Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Review: The Creative Family

The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family ConnectionsThe Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Black Soule

When I reviewed Young at Art, two friends suggested this book instead. Susan Striker's book actually laid out a plan for introducing a young child to art materials like paints, clay and colors. This book focuses more on creating a family life that embraces and encourages creativity.

First of all, this book is beautiful. It is well-designed and illustrated, including many pictures of the author with her three children. (She now has four; check out her blog for more updates on her life.)

There are a few projects suggested in the book, many of which were new to me and some of which we will be introducing on the Range. I love the idea of creating thank you cards with some artwork by the children (p. 17) and think Kansas Dad and the kids will have a great time making real wood block from logs we cut on our own land (p. 49). I've made lots of notes on these and other ideas. The projects cover a range of materials and skill levels so there's something here for everyone.

The tone of the book was a little "earthy" for me, thanking "earth mother" and such. In our house, we usually thank God for the earth. I think it's simple enough to glean some great ideas, though, from around the few things we wouldn't do with our children. I was also surprised she didn't mention cooking until a paragraph or so in the last chapter, but perhaps that's because once I started thinking about how we encourage creativity on the Range now, I realized it's mainly in the kitchen. (And by "we," I mean "I" since Kansas Dad does relatively little baking with the children, though they will sometimes help stir the pancake batter.)

There's more I'd like to share about the book, but Second Son is calling me and it's already taken a week to write this post. Check the book out and see if it can encourage some more creativity in your own life.


  1. Cool! Yes, I have Gemma help with her thank you notes, it is fun for her and (I think) gives the receiver a special smile when they read it.

    I would like to do more artsy stuff with her, she has done colors, markers etc. and plays with homemade playdough on occasion (it's getting kind of gloopy though, do you make your own? can I reconstitute it somehow or do I need to make new?) I digress.

    Anyways, I should get her some watercolors or something, I suppose.

    I've been trying to have her help me more in the kitchen, and that has been good for her, and good for me too. Makes me slow down and (try to) not care about the messes.

    Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about all the things I "could" do with her and need to remind myself to just live and discover and explore in the moment with what's at hand.

    Sounds like a neat book.

  2. We have really liked our birthday garland and crowns (the garland is still up from Joel's birthday right now). We've also done some embriodery (Simon's asking for more of that), we started knitting, and I really want to institute "family drawing time" but it hasn't happened yet.

    Between this and the "Young at Art" book I was inspired to get some nicer art materials and make them more accessible. We now have some nice watercolors, basic tempera paints, many drawing materials, and good paper, much better organized for the kids to help themselves (though they need to ask before getting out paints). It is already inspiring much more creative art work.

    Lately we've really liked the liquid watercolors in tubes, used with a small plastic palette. It keeps the colors form getting permanently muddied or waterlogged like you get with a tray of watercolor disks. They're pricier, but should last a lot longer, and since you can control the quantities, it limits the amount of mess that can be created. It also allows you to only offer a few colors at a time if you want, as "Young at Art" suggests. I like to let each of them pick one color--makes for some interesting combinations!

  3. Monica, I've taken to making lists of ideas for the future so I don't feel so overwhelmed immediately. Perhaps I'll pick one or two new things to try in the next six weeks or so (easy to schedule by jotting down on my course notes for our homeschool) and then just list the others and a reference for the future. That way no one is overwhelmed (including the mom).

    If we did everything we wanted with our children, our houses would be in chaos and the we'd be doing a disservice to the children. They need to learn to entertain themselves, too (which I admit is much easier when they are older and have close siblings).

    Hilary, the garland is one of the projects I noted for the future...when I'm ready to really tackle sewing. (I know, it doesn't take much but still.) I'm going to start some embroidery, too, just as soon as I'm ready to cross-stitch myself again. I figure we can all work on them together in the afternoons while the little ones are sleeping. Eventually Second Son will have a more reliable schedule...eventually. (I keep telling myself that.)

    I already have some watercolors and paper. I should pick up a few of those plastic palettes. We stock up a little at a time using the 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby that shows up every few weeks or so in the paper. Last week it was modeling clay (not that we've used it yet...forgot to pull it out today). I often let them choose one or two colors, but never thought about making them use the same colors. Interesting idea!

  4. Oh my! I've just "wished" this book on Paperback Swap. Fingers Crossed :)

  5. Sarah, I hope you get it. I love PaperbackSwap!


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