Life Long Learning

photograph your kid’s 3-D artwork in 5 easy steps

So a clay horse and a dragon walk into a bar  . . . 

Or, more likely, sit in a box under the bed . . . 

Step One: (Minutes)

Unpack the artwork.  Admire it in all its lumpy glory.  Ask about the project - what was fun, what was hard.   (If you’re feeling super organize-y make some notes about what they say).

Step Two: (Seconds)

Set up the light shed.  So, here’s where a piece of photo equipment really makes the difference.  I have an Impact Medium Light ShedIt costs $45, is collapsible, sets up in seconds and hangs in my closet.  It makes a world of difference.  I am not a photographer and not technical, but this thing is super easy to use. This is my setup - it looks silly, but works.

Step Three: (Minutes) 

Take pictures of the art. Using your camera phone, take 3-4 pictures of each of the pieces.  

The black velvety background generally reads best.  I use a lint brush to take off little bits of stuff on the black.  Play around with your lamps to get the best light.  Get the black as dark as you can and the art as true to its colors, but again, don’t stress, you’re going to be editing the picture on your phone later.

Step Four: (Whenever)

Edit the pictures. 

This is super easy.  Use the edit screen in your camera or download Snapseed from the app store.  Play around with the brightness, contrast, color and shadows, until it looks super sharp.  You can make the black background really deep if you go under Light and play around with Shadow and Black Point. (You can do this while waiting on hold with the airline). 

Step Five: (Minutes)

Create a Record in trovvit.  Download the trovvit app from the App Store (it’s free!). Set up an account in your kid’s name.  Follow the instructions to create a Record, and save it to your kid's trove under Art

You're done!  A whole year's worth of sculpts, puppets and papermache recorded in trovvit!  

You can share the artwork PRIVATELY with family members - they’ll see it in a fun feed and get email notifications when you post something new!  You can also pull all your records together in a trovvit portfolio - Hello, art school!

trovvit is not just for artwork - stay tuned for more trovvit tricks on how to record kids’ games, performances, projects (model boat building, vegetable garden), travels and milestones.  

Psst! Tell your friends and family about trovvit and please give us a super review in the App Store. (We all like stars on our work!)

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What trovvit is teaching me . . .

By Laurel Watts

Is trovvit just for recording my kids’ passions?  Using trovvit, I discovered something about myself . . .

In early September, I was walking down Clinton Street after drop off and ran into my friend Alison.  Direct as always, she asked how I was, and reported that she was feeling antsy. “Everyone else in my family is headed back to school – what am I doing new?  What am I learning?”  By chance, that week, I came across a blurb in a parenting magazine, “It’s back-to-school season!  What do you want to learn next?”  Editors from the magazine had answered, “I want to learn to be a strong swimmer” and “Archery!” and “I’d love to start playing the piano again.”

When I first set up my trovvit account, it defaulted to my (empty) feed and a bummer of a notice that said, “Your story has not yet started!  Post an achievement here!”  I would quickly click off this page into Charlie and Skye’s feed, which I had begun to populate with photos of their art work, travel, riding, cycling, LEARNING.  

My feed remained . . . empty.

“Here goes!” I thought.  Since I was cleaning all the old photos off my phone and into trovvit, I began to look for photos I could put in my feed. Lumped in amongst hundreds of other pictures, I found shots I had taken of things I cooked. Organized in my bin I could see a pattern:


“Aha!”  I thought.  “Apparently, I make sweet things – I pick blueberries and make pies, strawberries and make jam, apples and make sauce.”  I photograph them so I can learn what I liked, what I did well, how I would do it better next time.   So I do have a passion I pursue!  It took organizing them in trovvit to see what I was learning.   I wonder what else I do . . .

What I learned at the New York Times Symposium on College Admissions and Preparation

NYTIMES logo.png

By Laurel Watts

I spent Saturday in a packed auditorium at the New York Times Building and heard from five panels about the best way to go about applying to college.   The panel participants gave thoughtful, detailed advice to an audience that appeared to be 75% parents and 25% students

Know thyself

The overall takeaway was “know thyself.”  Or, as Sarah Meyers McGinty said, ask yourself, “How do I roll?”

In order to choose a college that is a good “fit,” you need to know who you are and what you are interested in.  Amy Jarich, Admissions, Berkeley

To write a compelling college essay in your authentic voice, you need to reflect on yourself -- what personality trait you would like to convey and what story in your life reveals that trait.  Sarah Myers McGinty, Education researcher and author.

Or conversely, what interesting story do you have to tell and how does that story reveal your thinking, writing skill, personality?  Bruce Weber, New York Times.

College rankings are meaningless, unless the criteria by which they are ranked are important criteria to you.  Jordan Goldman, founder of Unigo.

Finally, “College is a transformative experience, so ask “How do I want to be different?”  Alexander McCormick, Director, Nat’l Survey on Student Engagement.

All good.  But, at 15 or 16 years old, how do you know yourself?  Where do you start?  

Sarah Myers McGinty suggested that students begin in ninth grade to stockpile potential material -- a list of things done in the community, in their context.  She suggested that students keep a file on the computer “where you can throw stuff.  Look into your life, if you understand this moment or commitment, you can understand me.” Evan Cranston, a recent Brown graduate said, “I wish I had the advice of keeping a list of the really cool things I did in my life.”

As my kids, Skye and Charlie, add materials to their trovvit accounts, a story emerges.  Actually, several possible stories emerge from their trovvit records organized into narratives.  A record of an award won.  A record of a weekly practice, an annual puppet parade, a game lost, a tough hike, a poetry collection.   Their “stockpile” on trovvit will serve them well in only a few years . . .