When i was a kid i was not very good at spelling. As an adult I’m perhaps a little bit worse. i blame spell check. I remember growing up that some people thought you became a good speller by reading more. I always wondered why anyone would ever think that. I read quite a lot, and my parents always read to me. For me, the words didn’t matter – it was the ideas that I hung on to. I enjoyed stories, and reading – very much. But instead of learning excellent spelling and vocabulary – the words skipped into thoughts and the sentences all swam into paragraphs for me – falling away and building ideas like towers to new worlds… until I was literally inside the story – living the adventures of the protagonist. Is that weird? please tell me I’m not alone here. i guess i was a pretty imaginative kid – and i am forever grateful that my parents nurtured that in me.
Our kids are all pretty creative – at this point we see it the most in Matty. The stories he tells, plays he puts on, and artwork he creates all jump right out of his imagination and we couldn’t ask for a better way to see him work through all of his ideas. Today, while the girls napped, he made an ocean with sand, a coral reef, a sea turtle and fish. Then he made a boat with men fishing, and then a dock for the boat to tie up. The only time he asked for attention during that 30 minutes of creativity was for some tape so that he could connect all of his creations. To you it might not look like much – but to me – this is my 4 and 3/4 year old creating a masterpiece. The best part was when the girls woke up he told them all about it like it was a story that had come to life on his paper … and they played sea turtles and pirates and fisherman for 30 minutes. so cool.
I try to bring art and creativity in their lives every day. Sometimes I’ll be honest – the most creativity they witness are the new words we make up to express our profound frustration at speed, behaviour, or pitch of one of their siblings in a given moment. But we try the good stuff too – either by making sure our crafts cupboard is stocked so our amazing nanny can work her creative wonders with them, or by making play dough, baking, drawing or acting our random dinosaur plays each night. I dream about opening up a space for kids to learn and be creative in our area. I won’t ever do it because I don’t have the patience. As much as I love creativity I love discipline and order too … nothing like a control freak creative with a secondary passion for manners and respect to get your kid going eh? I love the people who have had the courage to open spaces like that though, and we often find ourselves back in Vancouver at places like Collage Collage. I also can’t wait to bring our girls to their very first Four Cats art class next week.
I read a lot. Still. And as the marketing and branding books I’m used to enjoying seem to be fading into similar messages that lack ingenuity and original thought – I’ve turned to enjoy books about creativity more and more. Especially about how to fill our home with fun, art, and limitless imagination. In case you’re looking for some similar inspiration – here are a few of my recent favs:
1. The artful parent by Jean Van’t Hul. She writes a great blog the artful parent where she not only chronicles her own creative adventures with her kids but she uses her background to suggest positive ways to encourage kids – there are no gorrrgeous projects – just raw creativity and messy fun (like don’t say “wow that’s beautiful” or “what a great house!” – instead “wow – what a work of art – tell me about it!” or “that must have taken a long time – look at all the colours you used” because it encourages the right thoughts… as opposed to encouraging ‘pretty things’ you are encouraging original and creative thinking… huh.)
2. I really like Lorena Siminovich – she’s a beautiful childrens’ book author and illustrator. She sells creative pieces for kids and homes – and has launched her first book about craft projects for kids called Petit Collage. The steps in this hot-to book are easy enough to follow with 2 or 3 kids in front of you – all wielding scissors and crazy ‘whaddoidonext?!’ faces. (please tell me that’s not just my kids). Some of the projects are beautiful. some are meant to be and end up as messed up fun all the same.
3. My third favorite right now is actually a cook book – I LOVE to cook with our kids. Tonight C was at hockey … so I asked the kids what they wanted for their first week of school next week for snacks … and we made all of their requests. cheese crackers, granola bars with chocolate chips, brownies, and oatmeal cookies. I got two of the recipes from The Supper Club by Susie Cover. She makes things that are sort of healthy, that kids actually enjoy, and that are easy to make with kids. As a family we love her grilled chicken tacos, granola, mini muffins, chinese chicken salad, and her roast beef sandwiches. I can’t wait to try her soft pretzels (page 48)!
Finally – I love reading blogs of creative parents – too many to recount here – but one great one is from Tom Hobson who pushes me to think beyond what i would normally think is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ for my kids regarding age-specific play (read his thoughts on glue guns). I really enjoy a lot of mom bloggers – most of the time because I find bits of myself in their stories or ideas … but I have to say it’s refreshing to see bloggers who think in a totally different way than i do … I love the gold jelly bean – for cute creative ideas to do with kids that I wouldn’t think of.
Okay – that’s it from me tonight … hope you get to do something fun and creative tomorrow – and I’d love love love to hear if you have a favorite creative book or blog that you enjoy!