TagCraft

Five Ways I’m Encouraging Creativity in My Kids

As I’ve watched my kids develop, I’ve seen some amazing ideas flow out of their little heads. They have literally blown my mind with their creativity. It’s already in their minds. I just want to keep it going. Here are five things I’m doing to nurture it.

1. Let them pick their own clothes – I read an article years ago about encouraging young children to be creative. One of the tips that has stuck with me is to let your child pick their own clothes. This not only gives them a job and teaches them independence, it lets them explore what they like. Do I get so really “great” outfits at my house? Oh yay! We sneak photos and hide laughter. It’s an easy way to develop their sense of self.

2. Encourage them to makeup their own games – We have had a lot of fun over the years making up our own games, and it is such a great creativity exercise. We love to take existing game pieces and make up our own way of using them. We’ve made our own character cards and powers. We’ve made our own game boards for existing pieces. We’ve just changed the rules to existing games.

3. Keep craft materials available to them – Awhile ago, I realized that when my kids were having a great time being creative, my dining room table was covered in supplies. This drives me nuts after a bit. So, I purchased a three drawer table, and filled it with supplies: paper, markers, crayons, glue scissors, googly eyes, tape, pipe cleaners and more. It lives in the dining room where they like to work and is easy to access. They don’t have to bug me for supplies when they get an idea. And when they are done, there is a home for stuff.

4. Turn off the devices and let them to be bored – I’ve done this a few times recently, and I can’t even tell you how creative they become when they don’t know what to do. My kids have built cardboard dollhouses and hand cut all the accessories. They have built critters on top of a remote controlled car so it can chase you. They’ve “ice skated” around the kitchen floor on paper plates. I didn’t help think up any of this. I just point to the supplies they request.

5. Let them see me being creative – This is the statement every parent hates to hear: model the behavior. But it really works (and it’s good for you too). They can see what you enjoy and spin it into their own thing.

I used to save all my crafting for when my kids were asleep because I didn’t want them in my supplies. I didn’t want them wasting them. I really had to change my thought process on this one. Being creative is not wasteful. They’re just exploring the medium. I share some of my stuff, but not all. Some they have to ask to use or be supervised.

My takeaway: Nurture the creativity! It’s good for us all.

Homemade Advent Calendar: Year 3

My pile of finished advent calendars!

My pile of finished advent calendars!

For the third year in a row, I’ve made my kids an advent calendar. I didn’t start out to make this a tradition, but rather, I wanted to make my son a Lego calendar that didn’t cost a fortune. Now, it’s become a fun thing. And this year, I’m not working on it November 30th at 9 p.m.! Yay!

The first year, I made the calendars using mini muffin pans.

Last year, I saw a method where you make punch out cups for each day. This was a disaster. It all came apart!

This year, I tried something I saw in the latest Family Fun magazine. (Have I mentioned I love this magazine? Oh yeah, I have.)

Two sets of advent calendar tubes ready to fill

Two sets of advent calendar tubes ready to fill

So for this concept, you make 24 small tubes of paper and number them. Then you tape the bottom closed. Insert your goodie, and tape the top closed going in the opposite direction of the bottom. It’s really that simple.

The tubes ready to fill.

The tubes ready to fill.

I used some of the scrapbook paper I had on hand (I cut 8 tubes out of one 12 x 12 inch page) and my fun tape.

All the necessary pieces, plus an ever so helpful kitty!

All the necessary pieces, plus an ever so helpful kitty!

For filler, I used two kinds of chocolate, gold coins and snowmen heads, as well as micro machine cars (from my husband’s childhood stash), chapstick and a candy bracelet to top off the last day.

I've had furry helpers throughout the project.

I’ve had furry helpers throughout the project.

This was a project that I would be open to doing again, unlike last year’s. It took a little bit of time (because I had to make two sets), but nothing had to be perfect or precise. I could certainly watch a show as I was making these. I’d recommend it!

We’ll see what the kids think of them.

(These could certainly be fun for other small gifts, such as party goodie bags.)

My designer takeaway: Keep your eyes open for new ideas, even when you think you’re going back to the old way of doing things.

Adventures in Marbling with Shaving Cream

marbling2title

As I stated in a previous post, I would love to try a new craft with my kids each week. In that spirit, we did one last week! One day when I was picking my daughter up from school, they were marbling with shaving cream and paint on paper. I really wanted to try this.

So I bought some shaving cream (not gel) and then it sat on our counter for a few weeks. So last week I got online and looked for tips (like this one and this one). I found people were using all kinds of paint. I decided to try some finger paints we had on hand.

Boy, did my kids love this!

For materials, we used:
8 x 8 glass pan
Shaving Cream
Paint
Wooden Skewer (for mixing)
Paint Stir Stick (for removing)
Newspaper (under the mess)
Cardstock (trimmed down to fit in the pan – 5 x 7-ish)

So we made a layer of shaving cream in the pan and then added some blobs of paint. The kids set off mixing with the wooden skewers. The loved the mixing so much that I had to interrupt to make the print. You just stick the paper right on top of the mixed up mess. After you flip it over, you use a straight edge (paint stir stick for us) to scrap off the shaving cream, and the wonderful marbling is left behind. It’s kind of exciting to watch the unveiling as you scrap the goo away!

And, on one of the tutorials I read, it said to just add a new layer of shaving cream, if you want to start over. Super easy!

