New website COMING SOON!

by Lina on October 11, 2015

Creative Portrait Photos

Thank you for visiting! This website is undergoing some BIG changes. Please come back in a couple of weeks to see the NEW site!

In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to keep up with the latest news on Keeping Creativity Alive – especially related to children and parenting!



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Love Postcard | Postcard Love

by Lina on November 6, 2013

Good old fashioned penpal postcard exchange!

This past summer I came across a wonderful project called Love Postcard | Postcard Love that gave me such a great sense of nostalgia for the days of pen pals that I had to participate! The idea comes from Rebecca from Thirteen Red Shoes who suggested we connect our children by exchanging postcards the old fashioned way… via snail mail!

A project like this takes a bit of dedication, some consistency and encouragement but the benefits are so great that we’re absolutely loving being a part of this!

So far we’ve enjoyed receiving postcards from our new penpals in the US, UK and Australia!

The top 5 reasons it’s awesome to have a penpal, or like us, several pen pals…

1. Children LOVE receiving mail! (And, so do I!)

2. Connecting with people from different places opens our children’s minds to the idea that the world is far bigger than the city we live in.

3. We’re learning about what it’s like to live in another part of the world. (We’re referencing our globe and learning about continents, climates and animals in those countries.)

4. We’re discovering that we’re quite like others that live in different parts of the world in many ways and in some ways we’re not.. Most of our penpals seem to have pets and have asked us if we do. V: “Why does everyone ask us if we have a pet??” :)

5. We’re making friends. Hopefully lifelong friends that we will grow with and maybe one day meet in person. Someone recently suggested to me that it’s great that V is connecting with people in different countries because if she ever decides to travel to those countries in the future she will know someone there. I never really thought if it that way, but it’s true. It would be so fun to connect in real life one day for a coffee or for a personal tour of their town or city!

Good old fashioned penpal postcard exchange!

A few of the things we’ve learned:

  • it snows in Australia
  • it’s almost summer time in Australia when it’s almost winter time here
  • most people want to know if it’s cold and snowy in Canada (surprise surprise!)
  • lots of families have pets ranging from dogs to bunnies
  • we’ve made some connections with names.. some of our penpals have the same names as us and one of our penpals has the same name as V’s beloved stuffed animal best friend
  • you need different stamps depending on where your postcard is going
  • you cannot affix a little sea shell to a postcard because it doesn’t fit in the slot!

Good old fashioned penpal postcard exchange!

We’ve also had some fun taking photos of some of our favourite places in our community like Lakeside park and our local harbour and used these images to make our own postcards!

Apart from wanting to share our favourite places I thought it would be fun to show that although we live in Canada it’s not always cold and snowing here! Although those months will be upon us soon!

Make your own postcards for a good old fashioned penpal postcard exchange!

It feels a bit ‘old school’ to be sending snail mail messages in the digital age of email, facebook and instant messaging. Yet, there’s something irreplaceable about getting a personal letter in the mail and knowing that it travelled a far distance from the hands of the sender to yours.

Do you or have you ever had a penpal?

If you could connect with someone from a different country which country would you be most interested in learning about?

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What it takes to Keep Creativity Alive

by Lina on August 20, 2013

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this blog and what it means to me. It started with a passion to explore ways to nurture creativity in children. As I’ve researched and explored this topic further, I’ve discovered that it’s about that and so much more. So many ideas race through my mind about what it means to be creative and what makes us creative and for that reason I decided to encapsulate all of those thoughts in one place. Below is my graphic representation of all the things that come to mind when I think about what Keeping Creativity Alive is all about.

What is creativity about for you? Tell me, did I miss anything? 

Ideas for how to Nurture Creativity in Children,

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Guilty Confession

by Lina on August 1, 2013

What NOT to do when crafting with children.

I have a guilty confession to make: I sometimes take control of my child’s art experience. There I said it. It’s something that I try really hard not to do and I don’t most of the time, but yesterday I found myself in a situation where I completely took over and the result is everything that this blog is NOT about.

I’ll explain what happened. I took my daughter, V (5 years old) to a craft class at a local big box art store for a 2 hour craft activity class. I had intended on dropping her off, browsing in the store and staying close by, but since she didn’t know anyone there I decided I would stay until I knew she was comfortable.

The craft of the day was making an Eiffel Tower using Perler beads on a peg board and the class was for kids ages five and up. An instruction sheet was provided as a guide as to where to place the beads. The materials were set out and the kids began placing the little beads on the pegboards.

That’s when I should have left. Note to self: “Next time leave!”

Feeling a bit insecure about the new environment and whether the task was age appropriate for my five year old who doesn’t share my attention for detail, I stayed and offered my help. Other moms stayed as well and many of them ‘helped’ their young children too. The result was a bunch of perfect Eiffel Towers!

