Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our Ship-tacular Video from NY Maker Faire

In case you didn't get a chance to join us as NY Maker Faire this year. We've put together an awesome video to show you just what you can create with a milk carton. Ahoy!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween: Zoe's Guest Monster

       Zoe's Pumpkin Monster, Age 6,          Mountain View, CA 

In honor of Halloween, I'm sharing an awesomely spooky monster that makes the ScrapKins proud. (Although I wouldn't want to meet it in a dark alley.) Zoe's monster has skulls for hair, a pumpkin nose, a flat mouth because he doesn't smile, big ears with earrings and a bloody chin. Yikes!!!! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

FUN FRIDAYS VIDEO: Kids Talk About ScrapKins!

Ever wonder what kids think about the ScrapKins? Check out a video archive from our ScrapKins Show to learn who Wrecks, Swooper, Chomper, Digger, Stacker and Itcher are.

Monday, September 23, 2013

MAKE IT MONDAY: MakerFaire Ship Builders!

We couldn't be prouder of our builders at this past weekend's World MakerFaire NY 2013, our ScrapKins Ship Building exhibit, taught hundreds of kids how to transform milk cartons into sailing ships and launched them down our raging rapids river in the ScrapKins Lagoon! We we're awarded 2 Maker Faire Blue Ribbons as "Editor's Choice" for the festival and hundreds of smiles. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TEACHER TIP TUEDAY: Top 10 Things I've Learned Teaching Art to Kids

Top Ten Things I've Learned Teaching Art to Children:
1) When you teach children Art you will receive free Hugs. (Be prepared :)
2) You will be called by a new name. Call it affection or lack of attention but soon you will be christened with a nickname. Mr. Yanish is now "Mr. Radish." (I kind of like that one.)
3.) To kids, the promise of being able to paint is like another birthday. (Paint a lot.)
4.) Prepare to be observed. I was asked why my hair was gray the other day. (I'm okay with that one but I did want to retort "Why are you so short?")
5.) Copying = Admiration. Some kids are natural creative geniuses, some need encouragement, and some will copy anything you show them. When I was young, I copied Mickey Mouse, Heathcliff and Garfield, so when a child wants to make their monster look exactly like my monster, that's admiration kicking in. (When 2 kids also wanted to name their monster "Mr. Yanish", that's weird.)
6.) Make it MOVE! Building a milk carton pirate ship is pretty cool but when I carried around a little tub of water and "tested" their ship and the kids saw it floating, I got some serious fun points. When you create a project that is interactive and moves, kids get engaged. 
7.) Demo. Demo. Demo. Kids have a lot going on in their small heads. Don't tell them to cut out a square. Show them. Hold it up high so they can see it. Then do it again. One more time.
8.) Make Little Jokes. Don't worry about a stand-up routine in class but a little silly goes a long way. Example: We we're cutting out eyeballs from cardboard so I stuck one to the forehead of a boy. I also brought in a tub of dirt for our gardening project and told the kids I made them brownies. Heh heh.
9.) Know the Secret Sign for Quiet. Most teachers have a "quiet" signal. Some clap their hands, some ring a chime. Learn it. Use it. Even art needs some quiet time.
10.) Create an Outline then Discard it. Know the basics of what you'd like to get done with the kids then figure that you'll be lucky if you get half of it done before a fire drill interrupts class, someone spends 5 minutes refusing to work without "pink" scissors and 4 kids can't stop giggling about burying "Mr. Radish" in the garden.

Monday, September 9, 2013


We're getting in ship shape for our ScrapKins "Ship Builder" exhibit at World MakerFaire NY on 9/21 and 9/22 at the NY Hall of Science in Queens. Thought I'd share a few ship prototypes we're testing--milk carton (super stable), rectangular plastic bottle (stable) and round plastic bottle (unbalanced, needs side stabilizers). Come out and visit us at MakerFaire and you can design your own ship and test it on the ScrapKins Canal! Have an inspiring Monday :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

FUN FRIDAYS: VIDEO from Maker Faire

It's 15 days until World Maker Faire NY, the largest DIY festival in the World. We're busy preparing our amazing new exhibit for 2013. Thought I'd share our video from 2012 to get you excited about the spirit of 20,000+ people all interested in making things. Enjoy. See you on Sept 21st and 22nd!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


How do you keep students engaged after they make an art project?  We don't call ScrapKins Recycled Art Projects "arts & crafts" because we're instructing kids how to engage with a project AFTER  they build it. It's not supposed to be a nice pretty picture you hang on the fridge. It can be but we feel the distinction is important. So you get the kids excited to make a recycled art project and they build it, what next? Get them to connect to what they made. See that green guy above? What's it's name? What does it eat? What's it's super-power? I want to know who he or she is! (You can look at our ScrapKins monster bios for inspiration. Is your monster friends with the ScrapKins? How woyld they spend the day together?)

