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Three children *** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

Thank you….

  • sam Them strawberries look so vibrant and yum X #mmbc 22 May
  • Ali Duke I have about 4 knitting projects on the go at the moment, I do finish them, but it takes me a while lol. I love... 20 May
  • Craft Mother Especially if the weather is good. It is lovely. 20 May
  • Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) Being full of ideas is a useful skill even if it does mean that a lot of projects stay unfinished! I love your knitting –... 20 May
  • Angela Webster Sounds like a perfect day to me, you live in such a beautiful area. I bet you need no convincing to get out and about.... 20 May
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Sticky

encouraging children to be creative

The Motley Man

(The Motley Man)

I watched my daughter making a paper automata, yesterday. Taking a handful of flat, printed sheets and turning them into a moving statue. I saw how much patience, determination and focus it took. The ability to follow the instructions too. The dedication to see the project right through to the end.

It might seem like a simple project. Cut it out and stick it together. Yes, I can see how this can be seen as simple. After all, we are used to seeing the walls of playgroups and primary schools walls plastered with cut out paper stuck to other paper.

In a world where children are growing up using programs that design and build an image on screen, that are manipulated to perform movement, it is easy to see this as a simple, basic project. Imagine what our great, great grandparents would have made of the digital images. How far we have come. Paper, scissors and glue replaced by pixels.

The thing is I don’t see one replacing the other. I see them both as skills complementing each other. Building on each other. I love to see my children creating new worlds on the computer. Their creativity is power boosted, as they storm through turning the image in their heads into a pixel representation, in next to no time. It’s good.

It is restricted though. Creativity cannot go beyond the confines of the program. A limit is eventually hit, however good the software. Yes, it might inspire them to create/program a new or add-on online experience that will allow them to follow their idea, but that takes time. Very few will take up the challenge and push the boundaries as it doesn’t give the instant reward they are used to.

(Crafting before breakfast)

So back to the paper automata. As she worked on this project, I saw the care she took to cut it out. It had to be precise, otherwise the different elements wouldn’t fit together. Movement would be inhibited by jagged edges. The glued edges sometimes held and other times flicked apart. It was frustrating, but she was inventive using pegs, weights, folds and eventually my glue gun. She improved the original design to make the arms move in the way she wanted.

It took hours. We ate lunch around her project. No instant reward with this project. It was frustrating, but she kept going. There was not going to be an abandoned, half-finished project.

This is the 14 year old who produces the most amazing drawings on her tablet. She can spend hours drawing on the computer, but can also focus on a glue-on-fingers project too. I’d actually go as far to say the patience she has gained drawing on her computer has boosted her ability to focus longer on other projects. Paper projects included, but also to concentrate on her studies. Almost like patience, concentration and determination are muscles that can be trained to perform and take on any marathon. Whatever form it takes.

And the icing on the cake. As I was chatting to her, she talked about a science test she took that week. She said she was aware that she was able to concentrate fully on it. Didn’t daydream half way through, as she is apt to do. Completed it to her satisfaction. Be interesting to see how she does.

So what do I take away from all this. Maybe I shouldn’t worry that the children are spending too long on the computer (Unless Fortnite is concerned. Don’t get me started.). Maybe instead of passively lugging home the junk modelling from preschool, that was helpfully lovingly described as a robot, I should have revelled in her achievement. It’s not so much about what they do, but how they do it.

 

(not an ad, but is an affiliated link: If you are interested the Motley Man came out of the book Paper Automata by Rob Ives)

Thinking out of the box for the festive season

I have to admit that when one of my children announced, at the table last night, that it was five weeks until Christmas, it caught me out. Really? Woah. That was quick. What happened to November? Oh hang on, it is November, isn’t it? Yes, five weeks.

She was excited. Too right. The thought of no school. Days filled with festive spirit. Presents. Yummy treats. What’s not to like? For a moment, I was swept up in her excitement. I briefly caught the magic. I could almost smell the orange and cloves in the warm air. I caught wisps of music and laughter. Hints of the sparkly lights and tinsel. I remembered. I felt it again. It is such a lovely time of the year.

Then reality eased it’s ample self into a seat beside me. Sigh. I know. Five weeks. Time to buckle up and make this magic happen. That’s my role. Quite frankly, it’s not always easy.

