As I sat in my living room this Sunday, I took a look around me. All around me were people who were, what I like to call - plugged in. One child was using a the laptop, another was on a gameboy, the youngest was playing the xbox and my girl sat wrapped around her kindle. Next to me, my husband was on his laptop and, not to point any fingers… I was on my ipad. We were all in a room together weren’t we? The phrase “quality time” rubs me the wrong way, but come on! Here we were with each other, but not with each other.
Later in conversation with my oldest, I told him about my observation. He was naturally defensive, however, I boiled my view into this:
Does what we were doing bring us closer together as a family?
This is not the first time that it’s nagged at me that we could make better use of our time. So, I decided to put my iPad ‘Hera’ away until they all go to bed in favor of colored pencils and a sketch pad. It’s been awesome. My youngest wants his own and number three put down his gameboy for some coloring time. I didn’t have to ask them to unplug, they were too curious about what I was doing! Ahh!, the stress, importance and responsibilty of showing the correct example.
This article reinforces what I hope to adopt in my home. Legos are awesome and who doesn’t love a good book? We can take those around just as easily as handing them an iPhone when they get bored. I’m not saying digital and visual media don’t have any redeeming value – well, maybe I am. I love movies and the mind numbing effect of the TV screen sometimes. However, is it essential to my being to play modern warfare and know what happened on Glee last night? NO! It is essential to my being to connect with my children and find the joy in them and our time together that I have when teaching art to other people’s kids.
I will find joy in my kids today. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did! – Annie
This article From 12most.com was posted by Bruce Sallan. —–
It is said that kids are naturally creative. That may be true, but there are many ways to stimulate and encourage creativity in our children.
The key is to pay attention and take advantage of every chance to give your kids the opportunities they need to fulfill their creative impulses. This can be as simple as singing songs together, surrounding them with creative toys and activities, or just telling stories at bedtime.
Three of us: Bruce Sallan, Peg Fitzpatrick, and Paul Biedermann, put our heads as well as years of parenting experience together to bring you the 12 Most loving ways we have each sparked creativity in our kids.
Thoughts from Bruce Sallan
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ― Maya Angelou
1. Read to your kids
Yes, that seems simple and yes, we all have good intentions. But, do this for them and for you. Among so many books, I read literally ALL of the first three Harry Potter books to my boys. This was when these books first came out. It was a journey of joy. Both my boys began spontaneously reading in Kindergarten. No one knows for sure if my reading helped that or not, but I know without a doubt that it instilled in them a love of the written word. And, that love can only inspire creativity.
2. Go on family field trips
The schools have their field trips, your family should have yours. And not just to amusement parks. Go to interesting places like an Army base, a wind farm, non-traditional/interesting museums, anything “nature”, and be creative in your choices. When and if you can, take regular family trips to places like the Grand Canyon and other national wonders. Expose them to other cultures. Go to food festivals, farmer’s markets, and concerts of any kind.
3. Build something together
Okay, I will admit I can barely screw in a light bulb, but one of my most precious memories was helping my younger son complete a difficult Lego project. He stayed up for hours and came into my room, bawling his eyes out over his inability to figure it out and complete it. I was very involved in a work project at the time. It was a pivotal moment as I chose to stop my work and spend QUANTITY time with my son when he needed me, which was then. We finished the Lego. He and I were exhausted. It was awesome.
4. Plant something and watch it grow
Again, it is the simple things that can often stir the emotions and bring out the creative. Plant a garden of herbs and vegetables. Plant some fruit trees. Take care of them together with your kid(s). Watch something natural grow. Learn from it, grow from it, create life.
Thoughts from Peggy Fitzpatrick
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ― Albert Einstein
5. Go to art galleries and museums
A cultural feast of visual inspiration at the art galleries will generate conversations and stimulate braincell growth. It is amazing to discuss art with children as their open and inquiring minds think of things that adults might miss or not share. Pureness of thought regarding color, shape and topic expand everyone’s horizons. Museums are chock-full of tactile experiences and adventures. Science is best learned hands-on and the child-sized activities grow as they do, making it an activity that can be enjoyed for years.
