Raising Creative Geniuses

 Photo by Kristen Rath Photography

Photo by Kristen Rath Photography

While teaching art is a past profession of mine, it is still very much part of me. I believe in encouraging creativity in others. Always will. 

These days, I do all that I can to promote creative expression in my two daughters. I want them to grow to be confident, strong, independent thinkers. I don’t think that I need to repeat the many benefits of exercising your creative muscles. Google it! The information is out there.

Using my professional experience, I would like to share some advice to help promote creativity in your home.

Display your child’s artwork as often as possible. Frame it! Have them sign it. We have a group of six frames in our kitchen where I swap out the girls’ artwork for the season and everyone gets a chance to be a star.

Never get caught discarding your child’s artwork. No, you cannot keep everything, but do not let them see you passing on their creation to the landfill. That hurts their little artistic egos! I keep work that has had it’s time in a pile until my kids are out the door to school. Even during that time, I put the work inside an opague plastic bag before discarding. Those little boogers are like the CIA! They will find it and question you! Don’t leave a glittery trail.

Have your child enter art contests. You can find these in your local newspaper, through local businesses, at the library, in your child’s favorite magazine, or online. If you are stuck, ask your child’s art teacher. They know them all! When your child is recognized for their work ... parade that award around town like no one’s business! Be proud (and your child will follow).

• Create art with your children. Show that you can or cannot draw. Either way, you win! The reward is all in the doing. Your child appreciates the effort more than you will ever know.

Allow mess — Creativity is messy. As long as the kids are using supplies to make art and not weapons, do like Elsa and “let it go!” Have a designated art cloth for the table. When painting or using clay-like products, stay away from carpet and the family pet. You can always save the messy projects for outside. Don’t let your detest for cleaning keep those Picassos from exploring.

I had planned on providing a list of the top creative essentials. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to narrow items down. I do not have a “favorite” just different reasons to love each. (Really, it's like choosing a favorite child. It can't be done!) One item feeds off of the next and each can be used in different ways. 

The following is a listing of a few of my creative must-haves and suggestions on how you can use them. I hope that this can get the artistic juices flowing over at your house:

  • Construction paper  — cut it, rip it, draw/marker/paint on it, chalk it up, fold it into a card or book, create a collage
  • Roll of paper — Temporarily secure a section of paper to the wall and go at it! Draw an entire city, outer space, trace your child and fill in with a new identity ... the possibilities are as great as your child’s imagination. Crayola makes a “Color Wonder” version of this that will not transfer onto your walls.
  • Alphabet and other stamps + stamp pads — for decoration, card-making, or to add to drawings
  • Washi tape + Barbie (or other figurines) — The inner clothing designer will love making teenie weenie costumes out of patterned Washi tape. This encourages role play with the figures.
  • Fat washable Crayola markers — I prefer these over the thin markers. They have a conical tip so you can control the thickness of your stroke.
  • Sidewalk chalk ... or just plain ol’ chalk. The big ones need a larger surface such as ... a sidewalk! (Oh, I get it!) The smaller pieces of chalk are great for drawing on dark construction paper.
  • School glue/Glue stick — I prefer the good ol’ fashioned school glue because it is more versatile. School glue holds more stuff and it can also be used to build texture in your artwork.
  • Your recycling bin!! — ENDLESS. FREE. FUN. Boxes, old magazines (edited!), paper towel rolls, plastic bottles ... etcetera, etcetera. All are great for collage-making, sculpture art, roll play props (such as a pirate’s paper towel telescope), and of course ... for extra large boxes, A FORT!! (Ah, remember forts!? I think I am going to make one up right now to hide in and sip coffee in peace.)
  • Fingerpaints & finger painting paper — Don’t be afraid of this. It ain’t so bad! Personally, I LOVE to fingerpaint and I am 29. (Shh! Don’t ruin this for me. I am still sipping coffee in my fort.)
  • Foam peel-n-sticks — Super easy! OK. This one is not paving your child’s route to show at the Louvre. However, I am a realistic parent. ... And realistically, there are times when you just need to throw something at them to keep them busy. Throw them a bucket o’foam peel-n-sticks! Give them a plastic cup to put all of those little pieces of white peel-off paper. Let them draw over top of them, create a pattern ... go crazy!!
  • Puppets — Excellent role playing tool. When my oldest daughter was an infant I bought a Melissa & Doug Make Your Own Puppet set. The parts velcro on wherever your child chooses. It is genius! And now that my girls are school-aged, they can finally use it. Psst, paper lunch bags work too!
  • Your cell phone (with video) or other video recorder — If you are using your cell phone, be careful! Avoid games on the phone and all other apps. Simply suggest that your child make a video. It can be a “how to” or a play using dressed up figurines. You do not need multiple children to make this work.
  • Journal — Journaling does not have to be 100% writing. Encourage your child to journal about their day using hand-lettering, photos, drawings, and collage.
  • Model Magic — An awesome medium for budding sculptors. Parent-friendly, too! Sculpt and if your child likes what they have created, then let it air dry. You can even marker over top of it.
  • Window crayons — Decorate for a holiday or draw a sunny day over a cold and snowy backdrop. Wipe away and your window is clean again. (Just be sure that your child understands that part.)

I can honestly go on forever. I think I will! If you are not already subscribed to the DahlHouse Newsletter, be sure that you sign up below. Additional creativity-building suggestions to come.

Now, go make a fort. You know you wanna!

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