With a new year comes new beginnings, new goals, and new possibilities, making January a fitting choice for Creativity Month. As Bernadette Noll notes, “There is not much that makes my parenting heart sing quite as much as creative family time. When we find a creative project to work on together I truly feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on this parenting thing.” To kick off our Ask Our Experts parenting series for 2017, we’ve asked a few of our parenting authors to share the activity they like to do with their kids to inspire greater creativity in the family:
The single best cure for a lull in creativity is Mother Nature! When my kids need a boost in creativity, we head outside for a walk in the woods or to search for sea glass along the shore. Nature, whether it’s your backyard or mountain trail, helps restore a feeling of calm while allowing us the opportunity to think and create. Two dangerous trends in parenting are insufficient time spent outdoors and lack of free, unstructured play time. Kids need nature play just as they need food and sleep. It helps them learn and grow. When kids are engaged in the great outdoors, they have time to make new discoveries and feed their curiosity. That, above all, increases creativity.
– Katie Hurley, author of The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World, and the forthcoming No More Mean Girls (January 2018)
When my daughter was young, I was making short films. I gave my daughter a starring role in each of them. She was a terrific actress, and I loved working together.
– Julia Cameron, author of more than thirty books, including The Artist’s Way for Parents: Raising Creative Children
I like to celebrate the absurd. I remind the kids that it’s ok to be ridiculous, and that Dada was (at one point) the pinnacle of artistic expression. Drawing is more fun when it’s weird. Here’s a fun activity we like to do to get the kids’ creative wheels going: give the kids a marker and paper. Give them 60 seconds to draw something specific (like a cheeseburger or a house). Then give them 30 seconds to draw the same thing. Then 15. Then 5. It’s a lot of fun, and fast.
– Chris Locke, author of Draw Like This: How Anyone Can See the World Like an Artist – and Capture it on Paper
I make stuff all the time on my own – the trick is getting my kids to create with me. What I’ve found to be an effective tool to engaging my kids’ creative side is a sort of, “If you build it, they will come.” If you put it out there and start engaging on your own, it will be only a matter of minutes before your kids join you at the creative table.
Here are two simple creative projects you can do with your kids that require only basic materials and minimal creative skill.
- Family Drawing Time
Spread a large piece of paper on the table. The bigger the better I think. Fill it with circles/ovals of various sizes. Throw a few markers out and watch what happens! I have found this project attracts kids of all ages and you can leave it out for people to come to as they please. When the page is complete, choose a faraway family member to mail it to! They will be thrilled with this creative notepaper.
- Family Dream Session
Spread a big blanket on the grass or in the middle of the living room floor. Gather everyone together and pose a creative question for everyone to answer.
- Where is one place you want to go?
- If you had a thousand dollars to spend today what would you do?
- Describe your ultimate happy place
- If you could do anything at all, what would you do?
-Bernadette Noll, author of Look at Us Now: A Creative Family Journal