The Artful Parent Book Review + Giveaway!

The Artful Parent Blog Tour - Canadian Stop with Keeping Creativity Alive, The Artful Parent Book Review + Giveaway. Enter this weekend (April 5-8th, 2013) for a chance to win a copy!!!

Welcome to the Canadian stop of The Artful Parent Book Blog Tour!

I’m happy to announce that I’m hosting my first ever giveaway!  I couldn’t have arranged for a more appropriate item to feature; this book is true to my own passion for art and creativity and sharing all of that with my family as Jean Van’t Hul does with hers!  I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky person. Keep reading to find out how you can enter for a chance to win!

I’ve been following The Artful Parent blog for several years now as a source of great inspiration and ideas for art exploration with kids at home. Jean Van’t Hul, THE Artful Parent, has provided parents, teachers and caregivers a vast amount of project ideas over the years and her new book encompasses over 60 of her arts based activities!

I can go on and on telling you why I think this is an amazing book, and I will 😉 but there is one sentence that sums up why I think this book is so great and it’s in the Acknowledgements:

To my mom… for providing the freedom to be creative during childhood, and to my grandmother… for being a kindred spirit, the first real artist I knew, and a continuing inspiration.

Reading this almost had me in tears (acknowledgement tributes often have that effect on me!) I think because I can relate to it with my own family experience and because to me this book is all about providing children the freedom to be creative (so special) and providing inspiration by example (so important)!

The Artful Parent Book Review + Giveaway. Enter this weekend (April 5-8th, 2013) for a chance to win a copy!!!

The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity is a resource for artful activities but what I really love is that it goes beyond the actual project ideas.  This book is a guide to all parents – those who consider themselves artful or not – and provides basically everything you need to know about how to encourage creativity through art with children.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “I’m not crafty at all!” or take my friend who upon seeing this book at my house said “The Artful Parent.. I’m so NOT an Artful Parent!” But this book speaks to all.. whether you think you’re artful or not and provides guidance as to how to “[Say] Yes to Art”!

The Forward, written by Mary Ann F. Kohl reminds us that being artful is a choice and how “living artfully will be the finest choice you’ve ever made for your family, next to reading books at bedtime and putting nutritious meals on the table.”

The Artful Parent is a tool that encourages thinking and will help you raise creative, productive thinkers and doers. – Mary Ann F. Kohl

Kohl ends the Forward with the following invitation: “Join us and become an artful parent, giving your family the gift of a lifetime of creativity.” This book gives parents the tools to do just that and THAT is why I love it so much!

Before I move on to share an activity we tried, I want to highlight these lists of “Do’s and Don’ts for Talking about Children’s Art” found in the chapter: “Encouraging Your Budding Artist.”

The Artful Parent Book Review + Giveaway. Enter this weekend (April 5-8th, 2013) for a chance to win a copy!!!

I share this because it’s so important to consider the ways that we talk to children about their art. How we respond can make or break a child’s interest in creating and has a huge impact on their intrinsic motivation for art and ultimately their confidence.

“Do Say This… Nothing. (When in doubt, zip your lips.)”

Ha. Love it! So true. Sometimes it’s best to just observe.

Okay, our ‘Artful Activity’ experience…

I asked V to flip through the book and select which activity she’d like to try…

The Artful Parent Book Review + Giveaway. Enter this weekend (April 5-8th, 2013) for a chance to win a copy!!!

She chose Artful Activity 14: Clay Pinch Pot Nest with Eggs and Bird. Lucky for me I had the materials I needed on hand.. yup, I’m an Artful parent.. why else would I have clay on hand?!

The Artful Parent Book Review + Giveaway. Enter this weekend (April 5-8th, 2013) for a chance to win a copy!!!

The book provides a range of activities which explore different materials accompanied by project examples so that families can collect the materials and either follow the instructions directly or simply use the activity as inspiration. The latter is what interested V. She wanted to get her hands dirty like Maia’s (in the picture) but she had her own ideas about what she wanted to make. She randomly chose to make a turtle!

V: “But I don’t know what a turtle looks like?!”  So we looked up ‘turtle‘ on google images, she chose one as her model (a cartoon version!) and got off creating! Our clay (being a bit old) was tough, so I watered it down and tried softening it by throwing it against the table to get the air pockets out. Once our clay was ready she created the shell body and was set to attach the head, legs and tail.

