Christmas Gifts to Inspire Your Child’s Creative Side
As much as we all try and remain completely impartial regarding the direction in which we steer our kids’ interests, there is a very fine line between nurturing a child’s natural abilities, encouraging their given interests (very important) and steering them towards the achievement of your own unfulfilled ambitions and lost hopes and desires. I am of course not one of these parents but, as luck would have it, my children have exhibited some very early genius in their play with lego. So when I crouch by their cots at night whispering ‘architect, architect, architect’ in to their sweet little ears I am merely celebrating the good fortune that has ensured that their natural abilities and my hopes for them happily coincide on a path to greatness.
This complete lack of self-interest and impartial guidance will undoubtedly ensure that we avoid tnhat whole messy parent-child conflict in this area.
I do recognise, however, that things don’t always go according to plan and in my open mindedness I don’t want to discourage my children from being anything they want to be. At least not right now. Unfortunately, creative professions don’t have the cache they should for a toddler. It’s challenging to dress your child as an architect, art director, costume designer, scriptwriter, filmmaker or commercially successful artist on dress-up day. Black rimmed glasses and turtlenecks just don’t have the same impact as a white coat and stethoscope or fireman outfit.
So it makes sense to look for other ways to introduce creativity in to the lives of our offspring. I’ve put together a handy list of Christmas gifts for the completely impartial and non-interfering parent that will inspire and encourage creativity in their child.
The Boy Who Bit Picasso by Antony Penrose, Miffy at The Gallery and Miffy the Artist are highly regarded and loved books that introduce kids to the great modern masters in a fun and educative way. But don’t take my word for it, Dick Bruna, the author of the Miffy books, has this to say (it will surely have you stuffing these books in to your child’s Christmas stocking faster than you can say ‘On Blixen’);
“As far back as I can remember, and I am 81 years old now, I have always loved art… after the war, I went to Paris, and there I discovered the great works of Matisse, Picasso, Léger and Braque. This was the turning point in my life. I came back to the Netherlands, knowing that I wanted to be an artist, and full of inspiration based on the artistic styles I had seen. In a way, the simple story of miffy the artist encapsulates what happened to me. I hope it inspires parents to introduce art to their children as early as possible!’
I couldn’t get my hands on these books fast enough after reading that.
The other book you must have is Not A Box by Antoinette Portis; “celebrating the power of the imagination to transform even the most ordinary of objects into something magical,” showing that “seeing truly depends on the ability to believe in the possibilities.” It reminds me of the opening pages of The Little Prince. Which is, of course, another must-have.
To really encourage creativity you need to encourage the little ones to get their hands dirty and start creating. I still remember doing Suminagashi in Grade 1, although I didn’t know that’s what it was called until I stumbled across this Sumingasi kit via the Frugal Family Fun Blog. Assuming you don’t have an art teacher and Grade 1 art class studio at your disposal, this home kit seems like a pretty fun alternative.
To get those modelling skills under way (‘architect, architect, architect’) you can move on to Origami for the cool set with this ‘Hip Tanaka Set’ from the Tate Gallery store.
Shin Tinaka is a graffiti artist who was looking for a canvas for his street art. When he could not find one, he made his own out of paper. Origami and Street Culture. Cool.
The Hervé Tullet scribble book, also from the Tate, promises to encourage kids to pick up a crayon and scribble alongside the author. “They will lose all inhibitions and unlock their own creativity,” says the store’s product description. Now we’re talking. Unlocking, unleashing, all good when it comes to
our creative ambitions for the kids, our kids’ desire for constructive play. It really does sound fun; “They will feed scribbles to a hungry monster, scribble water to put out a fire, scribble flames coming out of a volcano, spaghetti for lunch and ski-tracks in the snow.” Has to beat the “you draw, you draw” that comes from my son when I attempt to sit him down with a crayon and paper.
If your kids are getting creativity fatigue or they need a little more encouragement, here’s a nice way to continue the theme while combining it with an element of bribery .
Create something with good use of colour and composition and you can eat it. That will work.
Want to get them used to larger scale projects from early on? Large blank canvasses in the form of cardboard playhouses and undecorated tepees will give your kids creativity a run on a larger and very practical scale. You could even use the opportunity peruse some Native American art from various tribes before you let them loose on this plain teepee.
Let them to get a bit “Major Tom” psychadelic with this rocket from Paperpod (psychadelic with the paints rather than LSD);
or give their design aesthetic free reign when they decorate this cardboard house from the eco-friendly “This Little Piggy’s House’ in a way that no real-life council would ever approve .
Finally some purchases for longer term use rather than one off activities might round off your Christmas purchases nicely.
Encourage your charges to shake off the shackles of the world’s obsession with assymetric aesthetic appeal and build with these Moma inspired building blocks instead of lego.
Get wonky with it.
Or how about sitting down and making a felt board for the little guys? Nonchalantly leave your copies of Architectural Digest around in combination with the introduction of this super sized felt board house and the doll house project above and you’ll have an interiors architect on your hands in no time.
Jacqui’s Christmas Creative Gifts Gift List
The Boy Who Bit Picasso by Antony Penrose, Miffy at The Gallery by Dick Bruna, Miffy the Artist by Dick Bruna, and Not A Box by Antoinette Portis, all from Amazon.
Aitoh Boku-Undo Suminagashi Marbling Kit USD 17.85 from www.dickblick.com
Hip Tanaka Set’ £7.50, Moma Topsy Turvy Blocks £13.99 and Hervé Tullet scribble book £8.99 from the Tate Gallery store.
DIY Home Made Ice Cream Sundae making set from TheHappyHousewife.com
Plain Teepee £39 from eBay
Paperpod Cardboard Rocket House £32.95 from Paperpod.co.uk
This Little Piggy’s House Little Playhouse $59 USD
DIY Felt Board from ohdeedoh.com