Saturday, January 29, 2011

Colouring outside the lines

A couple of posts ago I talked about colouring outside the lines and how important it is to let children have that freedom. I'd like to expand that a bit with some ideas on how.

Have paper and wax & pencil crayons/felt pens/paint handy. Having a dedicated area/table with readily available encourages the child to explore those creative outlets when the mood/idea strikes him/her. Forcing or 'heartily encouraging' a child to do something is counterproductive. If it is something they don't want to do at that time it could stifle future desires and therefore reduce the pre-literacy skill development free art offers.

Don't tell the child what to create, giving suggestions is fine, but make it a short list of different topics. If they want to create and the material is available, then they won't need to have promptings. If they just want to slap paint or scribble, let them. Ask them to tell you about it, maybe it is just scribbles-"nothing" but still comment positively on it. Comment on the colours, the use of the space ("you covered this paper really well") and ask if they like it or don't like it. Post it up on the wall or fridge. When you want to take it down, put it in a box labeled with the child's name.

I know that the artwork can really pile up in a really short time, and the labeled box gives the child the sense that you value his effort even though it is not on display anymore. Every few months (or when the box becomes full) weed out the boxed work. Depending on the child's age, you can involve them in the weeding process, remembering to emphasize that everyone needs to get rid of stuff they like. With that in mind, involve him/her in weeding something of yours. They could place your unused articles in a box/bag for charity. Most people have 'stuff' they can weed out.

This example (them helping to declutter our 'junque') can also be applied to creativity, do paint, colour or draw with your child. The dust bunnies will wait but the child's moment at that age won't and you'll never be able to capture it again. It doesn't matter if you "can't" draw--it isn't about creating a fine art piece or saleable craft, it is about helping your child to develop those very important pre-literacy skills...and developing or strengthening a bond between yourself. You two just may create similar work...remember it isn't to be sold, but to be displayed in the home to say "look what I can create!" Everyone can do art, can create or move a crayon around on a piece of paper. Can't colour within the lines? Then don't restrict yourself. And don't restrict your child to only colouring books. They do have value, but free eye-hand movement is very important.

Let's colour outside of the our inner selves!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dolls & Pillows for comfort

While cruising through blog links I came upon Carol in the state of Queensland, Australia who is making cheerfully bright pillows and Megan in Tauranga, New Zealand who is making delightful dolls for those who are affected by the massive flooding. Why is a landlocked Canadian interested in these?

1. Calgary and southern Alberta had some nasty flooding in 2005 not to forget the Manitoba/North Dakota floods of 1997

Calgary 2005

2. Two of my children spent 6 mos. based just south of Brisbane, Queensland and arrived home just before the flood hit. Their hosts are ok...which amazes me because they're a 15min. walk from the ocean. Therefore I now have an emotional tie to Queensland

3. Parents and children are affected by the flooding and well, there is nothing like something bright and clean to raise spirits. And supporting parents is important to me.

Dolls = spontaneous play, they're therapeutic: security, some"one" to talk to about what has happened to them, a sense of control--the child can control what the doll feels, says and does. Holding something soft and colourful offers comfort and gosh, just something to have just for themselves (that isn't cover with sewage or mud)

Pillows = comfort, being bright (and clean) can raise spirits and help the re-nesting of the family (is re-nesting a term?)

Megan & Carol have information about the details of getting the dolls/pillows over there.

For Carol's:
Megan's link is the button to the right.

Now that I have 'published' this, I am now committed to making at least one pillow/top and doll to send.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spontaneous play leads to making robots and discovering atoms!

