Category Archives: Creativity

All Kinds of Creative Fun

When my youngest announced that he wanted a sleepover birthday party when he turned 7, I thought “Yikes, how can I wear these boys out so they sleep?”
Then I put on my thinking cap (and had a glass of wine). With my son being a huge Phineas and Ferb fan, the theme for the party was decided which made planning the activities that much easier. If you aren’t familiar with this Disney cartoon show which makes great co-viewing, here is a quick synopsis. Phineas and Ferb are brothers likely around 10 or 11 years old who dream up some crazy activities to do each day of the summer holiday such as building a roller coaster, hosting their own game show, opening a restaurant, etc.

Here is what we decided to do for my son’s party. As the weather was warm and sunny, we blew up our mini bouncy castle and borrowed an inflatable slide which instantly turned our backyard into a mini-carnival. Once the boys had worn themselves out on these, we had an egg hunt. I had found some of those Easter eggs that you can put whatever you want inside and put some Phineas and Ferb tattoos as the treasure. As the boys uncovered their tattoos and covered themselves from head to toe with tattoos, the grill master Daddee-O, made skyhigh burgers and hotdogs.

After dinner, the boys made tie-dye t-shirts. This was probably the craziest activity I could do with 6 boys and do it inside the house! Dye was everywhere and yes, some was even walked on to the carpet. (Fortunately we found it in time and cleaned up the rogue participant at the same time.) Thanks to Michael’s the craft store, we had a great range of colours. I wasn’t sure how this activity was going to go over with boys given that it was a “craft” of sorts but everyone loved it. Their favourite part was the unveiling the next morning when we rinsed and unwrapped and untied the shirts to see what each one looked like. (They proudly worn them to school the next day!)

For dessert we kept with the creative theme and had made cupcakes ahead of time. Each child became a mini dessert chef – choosing their icing and variety of toppings to create a sweet! masterpiece. After their work was done, they indulged in their creations.

As they had expelled a great deal of energy outside and with some of the thinking activities, they were ready to watch a movie in the basement (and so was I)!
Everyone slept through the night, much to my amazement as this was the first sleepover for all but the birthday boy. Yet they were up at 5:30 the next morning.

A few words of advice if you are thinking of tie dying at a child’s birthday party (for children under the age of 12), I recommend you have 1 adult for every 2 children as the dye can get very messy. Also, wear gloves! The dye is quite strong and it took me 4 days to wash my hands back to normal.

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Filed under Creativity, Organized Fun

Show Me The Love… Not The Money

Son #2's door

For son #1

This morning I read the following facts:
Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year. The National Retail Federations (NRF) 2012 Valentine’s Day Study revealed that the average person will spend US$126.03 this year. This is the highest level in the last 10 years. The survey also revealed that consumers will spend $4.1 billion on jewelry, $1.8 billion on flowers, $1.5 billion on candy, $1.4 billion on clothing and $1.1 billion on gift cards. Oh my?!!

Call me Scrooge but I don’t need to show my family my love through the purchase of stuff! Instead I have decided to do some personalized crafts.
Someone I follow on twitter shared a pin she found on pinterest. The image showed a bedroom door which had been decorated with hearts. Each heart had a characteristic that the mom or dad loved about the child. I loved this idea! What a great way for you to recognize the talents of your children. I loved it so much that I copied it.

This morning when they woke up I received a big hug from son #2 who said “Awesome job on the Valentines, mom!” That is all I wanted – hugs and smiles from my boys on Valentine’s Day.

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Filed under Creativity, Uncategorized

Beating Boredom a Minute at a Time

Within 30 minutes of friends coming over to our house on Saturday afternoon, the taunting had started amongst the group of 9 year olds and boredom was setting in. I wanted to test a few of this year’s Amazing Race tasks for our annual party and what better way than to try them out with the future participants. Setting up the laptop computer on the kitchen table, I opened the Minute To Win It website and began asking them which game they would like to try. Immediately, the group crowded around the computer and watched the short instructional videos and said – oh I bet we can do that one. We gathered the necessary materials and tried a number of the games including Brush with Danger, Candelier and 4 Kings.

None of the games were easy to accomplish. We didn’t bother with the time restriction of a minute. We simply tried to work out how to complete the task. I love these challenges for so many reasons – the children are actively problem solving collaboratively, they are generally up off the coach, there are so many challenges you can find one that each participant is good at and finally, the cost of the materials is close to zero for most of the games as you are using household items.

Maybe now we could have another evening of Minute To Win It Challenges – perhaps a friendly game amongst the family over the holidays?!

