Archives for March 2013

With a little help from your Peeps!

We didn’t win the Washington Post Magazine’s Peeps contest, but the Kids’ Post Pullout in the March 31 Sunday Style Section is about kids entering the Peeps Contest. They included a great picture  and a caption about our entry, along with some other awesome  kids’ Peeps creations.

Thanks, Washington Post!

Our Peeps Contest Entry

Our Peeps Contest Entry

Remember your Strength



The children who visit our clinics are constantly called on to show strength.  The strength to endure pain, nausea  loss of independence, and isolation.  They must exhibit this strength time and time again.  As anyone knows, it is hard to be strong everyday, and even harder to remember just how strong we are.  To help the children remember I taught them how to make memory dolls.  These memory dolls are to remind them how strong they truly are.


The supplies needed for the doll are two pipe cleaners, some cotton batting for softness, some strips of fabric for clothes, and some special beads for reminding them of their strength.  I first have the children pick out a bead that reminds them of a time when they were strong or one that reminds them of a very happy memory.  The beads are added either to the structure of the doll, where the child would feel strength. Or to the outside clothing of the doll, as a visual reminder.

Take the pipe cleaners and fold them in half so the ends are touching.  Take one pipe cleaner and cross the ends to make a loop that will be the size of the head.  Twist where the pipe cleaner crosses two times to make the head and pull the ends out straight to the sides to make the arms.







Take the second pipe cleaner and loop it over the head so it hangs like a scarf.  Take one side and loop over the arm where the shoulder would be to anchor it in place.  Repeat on the other side.  Cross the pipe cleaner strands over where the waist would be.  Twist twice to make the waist.

Take a strip of batting and wrap the body starting at one hand and moving towards the other hand.  Take another strip of batting and starting at the neck wrap down the length of the body continuing down one leg.  Either wrap up that same leg and down the other, or take another strip of batting and wrap the length of the body, starting at the neck, and down the other leg.

When body is fully covered in batting it is time to clothe the Memory Doll.  Use strips of fabric to either wrap on the doll, or create clothes and glue or tape onto the memory doll.






Remember to attach special bead either underneath of clothing or on top of clothing to remind child of the strength that they possess.


Superheroes at Work!

The Hope for Henry Superhero Celebration yesterday at Georgetown was a grand success—thank-you Hope for Henry Foundation!

I wanted to share a charming photo of some kids working in the art area after the party. Batman had sped off in the Batmobile, Spiderman, Supergirl, the Face Painters, Caricature Artists and Green Screen photographers all packed up. But there were still doctors to see and medicines to be administered, so it was back to business in the clinic—but with an extra dose of Superhero magic!

Back to clinic for young superheroes!

Back to clinic for young superheroes!

And here’s a link to a local news story about the event:


Spring Snowflakes!

Seeing snow on top of the daffodils is really confusing! In celebration of the surprising weather, we made Spring Snowflakes at the clinic today.



Spring Snowflakes 1

What you need

Those round paper coffee filters are great for this project. You will need coffee filters, water-based (non-permanent) markers, a brush and some water, and scissors.

 First, draw a beautiful spring scene on your coffee filter—those daffodils that were so sunny and yellow yesterday, a rainbow, a rose, or just a colorful design.

  • Then dip a paintbrush in just plain water and drip or paint the water on your drawing
  • Watch the colors run together and blend—making your drawing into a soft-edged, melty design
  • Spread your snowflakes out to dry
  • When dry, fold them in half, then in half again, and half again and cut little notches and designs along the folded edges.
  • When you open them up, you will have colorful concentric snowflake designs. Remember, no two snowflakes are alike, so it doesn’t really matter how you cut them.


Spring Snowflakes 4

Making it snow!

Spring Snowflakes 6

It’s snowing inside!

 We were so excited about our snowflakes that we made an indoor snowstorm! Have fun!!

Creative Arts Therapies Week!

This week is Creative Arts Therapies Week, which recognizes all of the amazing creative arts therapies (art, music, dance and drama)!  In the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center, we celebrated our fantastic art therapists and our music therapist by collaborating on a hospital-wide art project AND hosting a creative art therapies booth for patients and families!

Tracy’s Kids art therapists facilitated a hospital-wide collaborative mural that has become a tradition over the past several years to recognize and celebrate all of the Creative Arts Therapies at Children’s National. Canvases are painted by children, teenagers and young adults throughout the hospital– each contributing their artwork to be part of a much bigger picture.  Here are just a few of the pieces of the mural…


Patients, family members and staff are all excitedly awaiting the “unveiling” – when all of the mural’s pieces are put together and the completed piece finally appears in one of our hallways. We’ll be sure to share it with all of you on the Tracy’s Kids blog once the mural is finished!

The Tracy’s Kids art therapists also hosted a creative arts therapy booth in the Children’s National Medical Center cafeteria. We had the opportunity to work with patients and families that we would normally never meet and to introduce them to art therapy!

