Saturday, November 13, 2010

Raising Creative Children

I was blessed to be raised by a mother who is a very talented artist. Her medium is oils and water colors. I inherited zero drawing, painting etc. talent but she assures me that it shows through in my sewing, crafting, decorating etc. When I was young she would take me to fantastic thrift stores and let me pick out old hideous prom dresses to size down and add to my dress up box. When I wanted to wear four pairs of socks in several different colors she remarked that I was a total trendsetter. She would drive me all over Southern California for swim meets and voice competitions and would spend hours at the beach with us digging massive holes and huge sand castles. As I look back now it dawns on me how hard she worked to foster our own creativity and feed that part of our soul. When we started our family I knew I wanted to make sure my cuties had a childhood filled with opportunities for creativity.
I read Amanda Soule's The Creative Family and while I didn't adopt many of the ideas it was a great jumping off point and helped me to view the world with eyes ready for creative opportunities. I was pretty good at this in the states, the boys began to know their way around a Michael's probably a little too well :) We had parks, forests, farms etc. to explore in ample supply. When we moved here to Timor I was totally stumped. There are only so many projects I could come up with that involved shells and sand ;)
Then Sawyer's teacher Ms. Naomi (who I ADORE) introduced me to the idea of "creations". She asked parents to start saving all our recyclables, scraps of fabric, cool stones etc. We then donate them to the school and they are placed in the back corner of the room referred to as the "creation station". There is a shelf with several different kinds of tape, glue and markers. To help the children learn math and the value of money they are given fake bills when they do something good (aka sit still during book reading, help others, open doors...) they can then use this money to buy items for their "creations". They have free reign of creation station to make whatever pops into their imaginative brains. Sawyer latched onto this immediately and it is bar none the highlight of his day when he can go to creation station.
What I LOVE about it is everything he makes is 100% original. Unlike the craft packets I would get in the states that had all the little pieces you need and directions for each step (don't get me wrong these are awesome), Sawyer decides what he wants attached & where. Each day Sawyer would come home with his "creation" and be so excited to show Finn and Evie. Finn then wanted to start making creations. We decided to start keeping 2 box's in the kitchen, 1 for school creations and 1 for home use. Soon we had to transfer it to one of the cabinets outside.
The boys love going out and picking random items and turning them into something else. Us parents find it amusing that our children behave so that they can buy "trash" sent from home ;) This weekend Sawyer wanted to make a Wall-E and after rummaging through our supplies this is what we ended up with:
Finn's was a bit more abstract, since "his color" is green
What adds to the fabulousness is that if they don't paint it when they are done with it and have moved on you simply pull the tape off and throw it back in the pile.
This afternoon we made daffodil's our of old egg cartons and rolled up construction paper.
I also love the feeling that we are getting every mile out of the items we purchase. I also think that Sawyer inherited my moms artistic ability. We were outside coloring with chalk on our drive way and for his age I thought his drawings were pretty great!
Finn on the other hand just likes to tell me what to draw and then add his extra embellishments.
Evie just tries to escape through our front gate.
In any event I just hope that I can offer my cuties as fabulously creative a childhood as I had and thought fellow mommies might need a new idea ;)

PS My mom let me know that the minute she saw the Spinning A Yarn necklace she made one for herself! This was the biggest compliment I have received in a LONG time.


  1. You are Super Mom bar-none! Great ideas and I'm glad your little boy has such a wonderful, creative teacher.

  2. This is great! My mother is a professional artist. Her medium is oil and pencil with her focus on western art (horses, cowboys etc.) I have some of the talent but when you see all the behind the scenes it took off some of the glitz of it. So still having SOME bit of art in my head I went the sewing route as well. It seems I find one more reason to adore your blog each day! I'm going to try these ideas on my kids. I'm sure they will love painting things!!

  3. I hope to raise creative children too some day! I just saw this toy....

    I think it was a link on Design Mom.... I bet your kids would LOVE it! It might be a bit too old for them right now...but maybe not the oldest. :) Enjoy!

  4. I love this post, I love the idea about helping your children stay creative and positive - but it's also great in development. there are ways to start earlier with recognizing colors and shapes and patterns in the same items that they'll work with! Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Such great ideas for creativity using stuff you've already bought anyway! And that's awesome that the kids "pay" to use that stuff for their creations--what great lessons!
    Now, where did you make that adorable jacket Evie has on in that picture? Is that another one of your awesome creations?

  6. Thank you so much. I have needed some ideas. I feel like I need more open ended ideas for my kids and this is wonderful

  7. if you LOVE recycling then you will love this woman's blog!

    she does loads of crafts with ehrtwo beautiful daughters and they just come up with the raddest ideas!! Stormtrooper helmets from milk bottles, they even made an entire carebears castle out of recycled boxes!


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