6. Play games together
Dinner time is the perfect place to not only talk but LEARN! My family has played such games as The Around the World Speaking Game, Multiplication and States and Capitals, as well as alphabet games and more. They are all older now and still enjoy them when we have down time. The Around the World Speaking game consisted of taking turns saying words & their meanings from other languages. We have used Latin, German, Spanish, Japanese, French, Chinese and Russian that I can remember; never big phrases or sentences but we all learned a lot and had fun!
7. Take advantage of extracurricular school activities
My most reluctant math child greatly enjoyed an extra math program throughout Middle School taught by an incredible teacher. He chose the math club and loved it! Have your children take advantage of reading programs through the library, foreign language clubs and my favorite… theater! Most schools produce plays and musicals starting in Middle School. If you have a shy child, encourage them to help with set design or be a techie backstage. Working with a group on a production is a wonderful bonding experience.
8. Do creative things yourself
Your children learn their best and most lasting lessons from you by watching and observing what you do, and not always from what you talk to them about. Let your own creativity inspire your children. Include them in paint projects, make cookies and let them have a corner all their own in your craft room. Children model behaviors from their families and digest the daily family activities. Give them the pleasure of not only seeing you engage in creative things but include them for an extra bonus to you and to them.
Thoughts from Paul Biedermann
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ― Pablo Picasso
9. Draw together
Watching your child draw and praising the result is one thing, but actually getting down on the floor and drawing with them is what really gets the creative fun juices flowing! We also like to turn drawing into a game — we play one that was invented by the surrealists back in the day, where you fold a piece of paper accordion-style so it is segmented into different sections. One person draws on the top section, letting just a tiny hint of the drawing carry over to the next section below. Once the first section is completed, it is folded over out of view so the next person can draw on their section. This continues until the page is completed and then the final drawing is revealed — we are always amazed at how different each section is, yet how it all kind of oddly hangs together. Very creative and very surreal!
10. Expose your kids to great music
Purchase a keyboard when your kids are very young and it might just become a natural extension of themselves someday. My younger son can’t help but tickle the ivories in his own unique way every time he passes our piano, even though he never had much interest in taking formal lessons. Another great thing to do is make custom playlists of your favorite songs. I made several CDs of the best pop music I heard in my life and it was great to play this music on long family drives. I did this back when Napster was in its infancy — not only did it teach them about the music that came before all the more current stuff, it took me back to my own childhood when those songs played on Top 40 AM radio. This helped me relate better to my kids as they lived through the same age. But as they got older, the situation reversed: now they make play lists for their parents to stay current!
11. One word: Lego
And just the blocks, not the fancy kits with all the directions and robotics and stuff. Buy lots of Lego, have it around, then fiddle with it your entire life. I think it’s incredibly, creatively challenging to make something from nothing which is why I prefer the plain blocks. It makes you think and evolve an idea into something bigger and better than you ever imagined at the start. To me, that’s a lot more interesting than following directions to realize a certain predetermined object as pictured on the outside of a box. I started playing with it as a five year old when my family lived in Europe for a year, then drifted away from it for a few years when I was older. Once I had kids of my own, Lego came back with a vengeance and it hasn’t left since. It’s amazing stuff to spark creativity in just about anyone!
12. Teach your kids to “see”
Look at things together — expose your children to well designed images and products, tactile papers, fun die cuts, etc. Study the best storybooks — wonderful illustrators such as Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg, and Richard Maguire to name a few. Ask them to think critically while watching movies, looking at how certain scenes establish a certain mood or lead you to think a particular thought. While driving through the countryside, point out interesting cloud formations and imagine other fantastical scenes, or simply take note of how the light strikes a building in an interesting way. All of these things are teaching opportunities to notice things, appreciate them and imagine possibilities. See!
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t “try” to do things. You simply ‘must’ do things.” — Ray Bradbury
There are many ways to stoke the creative spark in our kids, and these offer just a few ideas. Children are different, and what stimulates one child won’t work for another.
Sometimes the hardest part is letting go of our parental instincts — rather than telling our kids what we think is best for them based on where we think their talents lie, we should instead go with their individual interests and expose them to the broadest variety of experiences possible. If they aren’t interested in what they are doing, they won’t devote the time to becoming better. The more excited they are about something, the more likely it will fuel a passion and allow creativity into their lives, whatever it may be.
