Be Creative:

Ideas for celebrating National Keep Kids Creative Week

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Be Creative: ways to celebrate Keep Kids Creative Week

Here are some ideas for how to celebrate National Keep Kids Creative Week. Some of these can be done in families, some in the classroom. This is just the start. If you have other ideas, email me -- I'd love to post them, too!

• Make up a group story.
Do it Round Robin, or just brainstorm the story elements together as a family and end up with a drawing session. Check out some basic plots if you want some help getting started. Tell a fairy tale and change the ending by asking "What if..." about a main character or part of the plot.

• Draw pictures together.
The goal here is imaginative drawing, not realistic. Invent your own animals, like ones the settlers did, by starting a drawing of an animal and having different family members or classmates add things. Try a drawing game like Davinci's Doodles or Iggyfit. Make up your own cartoon characters -- give them personalities. For extra fun, draw them on t-shirts! (I've done this with kids: use fabric markers if you can find them.)

• Look at the work of creative people.
This could mean going to a museum to see paintings or sculpture, or it could mean getting some art books out of the library. Why not get a few picture books by the same illustrator and discuss with your kids what they like about that artist. But don't stop with just art. Read about the work of famous inventors. Talk about how their inventions "broke out of the box" of their time. Take a look at some of the wacky inventions people have made.

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Keep Kids Creative Week

• Listen to some new music.
By new, I don't mean recent. I mean new to you. Find some examples of music you never listen to either as a family or as a class and try it out. Even if you all hate it, you can talk about it. See if your kids can explain what makes that music different than the tunes they usually listen to.

• Make a film.
This sounds impossible, but it really only needs a few ingredients to pull it off: a video camera, a group of hammy kids, an afternoon, and active imaginations. Take one of my basic plots and make up your own story as you go -- this avoids having to write scripts and memorize. I've made a few short films with kids: a parody of Robin Hood (I beat Mel Brooks to the idea of "The Sherrif of Rottingham", by the way), a western, and a murder mystery. They're all howlingly bad, but the kids loved them. Figure on 3-5 hours of filming for 15 minutes of final film. And stick with comedy. The fun is in being funny.

• Build something.
Find some art materials or building materials and create your own structure or sculpture. It doesn't have to be functional; making it a unique expression is enough. Want it even simpler? Use Legos, or other readily available building toys.

• Put on a puppet show.
Again, you probably want to help kids understand the basics of a plot. I've sat through seemingly endless puppet plays that came across as an ESPN highlight reel of a Punch and Judy show. (But that's boys... maybe girls do them differently.) All you need is a pole taped across the tops of a few chairs, drape a blanket over it, and you have a puppet theater. For extra fun, make some puppets using paper bags.

• Go on a Scavenger Hike.
Don't know what that is? It's a hike with your kids where you look for a list of things you decided on ahead of time. How is this creative? It helps train obervational skills; and some of your items you choose can be ones open to interpretation. See an example of a Scavenger Hike I took with my son, or a Town Treasure Hunt I did on the streets of our town.

• Write a poem.
Read a poem, or a picture book written in rhyme. Learn the cadence of that poem, and see if you and your kids can add another line that rhymes. I've found that even pre-school kids can understand a simple meter if you clap it out.

• Invent a game.
Too few kids are out playing in the neighborhood like when I was a boy. Making up games was a great way to keep my imagination thriving. Start with a game of tag. Make up new rules each round. My two oldest boys invented, when they were little, Arctic Samurai Ball Tag, which used plastic baseball bats to fend off the ball!

• Play with your food.
Okay, I grant that this is a strange one. But making pictures out of kid-friendly food has been a favorite of mine this past year and I think you'll agree: this could be a lot of fun to do with kids. See examples of my food art.

Remember, the most important thing is to encourage the creativity of the children in your life. With your help, those kids will believe in the power and merit of their own ideas. And with any creative effort, it's not complete until it's shared with someone. Show what you've worked on to other family members, friends or neighbors. Invite your kids to show it to their friends, too. That's a great way to re-inforce the fun of creativity -- and it may catch others up into the fun as well!

all material ©2004 Bruce Van Patter