Connecting through creativity and art

art2Doing art projects and other creative activities with my kids is something that’s very important to me. As a child, I always disliked Art Class because I knew I wasn’t very good at art, but starting when my oldest son was 2, I wanted to make art a part of his life. I wanted to let it be something he could enjoy, whether or not he was good at it.

Over the last few years, art has been a way for us to connect, have fun, and learn.

Allowing children opportunities to create their own art is a wonderful way to help instill creativity and confidence. It can also provide sensory experiences, fine motor activities, and chances to learn about different styles of art.

To first get started with art activities, I spent some time walking around a craft store and selecting items that either seemed like the basics (paint, markers, and glue) or like they’d be really fun (googly eyes and pompoms). While I was there, I also picked up some 5d diamond painting kits for myself to break my hiatus and resume my painting hobby. I also got project ideas from the many blogs dedicated to toddler and preschool art.

Our activities have been very different based on my children’s ages. When my son was 2 and we were just starting, we did a lot of finger painting, sensory activities with things like rice and oatmeal, and water play with cups, bowls, and spoons.  As a preschooler, he experimented with painting with strange objects like ribbons and flowers, and we explored some famous artists. I loved painting of few artists and also decided to hung it at my home for him, so after seeing painting he can get more interest into painting. I decided to get a Pet paint by visiting the custom painting online. Now that he’s 6, we’ve been getting art books from the library for him to select project ideas from, and he’ll help pick out art supplies that he wants to use.

We both try our best to remember that it’s about having fun, not about having a perfect finished product.

When my second and third children were born, I found ways to get them involved in art at an earlier age. I found baby-friendly activities, such as filling a container with colorful tissue paper or a variety of fabric scraps with different textures, and placing paint and a paper inside a sealed plastic bag for them to smoosh around and make their first paintings — completely mess-free.art3

For us, art has been one way to connect. After my second child was born, it was also a way to have some much-needed one-on-one time with my oldest son while his baby brother was napping. For other families, there may be different but equally fulfilling ways of achieving this, if art isn’t interesting to you or it’s not something you can make time for right now. It’s important to explore and find your own ways of connection.

Screens are powerful — but dangerous — attachment tools

Shoshana-150x150It used to be the television.

Back in the 1980s, Neil Postman, professor of communication arts and sciences from New York University, said that television is a disastrous influence on children because it shortens their attention span, erodes their linguistic powers and causes them to become increasingly impatient. Perhaps even more serious, it opens up all of society’s taboos and secrets, thus erasing the boundaries between childhood and adulthood, creating a homogenized culture rather than a hierarchical one.

Today it’s the smartphone, computer and iPad.

The intrusion of even more kinds of screens in our lives is having an overwhelming effect on our families. Dr. Gordon Neufeld cautions that before we put these devices into the hands of our children and adolescents, we need to put rules and restrictions in place for their use. These screens are so addictive by their very nature that even we adults have a hard time turning them off and disconnecting from them. All the more so, we need to guard our children from becoming too attached to them.

My son and daughter-in-law recently noticed that their two daughters, ages 10 and 8, were spending too much time in front of the television and the iPad. They thought the girls would react strongly to the new rules they were about to begin enforcing, but were pleasantly surprised that the girls seemed to appreciate Mom and Dad taking charge of the screens.

After a few “screen-less” weeks, I asked how their new lifestyle was holding up and the results were exciting: The girls began asking their parents to take them to the library on a regular basis, and they are spending much more time reading. They are also playing outside more. The house is calmer and quieter without the background noise from the screens. The parents themselves feel calmer and have even looked for ways to restrict their own use of their smartphones. There is more space for real human connection and also for more creativity.

Child TVFreedom from screens provides psychological rest for the brain. When we are connected to screens, we are — in essence — seeking attachment, the default setting of our brains. Screens are powerful attachment tools, but the attachment they provide is merely a “fix” — it is superficial and fleeting, and this pursuit becomes addictive. It does not satisfy the real need for human contact and closeness, so both child and adult are driven to come back again and again for another fix — another attempt to fill this attachment hunger.

When parents restrict screen use for their children, they are helping their children come to rest from this futile pursuit. The brain shifts gears and can now rest from this futile pursuit. Only parents and other caring adults can give children fulfilling experiences of attachment and bring their brains to rest. This rest from the work of seeking attachment frees the child’s mind to explore and create like downloading a book and reading it thanks to sodapdf converter.