Stay tuned to see our mural as it’s completed!


Many of the kids and their families that come to our clinic are very brave. You have to be to undergo treatment or watch someone you love undergo it. Many of our kids pride themselves for having courage in the face of needles and procedures. “You were really brave” can be the biggest compliment for a child after a scary procedure is finished.  

Acknowledging the bravery of a child also acknowledges that what they just did was scary and they had good reason to feel scared.  At times, it is tempting to downplay scary things to make kids feel less anxious.  However, acknowledging the child’s feelings allows for the child to be heard and find the courage needed to get through it.

Bravery also has many faces in our clinic- maybe it involves squeezing a stuffed animal, yelling, or distracting oneself with pictures of favorite things.  Sometimes it involves imagining a pleasant place.

Watercolor of a relaxing place

Watercolor of a relaxing place

Often, at the art therapy table, before a procedure a child will talk about the procedure, express fears, make art about something he or she likes or express some of the inner turmoil with splatters of paint across a canvas. As art therapists we facilitate this range of expressions- acknowledging worries, creating an art space to contain anxiety, helping to create a comforting place using art materials. All of these things help kids develop coping skills to help them through treatment as well as life’s future challenges.

Catch those dreams

Change is scary. It makes one feel a loss of control, no matter what the age. When a child battles cancer or a serious blood disorder, there is a lot of change. When someone is scared due to change or loss of control, dreams can be affected. What better to catch those bad dreams than a dream catcher!
To make these dream catchers we start with a small length of basketry material wrapped into a circle and held in place with colorful wire. image
We then weave colored string around the circle making knots as we go.

Shoes, shoes, shoes!

Hi Everybody,I want to invite all our friends–and encourage you to invite your friends too, to a special event on Tuesday, March 19 from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Mazza Gallery in Washington, DC. Here’s the story:Tracy’s Kids received a generous grant in honor of the launch of Luxe810 — DSW‘s new online destination for luxury shoe brands like Gucci, Prada, Bottega Venetta, YSL, Sergio Rossi, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Pucci & Giuseppe Zanotti.  Please help us say ‘thank you’ by going to their Pop-Up Shop in Mazza Gallery on Tuesday, March 19, from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  The Luxe810 store is located on the concourse level of Mazza Gallerie.  Please come and invite your friends!

 You shop for designer shoes and accessories starting at 80% off.  Tracy’s Kids is enriched.  Everyone wins. 

Egg Bombs!

Everyone knows what it is like to feel frustrated and sometimes it is really hard to figure out a healthy way to express it! For our patients, feelings of frustration can arise when they have to miss school to come to the hospital, fast before a procedure, take medication that tastes yucky or have a shot that is painful.  Art therapist can help kids vent some of their frustrations by encouraging them to create and throw “egg bombs”.


The idea behind the egg bomb is that the individual allows the egg to represent the thing that he or she is frustrated about.  The egg is then filled with an assortment of things- glitter, sand, flour, paint, feathers, googly eyes, beads. The more variety the better, as it allows the creator to choose items that symbolize the frustration.  It can be helpful to provide strips of paper so that the frustration can be written down, rolled up and placed inside the egg. The outside of the egg can also be decorated to reflect the frustration.


Once the egg bombs have been created the next step is to throw them! When we do this at the hospital we lay out a large piece of butcher paper on the floor- outside if the weather is nice- so that the egg bombs can explode onto the paper. It is helpful to encourage the egg- bomber to reflect on the frustration represented by each egg before it is thrown. As the contents of the eggs splatter onto the paper a piece of artwork is created. Depending on the needs of the individual this resulting artwork can be destroyed or altered to make something else. 

Egg bombs are a great way to release energy, emotion and get physical with art materials. This process is especially important in our medical setting as it allows the child to feel empowered and in control. Getting a little messy and free with art can also provide a nice contrast to the sterile and more rigid environment of the hospital setting.

How- to prepare the eggs:

  • Use a small, serrated knife to create an opening in the top and bottom of each egg (a chopstick can also be helpful to poke small holes in the shell).
  • Drain out the inside of the eggs.
  • Once drained, run cold water through the eggs to get both the inside and outside clean.
  • Arrange the eggs in a muffin tin and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Once the oven has reached temperature, turn it off and place the eggs inside the oven- leaving them in there until the oven has cooled down. This will give allow the eggs to fully dry.
  • *When preparing eggs that will be used in a medical setting we always make sure that the eggs are really clean by wiping them down with hospital disinfectant wipes before use. 
  • Once the eggs are clean, tape up one of the holes so that the filling placed inside the egg will not fall out.

Happy egg bombing!

Happily Hungry on the Today Show!

The Today show aired a wonderful story on Danielle Navidi’s cookbook for kids with cancer, Happily Hungry! It came out of her experience as the mom of a pediatric cancer patient at Lombardi. Check out this great story!