adjustments, the fifth THREE GHOST FRIENDS book was ready. My motivation to create this book was the students at Miller Elementary School and Craddock Elementary School in Aurora, Ohio. They were the first children I read my THREE GHOST FRIENDS books to and their enthusiasm made me feel like I had to find more stories about the Ghost Friends for them to enjoy. I think this book is going to be one that they will love.

It might have taken three years for me to answer those initial questions. But, I did finally answer them.

Three ghost friends collect Battle Boos. They acquire them by buying them at the B.O.O. Spookz Toy Store with boo bucks they saved in their pumpkin bank. They would share the collection of 21 unique Battle Boos that are numbered from 0-20. The Battle Boos fly, zoom, and attack and as an added bonus they teach three ghost friends how to count to twenty when they didn't think they could do it.

THREE GHOST FRIENDS AND THE BATTLE BOOS is available in paperback and for Kindle on Amazon.com and for iPad/iPhone at iTunes: