Enjoy the Little Creative Moments

When I came home from work yesterday, my oldest daughter had left me a surprise.

It’s hard to see what each item is, so I will explain.

There is a plate in the middle with her signature dish (a culinary treat that she created ūüėČ ) a cinnamon carrot.

Above the plate is a card that she made at school for Mother’s day. To the right of the plate is a love note.

To the left of the plate is a glass of water. Beside the water is a rose from the garden and two little crafts that she and her cousin worked on all morning (pieces of nature decorated with beads, paint, glitter, etc.)

I was so touched! I burst into tears.

Yes, this is proud mama having a moment celebrating her child, and most would think, “so, what’s so special?”

I guess it’s just wonderful to know that she loves me. When I was a kid, I used to make little do-dads for people, and my heart overflowed with love for that person as I drew or colored or created.

Albert Einstein is credited for saying, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”

I think that one of the best ways to promote creativity in our children is through our praise. Our joy at the little things. Our writing posts and journal entries about our children’s accomplishments, no matter how small. We thrive on love.

I remember the day in sixth grade that I stopped drawing. I didn’t get any praise for my artwork, and so I figured that I wasn’t good enough. Bummer, huh! Why I feed off praise, I don’t know, but now at *cough* older than twenty-something, I’m getting better at feeding off of creation and doing rather than opinions.

Later on that day, my daughter beamed as she proudly told me that she hadn’t watched T.V. or had computer time all day. She had spent all of her time creating.

So, I need to continue to encourage creativity, as well as the love of doing. Any thoughts on the best way to help your child nurture creativity? And I don’t just mean artistic creativity either. After all, Einstein wasn’t known for his paintings or dance, but for his ability to creatively look at the world around us and think of physical and mathematical solutions to complex problems. Talk about creativity!

So, my questions for your consideration and input are –

‚ÄĘHow do we foster creativity in children?
‚ÄĘWhy is it important to do so?
‚ÄĘCan a person be creative in fields other than crafty, craft, crafts ūüėČ or the Arts?
‚ÄĘHow do we teach joy in the doing – or does it just naturally come as a result of hard work?

What do you think?

Art, Arts and Crafts, Book Reviews

Book Review: Usborne Children’s Books

I am such a fan of the Usborne Books.  I first found one in the library and then another, and then another and began to notice that I kept checking out books by the same company.  They are beautiful books, full of pictures and  colors and yet they are very simple.

The Usborne Publishing company was founded in the UK in 1973 and they publish all sorts of books for children Р fiction, non-fiction, etc. on a broad range of topics.  Their website can be found here.  While I am not intending to sell their books, I do recommend taking a look at them.  I think that they are very user friendly for families.

Recently I asked for two of the drawing paperbacks for Christmas (I know, ¬†a geeky gift and I’m sure that my sis-in-law thought that I was a¬†nut-case!) ¬†I am such a wretched artist, but I want to learn at least more than stick-figures. ¬†I’ve purchased some drawings for idiots type of books, but they were so complicated that I wasn’t up to the task. ¬†I was impressed with these books and how easily the steps were outlined.

How to Draw Princesses and Ballerinas (Usborne Activities) by Fiona Watt, 2005


My daughters are as fond of them as I am. ¬†My six-year-old loves drawing and doing¬†the¬†activities and my three-year-old “reads” them to herself, sitting and¬†making¬†up stories.


How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids (Usborne Activities) by Fiona Watt, 2005

I believe that it is VERY important that as parents, we provide non-electronic (i.e. movies, video games, music, etc)  activities for our children whenever possible.  They need to learn how to be unplugged as much as they need to learn how to be plugged in!

  • What non-electronic activities do your children do?
  • Any similar art book suggestions, especially “boy” books ?
Art, Ballet, Dance, Music

Concert Etiquette for Children

Teresa Carre√Īo, c. 1862 (printed later), Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative by Mathew Brady Studio. Taken with permission from Flicker with CC license by Cliff1066.
Teresa Carre√Īo, c. 1862 *

Last Saturday we went to an Art Show at BYU.  My five year old was an ANGEL!  (She also did really well at the Nutcracker ballet when she was a few months shy of turning four.)   I think that children, even young ones (ages 4-6), can do very well at live events (concerts, plays, shows, etc.) IF;

  1. They are given expectations ahead of time.
  2. They are given background information (this music was used in that movie, or remember when we saw this picture, here are some more like it).
  3. They are given things to look for/listen to.
  4. They are taken to things that are relatively age appropriate.
  5. We¬†remember¬†their specific limitations. (For example, my two year old wasn’t an angel at the art museum, but it was during her nap time, after all).

