Creative beginnings for tiny tots

Posts tagged ‘parenting’

“A leaf man’s got to go where the wind blows…”

Truer words were never spoken here on the east coast today, as we brace for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, yet to come.  The rain has been coming down steadily, the wind is picking up, and all the schools and government offices are closed.  So much for our autumn project planned for the first half of this week, collages made from real leaves, inspired by Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man.

Since I may not have the opportunity to blog about this project after all (the leaf piles and the leaf men hidden therein may all have blown away by the time all is said and done), I’m going to link you to an interview I did with one of my favorite bloggers, Jean Van’t Hul of The Artful Parent, so you can get to know a bit more about my background, the origins and philosophy of the ART IN HAND program, and art therapy in general.  Here’s hoping we all get to keep our power on!  (realistically speaking, that’s fairly unlikely in these parts in the next day or so…)

Happy reading!

Julie Liddle:  An Art Therapist’s Perspective

Awakenings

The most powerful tactic…to awaken the curiosity of a child…is simply to head for the hands.
– Frank Wilson (1998)

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Nature AND Nurture

Nothing like baby animals to bring out the nurturing side in us humans, and toddlers and preschoolers are no exception.  The essence of that nurturing spirit is captured literally and symbolically in the concept of the nest.   And the act of nesting itself, creating a warm, protective environment in which a new life can grow and emerge enveloped by its parents and the safe haven they so carefully crafted, is truly captivating for young children, as they identify with the babies in the scenario and also get to try the parental role on for size.

Toddlers and preschoolers are natural collectors…

… and gluers…

And as you can see, highly invested in creating their own unique nests.

An ambitious five year old got busy with scissors to create his own chipmunk from construction paper and flower petals (for eyes) to live in his nest.

I just love these nests, and look forward to seeing them emerge each spring!

The Art of Springtime

As we kick off another spring session, I wanted to share with you all an article I wrote for Washington Parent magazine a few years back.  I hope it inspires you to make the most of the creative possibilities that surround your wherever you are.

Washington Parent: The Art of Springtime

Helping Kids Cope when a Loved One has Cancer

As a fan of quality children’s literature, I want to encourage parents, teachers, and therapists out there who are dealing with this issue to visit Randi Rentz’ “Why Buy A Wig…” blog for a great children’s book recommendation on the subject for kids aged 3 – 10.

Randi is a seasoned special education teacher and consultant, a breast cancer survivor, and a dear friend with a razor sharp wit and excellent taste, so I trust her judgement!

Everybody needs a hand once in a while…

We were on sick day number 4 over here today, and by this afternoon were hit hard with the boredom and crankiness that always seems to accompany that point in the recuperation when the sick kid has enough energy to be antsy, but still feels lousy enough to be irritable.  Once again, the plaster casting material came to our rescue, when I was certain there would be no redeeming this gloomy afternoon.

I was immediately reminded of a phrase from a workshop I recently attended with Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm:  “Motion changes emotion.”

In other words, when your child is melting down, get him to a change of scenery, get him involved in doing something, don’t just stand there trying to talk him out of it.

Thankfully, in our case, the plaster material and my son’s earlier projects were still set up on the table on our enclosed porch (a nice sunny spot to work) for him to notice, which eliminated the need for me to suggest he work with the materials (I’m sure he would have said “NO!” to anything I suggested at that point).  He has gone out there twice in the last few days to expand on his previous experiences with hand casting, and has had some fun getting more inventive and expressive!

Based on these recent positive experiences working with this medium, he was able to make the choice on his own to go for it this afternoon.

Within seconds, he shifted from, “I hate you! I hate everything!” to “Mom, stay here and do this with me.”  And his energy immediately shifted from tense and agitated to calm and engaging.  In my previous posts (like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one) I have spoken about the therapeutic impact of the sense of touch that is elicited through various art media.  For my son and me, the process of casting each other’s hands in clay and in plaster, has become a valuable tool.  My nine year old has discovered that he can use this process to bring about a sense of calm for himself, and it is also something that he can control and use to create a concrete and predictable outcome, which gives him a feeling of mastery and success.  It is also a wonderful way for the two of us to connect.

And today, he took the process a step further with a new idea he came up with for decorating the extra thick cast that we had built around his hand.  He used pipettes to squirt liquid watercolors on the cast, creating a colorful splattered effect.  What a turnaround from gloom and doom to bright and fun and whimsical.

You don’t have to have complicated art materials at your disposal to apply these principals in your own home.  Think about what hooks your child.  It could be anything from building with legos, to playing with playdough, to tossing bean bags, to whipping up a recipe in the kitchen…anything that gets them moving and doing and using their senses while connecting with you in a relaxed and fun way.  Over time these experiences help them learn that they can make choices to help calm themselves and learn self-control.

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Simple Words of Wisdom

…for anyone who knows, loves, teaches, cares for, or spends time with young children.  Compliments of Explorations Early Learning LLC, which I stumbled upon on Facebook.

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