This was a good opportunity to teach her about scoring when attaching clay parts so that the pieces would have something to hold on to. Using the scoring tool (a fork or pencil would work just as well) she carved a cross hatch design on the surfaces of the clay to be attached and wet them both a tiny bit, then gently squeezed the adjoining pieces together.

Artful Activity: Clay building with Kids,

I went off to do something else and came back to her getting really fancy with decorating her turtle’s shell…

Artful Activity: Clay building with kids,

Apparently she decided this would be a leatherback sea turtle!

Artful Activity: Working with Clay,

Although we’ve had the clay in our cupboard since before Christmas, it took a little bit of inspiration to remind us to pull it out and make something. The Artful Parent book is FULL of inspiration!

Win a copy of The Artful Parent Book!

I’m excited that I have a copy to giveaway!

To enter for a chance to win leave a comment here sharing your favourite artful memory as a child!  I’d also love to hear how you parent artfully already or what you would like to improve upon in that area. Simple as that!

Giveaway details: You must have a Canadian or U.S. address to win. Deadline for entries is Monday April 8th, 2013, 11pm EST, one day before the book is officially released! Please include your email address so I can reach you if you win! Winner will be chosen randomly.

For additional chances to win you can:

Each time you do one of the above, leave a comment here letting me know. Good luck!

Thank you for reading and supporting Keeping Creativity Alive! I hope that I will have more opportunities to offer giveaways to you in the future as well!

* Disclosure: I received two copies of The Artful Parent book – one to review (and keep) and one to giveaway! All opinions expressed are my own.

Follow The Artful Parent Blog Tour

March 18 – Tinkerlab – activity demonstration + giveaway

March 25 – Handmade Charlotte – feature post

March 26 – Playful Learning – activity demonstration

March 28 – Nurture Store – feature post + giveaway

March 30 – Make and Takes – feature post

April 1 – Red Ted Art – book review + giveaway

April 2 – Kids Activity Blog – interview + giveaway

April 3 – Pink and Green Mama – feature post

April 4 – Peas & Carrots Studio – interview

April 8 – Not Just Cute – feature post

April 9 – Creative with Kids – interview

April 10 – Imagination Tree – book review

April 11 – Let’s Lasso the Moon – parent & child book review

April 14 – Teach Preschool – activity demonstration + review + giveaway



Thank you to everyone entered The Artful Parent book giveaway!

Congratulations to our winner, Kristal! I hope this book inspires many artful memories for your family! I’ll be in touch via email!

Reading Aloud

We all know how important it is to read to our children. If you don’t then you need to read Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox. I just came across a wonderful interview in which Mem Fox discusses the importance of reading aloud to children and adults alike.

“Never stop reading aloud, no matter what the age group is, and read without teaching.”

In the interview, Mem Fox discusses the importance of reading aloud to kids, especially for parents.  For two reason this article and Mem’s work particularly resonates with me. One, my almost five year old is this (holding fingers a few inches apart) close to reading. When we read together I want so much to get her sounding out the words… but she’s just not interested and I know I need to refrain and just read and enjoy reading together.  This article reminds me that I shouldn’t try to teach my child to read.. “[parents] should never make the read-aloud into a teaching sesson.” It makes perfect sense really. We need to keep reading fun and enjoyable.

Which brings me to the next reason I’m drawn to this article which is that it reminds me that, like creativity, reading is not something that can be forced. As a parent, your share it (whether it’s reading or creating) and you model how wonderful it is to read and listen to stories or create things or whatever it is.  It’s all about enjoyment and having fun. Something I think as parents we all need to be reminded of. At least I know I do.

One last point of note about this article is when Fox says “the book is a pathway to the rest of the world, to a huge conversation about what’s going on in the child’s life.” This is so true. I’m looking forward to picking up her latest book “Tell Me About Your Day Today” as a way of encouraging my daughter to reflect on her day and share it with me. Thinking back, last year, we actually spent time each night at bedtime reflecting on what we did that day, then we each chose what our favourite part of our day was. I think we need to bring back that little ritual. It’s a nice way of recapping all that we did, discussing things that need attention and each having an opportunity to show gratitude for what it was that day that we appreciated most. A really nice way to end the day!

Mem Fox also gave the Keynote at the 2012 NAEYC Annual Conference in Atlanta last week where she shared why reading to children changes their whole life journey. That’s pretty profound!  I wish I was there! But, I did find notes from someone who was.

Books That Inspire

Do yo ever get into a trance like state as you walk through certain stores that inspire you? That’s what happens to me when I walk through a bookstore. Last time there, as I walked down the main aisle, I was captivated by a number of beautiful cover designs that spoke to me… a few I was familiar with but many, I hadn’t seen before.