Here are some ideas about expectations for different events.

Art Museums

Rules at art museums are in place to ensure that the art is kept in good condition and so that patrons can quietly meditate.  Often art has a spiritual or religious nature to it or it has been created to understand/process a difficult topic.

  • Quiet voices.
  • Follow the posted¬†rules¬†and guidelines.
  • Don’t TOUCH the art!
  • Typically no food, drink, gum, etc.
  • Usually no photography (flashes can damage some paintings).
  • Children should stay with parent/guardians¬†the entire time (no running around, etc.)
  • Be aware of others around you – respect their space.
  • Ask me lots of questions ūüôā I’ll often stand with my girls and ask them to tell me what they see, or ask them to look for things. ¬†For example –pick your favorite¬†piece¬†of art and tell me why you like it.
  • If I don’t know the answer, and as they get older I’m sure I won’t, we’ll ask the attendant/curators questions.

Concerts –

Typically classical music performances are more formal than other musical concerts (rock, country music, etc.), but an understanding of the etiquette guidelines will help concert goers to feel comfortable.  Help your child to understand that the performers have worked really hard (put in hours of practice) to get ready for the performance.

  • Dress – typically dress at a concert is formal to semi-formal (think of how one would dress when going to church, synagogue or place of worship).
  • Arrive and find your seat five to ten minutes early. An usher will help you find your place. ¬†Quiet conversation is fine until the lights dim. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to enter until intermission.
  • Program – You are usually given a program. ¬†Though these are FULL of advertisements, there are usually some very helpful and educational program notes that are worth reading.
  • Stay in your seats – unless there is an emergency. ¬†There is usually an intermission in which you can get up, stretch, use the facilities, etc.
  • No talking during the performance. ¬†Also no cell phones, texting, eating,¬†drinking,¬†popping¬†gum, etc. (Basically, show respect to the performers and those around you.)
  • Clapping – Usually after a performance there is a quiet moment in which all enjoy the magic of what just occurred. ¬†Then the audience¬†claps, sometimes shouts “bravo”, and at times gives a standing ovation when the work was particularly good. ¬†Follow the audience as to¬†appropriate¬†times to clap (sometimes there are pauses between pieces (movements) when the audience does not clap).
  • Outdoor “Pops” Concerts – these concerts are less formal (dress is more casual,¬†picnicking¬†is sometimes allowed) but good manners are still expected.

Shows – Musicals, Operas, Ballet –

The rules are¬†typically¬†the same for these performances as those for a concert. ¬† Again –

  • Make sure that the content is¬†appropriate (will it be entertaining for the child?)
  • Make sure that the length is¬†appropriate¬†(shows can last for two or more hours. ¬†Very young children fidget after 10 minutes. )
  • Introduce the children to the subject matter/story ahead of time – help them understand the story, listen to the music, give them things to look for.
  • A great idea is to show DVD/Video performances ahead of time, so that your children are familiar with the content.
  • Often there will be special children friendly¬†performances which will be shorter or geared toward the kids. ¬†Look out for these.

Introducing children to cultural activities is beneficial to your child, your family, and society because it gives them;

  • Appreciation for things of beauty and culture.
  • Manners – the realization that there are codes of behavior – ways to act that are appropriate in different situations.
  • Dressing up and going to an event makes kids feel special. ¬†It’s exciting and fun!
  • An understanding that there are many wonderful and beautiful things in the world.
  • Hopefully in our fast-paced society, it will give them moments to stop and reflect quietly. ¬†(Children need time learn to think. ¬†I loved driving around in the car as a young girl, my parents would play classical music, and I would look out the windows and just think.)

It’s worth the time and effort to help your children learn to appreciate cultural events!

*Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative by Mathew Brady Studio. Taken with permission from Flicker with CC license by Cliff1066.

Creative Play, Creativity, Holidays

And an Orange Peel on a Christmas Tree (sung to the tune of 12 days of Christmas)

Last week we went to dinner at¬†the *Moseman’s¬†house, (*name changed to¬†protect¬†the innocent, and not so innocent :)). ¬†After a great dinner, we were sitting around eating “cutie”¬†oranges¬†(the kind that are so easy to peel). ¬†The kids (five of them ages 6-18) were peeling their oranges in really elaborate designs. ¬†Later, I saw that the peel was on the Christmas tree, and I laughed about it, until I noticed that there were a lot of peels on the Christmas tree.

When I pressed the issue, I was told that the girls of the family decorated the tree in orange peels this year. ¬†I love it! ¬†I love that the kids are allowed to do their wacky ideas in that house. ¬†The thing that’s really amazing about this family is that the father and grandfather build airplanes. ¬†Not model airplanes, but real two passenger airplanes in the barn in their backyard.

Yeah, as in “See ya later Ma, I’m ¬†just going to go out and build an airplane with Dad, be back for dinner!”

We had the dinner with the Mosman Grandparents and the grand matriarch, let’s call her Maggie, asked me to look at a book that her daughter had written and illustrated. ¬†The design of the children’s book took my breath away, and even more shocking was the fact that this daughter had written it when she was a teenager.

The house was full of inventions, design, and creativity. ¬†I asked Maggie how she taught her children to be so creative, and she said that it was because she and her husband were creative. ¬†But I need to add that these people were not just the “idea” type of ¬†people, but the “doing” people as well. ¬†The couple¬†possessed¬†the twin virtues of vision and work ethic – and the kids followed suit.

I told Maggie a little about my oldest daughter (who calls herself an artist).  Maggie told me that in order to encourage her, I should go to the store, buy some mats, and frame her work.

A couple of days later, my daughter drew a picture for me and wrapped it up as a present. ¬†I took Maggie’s advice, and bought a frame. ¬†When I showed the frame to “J”, she looked like her five-year-old heart would burst with joy and gave me a gigantic hug.

When I asked the Orange Peel father (Maggie’s son) about writing this post and how often the girls decorate for holidays, he said that they are fanatic about it, “doing up the home” with wonderful wacky children mayhem for every holiday. ¬†I asked if he was¬†OK¬†with it,¬†and¬†he said, “you think I could stop them?”

I guess orange peels on the tree serve a grand purpose after all, your kids just  might end up being  the next Wright Brothers!



“Work is the foundation of success and creation.”

Elder Richard B. Wirthlin, Ensign, Feb.2008, p.32.

How do we teach this to our children?

I think that it’s a vital piece of knowledge.

I’ve noticed lately that my daughter loves art, and she’s pretty great at it. ¬†At least, she’s figuring out things that I never would have thought of at her age (patterns, shapes, designs) and she LOVES to draw, paint, color, create.

We do an incentive reward system with our children to help teach good behavior (helpfulness, good attitude, work, listening, etc.) .  They try to fill up a jar with gems (those little crystal rock things)  and they can choose a prize.  I give my oldest, gems for doing art.

She asked “why?” one day and I told her that if she kept practicing and working on that talent, right now, in her youth (while she has oodles of time to practice), when she grew up she would have a skill that she would be able to use to bring beauty to the world and maybe even profit by it.

I don’t know if she really understood what I meant. ¬†I’m not trying to force her. ¬†I’m trying to help nourish a talent that I see blooming in her, and who knows how that talent will bless lives in the future.

I’ll keep you posted.

What do you do?


Teaching Music Appreciation to Children

Here are some ideas of items that I have used to help introduce classical music to my girls. ¬†Sure they hear plenty of “modern” music from their Dad, ūüôā and will eventually only listen to their¬†ear-buds¬†blasting the latest find from iTunes. ¬†Hopefully though, I will have instilled in them a love for music that they can always come back to when they need to find some tranquility in this¬†boisterous¬†world.

Baby Einstein CDs

When my oldest daughter was an infant she used to SCREAM on long car rides. ¬†That’s when I discovered the Baby¬†Einstein¬†CD’s. They are classical¬†pieces¬†that have been shortened and are played on a¬†xylophone and other¬†instruments. ¬†Here is a place to¬†preview¬†their songs – it’s Amazon’s MP3 section for Baby Einstein.

I was never a real fan of the videos because a lot of them seemed like glorified toy commercials. ¬†But the CD’s worked to settle her down in the car, which was what we desperately needed. ¬†Thinking back now, I guess the music helped to settle us down too!