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Filed under Creativity, Impromptu Activities

Built by Kids – A DIY Site for Kids and Parents

Today I found this article all about a website devoted to do-it-yourself projects that parents and children can do together! I am in heaven! Check it out for yourself!

For Kids, a D.I.Y. Web Site
By MICHAEL CANNELL
Published: September 21, 2011
Last winter, Timothy Dahl, founder and editor of the six-year-old home improvement blog Charles & Hudson (charlesandhudson.com), and his wife, Laura, a fashion designer, learned that she was pregnant. In addition to the usual prenatal preparations, they developed Built by Kids (builtbykids.com), a Web site devoted to do-it-yourself projects that parents and children can collaborate on, like herb gardens planted in a wheelbarrow, refurbished tatami tables and handmade wagons. The tasks were tested and refined during a series of daylong workshops with friends at the couple’s Los Angeles bungalow.

Their intention is to revive some of the backyard know-how that children had before the distractions of television, video games and other off-the-shelf entertainment, Mr. Dahl said. The do-it-yourself movement is enjoying a long, fashionable run as an alternative to consumer culture, he added, but when children are involved, the results are “too often dismissed as disposable ‘crafts.’ ”

The site went live on Sept. 5, and two days later Ms. Dahl gave birth to their son, Hunter. Asked what Hunter’s first project might be, Mr. Dahl said it would most likely be something to do with gardening.

“Kids as young as 2½ like to sit and feel the dirt,” he said. “It’s so visceral.”

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Filed under Creativity, Under The Influence

Amazing Summer Camp – The Amazing Rainforest in Bolton

I must tell you more about the Amazing Rainforest and the program that they offer children in and around the Bolton, Ontario area.

My boys went to their summer camp last year and their spring break program this year. Everyday they came home with big smiles on their faces and something new to tell us about.

Here is what The Amazing Rainforest is offering this summer:

July 4th to 8th: Junior Camp = Body Works, Senior Camp = CSI Forensic Science
July 11 to 15: Medieval Times for both Junior and Senior (plus $20 for the trip)
July 18 to 22: Magic & lllusion for both Junior and Senior
July 25 to 29: Junior Camp = Lego Mania, Senior Camp = Entrepreneur
August 2 to 5: Rainforest Mirror for both Junior and Senior, French Immersion program is offered and the theme is Photography
August 8 to 12: Junior Camp = Caledon Explorers, Senior Camp = Entrepreneur
August 15 to 19: Junior Camp = Lego Mania, Senior Camp = Electricity
August 22 to 26: Junior Camp = Medieval Times, Senior Camp = Photography
August 29 to Sept 2: Junior Camp = Lego Mania, Senior Camp = Robotix – Mindstorm

Junior Camp is ages 5 to 7. Senior Camp is 8 to 12.
Cost for 9 to 4pm program is $185 per child, cost for 8 to 6pm is $195 per child
*plus 13% tax
To register, call The Amazing Rainforest at (905) 857-2467.

Additionally the campers do a presentation on the Friday of each session to the parents at 4pm! See what your child has learned for yourself!

Here is a description of each of the weeks:
CSI: Become an investigator and discover how the experts solve a crime. Through various labs and a case study, children will learn about Forensic Science, how to collect evidence, examine it and problem solve a mystery. Labs include: Hair ID, Fingerprint Lifting, Dental Impressions, Shoe Impressions, Fibre Analysis, Counterfeit Cheques and Handwriting ID.

LEGOMANIA: Through various building projects and teamwork, children will build tall structures, ships, cities, vehicles that can perform tasks, hold various loads, endure stability tests and exhaust the creativity of young LEGO lovers.

ROBOTIX: Mindstorms: Using LEGO elements, children will build robots, program them to perform tasks such as: walk, talk, dance, hold a ball. Mindstorms NXT features the latest in robotic technology: an advanced 32-bit microcontroller, smart sensors and interactive motors.

Electricity: Build simple circuits or your very own electric car. Girls and boys will enjoy creating simple mechanical and battery operated projects out of household objects.

Rainforest Mirror: Children can paint their very own snake, lemur, jaguar, frog and toucan mirror and take it home. Mirror size approximately: 18″ x 24″

Photography: The week focuses on imaging and capture techniques, creativity and concept. Kids will take home a small portfolio of photos. There will be a display of the photos during the Friday presentation.

Caledon Explorers: Explore Caledon Trails, Historical Sites and its changes. Takes place indoors and outdoors.

Medieval Times: Build a castle, catapults, drawbridges and a trebuchet. Children will make costumes, perform small skits and enjoy storytelling.

Bodyworks: Explore the human body and its systems through hands on experiments like: measuring your lung capacity, reaction time, heart rate, and more. Construct models of lungs, the joints and make a skull out of clay.