Work together with students to create that custom story. Once you establish that foundation (and it works with anything you happen to build. For a car or boat it might be: Who drives the boat? What is the boats special power? Can it help change the world?) you can build the story and adventure. 

Now you can start to PLAY. Write a comic book as a class, have a race, make a play, create a show and tell. 
If you need any advice or suggestions, email me at

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

TEACHER TIP TUESDAY: Make it Roll, Fly or Float

One of the most engaging ways to connect with kids in the classroom is to get them making things. And the best way to keep them making things is to choose projects that are active--make it fly, make it float or make it roll and you've got a winner. We've created milk carton race cars, plastic bag parachutes and carton boats with classrooms and they always enjoy it. But the minute you show them (not just tell them) that the boat floats in water, the car rolls or the parachute flies, it takes things to a whole different level of excitement and connection. That's building a sense of wonder. And empowers the child because they've created something themself that functions. And that last step is to realize what they've made it from-materials they have at home that are being upcycled. Use what you have. Dream bigger :)

Monday, August 26, 2013


Mondays can make your feel like saying Grrrrrr. That's why we have this "Tube Tiger" project to tame the beast and enjoy the day.

Grab the kids, 1 toilet paper tube per child, crayons, scissors and you're ready to go. This is a fun, easy project that will have you smiling in no time. Build a Zoo, Write a tiger song or story or be Wild Beasts for the Day!

It all starts with connecting you kids and making the time to build together.

Get started with the plans here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fun Friday: ScrapKins Animated

Here's a quick screenshot from our interactive storybook that releases this September.Come board our pirate adventure at! You'll be able to hear the ScrapKins speak for the first time and help them "Scrap-vent" some exciting new projects.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TEACHER TIP TUESDAY: Make Your Mark in a Book!

Simple is good. When it comes to creatively engaging kids in the classroom at a young age (K-2) you don't have to think big. One of our simplest ScrapKins Recycled Art Projects still manages to be one of the favorites for younger kids. And that always surprises me. 

We take a simple piece of cereal box cardboard cut it a "ScrapKins Monster" silhouette and then kids create their own "ScrapKin" Bookmark that lives inside a book. (This project can be found in our Build-It Book.) By folding down the top of the bookmark, the head hangs over the page showing the child that their ScrapKins is waiting to be let out so they can read!

The reason this is effective is connection. From years of workshops and festivals we have found when kids are given the space and permission to "personalize" or "customize" their creation by giving it a name it becomes a friend they keep. And there is nothing simpler than a piece of cardboard (ok paper is simpler.) 

We made these bookmarks at a festival a few years ago and we ran out of neatly cut silhouettes and had to "Scrap-vent" new materials on the fly using whatever cardboard scraps we could find for the kids to use. There was absolutely no difference between the excitement level or connection level of kids who had created a bookmark from one of fancy silhouettes versus one quickly created from a smaller scrap of cardboard. That was a powerful lesson about simplicity.

Monday, August 19, 2013

MAKE IT MONDAYS: Milk Carton Birdfeeders

We just got back from a terrific weekend at the Maryland Science Center (MDSCI) in Baltimore.
2 days of "Milk Carton Birdfeeder Building" workshops as part of "Backyard Science Days" at the Center.

Since I've got milk cartons on my mind, today's "Make It Monday" project is a birdfeeder you can construct from a juice or milk carton! Save a carton. Build your feeder. Put it on a string. Hang it outside. Fill it with Birdseed. Enjoy your new Bird neighbors

Click the link below (under the photo) for instructions to build your own:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday: How Would You Change the World?

Listen up teachers, here's a fun lesson to get kids thinking & building.
I call it the "Scrap-vention Challenge"!