Disney’s Little¬†Einsteins¬†(TV/Movies)

As she grew a little bit older, we began to watch Disney’s Little Einsteins. ¬†My friend Cydnee introduced them to me. ¬†I loved the way that they taught simple elements of music –¬†rhythm, ¬†volume, and sound/pattern recognition, as well as teaching about art, music and composers. ¬†My two year old has followed in her sister’s footsteps and asks for Little Einsteins every chance she can get.

Beethoven’s Wig (CDs)

As she grew older, I went to the library to see what I could find that would help to introduce Classical music in other ways. ¬†One thing that we’ve loved has been the Beethoven’s Wig CD series. ¬†Richard Perlmutter and his choir have made up silly lyrics to Classical¬†pieces¬†on the first half of the CD, and on the second, you can hear the music¬†without the lyrics.

My girls LOVE it. They laugh and laugh and ask me to replay the songs repeatedly.  The link above will take you to the page on their site where you can listen to the full tracks of the first CD.

Here’s a youtube video from their concert (Sung to Beethoven’s 5th)-

Classical Kids (CDs)

There are some other CDs that we’ve enjoyed that I found, again at the library (I’m a fan! :)). ¬†These were stories that introduced the music. ¬†One was a CD about Mozart’s Opera, the Magic Flute, and another about Bach. ¬†We enjoyed¬†both¬†of them¬†immensely¬†and then I found out that they were from the same producer. ¬†Classical Kids is a group by Susan Hammond and she has a whole series of CDs to help introduce children to classical music.

From her website she states that the CD’s are – “A dramatic story, a little bit of history and the world’s best-loved classical music set the scene for fun-filled musical adventures the whole family will enjoy. It’s a symphony of stories for all ages, presenting the great composers – Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and Handel — as heroes for today’s children.”

Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf ¬†(Children’s Symphony)

Finally, I need to finish with Peter and the Wolf. It is a story written by Sergei Prokofiev during 1936.  He was commissioned to find a way to teach classical music to youth by writing a new musical symphony.  It has been recored a number of times and was made into a cartoon by Disney (which has a happier ending).  It wonderfully introduces instruments and musical themes to the listener.

I’m posting a youtube link to the David Bowie Narration of Peter and the Wolf from the May 1978 version released by RCA. ¬†It is just the¬†beginning¬†of the story, but can be purchased on itunes or Amazon MP3 downloads.

I’m sure that there are many others ways to help teach music appreciation. ¬†What have you done?

Book Reviews

Creative Solutions: A Balloon for Isabel

We just found a book at the library that we love.

A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Laura Rankin, 2010, Greenwillow Books.

It’s the story of a little¬†porcupine¬†named Isabel and her friend, Walter who want balloons for graduation, but they are told that they can’t have them because of their quills. ¬†So, Isabel comes up with a¬†myriad¬†of solutions until they can find the perfect one. ¬†It¬†is¬†clever and fun and the pictures are delightful. My daughters and I giggle¬†every time¬†we read it.

I especially love it because of the emphasis on finding different ways to fix a problem.  Creative problem solving is an important aspect of development and can be easily cultivated by allowing our children to come up with the answers.

An example of this happened at our house a few days ago. ¬†We were working on a craft for a doll house. ¬†It was a miniature beach towel and sun¬†umbrella. ¬†My two year old kept singing “Party on the beach” ¬†– a song that she had made up.

While we were working on the umbrella, I didn’t have the¬†lollipop¬†stick that the directions called for. ¬†I asked my five year old what she thought we should do. ¬†Apparently, she’s been through my craft boxes more than I have lately, because she pulled out some wooden manicure sticks that I didn’t know we had. ¬†They worked¬†like¬†a charm!

Two things to remember – have them find solutions to things that can¬†have¬†unusual answers (that you’re willing to follow through on), and if you are unable to use their ideas, still praise them for thinking of a solution.

What are some ways that you teach your children to be creative problem solvers?

Book Reviews, Sewing

Book Review : Fanny, by Holly Hobbie

I fell in love with this book, about a little girl (Fanny) who wants a “Connie” Doll – (they’re all the rage) but her Mom says, “absolutely no!” ¬†Which prompts Fannie to make her own doll. ¬†Then her Mom gets her a sewing machine for her birthday and she makes a bunch of¬†clothes¬†for her doll, ¬†Annabelle. ¬†The heroine is inventive and ingenious, despite the fact that her friends don’t understand why she doesn’t have dolls like theirs or why she got a weird sewing machine present.