Don’t get me wrong, I find value in these sorts of activities. Particularly for fine motor skills and practicing following directions in pattern making to achieve a desired image. A couple of the children in the class, in the six year old age range, were able to complete the task independently. As for the others, the moms helped which turned into doing it for them.. that’s where my guilt lies..

As I helped V by offering direction on where to place the pieces she increasingly lost interest as time went on and asked for more help and more until she got to the point where she completely lost interest. Starring into space, she repeatedly asked me to help and got to the point where she just wanted me to do it for her.

There’s so much wrong with this picture that I don’t know where to start. I’ll break it down with the problem and offer my solution for next time! Please offer your thoughts in the comments.

Problem 1: The craft activity was difficult for my child’s age / skill level.

Solution: Show the child the task and explain what they are to do: place the beads on the board to create a pattern. Explain that the beads need to be touching in order to stay together once complete. Offer them the image of the tower or whatever they are creating but explain that they can follow this model or not. The expectation might be to follow the instructions to make the tower but if it’s too advanced we’re just setting kids up for disappointment. If that’s the case, encourage them to try their best or forget the pattern and make their own tower or whatever they decide to create.

Problem #2: By helping my child she lost interest in the activity and became focused (as I was) on getting it done as shown in the picture which resulted in continually asking for my help. All engagement in the activity was lost.

Solution: Step back from the start. Be there to assist through guidance and encouragement but don’t do it for them. If the goal is to complete the task as shown offer suggestions as to how to reach that goal but only if asked. When faced with the plea “It’s too hard. I can’t do it myself, help me!” I’ll remind her that she doesn’t need to make her tower look exactly like the picture. I’ll say “You can make your own tower however you want and use whatever colours you want!” I know that will empower her and excite her to create.

Problem #3: I completely projected my personal need for perfection and exactness onto my child’s project and took over the experience.

Solution: Back off and let this be their experience. It doesn’t need to look like the picture.

Problem #4: When children see us creating a craft or artwork with much more ease and speed than they can, they feel discouraged.

Solution: Demonstrate when necessary, for example how to put the bead on the board, but stop there. This point might be debatable. Part of me thinks that it’s good for children to see what others are capable of and what they can achieve with practice. Like at the park when V saw other children successfully swinging from the monkey bars she carefully observed their technique and with practice has been able to master the monkey bars as well. The distinction, for me, is the difference between demonstrating and taking over. Plus it’s one thing for a child to see another child achieve something than it is for their parent to take over their own project.

Problem #5: A result of all of the above.. When children decide that they’re just not good at art.

Solution: This is the saddest outcome of all and it happens all too often. How many people do you know that say they’re not good at art? I know A LOT. Sadly, I wonder how many of them would think otherwise if they were given a chance to play and explore while art making without placing any focus at all on the outcome?

Okay, so now that I feel completely terrible and guilty about what I’ve done, I’m going to try to make it right by keeping in mind the following:

7 Cardinal Rules for Keeping Creativity Alive in Children.

I have an eighth although it’s not so much a rule as it is a reminder: Not perfect is okay. In fact it’s better.

What’s kind of scary is I know all of these things but I fell back into the pattern of working toward achieving the desired outcome. This blog is completely about eliminating this type of experience for all children. I’m pledging to never fall into this behaviour again! What about you?  Have you found yourself in this situation? Please tell me I’m not alone.

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Project Limelight Society

by Lina on July 21, 2013

I’ve been thinking about Cory Monteith and have been reading about how just two nights before he died he was making plans for the future of Project Limelight, a free performing arts program for young people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

“Project Limelight Society unleashes the imagination, awakens curiosity and gives children the opportunity to experience the magic of applause… Project Limelight offers a safe place to build an artistic community. Participants learn skills, techniques and forms of expression, including acting, singing, dancing, clowning, creative writing, voice work, movement and improvisation. They rehearse a full-length theatrical production for 3 months, leading up to a final performance on a professional stage, giving participants the opportunity to showcase everything they have accomplished.”

The Project Limelight Society has been selected by Cory Monteith’s friends and family as one of three charitites to receive donations in his memory. Go to their site to learn more about how to donate. The other two charities suggested to receive in-memoriam donations on behalf of Cory Monteith are Virgin Unite and Chrysalis.

Below is another great video created by Project Limelight that highlights all of the wonderful reasons that the arts are important and better the lives of children.

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Inquiry into Heart Monitors! Following a child's curiosities.

It’s amazing, well random might be the more appropriate word, to see what kids are interested in learning about and exploring. 

Yesterday Violet learned about heart monitors. Someone close to her was wearing a Holter monitor and V took great interest in seeing what it was all about. She inspected it carefully, asked a few questions then moved on to the next thing that caught her attention. That was that.

Then right before bedtime she got that look in her eye… She excitedly came over to me after bath time tapping her finger tips together like a scientist planning her next experiment! In a sneaky secretive whisper she suggested we forgo her bedtime story in favour of making her very own heart monitor! I’ll admit I was weary.. what if we don’t find the materials needed? Part of me knew ‘this could end badly’.. with frustration and tears. But I could tell ‘no’ wasn’t going to go so well either. My response? “Sure!”