I like to write to my granddaughters by e-mail. Once a week, they can use their iPads to write to me and to other relatives. It’s just one example of how parents can show their children how to safely use screens without becoming addicted or controlled by them.

And as for the TV at my granddaughters’ house — it was relegated to a corner bedroom upstairs where it’s no fun at all to sit and watch!

Give your child what school cannot — rest for the brain — and free them to grow into their own

75428_8708Becoming mature is not inevitable. Not all children enter the adult world able to hold on to themselves while, at the same time, mix with others.

For some adults, the ability to respect the boundaries and values of others, and still keep their own, is not an easy to do. For these adults, having their own opinions and ideas — while being able to listen and consider those of others — is also not something that characterizes their interactions.

Our schools are investing resources and energy into trying to teach children how to behave maturely and get along with others. Movies are being produced to teach about respecting feelings. Programs are being designed to combat bullying. None of these things can produce long lasting results and they can even affect your child’s ability to learn and do well in school. If your child isn’t doing well in school then you can think about getting them a math tutor or taken them to an after school learning program.

No matter how hard we try to work at it, mature character traits that are needed to get along in the world cannot be taught: They grow within, when the conditions are right.

Shoshana-150x150I am reminded of what is missing — and what is possible — when I think of  Mark and Dan.

The boys are brothers. Mark is 12, and Dan is 10. They are two years apart in school, and neither one of them was happy when I met their family. Mark had the saddest expression I had ever seen on a child’s face. Dan’s face was hardened, and there was no light reflected in his eyes. I listened to their stories and encouraged their parents to listen to their stories.

It was then that their parents realized that Mark and Dan were lacking the fundamental conditions for growth and maturation, and they set about to provide those conditions. Nature worked its miracles, and within several months, the extraordinary process of emergence was in full bloom. Both boys were filled with vitality, venturing forth energy and a desire to learn. With the start of summer vacation, Mark and Dan had each planned his own schedule of activities that included areas of study they each wanted to explore.

There are many ways to reach this state of creativity, exploring and discovery. We are fortunate if we can be in this state of being at least part of the time in our lives. When we know what conditions our children need in order to be in this state, we can make sure they are being provided.

What Mark and Dan’s parents provided for their sons was…rest. All growth takes place in a state of rest, including psychological growth. They made sure their sons had rest from worrying about results all the time: good grades, academic achievement, keeping up with the standards. They made sure they had rest from activities that distracted them from their own thoughts and creativity, like computer games, iPads and play dates. They made sure they had rest in their relationships, that they could feel a big enough invitation in their attachment to their parents so the relationship would be secure and become deep.

Mark and Dan’s parents found that providing rest was so much better than seeking behavior-modification techniques or psychological assessment. Their parents’ eyes shifted from seeing what was wrong with their sons to what conditions for growth their sons were missing. Their efforts at providing rest were much more fulfilling, natural and intuitive than the standard advice that is usually given. And the fruits were so much sweeter: the blossoming curiosity, emergent creativity and natural love of learning that characterize all children when they are young.

Can our schools provide this quality of rest for our children?

I would like to think that this potential exists within our system. There are good intentions to make school feel like home and to give individual attention to students.

But until the focus moves away from getting the end result immediately through programs that emphasize academic achievement and social and emotional learning, children will not have the psychological rest they need that frees their curiosity, their natural love of learning and the growth of their capacity to integrate well with others.

Our focus needs to move to providing the right context and conditions that make it possible for growth to unfold and for human potential to develop. This is the source of our hope for the next generation of adults.

Courageous and Creative

We end our 2013 AP Month blog event with this post from Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America.

Today I invented the possibility with my accountability partners (yes, I have two … it takes two to keep me in line) of being Courageous and Creative. That is my theme for this year.

No more business as usual.

That means some things are changing. I am completing things that aren’t working. I am giving up things I once loved to create a new future. I am purging my home of the unnecessary and unused. I am catching myself when I speak the usual broken record words or sound like my parents in their frustrated moments. Not always, but an astonishing amount of miracles are emerging where I would least expect them.

Simple miracles in simple moments that become the most meaningful.

Today after school, I picked up my eldest son at the second pick-up for the day, the sixth errand perhaps, and because I told my accountability partner that I would, and because I knew I could, I asked my children what they wanted to do.

“What would we do if we were being courageous and creative?”