I love that it teaches creativity and a mother’s belief in her daughter.

When I was young, for whatever reason, my mother believed in me.  She would ask me to be creative and have me do all sorts of things for the family: from decorations for the holidays, to writing plays, to costumes.  She encouraged me and helped me to believe that what I did was special and unique.  The work was always flawed, but her belief in me was genuine.

Perhaps that’s why this book resonated so much with me. ¬†To tell you the truth, the story-line that I gave you was only a small part of

the book, but it was the part that I empathized with.

I think that it is so important as a parent to find out what our children are interested in, or have a natural talent for and do what we can to help them naturally succeed at it.  Not by pushing them or coercing them, but allowing them to have opportunities to develop their gifts and talents and giving them support and encouragement along the way.

Interestingly enough, Holly Hobbie, the author also wrote the Toot and Puddle series, and did the Holly Hobbie series  that was so popular when I was a child.

Cooking, Creative Play


Last weekend, we had the pleasure of dining at Alexander’s. ¬†You haven’t heard of it yet? ¬†It’s this great new place – it’ll be all the rage!

A dear friend of mine is fabulous at inspiring and allowing her children to be creative. ¬†Her son Alexander made up a menu one day, (he’s interested in being a chef) and she took it a step further and let him have a “restaurant” for family and friends.

The Menu

The menu was hard to read, but it’s¬†separated¬†into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Anytime snacks. ¬†It also includes serving times, the items available and the prices.

I loved the idea so much, that I¬†called¬†to make a reservation, and Alexander himself called to confirm our plans. ūüôā

The special of the evening

When we showed up, he and his siblings greeted us, showed us to our table and served up a wonderful meal.  We were also treated to beautiful music and her oldest son even played on their piano (well, it was a player piano, but he sure fooled me with his acting skills).

Being shown to our table - note the menu in his hand.

My friend Cydnee had the boys do almost everything, from menus to serving to tallying up the bill.  They even gave us coupons for our meal Рwhich was a steal to begin with.


I am amazed at her ability to foster creativity.  She threw an Indiana Jones themed birthday party for her son and Alexander decorated the house with paper  snakes and made up a party game, complete with a golden paper head ala the first movie.

Another thing that I loved was the outdoor oven that Alexander made. ¬†When I asked if he had cooked anything on it, she said that he had melted cheese and chocolate. ¬†Move over Easy Bake Oven, there’s a new contender!

Homemade oven

So, here’s to Cydnee and family – ¬†well done! ¬†I am amazed at your talents to nurture your children’s natural abilities. ¬†Thank you for a lovely evening.

Arts and Crafts, Book Reviews, Creative Play

Book Review – The Creative Family


The Creative Family

I just found a book in the library (see previous post) called –¬†The Creative Family: how to encourage imagination and nurture family connections by Amanda Blake Soule.

It was full of some really good ideas.

I’m just going to jot down a couple of notes that I thought were helpful as part of this review.

  • She does a family drawing time – kind of¬†like¬†the “notebooks” project that I described.
  • Art Night – where you gather another family together, set up art centers and create.
  • Gather ideas in an¬†accordion¬†type file folder – bits of creative inspiration. ¬†I’ve done this for years – when I see something I love in a magazine, I’ll rip it out. ¬†It’s just a great idea to categorize them. ¬†I think I’ll do a section on drawing. ¬†(More on that in another post when I get it worked out.)
  • Search for old books in a thrift store, or old books that are falling apart for pictures and re-crafting ideas. ¬†(I LOVE this idea!)
  • She puts the kids art work on an Inspiration Wire, my sister has done this for a while and I think it’s just a great way to do an “art show” when you don’t have a ton of room.
  • She talked about allowing your kids to use quality products and tools. I agree with that because, lets face it – ¬†the dollar store crayons just don’t add color like crayola. ūüôā

The book was full of inspirational quotes and really lovely pictures as well as some fun ideas that can help encourage creativity in children.

Amanda’s website Soule Mama is interesting as well.

One of my favorite quotes from the book was –

“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be¬†another¬†child like him.”

-Pablo Casals