Entrepreneur: An entrepreneur is someone who is innovative, responsive to change and sees new opportunities. Kids have a natural ability to find creative solutions to everyday situations. During this week, kids will create a product or sevice, prepare a business plan and business card. Informative presentations from various business administrators are given.

Magic Tricks: Children will learn about illusions. Learn magic tricks and provide a magical performance for you.

Various field trips are held during select weeks such as: Fantasy Fair, Albion Conservation Area, Medieval Times, Caledon Historical Sites, etc.

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Filed under Creativity, Organized Fun

Using Our Imaginations

Raphael - formerly The Little Artist

On the first weekend of Spring Break, we created a project for ourselves – let’s pretend to be something or someone else – but not use a costume. What can we do?

We decided to trace the outline of ourselves on large sheets of paper and then draw and decorate ourselves using our imaginations. Our little artist jumped into this project. He posed on the paper as if he was a ninja – hands, feet expressing his idea immediately. Then he drew in his accessories, mixed paint, and coloured all afternoon. Look who he pretended to be!

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Filed under Creativity, Impromptu Activities

Students Make Great Teachers

Students teaching students is an awesome combination

Within the last year, my family has been blessed to find two students who have incredible musical and artistic talent and are open to sharing these talents with us.

Last summer, my boys expressed an interest to learn to play the piano. Knowing that this could be a battle if they didn’t like it and therefore the idea of fighting to bundle the boys up and deliver them on time to someone’s home for their lessons had no appeal, we set out to look for someone who could come to our home. I searched for a number of months to find someone in the neighborhood who might be able to do this. No luck – until I saw an advertisement posted on the community bulletin board at our local grocery store – music high school graduate interested in teaching students in your home for $15 for half an hour!! The answer to my prayers!

We invited Jennifer to come to our house one afternoon in the summer to meet our boys and have a trial run. Our eldest son fell in love with his almost 6 foot tall, long blond hair, beautiful piano teacher right away. While getting him to practice can be a bit of a challenge, he loves to sit down and get to work when Jennifer arrives. He seems to be quite comfortable learning to play. Our youngest who is five is learning to play as well. While he isn’t the most studious in the world, he does enjoy the lessons. After 5 months – there has hardly ever been a compliant about it being piano night! I attribute this to finding a young, friendly student who interacts well with children teaching in our home – a comfortable, stress-free environment.

Our youngest son we call The Artist. He LOVES to do art – drawing, painting – overall creating. I thought perhaps I could duplicate the successful formula we had discovered for piano but with an arts student. So I called the local high school – Mayfield – which has a highly regarded arts program to find out if they had a student they could recommend that might be interested in teaching after school – kind of like an art buddy. But no reply from anyone at the school. (I realize that this isn’t necessarily part of their top ten things to do but I was hopeful that community relations would be stronger – I guess not). I then turned to my network of moms. One of my eldest son’s friends’ moms told me about a great student teacher who taught out of her home. She sent me her website – http://www.shannonwalker.ca. I knew from our first email exchange that I had found a kindred spirit. Shannon provided great detail and tremendous exuberance in her emails. I was hopeful that my little artist would bond with her as well.

Today my Little Artist had his first class with Shannon in her basement studio. I knew he was nervous as he had said earlier in the week – what if I can’t do it? But within the first 10 minutes of his class, he whispered in my ear “This is awesome” and his grin continued for the next 90 minutes of class. While Shannon had 2 other students in her studio working on painting projects she gave her new student warm attention. Her teaching style is completely in tune with him. She had him choose a picture that he wanted to draw (Maxxor from Chaotic), printed it for him and set him up at the drawing table with a blank paper of his own, one for her and a print out of the picture he had chosen. On her piece of paper, she drew Maxxor’s facial outline in a few simple lines. Little Artist did the same on his piece of paper. Shannon broke down the picture of Maxxor in stages – talking him all the way through it. It didn’t take him long to try to be a perfectionist – erasing lines that he wasn’t happy with, trying different approaches to see what he thought looked right. While he became tired after an hour, Little Artist wanted to keep going and finish the picture – which he did after 90 minutes. He is so proud of it.

As we walked out of Shannon’s studio, Little Artist turned to me and said – I want to combine two words together to describe what that was like – Fun and Fantastic. It was Funtastic, mommy. I can’t wait to go back.
Music to my ears that my Little Artist is happy and we have found a teacher he likes.

We are so impressed with these students, their artistic skills and their great ability to share with others. Their teaching styles are so friendly and warming that the students embrace them right away. We encourage other students to share their gifts and parents to accept students as teachers.

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Filed under Creativity, Under The Influence, Valuable Partners