Now, normally my son would get in the car, the kids might bicker a bit, talking over each other, vying for attention suddenly, and we would go home, spread out to our corners … Ben on homework near me on the computer and Bodee playing with a toy, his back to Bronson to protect his momentary obsession. We would have a snack together, maybe read a few books, but the day would continue predictably for the rest of the evening, including much whining as I cooked dinner, and terse reminders that the dinner table is not a trough and we are not pigs.

But this time, today was different. I am committed to being and causing Courage and Creativity!

We declare Hike Time! And then Ben suggests afterwards we go home and write about it. “That would be creative!” he says cleverly.

Boys in tree with Glee Gum

We hike through a new area by a secret marsh in Irvine. Being courageous, it’s a new area and we don’t have a map. As soon as Bodee even sniffs a whiff of boredom, I suddenly stop in my tracks and point, “BIGFOOT! TRACKS!” The boys are on high alert, and we urgently inspect the huge tracks of what seems to have been a very large-footed walker. Then … “SNAKE!!! The longest snake in the WOOOORLD!” I shout … at a long striped water hose.

“Oh Mommy, you’re funny, that’s not a snake.”

I am inspired by being considered funny. “Are you suuuuure?” I say slyly, and they realize they are not sure and boldly approach anyway.

We courageously go off the path and walk through winding trails. The boys pee in the bushes with glee and we christen it the “Pee Bush,” walking past it with our noses pinched. The afternoon is a delightful adventure of nature, trees, rocks, mud, birds, lizards, flowers, marsh ponds and singing boys filled with freedom.

We go home, and their drawings and writing about the adventure are as if we had gone to Disneyland.

Bodee also created an apology letter to a boy he insulted in school. It took great courage for him to acknowledge that he did that, and he very creatively wrote, “There were two boys who were MAD and then became friends.” Instead of, “There, ARE YOU HAPPY?” like he wanted to. It took courage for me not to get angry with him and to create understanding and the freedom to express himself … even if it did take three attempts at an apology.

We ate a delicious dinner and made a video for Daddy, who was working late. Bodee and the boys sang a song about how much they love Daddy. Priceless.

We even did a Venus Fly Trap science project afterwards–even though I really wanted to check out and write–because my children wanted to create something WITH ME. And it matters that it’s me that does it with them.

I am inspired by our creation. Inspired by the joy and glee in my children. When I bought them a pack of gum on one of the errands, they sang songs for ten minutes about Happy Glee Gum. When we found a new path, they shouted at the top of their lungs with bravado.What if we created like that? Expressed joy like that?

When my boys saw a tiny path, they took it, regardless of knowing where it might go. What if we were courageous in everyday actions … what new things, what miracles, might show up?

Courageous Boys

Parenting Outside the Box

This year’s theme for AP Month, “Parenting Creatively: The Art of Parenting,” gives us all an opportunity to look a little closer at the ways in which we are (or are not) fostering creativity in our parenting approach. It’s often easy to play creatively, but it’s a bit harder to find our creative flow in more challenging situations, like when the little one is starting to crumble in the cereal aisle. But if we can see past our adult rules, social pressures and parental blinkers, a little creativity can go a very long way in such situations.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the doctor’s face when little Bean started jumping, arms outstretched, and singing, “Laaaaaaaa!” because she wasn’t allowed to leave the room until our appointment was over. Or perhaps more memorable was the doctor’s expression when I said to my now calm and giggling toddler, “You felt frustrated so you jumped and sang! What a positive outlet for a difficult emotion!”

I should probably explain … when little Bean was about 18 months old, I noticed that she, like all toddlers, was starting to feel frustrated when she couldn’t do what she wanted when she wanted to do it. While in most situations I follow her lead to an extent that frustration is rare, there are times when we really must do something, like sit through an appointment. So I started to think outside the box: when I feel frustrated, what makes me feel better? I came up with exercise and singing, basically “letting it all out.”

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I applied this to little Bean. I figured that while she can’t exactly go for a run in all situations, she can always use her voice, and she can usually jump on the spot. So I simply let her know that when she feels frustrated, jumping and singing is a really positive outlet for that very normal yet difficult emotion. Oh, and I started to jump and sing a lot, too. I jumped when I forgot my shopping list or dropped my keys. I sang when I broke a glass or was running late. I was the all-singing, all-jumping, crazy mama bouncing her way through her more difficult moments.

