One of the most delightful things about kids is that they are always creating things.
Hardly a day goes by when the munchkin does not bring home a new drawing, painting, collage or box assemblage from pre-school. Like any other parent, I want to admire his creativity and encourage his efforts. But the truth is, some creations are “more aesthetic” than others, and there is only so much space on our fridge, on his display shelf, in our lounge room and in his treasure box.
Of greater concern, is that some of his “best” creativity occurs not with paints, pencils or textas. He is a fabulous story-teller, regaling long, intricately detailed tales of Cat’s relatives and Cheetah’s adventures. He builds amazing vehicles with his Lego (see above). He creates rocket ships and robots out of rubbish. He invents temperature controlled bird baths out of puddles and dirt. He makes costumes for his bears out of all sorts of stuff.
These “creations” cannot be simply pasted into a scrapbook.
The idea of keeping a kids’ creativity journal is not a new one – it is really just a home-based version of an early learning portfolio.
From my understanding, it works like this. Each week, the teacher or carer concentrates on the activities of a few students and observes them at play, spends some time having conversations one-on-one and treating them to a little extra attention. They take photographs of the child engaged in class or individual activities. They might have a discussion about a certain topic, and record snippets of their conversations. They might do a little eavesdropping. By concentrating their focus, the teacher or carer can gain greater understanding of the child’s development, and be aware of their interests, strengths and challenges.
I’m not a teacher or early learning specialist, so I don’t have all the background. However, I think it should be possible to do something like this with your own child(ren).
Admittedly, I haven’t actually done one YET, but I think this is probably THE ONE journal idea I would most like to pursue.
Personal blogs are also great way to keep track of your kids’ creativity, are easy to set up and use, and are great to share with friends and family. But be aware that you are potentially sharing your children’s lives with the whole world! Keep in mind your child(ren)’s right to privacy. Personally, I love Childhood 101, SquiggleMum, The Artful Parent and Little Eco Footprints, all of which have great ideas for capturing kids’ creativity. Most of these bloggers are also teachers and have developed their ideas in the classroom, but they mostly share their own kids’ experiences. These are just a few and there are plenty more out there. (And please, let me know of any particular favourites and I’ll check them out!)
You will need:
A camera, a way of voice recording (if your munchkin is anything like mine, talking a mile a minute, go for a digital option rather than pen and paper), a printer with archival inks and paper, a scrapbook or journal, archival quality glue or photo dots.
Alternatively, you can assemble the pages on your computer. You could even start your own blog. With any digital medium (especially your photos), remember to back up regularly. For long term storage (for the kids to look back on when they’re all grown up) you should also produce a printed piece, using professional quality digital printing on archival paper. (See our Notes about Archiving.)
While your child is at play, take candid photos of them. Make sure you take a photo of the finished item as well. This is especially important if they are creating items that will later be pulled apart or discarded (e.g. blocks, rubbish sculptures, playdough etc), but is a useful habit for paintings, drawings and collages also, so you won’t need to keep EVERY finished item.
I love the idea of taking a photo of your child with the finished item – especially if they are covered in the materials used to make the creation!
Talk to your child about their creation. Record the conversation. Ask your child open questions about their creation. “What does it do?” “What is happening here?” Let your child tell you the stories or information about their creation, rather than asking them, “Is it this?” or “Does it do that?”
Decide on a format for your portfolio (i.e. scrapbook, A3 art pad, traditional photo album, digital photobook etc) then put together a “portfolio page” containing the photographs and quotes from your child. Depending on the size and materials, you may also like to include the finished piece. Teachers often include an interpretation of the learning experience. You may choose to do this too. If possible, make two copies – one for your child to enjoy now and one to keep. Gather your portfolio pages into a single document (perhaps one journal per year of your child’s life, so it doesn’t get too hefty).
Go through the journal with your child from time to time. Share it with grandparents. Laugh. Reminisce. Enjoy!
Playopedia – Childhood 101
A good place to start if you’re stuck for creative play ideas.
Art not Craft eBook – Childhood 101
The ultimate guide to creating art with young children. It’s worth every cent!
Photographing Kids Art – Picklebums
Some practical tips for photographing flat artwork
Photographing Children’s Artwork – Kodak
A collection of ideas on capturing kids art – some I’ve included here, and some additional good ones.
Gallery at Home – SquiggleMum
A lovely way to display your children’s artwork as a feature in your home
Artwork in the boys’ room – A Thousand Words
A great idea if you don’t have a lot of wall space
Remember: Although many of these ideas are about two-dimensional artwork, remember that kids’ creativity comes in a multitude of forms. Don’t just limit your records to paintings, drawings and collage.