Friday, September 30, 2011

Create a book 'radio' interview!- tips to get you started on a personal book for you child.

This week I was lucky enough to be interviewd by Alenka from Sparkling Kids.

In our interview I offer practical advice and tips to get you started. And whatever you might be thinking about your writing and drawing skills – they really don’t matter. What’s important is your message to your child. You will show him that you don’t need to be an artist to draw and it’s perfectly OK not to be perfect. You will give your child an unique gift he will admire and cherish just because you took the time and effort to create it.

Simply click on the link below to listen to the interview.

Create A Book For A Child interview with Alenka from Sprarkling Kids!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tantrums and Creativity- releasing travel stress.

Traveling to new and exciting places with children can be great fun but also extremely trying at times.

We recently went on holiday to the other side of Sweden. We hired a house and visited lots of new and interesting places. The holiday inspired this month's article.

Most kids love travel, they love the excitement of visiting new places and learning new things. However it is important to remember that children can't cope with too much new stimulus, it becomes overwhelming.

Like adults, kids need chill out time to recharge their batteries. If not given this space it is easy for them to fall into a cycle of tantrums, causing stress for everyone.

A simple way to release 'travel stress' is to make sure you schedule relaxing 'play' days into your holiday. A 'play' day is a day with no or very little travel and the chance for the children to just 'be' and play in their own way. What you will notice is they naturally gravitate to creative games, whether it be building a city in the sand, making a book or role play games.

Creative games are a way children make sense of new stimulus and work as a kind of meditation. After a 'play' day most kids will be more than ready for the next adventure.

Of course this tip is equally applicable to adults. As an adult you may choose to chill out by playing with your child or take some time for creative writing, sketching, painting or reading.

So if you have an action packed holiday on the cards, remember to schedule in some creative chill out time for everyone.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 top tips for creating a book a child will love.

  1. Choose a topic both you and our child find entertaining.
  2. Keep the sentences short.
  3. Keep the plot simple.
  4. Have no more than 3 main characters.
  5. Use language your child understands.
  6. Make your child the main character in the story (or make sure the main character is a either a child or behaves and thinks like a child).
  7. Gather inspiration from storybooks in your home or at your local library.
  8. 'Google' art exercises for kids and try some of them out.
  9. Write and illustrate from your heart (and let go of worrying about what anyone else may think).
  10. Remember a child will not judge your work but will appreciate that you took the time to create something personal for them. They will proably cherish your book for many years to come.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Creativity through the ages...

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
Pablo Picasso

I teach people from a broad range of ages how to create personal, original picture books and have recently noticed a pattern emerging.

Very young children are happy to experiment with color and form, they experiment and play without worry about the outcome or what anyone else will think.

As children get older they tend to become more self conscious, they start to worry about getting things wrong. I suspect one input into this is that they are learning rules at kinder and at home, simple rules like 'wash your hands before you eat', etc... and this pattern of applying rules and a desire to please and belong spills over into when they are creating.

The group I have worked with so far who have found it most difficult to throw themselves into the creative process has been a group of 15 year olds. This I suppose should come as no surprise. There is probably no other time in life in which it feels more important to fit in, to belong to a group. So being asked to take risks, to express thoughts and feelings through art can make one feel very vulnerable.

Then there are the parents I have worked with. Many would like to be more creative, would like to experiment and experience the joy of expressing themselves through words and art but somehow feels like they have forgotten how to. My job when working with parents is to help them find their way back to that creative place they once held back in kindergarten.

And so what happens when we become grandparents and/or reach retirement age? What happens to our creativity then? I have noticed in this group of students that the desire to be creative and to tell one's story becomes much stronger. Even though many people may still feel that they need to battle some demons before allowing themselves access to their creative side, the strong desire to do just that almost always wins and an outburst of creativity is the result.

I know am making great generalizations about creativity and age groups. There are always variations and exceptions (absolutely), however to my eye there does seem to be a some kind of pattern emerging. This is a topic very close to my own heart, as I try to remind myself of what I teach and let go of my need to be right and accepted.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A book created together.

In my last post I spoke about the simple and effective creative prompt 'I wonder what would happen if...?'.

The inspiration behind that post was my daughter. One morning she brought a piece of paper to me with a picture of ice drawn on it with a story below that she had dictated to Daddy to write down. It began with 'I wonder what would happen if the ice never melted...'and I thought it was fantastic.

She then told me to make up a story that started with 'I wonder what would happen if trees never fell down...' As soon as she made the suggestion fun ideas started to flow in without effort (the magic of 'what if..?'). Together my daughter and I wrote a short 'story' using her creative prompt. Later that day when she was at kindergarten I took a few moments to sketch out possible illustrations for this new story.

I had intended to then paint the illustrations myself, however when my daughter came home and saw my rough sketches she wanted to add color to them straight away and as we had co-authored the story I couldn't refuse. So we sat down at the kitchen table and illustrated.

My little boy also joined in with the painting, however he wasn't so interested in the story, he was more interested in creating his own art work.

Below you can read our illustrated story. Enjoy!