Once all of the jumping and singing was over, and the onlookers had moved on, little Bean and I would talk it out. On the occasions when there was an underlying issue to resolve and the mini endorphin kick hadn’t wiped out the frustration, it was so much easier to remedy, to explain and to work through the situation with a calmer Bean.

I’m not saying that our method is foolproof; there are times when no amount of jumping will prevent a mini-meltdown. But it slows the landslide and helps little Bean to start to recognise the emotion herself. She often sees me pre-mama-meltdown and says, “Mama, laaaaaa!” Ingeniously perceptive? Well, obviously. But bias aside, I believe that all toddlers understand these emotions and can recognise them in others–they just don’t know how to deal with them. And for how many of us adults does that statement still ring true?

Our sing-alongs help little Bean to deal with these difficult emotions. I wish these tools came more naturally to me, and I hope that by opening them up for little Bean while she is still a toddler, her toolbox for dealing with life’s emotions will be jam-packed full. Even if that means her toolbox is thought of by passersby as “outside the box.”

A Tangible Approach to Time

Parenting is the most rewarding yet most challenging job there is. Children change so quickly. What worked yesterday may not work today, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Being creative in our parenting is practically a must.

Each child is different and needs to have her needs met in a way that works for her. Honesty and communication can ease anxiety and help a child to understand the world around him. Finding ways to explain certain concepts, ideas or situations to young children may take some creative thinking but is far better than dismissing a concept as being too mature for a child to comprehend.

My husband has a wonderful job that he excels at. His career and hard work allow me the privilege to be home to raise our daughter. My daughter and I have endless amounts of fun together every day, and we are certainly just about as close as mother and daughter can be. While our little girl definitely enjoys her mommy time, she is undoubtedly Daddy’s little girl. She stands watch at the door when she knows he is on his way home, loves to play with him every evening, and looks forward to family time on weekends.

My husband’s job does require a certain amount of travel. Since becoming parents, we have been rather fortunate that there has been minimal travel, usually not amounting to more than a few days at a time. The last time my husband had to go out of town, our daughter was a little over a year old and didn’t entirely understand the concept of him leaving. She was happy when he was returned home but didn’t seem to be too affected by his absence.

This past business trip, however, required my husband to be out of town for two weeks. Two weeks is a long time for us to be apart from our favorite person.

While technology has made it much easier to keep in touch during the absence of a loved one (Face Time has been our family favorite), time can still be a difficult concept for toddlers to fully comprehend. Our daughter is two and understands pretty well the meaning of yesterday and tomorrow. Explaining to her the concept of Daddy being gone for two weeks, however, was not an easy task. I decided to make a tangible representation of two weeks for our daughter in the form of a countdown chain.

At the end of each day, after a Face Time session with Daddy, I had our daughter tear off a link in the chain. Each link represented a day that Daddy was gone. At the end of the chain was a circle with the words “Daddy is Home!”

This method worked brilliantly. With each paper link she tore off, our daughter would happily say, “We are one day closer to Daddy!” While our little girl certainly missed her daddy, she found it much easier to understand when he was coming home with the help of her countdown chain.

Children are far brighter than we sometimes give them credit for. Just because they are not able to fully understand a concept in the way that an adult might, it doesn’t mean that they are unable to understand that very same concept when put in terms that they can relate to.

All it takes is a little creativity and a whole lot of love.

Why I Hate Art

This AP Month Blog Event post was submitted by reader Elizabeth Wickoren, who blogs at Mothering from the Maelstrom.

Each year we try to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and not just Christmas Day itself. Makes for a somewhat less frantic early December when you don’t feel like you have to cram a year’s worth of joy and Christmasy-ness into two days. We’ve been doing a lot of yummy Christmas baking the last few days, socking away a little bit of each batch in the freezer for our Twelfth Night party, but mostly just gobbling it down as fast as we make it. We’re also making time for lots of the things we really love, like board games, feeding the wildlife, thrift store shopping, movies, video games, theater and today, ART.

Art is one thing I feel like I really don’t do enough of with the kids. I am a big old scrooge when it comes to any art other than drawing, really. The thought of clay, paint and the like just makes me cringe. All that mess and chaos … ugh! Don’t get me wrong, I love to do art myself. I LOVE it, love love LOVE it. But I tend to be kind of lazy when it comes to breaking out the messy stuff for my brood. Or I thought it was laziness. Today I’m thinking it is more like a self-preservation instinct.

