I'm so excited to have Jean here today, sharing her ideas and insights about creating art with children. Her blog is a treasure trove of great ideas for art projects and raising creative kids. In fact, she may have inspired a potential toddler art group with a friend and I for this summer!
Aside from more creative children, what benefits do you see from living in a creativity-rich environment?
Oh, so many benefits! The foremost being that it’s FUN! Fun and beautiful and enriching.
Art is not just an end in itself, but also a way to explore and learn about the world around you. About color, observation, and cause and effect, for example. The same is true for other creative endeavors as well.
Being creative involves making something new. Whether you
draw, paint, sew, cook, build, dance, or sing you are bringing something new
into the world that wasn’t there before. And that is just so exciting! It’s a
way of sharing yourself with the world and also of exploring what you are
Do you find it easy to create alongside your daughter and to feel somewhat fulfilled by the act of creation, or do you find that you need to carve out your own time and space for mama-creating?
This is something I struggle with. I would like to feel fulfilled by creating alongside my daughter, and sometimes I do, but I really value having my own time and space to create. I am a quiet-seeking introvert who thinks and works best when I have plenty of mental and physical space. And space like that is rare when you have young kids, especially if one of them is a rambunctious extrovert!
I love exploring art alongside Maia, though. I am fulfilled
in a different way by facilitating art experiences for her (and sometimes for
the art group). I love observing her interactions with art activities and art
materials and watching her change and grow and learn over time.
What books can you recommend for parents wanting to develop a more creative environment for their little ones?
I’m a book junky so it’s hard for me to limit myself. But I’d say my favorites are those that promote open-ended art exploration and that really seem to get the magic and creativity of childhood:
Scribble Art: Independent Creative Art Experiences for Children by MaryAnn Kohl (or anything else by her!) for so many fun art activities
Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art by Susan Striker for the developmental stages of drawing, painting, etc
The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Soule for a wonderful outlook on life and ideas to infuse everyday family life with creativity
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Activities To Do in the Garden by Sharon Lovejoy for creativity outdoors, gardening with children, and exploring nature in our backyard
Child of Wonder: Nurturing Creative & Naturally Curious Children by Ginger Carlson for tons of ideas on encouraging an active exploration of our world by our children.
Aside from the straightforward ways of encouraging creativity (ones that involve art supplies and whatnot), how do you find the goal of encouraging "creative expression, imagination, joyfulness, and a love of learning" influences the rest of your parenting?
I try to say yes as much as possible, encourage Maia’s interests and her ability to explore the world, and provide plenty of books, art supplies, games, excursions, time with friends, and other things that keep her excited and interested.
This is a goal, mind you. I don’t always succeed. There are
days when I find myself saying no to messes, yes to DVDs, and when I think I’m
far from the best parent out there! But I’m trying. We also have wonderful days
where everything flows so beautifully – where we bake, laugh, create, play, and
generally feel creative and happy. My goal is to have more days like those!
What are some of the most fun and/or successful projects you've done with your daughter (or other kids) that you think we might want to try with our own kiddos?
Oh, the funnest are generally the messiest. Are you ready for this?
Also, some not-so-messy-but-still-very-fun art projects:
Thanks so much for sharing all your great ideas, Jean! Keep in touch!PS There's a great giveaway coming up later today (as soon as I get time to sit down and post it)!