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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 4, 2010

Helping your children be creative early could pay off big later

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune


For art projects for various age groups, see "Incredible Art Lessons," a Web site from educator Ken Rohrer, at www.incredibleart.org.

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Could paper and crayons at 3 mean nuclear physicist at 30?

Encouraging creativity in your children preps them for a lot more than future artistic pursuits, says Whitney Ferre, author of "33 Things to Know About Raising Creative Kids" (Turner). It preps them for life.

"Creativity is confidence in your ability to create change at work, in your personal life, at home," Ferre says. "It's having a challenge in life and thinking, 'OK, here's what I've got at my disposal. Here's where I want to be, here are the steps I'm going to take to get there.' It's the same as looking at a blank canvas or a hunk of clay or a blank piece of paper."

Ferre says the simple act of stocking blank paper and fresh markers will give your child a leg up when it comes to problem solving.

"Obstacles become opportunities," she says. "We have to intentionally create time to develop these skills."

As the title suggests, Ferre's book provides 33 ideas for cultivating creativity in young kids. Here are five of our favorites:

• Build forts. Save large boxes, Ferre says, and let kids "create windows and doors and decorate their clubhouse. ... They are in control."

• Shop for art supplies at the grocery store. "If they see you buying them markers, sketchbooks, glue sticks and crayons at the grocery store, they are going to consider them just as important as the food you are buying."

• Tie-dye. "Once you get going, your 'inner camper' will bubble up, and you will be just as mesmerized by the resulting swirls and panels of color as your kids will be." Ferre likes the kits from Dharma Trading Co. (www.dharmatrading.com).

• Let them dress themselves. "As long as they are warm enough and not going to be at risk of indecent exposure, let them wear their stripes with their plaids and their layers of mismatched clothing. ... This is such an easy place to just let them be.

• Create a dream collage. "Younger kids can include things they like, and older ones can find things, places or experiences they would like in their future. It can be as basic as pulling out old magazines and sitting around the kitchen table cutting out images to glue onto a piece of paper. ... What a great way to promote to your family that you are the 'artists' of the work that is your life together."