I was reading a Deep Space Sparkle article describing a lovely winter trees project involving shaving cream, and thinking, “I bet the kids would get a big kick out of shaving cream.” So, figuring it was the season for fun things, I got a couple of cans of shaving cream and cleared off the kitchen table.

Things started out innocently enough …

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They were swirling colors and dipping papers …

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Even the baby got to participate …

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Don’t worry, hers is whipped cream, not shaving cream.

If you want a fun blog post to inspire you to art projects of your own, stop reading now. Get some cans of shaving cream and have fun. If you want to hear our horror story, however, read on.

At this point things took a turn for the worst. Mitchell was really enjoying the shaving cream. Enjoying it so much that he started rubbing it all over his stomach. I sent him to go clean up a bit, and while I was getting him to clean up, the other two decided to follow suit and start spreading shaving cream all over their bodies. So I sent them to the bathroom.

While they were cleaning up, Mitchell decided to stir his shaving cream as fast as he could so all the colors mixed into a really putrid olive green. So much for lovely swirls. Then the little two came back from the bathroom, and Henry decided to make his a solid-greeny mush, too.

I started to get a bit irritated that they were ignoring the whole concept of making beautiful art and instead were just focusing on the smoosh factor. I tried not to let it get to me. Intellectually, I KNEW that boys will be boys and that they were having a great, fun, tactile experience even if they weren’t making art as I had planned. I praised Violet’s lovely swirls because they really were lovely, and the boys ended up asking me to help them have swirls, too, so we added more color to their green shaving cream. In the end, I was a bit frazzled, but everyone had fun and had some swirly art.

Now, we could end the story there, but as you may have noticed, this last section didn’t have pictures to go with it. My hands were full of shaving cream, and I was just too crabby to take any pictures of the green goo.

There also aren’t any pictures to go with this next section.

Once everyone had made several swirly art pictures and I was sufficiently out of patience, I started to get things cleaned up. While my back was turned, setting pictures out to dry … Violet started rubbing shaving cream on her tummy, and the boys started to dive into the shaving cream up to their elbows. Their laughter started getting that crazy sound to it. You know, when it starts to shift from joyful, delightful giggling to insane, overstimulated, maniacal laughter. Plops of shaving cream started landing on the floor, on the chairs, on clothes. Things were officially out of hand.

I will admit, this was not my finest moment. I yelled a bit. Tossed out some choice phrases that had no business being said to children. Maybe “yelled a bit” is being too kind. I screamed. I really lost it. All I could think was that I had spent all this effort trying to do something fun and special with them, and they were almost literally throwing it in my face. Mitchell, especially, got the brunt of it because he is the oldest and “should know better” and his innovative little brain started all the mischief. Everyone except the baby got sent to bathrooms.

The baby was wondering what the HECK all the fuss was about. But another round of whipped cream stopped her wondering, and she got back to business.

As the baby was getting round #2 of whipped cream, shenanigans started breaking out in the various sinks. Thankfully, at that moment, Daddy walked in the door before I could strangle anyone. He bustled the little kids off to the bathtub for a thorough cleaning. Mitch was sitting in Grandma’s bathroom where I had exiled him, and I was left with a table to wipe up and a moment to catch my breath.

After a few deep breaths, I went in to talk to Mitchell. I apologized for screaming and told him I shouldn’t have said the things I said. Then we talked together about where things went wrong. I asked him if he were at school, would he have taken the art supplies and started rubbing them all over his body? He laughed and said, “No!”  I explained that I was angry that they had misused the art supplies like that for me. And he said, “But the shaving cream just feels so good!”

I started telling him how there is a time and a place for whole-body art. And the time and place is outside in the summer, where they can be hosed off afterwards and not wreck any hardwood floor finishes or anything. Then I had a light bulb go off. “The other place for whole-body art,” I said, “is in the bathtub. Where all the mess can be rinsed down the drain. Hop in.”

So Mitch continued his art exploration, and I went to bathe the baby.

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Bathing the baby always cheers me up.  And Fergie (our dog) helped with the clean-up.

So, what is the moral of this story? The moral is, I need to approach art with no expectations except mess. Expecting any kind of aesthetically pleasing results is just setting myself up for disappointment and stress. I mean, the whole point of art, in my opinion, is to enjoy the process and not worry too much about the end result. I kind of lost that as I gazed at the Deep Space Sparkle pictures of magical, snowy trees and imagined that we, too, could make something so preciously cute. The kids didn’t lose sight of the purpose, though. Their entire aim was to enjoy the process, so kudos to them. And I apologize for raining on their parade.

