Friday, May 27, 2011

Encouraging his creativity

With all the rain lately, we have been doing a lot of indoor activities and I've been forced to be creative.  E has been getting a lot of use out of his art easel; playing with the chalk (which may or may not end up in his mouth sometimes, yuck!), painting pictures and sculpting with play dough.

There is nothing better than seeing E's eyes light up with pride when he shows us one of his masterpieces. "Look Daddy, I painting!". It melts my heart. When painting we usually strip him down to his diaper and put on an art smock (we use these bibs from IKEA). A painting session always begins with paint brushes and usually ends with finger and hand painting. This week we started a new trend and stumbled upon belly painting!

Last night I opened up some brand spankin' new play dough that E received for his birthday.  I took each colour out and placed them in a row and let him dive in.  At first he was content in rolling the tubes around, but he soon learned that breaking the pieces up and mixing the four colours was much more fun.  As I was watching from the kitchen while cleaning up after dinner, E continuously asked me to play.  I encouraged him to play on his own and asked him to make me something.  When that didn't work, I asked him what I could make for him.  He asked for an apple and so I used the red play dough and started sculpting.  Sure enough, seeing me working away triggered his creative energy and I was able to sneak away again.

The first thing he made was a carrot and it was a fine looking carrot. And then he used his palms to make balls and pancakes.  When I returned from the kitchen he was happily rolling and squishing away and he asked me to make him a soccer ball.  And so I did with hexagons and all. When I handed it to him he said, "I wanna kick it!" and he tried really hard to place it in front of his foot.  I tried to explain to him that it wasn't a real soccer ball, but he just didn't get it.  Then he made himself a shoe, which amazingly enough looked like a shoe and he said, "I wanna wear it!" and he squished it unto his sock while attempting to put it on.  I tried to explain to him that it wasn't a real shoe while trying not to laugh, but again he just didn't understand.  "I wanna wear it, Mommy!". How hilarious is it that he knew that the apple, carrot and pancakes were not real and did not attempt to eat them, but objects like soccer balls and shoes must be real and must be played with!? The look on his face was priceless - oh the innocence!

All of this art has me thinking about encouraging creativity in children. I have fond memories of making crafts using items out of the recycling bin and making home made play dough as a child. I also had a whole farm to explore; making forts and playhouses in the trees and cooking up pretend meals in the sandbox. So how do I encourage E's creativity living in the city and not having the "luxury" to let him loose and explore as much as I did as a child? Here are some tips I found on the web, that relate to E's age (2):
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Encourage expansive thought
  • Read silly and fanciful stories (We love Dr. Seuss!)
  • Embrace the mess!
  • Offer different items (beans, macaroni, toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, etc)
For more tips on painting and creativity, check out a little bit of momsense.

It doesn't look like the rain is going to stop anytime soon!


  1. Let me start by saying you're very VERY lucky that E doesn't eat play-doh.
    I, too, enjoy giving the kiddos a variety of creative activities on those rainy days (which seem to be every weekend anymore).
    I went to the local art supply store and bought a package of 6 canvases, probably 3x3 feet and let the kids paint their favourite things... We have them proudly displayed on the living room wall "gallery" for all to see. It was a very personal way to throw a splash of colour into our new house. :)

  2. Awwww, that looks like so much fun. You are VERY tolerant!! :)