I just read a series of reports on an eight-year-old, Stella Ehrhart, from Omaha, Nebraska who dresses up for school everyday as a different historical female figure or other character. According to several articles, she said that she wants to dress up as people that she wishes to emulate and has dressed as Grace Kelly, Rosa Parks, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Billie Holiday, just to name a few. They say that she opens her book about Influential Women and then opens her closet and creatively finds a way to dress like that person. The costumes aren’t necessarily expensive or over-the-top, she just finds simple ways to represent someone. The teachers use it as a way to do some impromptu history teaching.
I am so impressed with her drive and creativity and the support shown from parents, teachers, and classmates. When so many young girls today are unwittingly dressing up to emulate movie stars and pop icons what a commendable way to express creativity, especially in such a productive and educational way. Bravo Stella!
When I came home from work yesterday, my oldest daughter had left me a surprise.
It’s hard to see what each item is, so I will explain.
There is a plate in the middle with her signature dish (a culinary treat that she created 😉 ) a cinnamon carrot.
Above the plate is a card that she made at school for Mother’s day. To the right of the plate is a love note.
To the left of the plate is a glass of water. Beside the water is a rose from the garden and two little crafts that she and her cousin worked on all morning (pieces of nature decorated with beads, paint, glitter, etc.)
I was so touched! I burst into tears.
Yes, this is proud mama having a moment celebrating her child, and most would think, “so, what’s so special?”
I guess it’s just wonderful to know that she loves me. When I was a kid, I used to make little do-dads for people, and my heart overflowed with love for that person as I drew or colored or created.
Albert Einstein is credited for saying, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”
I think that one of the best ways to promote creativity in our children is through our praise. Our joy at the little things. Our writing posts and journal entries about our children’s accomplishments, no matter how small. We thrive on love.
I remember the day in sixth grade that I stopped drawing. I didn’t get any praise for my artwork, and so I figured that I wasn’t good enough. Bummer, huh! Why I feed off praise, I don’t know, but now at *cough* older than twenty-something, I’m getting better at feeding off of creation and doing rather than opinions.
Later on that day, my daughter beamed as she proudly told me that she hadn’t watched T.V. or had computer time all day. She had spent all of her time creating.
So, I need to continue to encourage creativity, as well as the love of doing. Any thoughts on the best way to help your child nurture creativity? And I don’t just mean artistic creativity either. After all, Einstein wasn’t known for his paintings or dance, but for his ability to creatively look at the world around us and think of physical and mathematical solutions to complex problems. Talk about creativity!
So, my questions for your consideration and input are –
•How do we foster creativity in children?
•Why is it important to do so?
•Can a person be creative in fields other than crafty, craft, crafts 😉 or the Arts?
•How do we teach joy in the doing – or does it just naturally come as a result of hard work?
“Fame is a four letter word, and like tape, or zoom, or face, or pain, or life, or love, what ultimately matters is what we do with it.”
Fred Rogers said that at a TV Hall of Fame speech (1999) when he was being honored. He was a man who effected and changed lives. He viewed himself as “an adult who takes time to give children his undivided attention rather than as an entertainer”(Suzanne Williams, from the Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television).
I remember how much I loved Mr. Rogers as a young girl. I watched him through a very tiny black and white television set. I’d get frustrated when my brother wouldn’t let me watch the show because he wanted to watch something else. I loved the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and the fact that they would do plays and operas, and I remember his songs and the way that he helped me to feel good about myself. So, as an adult, I found a Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood DVD at the library and I checked it out and watched it with my daughter. I spent the weekend bawling as old memories and emotions were dredged up. My oldest daughter fell in love with the segments in which he would go to a factory and show how they made things like crayons, paper, and rubber-bands.
As my second child grew old enough to watch, I found out that many of his episodes can be found online (here) and I was thrilled to watch them with her as well. She loved the songs, just as I did, and we spent many happy afternoons singing them together. Her favorite song? It’s You I Like (see lyrics to the left). I think they really spoke to her at that very tender and confusing time in a young, young child’s life.
