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Creating with Children — Page 2

Creating with Children

Creating the Space

September 10, 2012

A few weeks back, Jacob and Elwood began quietly hinting that their room needed a change. I had felt it too, but I have to admit that I had put it at the back of my mind, or the bottom of my to-do list. The chatter kept coming, and with it the ideas began to flow for all that they wanted for this space that they call their own.

The fact is that these boys of mine have not been in their own room very long. Even at almost 9 and 7, they prefer the comfort of the bed that is always there, just off mine, whenever they need it. It is only since Landon has brought those loud (but beautiful) baby to toddler nights into our lives that they have chosen a quieter, and more peaceful place to sleep.

The ideas were grand for this tiny space that they share, and as closet doors came down and curtains were hung, toys were shuffled through and organized, and clothes were put away and reorganized, I could see their vision taking shape.

Jacob had first suggested it, using their room as an art gallery. He envisioned their walls covered in their work. He had hoped that every space would be filled, every area of white taken up with color, form and line. We found a wonderful stack of black frames at the dollar store, and looked through years of art to find jut the right pieces.

For the wall next to their beds, they gathered every lat canvas they could find in the house, and hosted an art party for themselves and little brother. Water colors were the chosen medium, and I must say that I enjoyed every moment of watching their project come together. They even begged for hammer and nail, to prove that they could put this all together, start to finish.

Although some days I miss having them close, this transition to their space has been a great one. Seeing them here, having created what they wanted, surrounded by their own beauty, reminds me that their dreams will be filled with all the creative possibilities and colorful journeys that their days can hold.



Interpretation of the Story

August 15, 2012

As Jacob and Elwood are getting a bit older, and their taste and joy in books is getting more extensive, we have an opportunity to talk about how a book comes together, what it is that they love when they are reading a good book, and how a book can be interpreted in many different forms. While my kids know that certain books, like the Lorax, have been turned into movies, I have to admit that I was kind of surprised that we had never really discussed how many other mediums books are represented in.

After a recent discussion on art and literature, I walked the boys upstairs and showed them the two paintings that hung to the side of their beds. Next to Jacob’s is a painting of Turtle Tower from Yurtle the Turtle. Over Elwood’s, a scene from Oh the Places You’ll Go. “These are moments from some of your favorite books. They are moments that meant something to the artist, that they wanted to capture with just their brush stroke. This is how this artist interprets the words on the page.”

Explaining that interpretation is subjective to an 8 and 6 year old seemed like a silly endeavor, so instead we grabbed some paper, pencils, crayons, and our favorite books, and interpreted a favorite moment from a favorite book.

Watching my children get lost in a book always feels like magic to me, but watching them create a moment from that book brings that magic to life. Encouraging them to create the look of the characters, the background, the costumes allows them to become interactive with the story, and to engage it in a whole new way.

This was a project that they both took their time on, thought about, and wanted to do solely for themselves. Both of the drawings now hang beside the Dr. Seuss pieces that began this discussion, and hopefully stand as a reminder that stories can come to life in many different ways.

This is a project that I hope to expand on in the future, and to really use to show the connection between stories and our creative spirit.  I hope to see them act out their favorite scenes, paint, draw and sketch their favorite characters, rewrite new endings, and compose a compelling score. These are all ways that they can play with their favorite books, and bring each piece that they love to life.

Books do not stand alone in our lives. They are portals for our imagination, and children seem especially open to jumping in and exploring every last detail.