Creativity and imagination are a healthy component to life, unfortunately it isn't flourishing as it should. When a child's day is full, meaning every hour has a booked activity, there leaves very little time for spontaneous play which in turns reduces the opportunity for imaginative play.
Kim over at "A Girl and a Glue Gun" gave her 4 children a chance to stimulate their brain cells when she dumped a bagful of opportunity on the floor with a roll or two of duc tape. To the untrained eye it looked like she hijacked the recycling bin, but her children thought otherwise and created some really great 'robots'. I don't know if she gave suggestions to start from, but that is alright because creative moments come from inspiration, be them verbal or visual. (as evident by the popularity of 'linky' parties among adult crafters). No two robots are identical, the same 'stuff' was used but they organized it the way they saw fit. You can see their creations here (I hope):

I could write a bunch of stuff about how creativity and imagination is being stifled with colouring pages/books and uninformed cruel teachers telling kids they coloured something wrong, but I'm only going to quote Virginia M. Axline, a pioneer in play therapy. She wrote this in 1947: during "play therapy hour the child is given the opportunity to realize this power within himself to be himself". She also said (among lots of great stuff) "his free play is an expression of what he wants to do...experiencing a period of independent thought and action".

People learn so much about themselves and the world when they are free to explore it on their terms. Giving the kids a bag of discards gives them an opportunity to do that in a safe environment. Who knows, one of Kim's kids could be a brilliant engineer one day and develops a no-burn glue gun!

Einstein had some things to say about intelligence and creativity: "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination". "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge". And we know what Einstein could do don't we? (he also said something about becoming a watchmaker if he had known that the atom wouldn't change people's thinking).
I have a pad of newsprint under my couch and crayons for my grandson to occupy himself while the grownups do whatever grownups do. He's almost 2 1/2 here. (I don't have permission from his parents so you only get to see his cute head)

Let's colour outside of the our inner selves!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year and a new year of knowledge sharing

I've been surfing blogs for the past couple of hours and have discovered a few things. One is that there are a lot of blogs out there! (Einstein here right? Like duh!) The important thing I've discovered is that we truly are not alone. We don't have to be an island unto ourselves. While I seem to (so far) follow crafting blogs (and enjoy them immensely) I've discovered ones that lead me to conferences that interest me (an up and coming addiction). So, today is a listing of conferences related to children, families and improving our interactions with them.

Calgary Alberta:
The Alberta Family Child Care Association is having Dan Hodgins be a keynote speaker. I discovered him last year at a conference for the Canadian Association for Young Children. I was blown away with him and now follow him on Facebook and receive his newsletters. While I have some questions I need to ask him, overall his opinions and concepts are well worth listening too.   He is very much into working within the child's frame of reference (within the child's abilities and knowledge of things). I especially appreciate his attitude towards boys. He really understands that boys and girls are different and in general need to be responded to in their own unique way. It is unique because active children are often told "shut up and do it my way", which is an adult's perspective. I read his book "Boys: Change the Environment and Not the Child" and found useful things that as a SAHM would've been really more supportive to my four kid's personal growth.

For events he'll be at (he does a lot in the States) in addition to getting onto his newsletter list:

The Calgary brochure:

There is another one that my alma mater is hosting but I cannot for the life of me find a link. I do have a completed proposal which does not help at all. But, it is "Celebrating Child Care Conference" and is only one day, April 6, 2011 at Mount Royal University in Calgary, AB. The organizers are on the same advisory committee that I am on for the Child & Youth Human Rights extension certificate.

Salt Lake, Utah--two of them:

I came across this conference for beginning bloggers (or those just wanting to connect in real time with other bloggers):

This one is on Early Education and Technology...probably not for the casual person but someone who is really interested/bent towards technology and children's early learning:

BYU (Provo Utah) has one coming up March 18, 2011 that looks promising. Not quite a casual conference, meaning it is geared more towards professionals in health care related organizations but could be interesting to the lay person who is bent that way.

I'm continually surprized at the resources available to parents but really aren't 'out there' and easily accessed. Here is a listing of Worldwide Conferences to do with children and families:

I find just the brief write-ups about speaker's topics to be informative. And free (a key thing for me is to learn without spending money or just a little $$).

Welcome to a great New Year!