It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair–
But it’s you I like.
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you–
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys–
They’re just beside you.But it’s you I like–
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself,
It’s you, it’s you I like.
I found out that Mr. Rogers wrote most of his songs. He wrote the scripts, created and voiced many of the puppets, and was involved in most of the creative aspects of the show. His first program was in 1954 and he had a budget of $30. There are many websites and articles based on his history, but this post will focus on his creative genius, and what he did with it. He wanted to be remembered as “a compassionate human being … fortunate enough to be born at a time when there was this fabulous thing called television that could allow me to use all the talents that I’d been given” (from an interview by Archive of American Television, foundhere).
A lot of the things that I learned about his creativity came from a very rare black and white 1967 documentary, that has been put up on YouTube by matchgameproductions. The entire video can be found here.
In the documentary, it stated that children need the following things:
to be talked to
the need to find, in this dialogue – comfort, reinforcement, and help in gaining control of the seemingly uncontrollable.
It also stated that his shows were full of carefully crafted songs, dialogue and thoughts “which communicate the very essence of childhood – not in a commercial sense, not picture-book childhood, funny and cute, but childhood that is both growth and growing pains, wonder and disappointment, as yet unfenced emotions that cause more sorrow than joy… [childhood is] archaic loneliness, sanctuary, total peril, selflessness and utter selfishness, moody withdrawal and reckless abandon.”
This is what he did and wrote and created for the show:
How things work
Taught about behavior and relationships in the adult world
Exploration of feelings
One of the most amazing things that I noticed when watching episodes with my children was the way that people looked at him. In one segment that he had filmed in the nineties, he went to watch some people doing a dance show with clomping and stomping. What hit me was the fact that many of the dancers were roughly my age and had been children with the opportunity to watch his program was on PBS. The looks on their faces as they met and talked with him was pure adoration and love. Wherever he went, he was loved. Watch this video to see what I mean. In it, he is first singing, It’s You I Like with Jeff Erlanger on his show in 1981. Then, in 1999, when Fred Rogers is inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, Jeff surprises him with a special appearance. It’s touching, especially Mr. Rogers’ acceptance speech.
“We all have one life to live here on earth, and through television we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or cherish it in creative, imaginative ways.”
So said Fred Rogers to a crowd of people in the television business. We may not be able to decide what’s on the television or in movies, but we can decide what we watch, and how we help our children cherish, live, and explore the beautiful world that we live in.
So, when I was young (ten or eleven) I made a board game. I spent hours on it. I used anything available to my 1985 crafting self – hot glue gun, fabric, cardboard, and letters that were like Iron-ons. Styrofoam squares with earrings pushed in were the game pieces. There were cards for good and bad consequences. I also took pictures of members of my family and cut out their heads and pasted them on cartoon bodies for a token to receive as part of the game. It made so much sense in my little eleven-year-old brain.
We played it as a family once. My older brother said it was stupid, and once that word is said to a neurotic, pre-teen crafter, the magic is gone and the item loses all value. I wanted to throw it away, but my mom held onto it for years. She’d pull it out every once in a while, I’d roll my eyes, beg her to toss it, and then she’d store it again, saying that it was hers and that she loved it.
Yesterday, she showed it to my daughters…
Well, you understand that I’m trying to raise them to be creative, and I guess for a four or seven-year-old, crafts made by an eleven-year-old look great (even ones that were made in the ’80’s).
My oldest daughter insisted that we play it, my husband was a fantastic sport, and it was easy to make up any rules, long since forgotten. We actually had a fun time, as it was so simplistic that my girls could enjoy it, and let’s face it family board game time can be really fun! (Except late night Monopoly when sleep is sparse, tension is running high, and someone is going bankrupt. The pieces are gonna fly, my friend!)
After we played, my brother’s family came over and the kids ran off to play another round of the game. My niece and my daughter have decided to create their own games now. My niece is planning on improving mine with cool, creative ideas 😉 and my daughter is planning one called, Count Your Blessings.
