Think Big [Book Review]

What do you do when your child says ‘I’m bored’? If you’re like me you might say: “Go outside” or “Play with your sister/brother” or “Play with your [insert latest toy]” or my favourite “Go make something”!

I’m a true believer that if you leave children to work through their feelings of boredom they come up with some really fun and inventive ways to spend their time. But sometimes they need some extra help getting there. To get from ‘bored’ to ‘engaged’ requires inspiration to strike. THINK BIG is simple book that does just that – it sparks the imagination.

With few words (only a couple words per page), this charming book inspires us to get creative in any number of ways: paint, dance, sing, cook, play music, perform, brainstorm, sew, knit, build…

Once fun creative ideas are suggested the following carefully chosen words empower the reader (or listener) to think on their own:

“No thought

Too great

You think

We’ll wait…

Imagine”

This book opens us to a world of possibility for finding joy through many art forms available to us and acknowledges the need for a “brave heart” to make it happen.

I highly recommended this easy read for children of all ages to inspire us all to THINK BIG.

Next time your faced with boredom in your home connect with your child through a story like this one and enjoy the thinking that unfolds.

Published by Scholastic Inc.

*This is the first of a series where I will review books that inspire creativity or highlight a creativity skill that you can share and encourage in your child.*

Please share this post and comment below. What books you’ve read lately that have inspired your creativity?

 

Embrace the Shake

“Embracing a limitation can actually drive creativity.”

“Could you become more creative by looking for limitations?”

“We need at first to be limited to be limitless.”

 

This is a really cool talk on so many levels. Phil Hansen talks about the art making process, breaking through a creative slump, and embracing the shake and how thinking inside the box was his answer for creating art that was outside the box.

He’s also running a kickstarted campaign called “Tell me your Story about…” which has 5 days to go! A multimedia artist, Phil Hansen is ” interested in understanding people and ideas through the defining moments of our lives, how they affect us, and making art using mediums that are representative of these moments.”

I really dig the interactive nature of his art making process and how he uses people’s stories to create his work.

I’m inspired and reminded that limitations can really push the boundaries of your creative thinking. Hmm.. thinking of ways I can apply this to my own art making.. or that of my kids… Any ideas?

Creativity Week Day 1: Divergent Thinking

Divergent Thinking with Kids: Brainstorming Ideas! http://keepingcreativityalive.com

With World Creativity & Innovation week upon us I’ve been thinking of ways to celebrate!  Being creative on cue can sometimes feel overwhelming so I took a step back and decided to hold a good old fashioned brainstorm session with my girls to come up with ways that we can be creative this week!

I love brainstorming! If you love making lists you’ll love it too. Brainstorming is one way of practicing divergent thinking: a way of generating several possible solutions to a problem. To be clear, divergent thinking is a technique for thinking; brainstorming is a tool used to think divergently.

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions.

Me: “We’re going to brainstorm ideas!” V: “What’s a brainstorm?”

Explaining how to brainstorm to a five year old is tricky. I kept it simple and explained that we would be coming up with a lot of ideas and we would choose our favourites later so we don’t need to decide if we like them or not just yet.

The General Rules of Brainstorming

The four general rules of brainstorming established by Alex Osborn, a pioneer of Creative Problem Solving and brainstorming sessions, (taken from Wikipedia) are:

  1. Focus on quantity. The more ideas the better. “Quantity breeds quality.”
  2. Withhold criticism.  Defer judgment of ideas so that participants feel free to generate unusual ideas. Focus on adding ideas, not evaluating them.
  3. Welcome wild and unusual ideas. Think big. Think differently. New ways of thinking is encouraged and could provide better solutions so don’t hold back.
  4. Combine and improve ideas. Build on ideas by combining to form a better single idea or simply add to what has already been provided.

Okay, our experience…

We kept the problem simple: “What are some creative activities we could work on this week?” The way the question is phrased is important. Having typed that out I just realized that had I phrased it “In what ways might we celebrate Creativity Week?” our ideas would likely have gone in a completely different direction! … Throw a party! Make a cake! I’ll have to give that further thought next time.