Underestimating the amount of mess that can be made with two cans of shaving cream was a grave error in judgment on my part. Frankly, I think all art should be done in the bathtub in the future. It’s really the perfect location. Actually, we have an unfinished room in the basement, with a drain in the floor. Shall we tile that sucker up for a whole-body art studio?  A very tempting idea, actually …

And today, as I reflected on what I could have done differently, another factor popped into my mind. I had forgotten that the day before had been Mitchell’s birthday. We had promised him that a special ADHD diet didn’t mean he could NEVER have the food he liked again. We said on his birthday he could eat anything he wanted. And boy he did. We had McDonalds, pizza, donuts, the works!

The thing about Mitchell’s food sensitivities is that they generally don’t affect him until the next day. It’s not an immediate thing. So planning a messy art project the day after he stuffed his face with preservatives, gluten, dyes, milk and high fructose corn syrup was just asking for trouble. So–note to self–don’t try to do ANYTHING the day after Mitch has blown his diet except manage his symptoms.

So, while it wasn’t one of my finest moments, I think yesterday was not without merit. Everyone got bathed, swirly art DID get made and mama learned (and relearned) a few lessons.

We Heart Collage

This AP Month Blog Event post was submitted by reader Chwynyn Vaughan, who blogs at Mama Is Inspired.

At all times, there is a work of glue art on the go atop my kitchen table. Since my son’s other first language is French, my husband finds it amusing that glue art is what my son and I have come to call collage. However, since my son has not created a hierarchy for the colorful scraps of paper images and the glue used to hold them down, this name is entirely à propos. While most adults would be satisfied to employ glue only for the purpose of adhering cut paper pieces to a backdrop, my son makes use of his glorious glue to add another dimension to his work.

A two-year-old contemplating collage

A two-year-old contemplating collage

 

I was truly startled the first time I watched my son handle the glue in this fashion. It seemed like so much work. For a two-year-old, squeezing with both hands, it takes all the strength his little body can muster to get a good stream of glue going. He also tends to forget that gravity is at play. Sometimes he gets a little frustrated. In spite of this, he never gives up.

Eventually, he manages to spread the glue around like paint, thoughtfully laying down drips, spots and trails. He is young! Of course he makes use of glue in this manner! He still possesses the artistic freedom of a child who has not yet been told that pictures are more important than white, drippy goo.

I was also surprised by how thoughtfully my son considers just where each image and extra pour of glue should go. I am not sure why this surprised me so much. It is a work of art, and he does not imagine that he is just slapping disposed paper on cardboard. Of course he cares about his project!

My young son’s passion extends beyond the white glue and many-colored images. I never imagined that I would allow my son to use scissors all by himself at the tender age of two. After a couple of times observing me cut out his collage pictures, my son worked up a desire to wield the scissors on his own. I didn’t consciously set out to grant him his wish, but on a whim one day, I bought a pair of children’s scissors that beckoned to me from a store shelf of art supplies.

When we arrived home, my son was ecstatic to find out that I had actually bought these scissors. I do not think he expected to be using scissors any more than I did. These scissors did not disappoint. My son is in love with cutting. In fact, cut and couper are the only words my son regularly uses to express a single concept, in both of his languages.

A love affair with scissors

A love affair with scissors

 

Now my son is able to manage every step of glue art or collage all on his own. He sees his father’s own collage work and notices there is not much of a difference between the work the two of them produce. No wonder collage is my son’s favorite work to make in his kitchen-studio.

Collage is also a great way to reuse and repurpose cast away items in our home. Mostly for the worse, we live in an age of excess print material. I am trying to make the better of this wasteful trend. Collage is a fun, creative place to start. I look at mail-order catalogs, nonprofit materials and museum membership drives with new eyes. The same goes for food boxes and packaging left from new toys. We take apart old crafts that my son has made at library story-time or parent-and-me classes and salvage all the materials we think we would like to use again. We have a bag full of items to be cut up and another sac of images and craft supplies that are ready to glue.

Sifting through and cutting up images gives me something to do so that I am actively involved in my son’s project, while at the same time letting my son create on his own; I am present the way he wants me to be, but at the same time, he has all the autonomy he seeks. This works out very well for both of us. Glue art has worked its way into our hearts.

Finished art

Finished art
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