For grades: 1, 2, 3 

What you'll Need: A bunch of egg cartons, cereal boxes, plastic bottles, juice cartons and other recyclables.

Challenge the class to "Scrap-vent" a machine that will change the world. They will have 25 minutes to design & build their machine using the recycled materials. These can be imaginary machines but they all must do something positive for the World. 

Have each child present their machine, share its name and what it will do. They can also write a short story about how their machine will help the planet, etc. 

Topics covered: Art, the Environment, Creative Problem Solving

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Monster Evolution

Here's how the past can evolve if you let it. The original monster drawing I created when I was 6 years old, him becoming the ScrapKins character "Itcher" and the 3D costume today. If this isn't the truest physical manifestation of a dream, I'm not sure what is. Create an intention and the action will follow! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pink Birds

When we taught kids to transform milk cartons into birdfeeders at the Bronx Zoo we met many amazingly creative kids. This girl was one of my favorites. There are the kids (myself included at one stage) who try and copy the sample designs to get theirs to look just like mine, and get upset when it doesn't look perfect. But I have a special place in my heart for kids who creatively go their own 
path. Who just make it up because it makes them happy. She decided that her bird should be entirely pink. Not realistic, not multi-colored but head to toe pink. And she was pretty darn happy about it!!!!
So take her boldness, her willingness to go beyond the "rules" and her sheer joy and be inspired to find those "Pink Birds" in your life. What are you waiting for?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Start Small

I've been thinking a lot about the power of simplicity. When I design recycled art projects for ScrapKins I focus on using the least amount of materials possible both to challenge myself creatively and inspire kids and parents to use what they have to create play.

It doesn't take much. My favorite building material is still the cardboard tube. Simple but yet full of so much
potential. Try an experiment with your kids:

1. Get a cardboard tube, scissors, tape and markers. Don't buy anything.

2. Make something. Challenge each other to discover the possibilities of a simple tube. Is it a monster, a truck, a boat, a spaceship, a time machine?  Let them explore.

3. Ask yourself and your kids if you had fun. Did you connect? Did you let them find their own creativity?

Kids need the space and freedom to explore on their own. They don't always need instructions. They just need you to help when they ask for it.

Want to keep creating? Try our ScrapKins "Tube Monster" project.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Join ScrapKins This Sat 3/2 at Kids Food Festival NYC

Like Food? Need to get those kids out of the house? Come to the Kids Food Festival this Saturday, March 2nd 2013 in Bryant Park, NYC!

Join ScrapKins on Saturday, 3/2 from 10am -5pm. We'll be signing books and making a special recycled art project with you!

SPECIAL: On Saturday at 3:30 pm, ScrapKins creative director, Brian Yanish will be giving a demonstration on the main stage:

"Trash to Treasure: 3 Amazing Recycled Art Projects In Minutes"
Get some tips on making art with simple materials at home and learn the history of the ScrapKins characters.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Year for Travel

Hello ScrapKins friends! 

We hope that you have had a great start to the new year and are keeping warm
out there! We have been working hard this month to really lock down our goals for 2013, and while
there are always many, many new ideas coming to the surface, we realized that the most exciting,
riveting, and just plain fun parts of 2012 were our time spent with kids and their mentors, whoever you
may be (parent, teacher, role model, all of the above). Just look at our Gallery for a taste of what
we’ve seen and who we’ve interacted with! In light of this reflection, we have decided to crank up the
engine and go full throttle ahead to hang out with you all at more events and festivals. We will continue
to be around the local area at places like Hip Tot Music Fest on February 10 and schools around
the New York area, but we will also broaden our range. Go to a film festival in California? Sure! A family-
oriented arts festival abroad? Bring it on! And it will only get bigger and better from there!
We will be continuing to teach young people how to turn their scraps and junk into beautiful, creative
art projects and toys with our 12 signature projects highlighted in the Build-It Book, and
just might introduce some new projects at the events as well – the creativity is only going to grow! Keep
in touch to see more updates from our 2013 adventures!

- The ScrapKins Gang

PS Do you want us to come to your school or event? We’d love to talk to you! Just click on that
Contact” tab on the top of the page, contact us through any of our social media or e-mail
mediums, and we will get back to you promptly!