I have been delighted to stumble upon The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nuture Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule recently. What a fun read it has been. I have been inspired by this author’s creativity and desire to build family relationships through simple enjoyment of nature. Although not written from a Christian perspective, I was inspired to see in a new light how we are all designed to be creative beings made in the image of a Creative God.
Amanda shares, “We don’t have to ‘teach’ our children to be creative – inherent in the very core of children’s beings is the embodiment of creativity…A large part of nurturing a spirit of creativity comes from being mindful, slowing down, observing, and looking around you at the beauty and inspiration all around…The joyful act of creating together can be positively magical and truly a gift for everyone. Much of our cultural energy is spent filling our minds, hearts, and time with things outside our families, as is evident in the smaller amount of time that families spent together at home…The experience of turning inward toward your family for creative fulfillment can be an amazing and powerful experience for the entire family -young and old.”
We really don’t have to ‘teach’ our children to be creative! We just have to supply our children with the tools necessary to apply that creativity! This book is full of fun ideas for simple projects, games, and crafts to encourage imagination in your family. She shares about building your craft closet to have items ready to allow children to explore and draw. She invites you to build a dress up box full of items to inspire stories and performances.
I love how she gives an abundance of ideas for doing it all frugally as well! You don’t have to invest in expensive supplies, as nature provides us with many inspirations for creativity. Find items in the pantry (beans, popcorn kernels, noodles and seeds), nature (pine cones, wood, leaves, bark, stones), thrift shops, and trash/recycling (old magazines, calenders, etc) and let their creative juices flow!
My favorite ideas include holding a regular family drawing night and together exploring an article of creation, or photo from a magazine, etc. The family sits down with their own drawing notebooks and draws the chosen object and then discusses the differences of their drawings and other questions. I also loved the questions she offered for evaluating what kind of toys we bring into our homes: is it beautiful? Is it simple? What is it made of? What senses does it use? How is it organized? Is there too much? She offered a profound observation: “A sad product of our modern world is that our children are taught early on to over consume and to want more, more, and more. Chances are that they do not need more toys, but fewer. When there are too many things around, there’s little room for imagination.” So many of the toys on the market “do it all”, entertaining our children and leaving no room to develop their creative senses. Bring nature indoors and let their creative minds be put to work. Yarn/Fabric baskets with different textures of fabric, pine cones for stacking or dolls, rocks for painting, wooden blocks, and more provide equal if not superior joy and inspiration.
Highly recommend this read! I cannot wait to read her next book, Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures, scheduled to be released this next month.