I went into this with the best of intentions. Having worked in a creative field and having attended a CPSI conference I recognize the value of practicing divergent thinking and I figure it’s never too early to practice this with my daughters. Well.. they had a different idea about what they wanted to do…

E was enthralled with the brainstorming ‘tools’… Okay, she’s only two... 🙂

keepingcreativityalive.com

… and I lost V when she decided to start working on her creative idea… 🙂

http://keepingcreativityalive.com

.. but I carried on with the brainstorm and V jumped in from time to time approving or disapproving of ideas (we need to work on withholding judgement!) and adding some of her own. (The squiggled post it notes are the ideas she chose to write herself. When I asked her what they said she replied: “You just can’t read my writing, can you??”)

That was our first family brainstorm! I’m sure the first of many to come.

In what ways might you celebrate Creativity & Innovation week?

 

A Celebration of Artful Memories!

Giveaway Winner, http://keepingcreativityalive.com

Thank you to everyone who entered The Artful Parent book giveaway! Congratulation to Kristal, our giveaway winner!

When I asked you to leave a comment sharing your favourite childhood artful moment I didn’t realize what a great collection of inspiring stories I would hear. I loved reading each and every one of your artful experiences! I felt as though I was able to get a glimpse into your childhood memories; moments that I could tell you hold dear to you.

Many of your memories included engaging with nature and exploring. Several recounted stories of mothers and fathers leading by example with their own creative endeavours and creating opportunities for art making. So many great ideas came out of this that I want to highlight them here.

Favourite Artful Memories:

  • Decorating cookies with mom in the kitchen!
  • Treasure hunt through the trails collecting treasures and natural materials to including making a home-made books with stories about the walk.
  • Stamping using potatoes.
  • Making cards using pressed flowers.
  • Designing wrapping paper by painting or stamping brown parchment paper.
  • Sewing costumes using mom’s extra fabric and setting up a backyard circus to perform in!
  • Body tracing on giant sheets of paper and making paper clothes to dress the life sized you!
  • Making God’s Eyes using sticks from the insides of cactus trees and yarn.. going back to the 70’s!
  • Weaving a mat from newspapers inspired by an ‘Encycolpedia of Crafts’ book.

What has really come through is that all of these artful experiences were born out of the following…

  • Allowing children the freedom to decide what they want to do and give them the space and tools to do it. Example: Jake’s daughter creating a book from scratch called “My Book of School”. He shares Mia’s story here.

IDWIL - artful moment, https://projectidwil.squarespace.com/blog/mias-art-no-permission

  • Providing children with not only a space to create but one that suits their needs. Megan’s bright red family art table with legs cut down to ‘kids size’ is the perfect example of that!
  • Inviting children to engage in a creative project like making the centrepiece for the living room table for a special occasion.
  • Prompting children with an idea (like taking found materials) and providing the freedom to explore and express themselves.
  • Modelling creativity such as seeing a parent sew, knit/crochet, dance, build etc.
  • Encouraging creativity.
  • Celebrating creativity.  Two great examples were shared: 1) celebrating and encouraging a children’s work by covering a wall with her creations and 2) honouring a child’s home-made tree ornament by bringing it out and hanging it on the Christmas tree every year!
  • Spending time with mom and dad whether it be in the kitchen, at the craft table or in nature. This came through as the warmest and dearest family creative memories!

A wonderful artist friend of mine coincidentally posted this beautiful photograph of her artist mother making art with her in her studio today. With her permission I’m sharing it here because apart from the fact that everything in this photo is beautiful, including the colouring and composition, I was struck by what a fantastic example this is of sharing creativity! Most definitely an artful memory captured perfectly!

http://www.lalyblue.com

Thank you for sharing your stories! It was so much fun to welcome new visitors here and I especially LOVED hearing about all of your artful moments from your childhoods and artful moments in the present with your own children!

The #1 material of choice in our house…

Top 3 reasons tape is awesome for kids!  http://keepingcreativityalive.com

It’s fascinating, really, discovering what children will do with materials when left to their own devices. The other day, for example, as we were preparing dinner V ran through the kitchen with wings taped to her arms declaring ‘I can fly! I can fly!’ Which led me to think ‘wow.. all kids really need is their imaginations… and TAPE!?’

