Posts Tagged ‘creativity’
So often as moms we get down on ourselves for what we “should” do with our kids. We think about all the creative moms who have great make-up, a clean house, crafty kids, and paper mache pumpkins lining their entry ways.
Nota bene: I can’t help you much with the clean house or the great make-up. Sorry.
But, I have learned that with some preparation on my part, my kids end up doing a whole lot of creative things they wouldn’t otherwise do. So, I came up with the project box. My preparation for project time is handily contained in one box that stores easily and keeps everything ready for that moment we need it. I did forget to mention one thing in the video. I also like to keep on hand a plastic tablecloth. They are often on sale at Wal-Mart as the seasons or holidays change, so that’s a good time to stock up on a couple.
If you want to work on doing creative projects with your kids more frequently, I have two other ideas. First, set aside some time. Maybe it’s only once a week or twice a month, but decide that you’ll play together creatively for a period of time and schedule it. Tell the kids. They’ll hold you to it, and the anticipation and planning can be fun with older kids.
Second, learn to recognize that the time spent cleaning up is usually shorter than the time spent playing. Generally, if you do a little cost-benefit analysis, you’ll realize that it’s going to be worth it. It’s worth it for the time the kids are busy, the learning, growing, and exploring that happens, and often the time you get to yourself to do something like read. This often helps me to be more willing to allow spontaneous project play. If I’ve got at least an hour, it’s always worth the mess to play with the project box.
Finally, although my children are willing to play independently with the project box (especially as they get older), I have never regretted taking some time and playing with them. I love the conversations we have and the insights I get into their lives and minds. You can’t beat an afternoon playing with the kids!
Having said all this, I can still use any ideas you may have on fostering creative project work with kids. Please leave a comment and share what has worked for you.
How do you fit crafty kinds of things into your busy mom days?
My children come up with the most astonishing array of bedtime excuses. I try to take this as an indication of my success in fostering their creativity. But, no one is fooled. We all know it’s really an indication of my colossal failure in the bedtime obedience area.
A few nights ago, we put our children to bed, tucked them in, had a few bathroom visits, kindly left a light on for them, and sternly insisted that they go to bed NOW! I doubt it was five minutes later that I heard panicked feet pounding on the wood floors toward the patio, where we were visiting with my parents. Anya burst out the door yelling, “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” We rolled our eyes and acknowledged her…barely.
“Mommy! I hear a sound like this.” She screwed up her face and made sound that was a cross between a sucking and a kissing noise. “It’s a blood-sucking beaver, and it’s going to get me!” she bellowed. I almost laughed…just a little snort escaped. But, I manged to pull out my angry eyes and march her back to bed.
No, I have not the faintest idea where she heard about blood-sucking beavers. Truth be told, it was my first encounter, too.
So what’s your kids’ best anti-bedtime excuse?
I think that daily journal writing was the most detested part of my elementary school years. Oddly, I am not a horrible writer. I just hated journal writing. Honestly, I still don’t find journal writing to be a terribly inspiring pastime. So, it’s not surprising to me that lots of kids (and adults!) resist the idea of daily writing. However, it’s hard to argue with the valuable educational outcomes of writing. Barnabas Emenogu, summarizing current research on the benefits of writing in the early grades, concludes:
Amongst other things, I have suggested that a key benefit of getting elementary students to start writing early is that the amount of writing they do during their school years has a strong impact on the way they think, the amount they read, and the quality of their writing as adults. Motivating students to write in many forms for many reasons will enhance not only their achievement but quite possibly their life chances.
Just this summer, I again realized how much daily writing can help kids. I was amazed at the progress Dillon with our consistent (not daily) journal writing. It was definitely worth the pain it took to get the habit started. Daily journal writing remained somewhat challenging for both of us, but I reassured myself with this tidbit from The National Council of Teachers of English:
The “language arts” develop in concert. Drawing supports writing, writing supports reading; opportunity to use multiple expressions of language increases language learning and ability.
So, I feel pretty good that any kind of literacy activity contributes to the overall goal of developing reading and writing skills. With that in mind, I learned to be flexible about what constitutes a journal entry. After we spent a few weeks developing the basic concept of journal entries, I let the kids do different kinds of entries. You can easily search online and come up with all kinds of creative journal ideas, but here’s a few that have worked for us:
- lists of favorite or most disliked things
- free association activities
- acrostic name poems
- comic strip stories
- riddles and jokes
- sketches and explanations of inventions
As I mentioned in the video, two crucial components of a journal writing at our house are story paper and a decent list of writing prompts. I happen to like the calendar format of that link, but you can search online and find many excellent compilations of journal prompts for kids.
Now that school has started, I’ve slacked off a bit. I know that Dylan has daily writing in class, so I’ve kind of given myself a pass for now. However, if you need to help someone get over a hump in reading or writing, daily writing is almost certain to help. And making it fun, is going to help even more.
So do you have any great ideas for keeping journals with kids? Let us know, because it seems that keeping writing fresh and new is the best way to keep it going.
Remember, even though this is a messy activity, it’s worth it! Even if it’s only worth it for your sanity. But in reality, your children will probably play with the tent for a substantially longer period of time than it takes you to clean it up with their help. So do a little cost-benefit analysis and you’ll probably find this is an excellent indoor activity when you can’t send your kids out to play.
Add structure to a tent by using furniture to hold it up. You can slide furniture against the wall and tuck blankets between the wall and the furniture. Use things like tables or bunk beds for instant support. Kitchen chairs and couch cushions often are quite useful for structure. You can also use lighter weight blankets or sheets so things stay up a little easier. These kids put together a good how-to guide on tent building. Another site provides a good review of some commercial fort building materials available for children.
Keep the kids busy playing inside the tent once it’s built by:
- Letting them take snacks in
- Sending in other toys like Legos or stuffed animals
- Giving them a flashlight and a sleeping bag
- Having them color in coloring books or make pictures
- Building a reading nest with books
- Having a pretend sleepover with their dolls or stuffed animals
- Setting up a portable DVD player with a favorite movie so the child can watch it inside the tent
What’s your favorite blanket fort memory either as a child or with your child? Share with us in a comment.
First, figure out where you will do this. Down a hallway or through a living room is generally what I do. But this can easily be done outdoors on a “I’m bored” summer afternoon.
When you run the race have one child count for the other (or you can count). This gives practice in rote counting and eliminates the need for a stop watch or timer. If you are up for the additional complication of a timer then use it. But you don’t have to.
If competition breeds contention at your house, have the children just try to beat their own best times. Or eliminate the racing component all together. The activity can still work with your kids just taking turns. I know, since most often that is how I have to do it.
Ideas for Animal Races
- Hop like a turtle or kangaroo
- Slither like a snake
- Walk like a crab
- Gallop like a horse
- Fly like a bird
- Stomp like a dinosaur
- Waddle like a duck
- Prowl like a cat
- Run like a cheetah
- Dance like a ballerina
- Float like a cloud
- Crawl like a baby
- Hop on one foot
- Roll like a barrel
- Do somersaults
Do you have another idea for a great race? Leave me a comment and let me know.