How have you helped your child grow into a more creative person? Do you have any special family activities that bring you closer together?
I thought this PBS artice was super inspiring.
Creativity is the freest form of self-expression. There is nothing more satisfying and fullfilling for children than to be able to express themselves openly and without judgment. The ability to be creative, to create something from personal feelings and experiences, can reflect and nurture children’s emotional health. The experiences children have during their first years of life can significantly enhance the development of their creativity.
Importance of the Creative ProcessAll children need to be truly creative is the freedom to commit themselves completely to the effort and make whatever activity they are doing their own. What’s important in any creative act is the process of self-expression. Creative experiences can help children express and cope with their feelings. A child’s creative activity can help teachers to learn more about what the child may be thinking or feeling. Creativity also fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Creative activities help acknowledge and celebrate children’s uniqueness and diversity as well as offer excellent opportunities to personalize our teaching and focus on each child.
Opportunities for CreativityChildren need plenty of opportunities for creative play and creative thinking. Start by providing activities that are based on the children’s interests and ideas. This means learning how to listen intently to what children are saying. It is very helpful to tape record and transcribe children’s conversations as well as take notes and review them with your co-teachers.
Be sure to offer children a wide range of creative materials and experiences. Being creative is more than drawing or painting. There’s also photography, music, field trips, working with wire, clay, paper, wood, water or shadows. The possibilities are endless. It’s important to provide children lots of time to explore materials and pursue their ideas. This includes time to think about how to plan, design, construct, experiment and revise project ideas. Don’t forget to build in time to talk these ideas over with other people – both teachers and children.
Varieties of ExperienceLook for ways to provide multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and other community experiences for children. Activities such as field trips, celebrating holidays and activities with other ethnic groups, and encouraging children to bring visitors to school enhances the creative process. The more varied experiences children have in their lives, the wider the range of creative expression. The more personal experiences children have with people and situations outside of their own environment, the more material they can draw on to incorporate in their play. Our challenge is to try not to be intimidated by the variety and diversity of artistic expression in our classroom.
Fostering the Creative ProcessEncouraging children to make their own choices is important. Children should be permitted frequent opportunities – and lots of time – to experience and explore expressive materials. Put your emphasis on the process of creativity and not on the finished product. What children learn and discover about themselves is vital to their development. Show your support for the creative process by appreciating and offering support for children’s efforts. Independence and control are important components in the creative process. This is especially true when working with children with disabilities.
Creative Play One of the most important types of creative activity for young children is creative play. Creative play is expressed when children use familiar materials in a new or unusual way, and when children engage in role-playing and imaginative play. Nothing reinforces the creative spirit and nourishes a child’s soul more than providing large blocks of time to engage in spontaneous, self-directed play throughout the day. Play is the serious business of young children and the opportunity to play freely is vital to their healthy development.
Even as early as infancy, play fosters physical development by promoting the development of sensory exploration and motor skills. Through play and the repetition of basic physical skills, children perfect their abilities and become competent at increasingly difficult physical tasks. Play fosters mental development and new ways of thinking and problem solving. Through block play, children are confronted with many mental challenges having to do with measurement, equality, balance, shape, spatial relationships and physical properties.
One of the strongest benefits of play is the way it enhances social development. Playful social interactions begin from the moment of birth. Dramatic play helps children experiment with and understand social roles. It can also give them countless opportunities for acquiring social skills as they play with others. Through dramatic play, children gradually learn to take each other’s needs into account, and appreciate different values and perspectives.
Through play, children are able to express and cope with their feelings. Play also helps relieve stress and pressure for children. They can just be themselves. There’s no need to live up to adult standards during play. Play offers children an opportunity to achieve mastery of their environment. They control the experience through their imaginations, and they exercise their powers of choice and decision-making as the play progresses.
Play helps develop each child’s unique perspective and individual style of creative expression. Play expresses the child’s personal, unique responses to the environment. Play is a self-expressive activity that draws on the child’s powers of imagination. Play is open-ended, free-form and children have the freedom to try out new ideas as well as build on and experiment with the old.