So here it is, the Top 3 reasons tape is awesome for kids:

  1. It’s accessible. Get a roll of tape and a dispenser and they’re off! (The dispenser is key for breaking off pieces of tape with reduced frustration, not to mention avoiding the challenge of having to find the end!)
  2. It’s not as messy as glue. ‘Nough said.
  3. It’s an instant adhesive – no dry time! Make sure to teach them the roll tape trick!

This then led me to think of all the other times tape was the #1 material of choice and…

Ten reasons kids love tape!  http://keepingcreativityalive.com

Our top 10 uses for tape:

  1. You can tape tissue to your arms and have instant wings!
  2. You can FIX ANYTHING. 10 reasons kids love tape!  http://keepingcreativityalive.comAs I was taking this photo.. V says “That thing used to be broken but I fixed it.” Ha! LOL
  3. You can stick things on the wall. 10 reasons kids love tape!  http://keepingcreativityalive.com
  4. You can create your own art gallery.10 reasons kids love tape!  http://keepingcreativityalive.com
  5. You can make stuff stick together instantly when glue doesn’t work.
  6. You can make diamond rings!10 reasons kids love tape!  http://keepingcreativityalive.com
  7. You can make crafts in an instant.
  8. YOu can tape a tail to your bottom (or your sister’s bottom) and pretend your an animal of your choice. 10 reasons kids love tape!  http://keepingcreativityalive.com
  9. You can tape signs to your door – or anywhere really to get a message out there, or for when the tooth fairy forgets!
  10. Your ideas here!!

Do your children love tape? Please tell me your kids do crazy things with tape too!?  Please do share in the comments!

What would you do… Part 2

Today’s Super Soul Sunday’s Big Question: “What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” is a timely follow up to my post last week where I left off asking “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Oprah interviews Brené Brown, research professor who has “spent the last ten years studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and authenticity.” (Part one aired today, part two comes out next week.) You can see part of part one here. I only got to see the first bit this morning where she talked about perfectionism (guilty for that here!) and authenticity before my toddler spilt the smoothy concoction (that my five year old made her) all over her hair!

If you’re not one of the 8 million people that have seen Brené’s Ted talk, you can watch it here:

I love Brene Brown and since I love Manifestos, I have to share her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto here.

DaringGreatly-ParentingManifesto-light-8x10-1

You can download a free 8×10 poster on her website. Check out the Daring Greatly Leadership Manifesto as well!

You can also follow her on Facebook. I’m in admiration of her and the important work she is doing and sharing. She’s one of those people you just can’t help being so happy for!

Field Trip : Hamilton Children’s Museum

Children's Museum - http://keepingcreativityalive.com

Inspired by the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco, we decided to check out our local Children’s Museum! Totally on a different scale and calibre but overall I’d have to say that our outing was successful.

Children's Museum - http://keepingcreativityalive.com

The kids were engaged…

Children's Museum - http://keepingcreativityalive.com

They observed…

Children's Museum - http://keepingcreativityalive.com

They collaborated…

Children's Museum - http://keepingcreativityalive.com

They created…

Children's Museum - http://keepingcreativityalive.com

And they practiced critical thinking…

Children's Museum - http://keepingcreativityalive.com

My take away from our experience is that overall it’s a fun place to visit. It has also inspired me to further establish mini creative areas in our home to inspire collaboration, creativity, critical thinking. How cool would it be to have a felt wall at home?!

Have you been to a Children’s Museum? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

The Association of Children’s Museum’s lists Children’s Museums Around the World and in The United States.

Video: The Importance of Creativity

The Importance of Creativity is a video that speaks to my passion for nurturing creativity in children:

Our children need key 21st century skills like the four C’s of COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION, CREATIVITY and CRITICAL THINKING.