Here are some of our prints. Now, for the future, I want to try this alone (sans kids because of the staining factor) with some food coloring. I’m hoping to get some more intense colors.

marbling5

My designer takeaway: Remember it’s good to make a mess. Some wonderful creations are made when you make a mess (and wonderful memories, too).

A Creativity Challenge

Every now and then, I think when I’m feeling uninspired, I dream up a challenge for myself — to push my creativity. Do you ever find that when you’re forced to make something out of a limited number of elements, it’s more creative than if you had unlimited resources at your disposal? I do. For example, in college, we would have to make a ridiculous amount of sketches for a layout, say 50 or 100. After those first couple dozen, we’d put any option that came to mind down. Sometimes, those desperate attempts to meet the quota head a great idea.

A few years ago, I dreamed up my “100 cards in 100 days” challenge. This was really good for me. It gave me some great creative, hands-on time each day. And, I ended up with a stack of greeting cards to use. In fact, I still print them out and use them these days. I keep thinking I should do this again, but limit it to one theme, i.e. holidays or birthdays.

From my knitting class, a 24-month cable-knit girl's top.

From my knitting class, a 24-month cable-knit girl’s top.

Then I challenged myself to the once a month knitting class. I loved learning new techniques and growing more confident in reading knitting patterns, but this was a disaster for me. I missed a bunch of classes because of kid commitments. I only finished a few projects (and this really bothers me). The rest are sitting in a tub waiting to be finished or even started. My goal for this winter is to finish the most challenging project, which was a two color cowl with a complicated pattern. It requires me to sit in a quiet place without distractions (kids, hubby, TV) so I don’t mess up the pattern. We shall see!

blog-list

So this year, my self-imposed challenge has been to produce a blog post once a week. When I first started my blog, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to dream up enough content. Then I got a few posts under my belt. It’s not always easy. I do keep a running list of ideas, but I often look over it and don’t have the desire to write about any of them. My goal this week should be to beef up that list! 🙂

The next challenges I’m contemplating are to try a new recipe once a week and/or plan a new craft project for my kids once a week. I’d love to do them both, but that feels like a lot of planning and prep on my part. Who knows!

My designer takeaway: When you’re feeling uninspired, give yourself a long-term challenge to force the issue. You never know what you might come up with!

‘For the Birds’ Wreaths

I did another project I’ve been eyeing on Pinterest lately (shocker, huh). I made bird seed wreaths. Unlike my advent calendars, I’m very pleased with how these turned out! They were super easy to make, too. In fact, I made four batches, and we included them with our goodie plates for our neighbors with a “for the birds” tag.

    Here’s the recipe I used:
    4 cups bird seed
    3/4 cup flour
    1/2 cup hot water
    3 T. corn syrup
    1 package of plain gelatin
    cooking spray

    Using a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup of hot water and gelatin. Mix in the corn syrup and flour to make a paste. Add 4 cups of the bird seed, and stir until it’s all coated.

    Spray the molds well with cooking spray. Spoon in the mixture and press it in evenly and firmly. Place in the frig overnight to set.

This recipe was great because unlike rice crispies, you have a little time to work with these. Kids could definitely help mix and smash into the molds.

When I was looking into this project, I saw lots of cute versions done with cookie cutters. But, I don’t have that many big cookie cutters, and I was guessing it would need to dry in the cookie cutter for awhile. So, I went with an easy option, a mini bundt pan. One batch perfectly made six mini wreaths.

I will say that these need some drying time. I did 24 hours in the frig, and then turned them out on a cookie sheet to continue drying for another 24-48 hours.

Of course I had a little fun making a “For the Birds” tag for these. Here’s a printable version of my “for the birds” tags. You’re welcome to download and print it for your own use. I printed on cardstock.

for-the-birds-tag-single

Open the PDF of the “For the Birds” tags

After I made all the mini bundt versions, I went for a big bundt pan version for us. It’s great! Now we’ll see what our feathered friends think.


My designer takeaway: Keep trying new things because sometimes they turn out wonderfully!

Punch Out Advent Calendars

I made some simple advent calendars for the kids again this year. This time, I tried a new kind that I kept seeing on Pinterest. I used small cups covered with tissue paper that the kids could punch through (okay, more like poke through).

I found some small disposable cups and glued them to a piece of cardboard covered in red paper. Then I filled them with little goodies (I alternated treats and toys):

    – chocolate gold coins (a big hit with my kids)
    – chocolate snowman heads
    – lego figures
    – plastic bugs from Toobs
    – plastic fish from Toobs
Filling the cups

Filling the cups

Then I took little squares of tissue paper (about an inch larger than my cups), wrote the numbers on them and used rubber bands to hook them over the cups. This was actually much harder than I anticipated. While trying to get the rubber bands around the cups, I popped a few loose and had to glue them again. I think that if I make these again, I would cover the cups before gluing them down or instead of gluing them, I’d attach them with brads.

Covering the cups

Covering the cups

I’d love to have nicer numbers, but I was afraid a sticker would make it too hard to poke through. In fact, one tutorial I read said to use two sheets of tissue to cover the cups. I can tell you that on sheet is perfect. I guess I’ll have to take up calligraphy to get those beautiful numbers. 🙂

Regardless of how they look, my kids are still excited to see what they get each morning, and the countdown to Christmas is on! Mission accomplished.

While these are fun, I think I may go back to the mini muffin tins for the future. They are less work, more sturdy, and just as much fun.

My designer takeaway: Some times you have to try something new to learn that the old way is still a good way to go.

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