Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
The joy of creating is something that has always been a part of my life : from paintings, crafts, forts and stories as a kid to nature art, pottery and poetry as a young adult to encaustic painting, cooking, photography , blogging and home projects as a (slightly) older adult. As time goes on my interests and the ways I express my creativity has changed, and sometimes (particularly during new motherhood) my desire to create — at least in the ways I want to — has been put on the back burner when time, sleep and motivation run low.
But this passion for creating things is one of those things that I really want to pass on to my kids. Not that they need all that much help — I think creating is one of those things that make us human, and kids are absolutely natural born creators! I do think as a parent I can help facilitate the creative process with my kids by introducing ideas and different mediums, creating spaces that encourage their efforts, joining with them to do creative projects together, and celebrating their ideas, their process (not just the end result!!!), and helping them recognize the accomplishment they feel when they succeed in making something cool.
In the spirit of all that, here are a few ways I create together with my kids!
Crafting Together: Felt Mobiles
For the months leading up to Emma’s birthday, she and I were in discussion about some of the details of the big event. Once she decided she wanted a party at home, she came up with a craft project all on her own: she wanted to make mobiles. We had no mobiles in our house and I’ve always wanted some, so I was totally game!
She initially envisioned them made out of paper, but I guided her towards something a bit more sturdy: felt. Since I knew her peers (and sisters, ha) might need a bit more direction in terms of what to do in the alloted amount of time, I gauged her interest in a couple of themes and ended up with two: space and sea life. I cut out 6-7 shapes for each theme out of different colored felt, bagged them and passed them out with a spread of items to decorate (mainly glitter glue and sticker jewels — we were going for easy here!) during the party. Then we — meaning the adults, ha– tied them to sticks (grapevine from my parents garden) with simple thread.
My girls really enjoyed this project and the end results are pretty awesome! I will admit that as a party activity the tying part was WAY too hands on and time consuming, and one I hadn’t really thought through ahead of time. Ah well! As a project at home, this is pretty cool, though. Here are the two versions we made: the space one on the left is more simple, the sea life on the right, more complicated with the second tiers!
Outdoor Creative Play: Mud Pie Kitchen
A lot of our creative endeavors tend to happen indoors, as the weather here in Seattle has a way of keeping us in more than I’d prefer for a good 9 months of the year. This summer, I introduced a new activity to our backyard (thanks to Pinterest for the amazing inspiration!) to get some stories and creating going in the great outdoors. Our mud pie kitchen started out fairly mama-driven (as in I thought up the idea, picked out the supplies, created the space and had to encourage the kids to use it) but as times goes by, my girls are starting to gravitate to it all on their own. Hooray! Tonight Emma was directing a story about making octopus stew, and Elsie and Delia both were eager participants.
Celebrate the Process: The Progression of a Project
When I set up art projects or activities for the girls, I try to allow space and time (and a open mind on my part) to let my kids take it where they want to go. They often may start out the straightforward way I envision, but soon morph it into something their own — using the tools in an unexpected way, incorporating different tools, toys or materials, or changing the project altogether. As I have blogged about before, I try to run with it, and think of ways to make what they want to do work for me as well as them.
Often, this kind of creating starts with them exploring an art medium one way, eventually leading to a messier more hands-on approach, and then ends up with some kind of water play instigated by me that aids us all in clean-up. Win-win-win! The trick is figuring out how to let go of your own vision, accept theirs and manage it in a way that works for you all (by creating a space where mess is okay, providing materials or a location that helps contain the chaos, and setting limits when necessary, depending on your comfort level). One recent example of this was when I set Elsie and Delia up to paint outside on an easel on our porch. When tempera paints somehow ended up all over the deck (surprise surprise), Lonnie brought out a tub of water and some washcloths and they then went to town washing it all away. Sometimes the clean up can be as fun as the actual “art”!
Creating Little Spaces of Beauty
One thing I am seeing more and more of as my kids grow is their own desire to create or decorate spaces of their own. This past year Emma has really started wanting to display her pictures more; she has taped pictures above our bed (which was otherwise a big blank wall, waiting for something, anything to be hung on it, ha ha), as well as Elsie’s and Delia’s. I try to celebrate all of my girls’ art by hanging them on the walls in our kitchen on display wires, and I love the idea of inspiration walls and little art and writing nooks, as well; I am working towards creating simple spaces throughout our home with a few beautiful things to inspire, as well as some (but too many!) tools or toys set out or easily accessible, to get the creative juices flowing.
A few carnivals ago I remember seeing a windowsill nature display on Living Montessori Now that seemed like such a great idea! I soon copied that in our living room and I just love the little collections and groupings that happen there, both with natural objects and small toys, often kid-collected and initiated. Delia is currently in a HUGE flower phase — she loves picking flowers! Today, Lonnie helped her get a vase after her picking and she was so proud of her bouquet of sweet peas — which she put in her bedroom to enjoy.
