Foster a child’s creative muscles and he might develop more than a hobby. The ability to see life’s blessings and challenges creatively can impact a child’s outlook and personality. Everyone has the ability to be creative in some capacity. Some children take an obvious delight in drawing. Others are spellbound by opera. To help unearth your child’s interests, use these tips to encourage your child’s creativity in the arts.
• Keep an ample supply of craft items on hand. My boys made everything from a crucifix to a two-foot train from items that could have easily gone into the trash. We saved paper towel rolls, bubble wrap, boxes, clean food trays—anything that could safely be used for a project. Everything was pitched into a big “treasure box” that was always available.
• Limit coloring books. Too much coloring inside the lines can stifle creativity. Instead, offer lots of crayons, markers, colored pencils, and blank paper.
• Take advantage of the wide variety of art classes offered throughout the Metro. See MFM’s print and online calendars and check listings with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (okcmoa.com), City Arts Center (CityArtsCenter.org), Fine Arts Institute of Edmond (EdmondFineArts.com), FirehouseArt Center (NormanFirehouse.com), and many others.
• Attend local art shows and don’t be afraid to talk to the artists. Kids need to know that artists are real people, not just tormented geniuses.
• Enter contests. Register to enter the Respect Diversity Art and Poetry Contest (details at RespectDiversity.org) and keep checking back on this site for
• Ask your child to suggest alternate endings to the book you’re reading together. It’s a great way to encourage the imagination and is a less daunting task than writing an entire story.
• Write captions for pictures pulled from a magazine. You could even make a game of it: make a copy of the same photo for each family member and compare captions over dinner.
• Attend book signings at your local library or book store.
• Read often. When you find writing you think your kids might like or be inspired by, type up the words (always credit the author!) and tape them to the refrigerator without saying anything about it.
• Write a book or short story with your child. Invent topics or use a meaningful or funny event your family has shared.
• Make or buy a puppet stage and put on your own shows. It’s easy to act silly when no one can see you.
• Give your kids a video camera. We got some innovative footage of Ireland when our boys (then 12 and 8) took over the videotaping! Consider getting an XShot (XShotPix.com, $25) telescopic rod. It attaches to cameras and video cameras that weigh 12 ounces or less and allows photographers to be a part of the action.
• Stage your own theatrical production. Invite friends, neighbors, or extended family to join the fun and make it as simple or elaborate as you decide.
• Take in a live theater performance. See our feature on page 23 for local productions.
• Take an acting or production class. See page 23 for help in finding professional instruction.
• Put on some music and dance with your young children. Warning: do not attempt with teenagers!
• Teach your teen a dance you used to do (if they’ll tolerate it). The funky chicken is just as ridiculous today as it was in the 90s.
• Attend live dance performances. Ballet Oklahoma (BalletOklahoma.com) performs Zorro February 15-17 and The Three Musketeers April 18-20.
• Check out AileyBoutique.com for some riveting performances of the fabulous Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre—a DVD with performances by this New York City-based dance troupe is sure to inspire.
• Enroll your child in a class and don’t just drop him or her off at the door—observe so you’ll have something to talk about on the way home. Metro area dance studios include: Velocity Dance Center, 405-721-8807; Academy of Ballet and Theatre Arts, 405-752-1422; and Dance Phase Studio, 405-478-3464.
• Listen to a variety of music at home and in the car. Let your kids hear both Miley Cyrus and Mozart.
• Attend local concerts. The Oklahoma City Philharmonic (OKCPhilharmonic.org) offers Classics Concerts, Pops Concerts, and Discovery Concerts which introduce the younger set to the fun of music.
• Find a good music teacher. From voice to music theory, Metro area musicians offer their talents to help your child develop. Look into GingersKindermusik.com; Guitar for Kids, 405-340-8294; GymboreeClasses.com; JessesMusicStudio.com; Kindermusik withBonnie, 405265-0090; OKCU.edu/music/academy; and Kindermusik with Julie, 405-844-1716.
• Play musical games. For lots of free online games, go to Resources.Kaboose.com/games/music.html. Explore the site with your child and download what you both like.
Why are the arts so important? Because for the creative child, life is limitless!
Denise Springer is the former editor of MetroFamily Magazine.