She got to work listing all the materials we would need to make this happen: sticker things, string and a little box attached to the cords – which she described as a camera. Sort of looks like a camera.

Being craft obsessed, I luckily have a lot of random supplies on hand which made it easy to pull together a quick exploration of making an at-home ECG heart monitor at the eleventh hour right before bedtime! I pulled out some string. V reminded me of some little circular velcro sticker tabs that we have.. perfect to mimic the little round sticker tabs. “The soft ones only please mom!”

As I put Evie to bed, V was busy looking for a little box to act as the recorder, which she still thought was a camera.

I could hear scrambling in her room as she searched and excitment as she located the right sized box. She proceeded to ‘decorate’ it with the same designs as the ‘real thing’ she saw earlier in the day.

Inquiry into Heart Monitors! Following a child's curiosities.

A pretty cute and random little inquiry based activity and I’m glad to say that it didn’t end in frustration or tears. We talked about why people get heart monitors and how the little box records heart activity.

Moments like these are the highlights of my parenting adventure, when I get to see my little girl’s eyes light up with curiosity and enthusiasm. Watch her finding solutions to her challenges and best of all feel satisfied with the results! Such a good feeling!

Have you experienced a spark of interest in something completely random lately? What things are your kids curious about? 

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A documentary inspired by the Newsweek article, The Creativity Crisis is in the works! A look at creativity in schools and “the imbalance that now exists between cultivating creativity and teaching the content that will be measured on the test.”

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see this!

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Photography Project

by Lina on July 4, 2013

Every now and again I come across an interesting photography series that for one reason or another I feel compelled to share.


A few years ago I posted about the Creative Photographer Dad who captured silly and mischievous scenes with his two daughters. Then there was Mila’s Daydreams where photographer mom created mini vignettes of her sleeping baby in whimsical scenes. Both super light-hearted and fun!

More recently I came across a series by James Mollison called Where Children Sleep where he photographed children around the world and shared their stories told through their portraits and pictures of their bedrooms. This photographic essay captures the lives of children in various circumstances and brings to light the fact that children around the world live life so differently from one another.

Photographic Series,

Similarly the series, Toy Stories by Gabriele Galimberti captures photographs of children surrounded by their favourite toys. Through the Toy Stories project, Galimberti discovered that play is universal but how children play and how they regard their toys is what differed:

“The richest children were more possessive. At the beginning, they wouldn’t want me to touch their toys, and I would need more time before they would let me play with them.”

Another very interesting revelation by Galimberti was that “the toys on display reveal the hopes and ambitions of the people who bought them in the first place” bringing to light that it’s the parents that shape and form children’s attitudes towards their belongings.

Photographic Series,

These photographic series are not only depictions of children and their environments but they also provide data on the state of our social conditioning of children which I find very fascinating.

Photographic Series by Judy Gelles,

This next series, by photographer Judy Gelles, explores stories of children through a combination of their answers to questions and their personalities as seen through a photograph of them taking a stance, while not showing their faces. The questions asked were: Who do you live with? What do you wish for? What do you worry about?

Photographic Series by Judy Gelles,

It’s another glimpse into the lives of children but this time gives us further insight into how they (the children) view the world and the value placed on family which is seen and felt in each response.

I’m extremely inspired by these photographic series, essays, statements.. whatever we choose to call them. They have me thinking about a series of my own.. hmm..

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Get out of their way!

by Lina on July 1, 2013

“Kids are born curious. Period…. If you’re a child, you are curious about your environment. You’re overturning rocks. You’re plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you’re doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you.


And so then so what do adults do? They say, “Don’t pluck the petals off the flowers. I just spent money on that. Don’t play with the egg. It might break. Don’t….” Everything is a don’t.”

The key point Neil deGrasse Tyson makes?

“Help them explore.”

Set out some binoculars or a magnifying glass or something as equally interesting.. and most importantly get out of their way and let them explore!

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World Repair Kits, What a Great Idea!

by Lina on June 13, 2013

World Repair Kit by Serena & Lily,

Every once in a while I come across an idea that I wish I had thought of! This is one of those ideas! It’s called the World Repair Kit, by Serena & Lily:

“A creative guide to getting kids inspired to make a difference in the world, each kit is packed with quick facts and hands-on activities that empower families to work together in creative ways.”

The kit includes a guidebook, passport with ink pads and activity stamps (to track your journey) and reminder stickers to spread the positive message.

Best of all this package provides information about environmental issues, conservation, protecting endangered species and more. It provides ideas for ways children can help those in need, resources for connecting people to non-profit organizations and inspiration to make a difference in the world.

The kit says it’s recommended for ages 8 – 108. My kids might be a little too young but I’m inspired to make my own version for the early years.

What a seriously great idea.

What do you think, is this something you’d do with your kids? Or maybe you do already? Please share!

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