Monday, June 30, 2008

Outside the box mothering

Before my sadness slump over the last couple weeks, I had been inspired to live a more creative life. A couple of books -- The Creative Family and First Art -- and blogs such as this one and this one as well as some personal goals and ideas led me to want to do fewer structured activities and more free form art and nature appreciation activities. I also wanted to spend less time writing and more time creating other things.

I've been trying since the very beginning to foster a great imagination and I see that progressing greatly in Jadyn and Liana. For a long time we've been eating imaginary things and those things recently have been jumping off the pages of our books, such as all the berries in Jamberry and the apples in The Giving Tree.

I practically lived an imaginary life during most of my childhood. While I didn't necessarily have one imaginary friend, I did have a whole gang of them.

I worry about what happens to our imagination and creativity as adults. Rules become so important; creation and ideas so much less.

Of course, I have all of this in my mind as a mother -- yes, even when a bit depressed about other things.

And so my slump did not, fortunately, mean I stopped following the creative path. I'm still on it, and trying to find my way back to those days of free-flowing art forms like oral storytelling and drawing for no reason.

In the past seven days, I filled my camera with photos of the girls doing various activities meant to foster their creativity and love of the world around them. Check back tomorrow for the ultimate toddler painting party. For now, here's a few free ways to nurture creativity with toddlers:

Letterboxing: This is a new activity for us but it's become quite the fun thing to do. First, we love going to parks and as part of the summer reading program we are searching for insect stamps at many local parks. I love how we get to explore, get exercise and do something with purpose. Of course, the stamps aren't just for the book. They get put all over the arms, legs and belly.Nature hikes/museums: If someone would have told me about a free museum with a great little trail that's perfect for toddlers, I might have pitched a tent and moved in two weeks ago. Seriously, it's a great find for those of us limited with what we can do with our toddlers. Here, we are visiting the museum's special reptile exhibit, and following the trail -- which includes going through a pretend rabbit hutch. How awesome is that??

Music, of course: I have tons of songs downloaded and we try to incorporate natural music elements into our days. We listen to a lot of folk since it has a natural tone and sound for toddlers. But, I try and change it up a lot, too. Here, we are just a few blocks from home listening to a local children's music band, The Stephen Courtney Band, that played for free this past weekend. I really enjoyed it, and I think the girls did as well -- at least for their first concert.

Thank you for visiting today.

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Jozet at Halushki said...

Wow! That nature center looks awesome!

Wonderful photos, too.

Threeundertwo said...

They're at a fun age to do so many of these things. Do you have a set of percussion instruments? We used to put on some world music and move and bang. I had as much fun as they did.

smtwngrl said...

Love the pictures! How fun. And I love that you're encouraging creativity in your children. Too much these days, children are inundated with toys, television and distractions that there's no time for using their creative brains. Thanks for reminding me that it's OK to reach back and use that childhood imagination...I know it's still there, I just have to find it.

(Not sure if you were following my blog, but I saw your twitter and thought I'd come comment anyway. :) )

Shelli said...

This all looks like great fun! If I could only talk my husband into a summer concert! (It gets really hot here.)

I took Aidan to a "Babies and Beasties" class at the Sandy Creek Nature Center. It was fun, although the first class was a little over his head. They got better with subsequent classes (for his age group).

There's also a free zoo in Athens that absolutely rocks. We go there a lot, and Aidan LOVES it.

I am so glad we have a big yard with woods. Except for bubbles and chalk, I never take toys outside. I let him wander around and discover and pick up all the natural stuff he wants.

justagirl said...

Hey Shawn

I am depressed reading all these summer blogs, it is v. chilly here.

I love the photos, so sweet, you all look so warm.

January was my imaginary friend, I don't see him so much anymore, my mother said she thinks he disappeared when my brother got interesting... as far as I am concerned I must still see him as my brother is far from interesting.

One important rule I grew up with was 'you can do anything you want as long as you clean up when you have finished'. That was my mums rule.

So I think I have my imagination intact because of this. And creativity is something that has been with me always... pushing me, annoying me, exciting me, frustrating me and calming me.

Good luck finding yours...


Momma Bean said...

Our new "outside mall" (as the girls call it) has free concerts every Saturday, all summer long. We first take the girls to the play area, pick up a couple of scoops of ice cream and then mosey on down to the stage and sit and listen and dance (the girls) and just have a wonderful time. Gotta love free activities!