Then I looked up and saw this…

Ah ha! No wonder I was so enthralled with every single book on this table!

Some titles I found here:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

The Innovator’s Cookbook by Steven Johnson

The Brain Training Revolution by Paul E. Bendheim

Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith

After deciding to pick up Unstuck by Noah Scalin (which I’m LOVING) I walked around to the other side of the table… Live Creative.. very clever.

Book Review 005: Emily’s Art

Evaluating art is a dicey topic – particularly in relation to how teachers evaluate and assess the visual arts in elementary school classrooms and how that affects our children. Peter Catalanotto’s book Emily’s Art covers this subject appropriately by illustrating a story of a young inspired artist encounter a less than inspiring art contest experience.

The short story before the story sets the stage for what is about to happen.  The appropriately named teacher, Ms. Fair asks “Can anyone tell me what a contest is?” After a few guesses it’s agreed that a contest  is “to see who is the best”. Then it is announced that the school is having an art contest in which there will be prize ribbons to the best painting in each grade. The teacher goes on to explain that a judge will decide the winners based on which she thinks is the best. One of my favourite lines in the book is: “If I lose the art contest will the judge put me in jail?” But even better might be the line: “No, of course not. Losing an art contest does not make you a bad person… just a bad artist.”

Emily’s story is compelling and heart breaking. The principal’s mother is brought in to judge the art work. She justifies her qualifications by declaring “My cousin is married to an artist” – hilarious! She falls in love with Emily’s painting until she learns it’s a dog (not a beautiful rabbit as she thought) and proceeds to dismiss the art based on a bad experience she had with a dog!

When you consider all of the little kids out there that have been turned off of art because they don’t think they’re good enough or that their painting of a tree doesn’t look like a realist representation of a tree, it’s really sad.

This is most definitely a story worth sharing with your kids. My library copy is overdue. I most definitely will be buying this book for our collection.

I’ll leave with Catalanotto’s dedication which I just love: For all children who paint with their hearts.

Book: Theories of Development

I’m just about to crack open this book, called Theories of Development Concepts and Applications by William Crain,  and am very excited to do so even though I already have way too many books on the go! But, I’m intrigued.. upon flipping through the book, I  caught a glimpse of the following passage which happens to demonstrate exactly why I am so enamored with Montessori..

Found in the “Montessori’s Educational Philosophy” chapter of the book (on page 80):

Two 6-year old boys’ views on school matters.

Notes the differences in the role of the teacher in the minds of these two children.

1. Who taught you to read?

Regular School Child: “My teacher.”

Montessori Child: “Nobody, I just read the book, and to see if I could read it.”

2. Do you get to work on anything you want?

Regular School Child: “No. But we can go to the bathroom anytime we want. But we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom more than four times.”

Montessori Child:  “You can work on anything you want.”

3. What would happen if you bothered another kid who was working?

Regular School Child “I’d get in trouble from the teacher.”

Montessori Child “He’ll just say, ‘Please go away, I’m busy'” (What would you do?) “I’d just go away ’cause I don’t want to bother someone working.”

The Daily Groove ~ Creative Parenting

I subscribe to an online newsletter called The Daily Groove by Scott Noelle. I enjoy his daily tidbits of insightful perspective on parenting mindfully and enjoying parenting. Today’s post (a continuation of yesterday’s post on Terrible Two’s) is something I keep top of mind with my toddler through this stage of power struggling and protests.

Below is today’s ‘Daily Groove’, more can be found at the Enjoy Parenting website. The image above is the cover of The Daily Groove book, currently out of print until further notice.

Developmentally, toddlers and Teens have one thing in common: they’re on the verge of a quantum leap in personal autonomy. They’re on a mission to become themselves — to get in touch with their Inner Power more than ever before.

Anytime they feel imposed upon or coerced, that mission is blocked, and they instinctively protest. In nature-based, pleasure-oriented, partnership cultures, such protests are rarely triggered, so terrible two’s and teen rebellions rarely occur.

But in our anti-nature, control-oriented culture, parents are expected (if not required by law) to oppose or control children’s natural developmental impulses toward personal empowerment, which guarantees the terribles!

The shift from terrible to terrific begins with your commitment to creative partnership. Then, whenever your child exhibits “terrible” behavior, you can re-interpret it as evidence of his or her unfolding autonomy, and ask yourself this:

“How can I use my creativity to support my child’s growth in a way that works for ALL of us?”