There are so many ways to create with kids; creativity does not necessarily mean fancy, involved projects, and perfect, beautiful results (though beauty is in the eye of the beholder — I think most kid art is beautiful, myself!!!). My advice: gather some good, inexpensive supplies, set up some activities (or dedicated little spaces, if space allows) and let your kids give it a whirl! You can dive in with them, or just participate by watching and encouraging them in their own explorations. Let go of those expectations, and just enjoy the creative process — the fun is in the doing, and the doing together.
How do you nurture creativity and creation in your household? What projects or creative methods have been working for you lately? Do you have a special little nook or space for your kids to play or create in? I want to see it!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Family Draw Time Art Show — Kate Wicker shares art (and inspiration!) from her family’s cherished tradition of family draw time.
- The Rules of Creativity: Learning to Create with the “Non-Creative” — Zoe at Give an Earthly shares how she learned to accept her “non-creative” child and claims that anyone, child or adult, can be creative given the right handling and environment.
- Creating With Kids: 4 Ways That Work For Us — See how Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings nurtures creativity with her kids through craft projects, outdoor creative play, celebrating the creative process, and setting up “little spaces of beauty.”
- Creating memories, not things — Mrs. Green from Little Green Blog reflects on life with a ten year old and how ‘creating together’ has evolved from ‘things’ to memories.
- The Gift of Creation — It may be hot, but Kellie at Our Mindful Life is already thinking about winter.
- Hidden Talents — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how providing the opportunity for creativity sometimes means learning to look for hidden talents in unusual places.
- Creating Joy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she and her one year-old son create joy for their community.
- How to do Crafts with Kids — Gaby from Tmuffin guest posts at Natural Parents Network and describes how to keep things simple when doing crafts with kids for magical (easy-to-clean, and tantrum-free) results.
- Sugar & Spice & Baking on the Kitchen Floor — Carrie at Love Notes Mama enjoys making a mess in the kitchen with her daughter.
- Young Scientist Makes Purple Potion — Hannah at Wild Parenting loves being a lab assistant for the young scientist in her life.
- Making a butterfly house — Lauren at Hobo Mama demonstrates the proper way to build a wooden butterfly house with a preschooler.
- Nurturing Creativity — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares the enjoyment she feels in nurturing the creativity of her children.
- Home School Music – Sparking A New Generation Of Musicians — Based on her musical background, Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she creates with and teaches music to her children.
- Creating (im)perfectly Together — Mudpiemama shares some of the highlights of a summer spent building everything from ships to hoops but most of a lesson on letting go of perfection.
- Family Soccer Kick Around — When her children wanted to play soccer, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children helped organize something that would work for her family.
- Creating Memories Together on Skype — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how you can create memories online with adult children or anyone who lives in another city or country.
- We’ll always have Halloween: Creating costumes for kids — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is not the craftiest mom on the block, but she does make a mean homemade Halloween costume.
- Let’s Make Juice! — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment shares about the benefits of juicing with kids, as well as a quick recipe.
- Everything’s Better When It’s Homemade — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro praises the art of homemade goods.
- Creating the Opportunity for Art — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how her family has created an environment conducive to art.
- 10 Easy and Functional Crafts Preschoolers Can Do with Minimal Assistance — Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers ten easy crafts preschoolers can do while sitting near parents — but they don’t need a lot of parental help. Added bonus: all of these ten ideas double as something functional (gifts, decor, educational).
- Creating with Kids: Singing Together — Ana at Pandamoly details the important role music takes in her household and provides a quick (and easy!) tutorial for creating fun songs to sing together!
- Create This — jessica at instead of institutions considers different aspects of creativity including those without an end product.
- Make Your Own Pocket Bib — A tutorial from Amy at Anktangle on how to make two simple and quick bibs to keep your little one clean at the table.
- Creating Together in the Kitchen — Despite not feeling “crafty,” Momma Jorje finds a way to create and connect with her toddler.
- An Artist-Mama’s Perspective — In this post, Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the differences between her choice of artistic outlet and her son’s, and how they embrace those differences together.
- Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids.
- Getting creative with kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how much she enjoys watching her daughter getting creative.
- Creating with Children – The Nature/Seasonal Table — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama celebrates the rhythm of the natural world with her toddler through the creation of a seasonal nature table.
- How Involving My Kid Saves My Sanity — The Happy Hippie Homemaker explains how involving her toddler in projects allows her to get more done, while providing valuable opportunities to teach and to bond (added bonus: amazing oatmeal raisin cookie recipe!).
- In the Kitchen with Kids — Cooking with Real and Pretend Food — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle engages her kids in the kitchen with culinary creations of both real and pretend food.