Oh how I wish there was a Children’s Creativity Museum close to me like this museum that’s in San Francisco! Truly an inspirational place, this museum features an animation studio, a community lab, a design studio, imagination lab, innovation lab, music studio, and spiral gallery which is currently showcasing an exhibit called: The World Through the Eyes of Children. How beautiful would that be? It’s an exhibition showcasing over 100 pieces of art work created by children from around the world that “aims to promote insight and understanding of children and youth art and culture from various parts of the world.” Oh, how I wish I could attend this museum on a weekly basis!

Video Screenshot: The Importance of Creativity

Every time I visit their website and blog I’m full of inspirational ideas to create and make and innovate! Forget the kids, I want to make stuff! 😉  Just kidding, (well, not really) but I have a few ideas for March Break projects…

 

Play Dough Creations!

Play-Doh Original Canister

If you make it they will come. And who knows what they will make out of it!? The “it” in this case is play dough and “they” are children!

Play dough is fun. It’s easy. It’s open ended. It’s for all ages. It’s therapeutic. It exercises the imagination. It practices fine motor skills. It feels good on the hands!

I have to admit that I have a nostalgic connection to store bought Play Doh. The smell alone brings me back to my childhood but I’ve been getting tired of seeing it dry out as the little containers are just not designed for little hands. Perhaps that was intentional.. so that they’d need adult assistance to open! They just don’t seem to get closed again!

In any case, I decided to finally look up some homemade play dough recipes and make our own. There are certainly no shortage of recipes found online! I went with DIY PLAYDOUGH found over at Modern Parents Messy Kids. The photos on this DIY post are fantastic and I thought the Jell-O ingredient was sort of interesting.

DIY Play Dough

The result was perfectly smooth and squishy dough with a nice fruity scent! It was actually quite easy to make apart from a little arm muscle action required to constantly stir the goop that eventually formed into a nice clump of dough.

Homemade Play Dough, http://keepingcreativityalive.com

We made two colours: blue and yellow. A little while later my five year old independently came up with her creation…

Homemade Play Dough Bird Mermaid, http://keepingcreativityalive.com

Watching the magic happen, ie. what children do with the dough, is like getting a glimpse into their little minds.

 

Homemade Play Dough Bird Mermaid, http://keepingcreativityalive.com

A bird – mermaid!

A day later another artistic project was underway. This time inspired by Monet. Yes, you read that right, Claude Monet. The night before we had read Katie Meets The Impressionists (worthy of a blog post of it’s own) which includes the work of Claude Monet. While at the library we picked up a children’s book about Monet that describes the large area of colourful brush strokes in his art. This is the page that undoubtedly inspired her next creation:

Claude Monet Book explanation of Impressionist Art

This is what she made:

Homemade Play Dough Art, http://keepingcreativityalive.com

How umm.. unique! Before I could say “tell me about this,” Violet announced “This is a gift for you Mommy!  It’s a globe in the style of Claude Monet. If you stand back it looks like the world.” – Brilliant!

For step by step directions on how to make the play dough, visit Modern Parents Messy Kids.

If you’re already familiar with the play dough making process, these are the ingredients you will need:

  • white flour – 1 cup
  • warm water – 1 cup
  • salt – 2 tbsp
  • cream of tartar – 2 tbsp
  • cooking oil – 2 tbsp
  • Jello – 1 3oz pack

Have fun and please share your little artists’ creations! What do your children like to do or make with play dough?

What’s Your Manifesto?

Manifestos completely inspire me. Carefully thought through and beautifully designed poster manifestos that is. Like the following letterpress posters I came across on Pinterest today by Aardvark:

Another truly inspiring manifesto is by Bruce Mau Design, called “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth”.  Some of my favourite points:

  • Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
  • Begin anywhere. “…not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis.”
  • Don’t enter awards competitions. “Just don’t. It’s not good for you.” – really love this!

Then there’s Lululemon’s manifesto:

“Creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment.” I don’t know about you, but this one jumps out at me!

Wikipedia defines a manifesto as: a written public declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. It often is political in nature, but may present an individual’s life stance.

Probably not a bad idea for us all to write a manifesto to serve as a reminder of goals and keeping our values in check. Adding this to my list of things to do!