It’s so nice to see them, full of ideas, but it’s even nicer to know that little eleven-year-old crafter girl may not have been quite as lame as I thought she was. 🙂
I’m finding that if you allow kids to go out and play, on their own they will come up with the most original creative ideas. For example, I didn’t make a big deal about it, but silently declared an electronic free day. My girls played for hours – dancing, crafts, playing with toys that typically sit on the shelves, etc.
Kids are hard-wired to be creative. We feel like we have to always push a device in their hands to keep them busy. This doesn’t have to be the norm if we can cultivate the creativity!
Here are some activities that my children (and their cousins and friends) come up with over the past few months.
This is the girls playing Little House on the Prairie. My older daughter has been reading the books. Here is where the kitchen is located “in the game”.
My younger daughter was playing “shopping cart”, “baby stroller”, and “lawnmower” when we were at my grandmother’s house.
This was making a house/meal for the squirrels.
A flower dance!
The kids used sidewalk chalk to create a road system. They had parking places, a highway, a restaurant and they all traveled on their little chalk roads on their bikes and scooters. Literally HOURS of fun!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know how handy an iPhone can be in a pinch, but I have found that kids can create amazing things with what ever ordinary things they can find. Makes me sometimes wish that I could be a kid, if only to remember what it’s like to dip my brain into make-believe-land again.
Just saw this at a friend’s house the other day. A friend of my friend had just finished her student teaching and was given this unique piece of art as a farewell gift.
I was so intrigued by the work that I decided to share it here.
It’s very simple to do, (so I was told, I don’t profess to have made it) –
• Glue crayons to canvas.
• Blow hot air from a hair dryer over the crayons.
• The heat will make the wax spread, creating this fabulous piece of artwork.
• PS – note that they glued the crayons so that you could see the name of each color.
Simple, unique, beautiful, creativity. My favorite kind of crafting!
MSN had an article on waiting games for children – restaurant, plane, long lines and cars. The full article can be found here. The author is Barbara Rowley and her bio from the site is “[her] most recent book is Baby Days: Activities, Ideas and Games for Enjoying Daily Life With a Child Under Three.” Sounds like a wonderful book.
The article was full of fun ideas, but one really caught my attention. This is from a Nancy Kay of Nashville:
[P]uppets or stuffed animals to go along with a story on tape. The kids can act out the plot while listening to the story — and keep the baby entertained at the same time.
I adore books on tape (or rather CD or Digital books). My daughters (ages 6 & 3) are loving listening to Mary Pope Osborn’s Magic Tree House Series on tape, read by the author. She has a sweet voice and my kids really get into the stories. I will periodically stop the CD and ask questions to see if I need to clarify anything, or to check their understanding of the story line.
I also think that it is a good way to teach and practice the reading skill of foreshadowing. (What just happened? What do you think is going to happen? etc.)
A friend of mine said that she just buys a bag of pipe cleaners and lets the kids go wild. She said that the things that they create are amazing. I think that it’s a great idea for stretching the imagination!
I also give each of my daughters a cookie sheet and I have a bag packed full of activities – coloring books, toys, books, car-friendly crafts, etc.
The cookie sheet is a perfect table for anything car-activity imaginable and also doubles for a snack-tray when needed.
If all else fails, then I bring out the movies. I try to work out all other possible options first though – including music appreciation, scenery watching, and car games.
Our favorite car game is a modified “I spy”. Modified, because my girls are on the younger side, so instead of saying “something that begins with the letter…,” we say “something that is …” and list a color.
I’ve been overwhelmed, as usual. Productive, yes, but not always doing what I wanted to be doing. Hiding, at times, from creating when I have the precious spare moment, choosing instead to waste it on … whatever.
Then, tonight, as I was searching for a recipe to make chocolate cake without eggs, (because I had no eggs and because I wanted to feed my face, instead of using the hour when my babes are resting to create) I came across some Mormon Messages. It reminded me of why I write. Why I am using my spare time to do what I am doing.