Play provides an excellent opportunity for integrating and including children with disabilities in your program. The opportunities play provides for control and independence are important issues for any child but are especially important for these youngsters.
What are some of the ways we can encourage play in our classrooms? As caregivers, we must be careful to avoid dominating the play ourselves. Play should be the result of the children’s ideas and not directed by the adult. Through play, we should try to foster children’s abilities to express themselves. We should also try to help children base play on their own inspirations – not ours. Our goal is to stimulate play – not control it – and to encourage children’s satisfaction in playing with each other. Pay attention to play, plan for it, encourage it. Learn how to extend children’s play through comments and questions. Stimulate creative ideas by encouraging children to come up with new and unusual uses of equipment. Try to remain open to new and original ideas, and encourage children to come up with more than one solution or answer. Be careful about over-restricting equipment and make sure to have play materials quickly available when children want them. Buy and use equipment in ways that encourage the use of imagination. Avoid toys and activities that spell everything out for the child and leave nothing to the imagination. Provide children with a good range and balance of equipment, and keep equipment exciting by changing it frequently or changing its location.
Mehndi, the art of henna painting on the body, has been practiced in parts of India, Africa and the Middle East for centuries. Henna is a dye procured from a tree: Lawsonia inermis, whose leaves when dried and mixed with boiling water stain the skin with mahogany color. Dried henna plant leaves are made into a paste that produces a temporary dye that lasts up to three weeks. This dye is used to make designs to decorate the skin – usually on hands and feet.
Henna has been a popular cosmetic in all countries of the Middle East and the Indian Peninsula, where it grows as a common shrub. Women from these regions use it as a cosmetic to beautify their hands and feet with intricate designs.
Temporary henna tattoos or Mehndi has been a part of celebrations in India for centuries. Learn about this decorative body art and create your own design.
Mehndi Hands (adapted from a Crayola lesson)
Culture of India, Line Rhythm
Grade Level: 3-5
Mehndi has traditionally been used to adorn wearers for wedding ceremonies and other cultural celebrations. Designs can be intricate and include elements like flowers, swirls, dots and teardrops. How do Mehndi designs vary from culture to culture?
Create a hand to decorate with Mehndi designs by tracing your hand with the fingers spread apart on a piece of construction paper. Use scissors to cut out the hand shape.
Study pictures of Mehndi designs. Use a colored pencil to lightly sketch a design on the hand. Make your design intricate and incorporate traditional shapes and patterns.
Use a marker to trace over the design. Add interest to your project by using thick and thin marker lines. Make thick lines by drawing with the side of the marker and thin lines by drawing with the tip. Create different effects by drawing squiggly, jagged
- 30 to 60 minutes
- Students research traditional and modern uses for Mehndi, the art of henna body painting.
- Students observe different designs used in Mehndi and discuss the shapes and patterns.
- Students create an individual Mehndi design hand drawing using a variety of marker techniques.
- Research what holidays in India include the use of Mehndi as part of the celebration. Create a drawing to depict one of the holidays.
- The use of henna dye as a body adornment goes back to the ancient Egyptian culture. Learn how the Egyptians used henna.
- Invite a Mehndi artist to come into the class and demonstrate the process.
A fantastic Lesson from Pepperpaints
Painting Like Dale Chihuly
Chihuly is well know for his glass works but his paintings and his painting style is also impressive. Click the picture below to see a few google images of his paintings
To mimic Chihuly’s style of painting we layered paint on to canvas through several steps. We used sheets from a canvas pad. Be sure to paint on the correct side so the edges don’t roll. We used acrylic paint.
The first layer of paint when on with a brayer
The second layer went on with a broom-allowing the first layer to show through
Next layer was splatter painting
And then we used “puffy paint” for the final layer DIY puffy paint recipe here
Each one ended up so different and the kids really enjoyed applying each different layer. I did choose specific colors for each layer so that the darker colors went on first and and then in small amounts last, hoping to keep the layers visually separate.
This collage is made up of all the kids paintings
I can see why Chihuly is also well known for his splatter painted shoes after this class!! I loved both the process as well as the product of this project!