Encouraging Creativity in Kids: 3-D and Recycled Art

It’s important, I believe, to encourage children to explore their creativity in as many various forms as possible.

My daughter has an imaginative and artistic temperament so we tend to be overrun with her creative output — her day to day production can be quite impressive (and overwhelming!).  I’ve learned to select a few pieces for preservation and photograph some of the others for posterity.

My son, however, has a very different approach to his creative endeavors.  He works in “bursts” of creativity and tends towards a more dramatic, and often 3-D, approach to his art.  Needless to say sculpture parks are one of his favorite “field trips”.

I wanted to share a couple of  Mac’s favorite projects that show both his unique approach to art but also serve as examples of what results when you encourage creativity in kids — the results can be surprising :-)

The Magical White City (made from various bits and pieces scavenged from the garage as well as packing materials):

This particular city provided hours of play after many hours of precise arrangement and placement.

The Robot named Max:

Mac built this almost life-size robot mostly on his own — Dad helped him get the wheels (training wheels from his sister’s bike) attached.   The robot, affectionately called Max, spent weeks being rolled around and played with and made a wonderful buddy.  It finally fell apart but Mac said he’s working on plans for a new one this summer, also out of recycled materials.

And my personal favorite, The Swimming Tree:

Mac collects plastic “swimmers” — small pool toys.  He is especially fond of duckies and has amassed quite a collection at this point!  He decided to create a “swimming tree” since we had put the pool away for the summer and he wanted a way to display his ducks, etc.   He was quite pleased with the effect it created.

Here is a close up of The Swimming Tree:

He worked on The Swimming Tree over the course of almost a week, arranging and rearranging the various swimmers to suit whatever aesthetic he wanted to achieve for that day.  Then he was done and the swimmers moved on to other pursuits :-)   But he has asked to have a picture of the Swimming Tree for his bedroom wall so he can think about other ideas involving nature.

I’m looking forward to seeing his next project or installation, whatever it may be — he’s been plotting and planning so I expect there will soon be something new to view and experience!

In what ways do you encourage creativity in your kids, or for yourself if you don’t have kids?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Pumpkin Painting 2008

It was a pretty day today so I sent the kids out with their pumpkins, paints and other art supplies to do some pumpkin painting.  Since I’m lousy at carving anything, much less a pumpkin, it’s easier to turn the kids loose to paint.  And I think they have more fun anyway since they can actually do the painting and decorating themselves rather then just watching someone else carve.

So here are some photos from the great pumpkin painting of 2008:






Here is Alex posing with the finished pumpkins — I made a lion with feathers, Alex made a cat, and Mac never actually made up his mind.  He’d paint for a while and then wipe it off and start over again.  After about three or four times he declared he was done and that was that :-)


And here is Mac with the pumpkins — you can tell he’s tired of the whole creative process now and ready to head off to other things!


Here’s a close up of Alex’s cat which she changed several times before deciding to paint it so it would be a black cat:


Alex and Art

Alex is off school today (they have so many early dismissals and days off that I lose track if I don’t check the calendar constantly!) so she’s with Grandma and Grandpa.  They asked what she wanted to do today and she asked to go to the Art Museum — one of her favorite places.  She’s particularly fond of the sculpture.  So she’s going to have a good day.  I wish I could have skipped work and gone with them!

One good thing that happened the night of the parent-teacher conferences was that I got to meet Alex’s art teacher.  Alex said I had to be sure and meet her since this was her favorite class.  The teacher was very complimentary about Alex saying that she was very well behaved as well as very artistic.  The teacher had selected out four pieces of artwork to represent each grade and for the Kindergarten group Alex’s art was one of those selected — a painting of a Fall tree.  Alex had told me that her tree was different from everyone elses and she wanted me to look for it (she said it was more of a winter tree then a fall tree because she didn’t have enough time to put on very many leaves) — well, it was easy to find at least.  The art teacher said that she liked the tree so  much that she’s going to send it to the Spring art fair at the high school — which I thought was really nice.  Alex will be pleased to know her art is going to be displayed!

The artist at work:


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