One of my aims this year is to simplify the holidays. Festive without the stress. More time with the family. Less time juggling. A different type of indulge, but no less magical. I guess it helps that as my children grow from small children to teenagers (16, 14 and 11 years old), their expectations have changed. No longer hoping for a conveyor belt of presents to entertain them, but appreciating the thought that went into choosing the gift that shows we know them.

One area I really want to simplify is the gift giving. I love the idea of giving five gifts each to the children: something to read, something to wear, something to do, something to eat and something you need. Then…stop. None of those just-because gifts that creep in as the days run out. I’d like to be done and dusted by the end of November, so I can enjoy the festive spirit in December too.

So the list begins.

(Christmas Eve 2017)

Now, we have a tradition that everyone receives a book on Christmas Eve. An activity book or short stories, with facts, that will stimulate and entertain at the same time. Something to dive into on Christmas Eve or during those slower moments over the festive season and beyond. A pick-up and put-down type of book, where sections are read out and shared.

I’ve started my search for this year’s books. As luck would have it, I was sent a book recently that fits the bill perfectly.  How to think like an Absolute Genius. (affiliated link) Over the weekend, we tried out some of the exercises and shared fun facts.

Format is perfect. All three children love reading the snippets of facts and giggling at the cartoons. Me too. I freely admit, I do enjoy a book, aimed at children, which I find packed with easy to digest facts that interest me too.

I love the exercises in this one. They are different to ones I’ve found before. If you like out of the box thinking, then this is the book for you. I mean, your children. Although, I do think this book will be a success in our house as I want to join in too. As a parent, I can bring a book or toy to life that might otherwise be overlooked. This only happens if it appeals to me, as well as the younger members of the family.

Creativity and a different way of thinking, is a good way to start the day. Any day. For all of us.

We tried Ellis Paul Torrance’s creativity test. Ten minutes to draw anything, so long as the main component was the circle. It was interesting to see that they all came out with different approaches.I also posted up a serious of questions on paper and chalk boards, for them to provide multiple answers. We did this together for a couple of questions, so that they got the idea. I wrote down everything they suggested. No wrong answers. Although there was one amusing moment when I misheard Gucci socks as goat cheese socks (What is expensive and smells very bad?), and didn’t realise until the end. (Maybe you had to be there.)

Reality shuffles slightly in its chair. Almost imperceivable, muffled cough. Just five weeks. I hear you.

My search continues for our Christmas Eve books, for this year. This one is sitting on our coffee table and filling in a few moments before the festive period swings into full force. I’ll take it along when we visit family and friends over the holidays, with a pad of paper. I’m pretty sure the grandparents will join in too.

Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of “How to think like an Absolute Genius” from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I always give my true opinion of the product in reviews.

 

PoCoLo

Encouraging creativity

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

If you have a table of children crafting side by side, one of two things is likely to happen. Either they will inspire each other or it falls to bits, with one child slipping from their chair and declaring they “can’t do it”.

Cue crumpled up paper falling to floor.

It can all change in a split second. One moment they are chattering. Encouraging each other. Next pencils are downed. A glance at the work next to them, may be all it takes. The power of comparison is tangible.

Not an unfamiliar event for the youngest of the family. Sigh.

Being a youngest child, I can empathise with my last born. Somehow you forget that older siblings have several years more practise. Even then, everyone’s journey is different. The older ones probably chose and lead the project. With less years under your belt, you also probably don’t fully appreciate that we are all individuals and have our own style.

It can be tough.

This summer, I’ve set up a few art and craft projects that give him a chance to succeed. No right or wrong. No comparisons. Working on his own style.

He’s had the clock movement for a couple of years, but couldn’t settle on a clock face. We found a basic wooden one in Hobby Craft. He loves street art and comic style. I suggested keeping it simple would keep it on the wall for longer. He pointed out that he could always change it later. I like his way of thinking.

So he went for splatter paint. Boy, did he have fun. Our front path was speckled with colourful paints for days after he finished. Is he happy with the results? You bet he is. He did his own thing and succeeded. His clock will hang on his bedroom wall for all to admire, and the ticks of the second hand will be a constant reminder to be himself.

Am I happy? Yes. The project was finished. That on its own is a major success. He’s pleased to display it too. Not a crumpled paper moment. My heart sings. For one moment at least, I’m riding the parenting wave.

(Cue Beach Boy sound track, and sunset)

 

 

 

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