Building Self Awareness and Confidence

Building Confidence in Kids,

Through my contemplations about what it means to be creative I keep going back to one thing: Confidence. Having the confidence to try new things, to explore and to create.

I’ve been thinking a lot about things I can do to help my little ones build confidence.

A few days ago I came across a link to a blog article titled “Would you let your baby do this?” Intrigued I clicked through and read the article and of course watched the video. It really caused me to pause and think about my own parenting style and how I would have handled myself in that situation.

Then I was in that situation. A day or two later I was at the park with my girls. E went for the climbing wall and I decided that rather than help her climb the wall as I had the week before I would watch closely… and on a whim I decided to video tape the experience.

“I did it!”

This video absolutely captures for me what Janet Lansbury’s article is all about: allowing children the opportunity to practice their gross motor skills without interfering and observing the benefits!

What struck me the most as this was taking place is that E asked for help remembering that I had helped her before. She had developed a bit of dependency and thought she needed the help. I let her climb and she asked again “Mommy Help Evelyn.” Again I didn’t  say anything but I watched closely, not touching her.  (The part where the camera moves was me carefully watching to make sure I was there to catch her if she fell, but I didn’t touch her and she made it to the top!) In this moment she realized she could do it! I can watch this over and over and over again.

This video was her first solo attempt. After reaching the top, she went down the slide and practiced her climbing an additional 3 times, each time proclaiming “See! I did it!” with great pride and confidence!

Building confidence is a practice.

I share this experience here because it was a great reminder to me that sometimes it’s best to stand back (but not too far back in this case!) and observe. To let children practice, fall, explore, try, concentrate, make decisions, question and find their own answers because when they do the reward is so much greater than if I had helped her climb the wall.

This experience also demonstrated for me that helping our children doesn’t always help them. I’m just glad that I realized this soon enough that she didn’t not try because she didn’t think she could do it herself.

I have come to understand that creativity has everything to do with confidence. Building confidence is a practice that needs nurturing. It can be lost and found again. Artist Kelly Rae Roberts thoughtfully talks about this on her blog and offers ideas for inviting confidence back into your life.

Thank you Janet Lansbury for sharing your article again highlighting the benefits of RIE parenting and reminding me to stand back sometimes.

 Photo credit: ‘ I can because I think I can’ letterpress print by Print and Be Merry.

A Celebration of Artful Memories!

Giveaway Winner,

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,

  • 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!

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 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!

The Artful Parent Book Giveaway!

I’m so excited to share that I have a copy of the yet to be released book: The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity to give away to one lucky reader!

The Artful Parent - Giveaway!

I received 2 copies in the mail – one to keep and one to give – and I just have to say that it’s a BEAUTIFUL book! I can’t wait to read it cover to cover and try some of the projects! Look for my post this coming Friday, April 5th for a review of the book and for details on how you can enter for a chance to win a free copy!


The #1 material of choice in our house…

Top 3 reasons tape is awesome for kids!

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!

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!  https://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!
  4. You can create your own art gallery.10 reasons kids love tape!
  5. You can make stuff stick together instantly when glue doesn’t work.
  6. You can make diamond rings!10 reasons kids love tape!
  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!
  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.


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 -

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 -

The kids were engaged…

Children's Museum -

They observed…

Children's Museum -

They collaborated…

Children's Museum -

They created…

Children's Museum -

And they practiced critical thinking…

Children's Museum -

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…


Don’t correct! …Oops, did I just correct you?

FRAJIL sign, Building confidence in kids,

Like all parents in this world, I’m learning as I go along. In the early days of my first child’s craft projects I’d hover over her making sure that she did as she was ‘supposed to’.. putting the marshmallows on the lines just so and making sure the eyes went in the ‘right’ place. I’ve long tossed that approach out the window in favour for not just creativity’s sake but for the sake of confidence building.

Early on I realized that when I interfered or corrected, I was taking the joy out of the experience. A shift would occur in my child in which she would immediately lose interest. She’d give up her power and didn’t want to play anymore. She felt like she must have been doing it wrong, or worse couldn’t do it at all and didn’t want to even try. Think about when you are trying something for the first time and struggle a bit. If you had someone standing over your shoulder ready to intervene you’d probably lose your focus and motivation too. I know I would.

That’s why today I make every effort to stand back and observe. I resist the urge to assist by taking joy in watching discovery unfold.

The FRAJIL photo above.. let me tell you how that came to be… V’s aunt, a trained Montessori teacher (and Masters in Montessori Grad!) was over for a visit. Violet takes great joy in giving people gifts and especially to those she have an extra special place in her heart for, like Katie. Violet created a gift for Katie using the play dough we made the day before. To be honest, I can’t remember what it was.. I’m not sure I even got to see it before it went into this envelope. In fact, knowing V it was probably meant as a surprise for Katie to open when she got home! V sealed the envelope but made sure to announce to Katie: “you have to be very careful with this!”

I was only half listening at the time, but I think I piped up and said “You should put a sign on it that says FRAGILE.” V immediately ran over to her Art Station to grab a marker (looks like we need new markers!) and asked how do you spell FRAGILE? Katie, being the amazing teacher that she is, started sounding it out “FFFFF.” Violet listened carefully then put her head down to write the letter associated with each sound one after the next. Once she was done she proudly put her marker away and handed the gift to Katie who now had the reminder to be careful with her FRAJIL gift.

We, adults, sort of smiled at one another feeling proud of V’s interest and motivation to write. Without Katie in our lives I’m pretty sure I would have corrected V in the spelling of FRAGILE but I’m so glad that’s not the case. Being right about the spelling is so much less important than building the confidence in trying and sustaining the interest to learn. The correct spelling will come.

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,

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,

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,

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,

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?