Thursday, January 17, 2013

Building Creativity

As a child, I spent many hours illustrating books I wrote, arranging my funky eraser and pencil collections, using stencils, coloring, creating with sand and water, and much more.   The possibilities were endless!    I am certain that the abundance of free time and a few supplies helped foster my creative side.

As winter continues (which can be rather harsh, dreary, unpredictable, and draining here in the Midwest), consider evaluating the art supplies in your home and purchasing some items that not only boost creativity, but diversity as well.

My girls each received a box of Crayola's Multicultural Crayons for Christmas.     The colors include white, peaches, browns, and black.     Finally, your child doesn't have to choose between sheer black, bright white, and "peach."     As your children use these Crayons, you can read stories such as The Crayon Box That Talked and Shades of People.    

I'm a huge fan of Eeboo products, especially their story cards and matching games, especially this one:  I Never Forget a Face.    We play with the cards face up since my girls are only 4 and 2.   We talk about the countries the individuals are from, and I can even share with them my limited exposure to foreign language.      The Eeboo website even has a category labeled "multicultural" which displays all their diverse products.  

I also love Melissa and Doug products which are offering increasingly diverse art supplies like sticker books, coloring pages, magnetic dress-up dolls, and more.     For great deals, visit their online outlet store, buy some of their products at Kohl's (with a coupon, of course!), or at stores like Marshalls and TJMaxx (where I typically find the best prices). 

If you, like many of us, are feeling a bit financially strapped after Christmas, consider all the free or very-cheap supply options.  
  • Save cardboard boxes for stacking/building or art projects.  Cardboard makes an excellent canvas for bean-art.   Simply buy a bag of mixed beans, dump loads of glue on a piece of cardboard, and create your own mosaic.    Another option?  We had a huge appliance box.   We unfolded it out, put it on our basement floor, and colored on it whenever we felt like it.   It was large enough that many kids could color it at one time.      I also found that our local dollar store carries brown paper on a roll which can be equally as fun for kids.
  • Anything can become fun.   Wrapping paper or toilet paper cardboard inner-rolls, bubble wrap (stomping?), a long piece of ribbon (my girls love each holding an end and running around the house with it), yarn (the other day my kids and their friend took a whole thing of yarn and wrapped the interior of the house and each other in it; and all it took for clean up was a pair of scissors and a little time; we then cut it into little pieces to make play spaghetti).    
  • Clean out your kitchen drawers or office and find loads of items that can be used to craft.    I created a sensory box for my kids some time ago, and it's one of their favorite activities.  Simply gather odd and end ribbon, twine, jar lids, fabric, etc. and pile into a box.    It's awesome for young kids to explore different textures, and older kids will enjoy utilizing the materials in a variety of ways, including dress-up.    
  • Dress up.    Ask your friends and family to search their closets for unused clothing and accessories that is child-friendly.   If their children have outgrown Halloween costumes, flower girl dresses, etc., consider those as well.      Wash all the items, inspect them for safety, and then place in a box.   My girls love being "like Daddy" and wearing his ties.
  • Hit the dollar store.    Art supplies, though not always consistently available, are considerably cheaper.   Coloring books tend to be just $1, finger paint for $3, and teacher supplies (which my oldest loves) for $1-$3.      

For ideas on staying crafty all winter long, check out one of my favorite blogs:  The Artful Parent.

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