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Making a Christmas Card: 4 Things to Consider

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I consider it my absolute duty to make the Holidays a magical experience for my two boys (soon to be three come January). At first merging family traditions with my wife offered some challenges, but through the years we’ve successfully merged the best of both worlds, and established some of our own traditions along the way.

SEE ALSO: Check out lessons learned from last year!

One of my new favorites (which started two years ago) is the making of a ‘festive’ picture for the Holidays. Thanks to Digital Technology, it’s now easier than ever to turn this creation into the artwork for the family Holiday card.

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Through experience, I wanted to offer 4 things to consider when making a Christmas Card.

Making a Christmas Card: 4 Things to Consider

1 Know the Size: I make this mistake every year, but it’s helpful to know the size of the card prior to making the picture. Without this you might lose some parts of the image when it’s uploaded and scaled to fit the template.

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The first picture we produced for our Christmas card. It shows our tree and fireplace, and was a joint effort between Daddy and Son.

2. Pick the Right Time: I suggest that you identify a ‘good’ time to create the picture so that’s it’s not too rushed. Take sometime to let them know how it will be used, and ask them some questions about the picture that they plan to make.

One of the few times Arthur was engaged. This year wasn't the fun and magical experience I remember from last year.
One of the few times Arthur was engaged. You can see how we had to add a second piece of paper to accommodate the fireplace.

3. Leave Them Alone: If your little one is past three you probably need to give them the freedom to produce their own image. Last year I found my eldest to be particularly resistant to the activity when I offered too much in the way of direction. I recognize it’s difficult as we probably want the picture to demonstrate their best abilities, but unfortunately, the more we get involved, the more we risk diminishing the opportunity to engage Creative Thinking skills.

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This year’s card. I had hoped to move away from the Tree and Fireplace, but he was having none of that. The new addition was the flags of his family – which I thought offered a nice touch. It was also the first card that he produced by himself.

4. Involve them in the Upload: Involve them in the process afterwards, let them see how their image is being used on sites such as Shutterfly and Vistaprint. This is a great way to introduce them to Digital Technology, and it might even offer some reading and writing extensions, should you decide to seek their help in crafting the Holiday message.

I recently wrote an article that referenced the ‘Maker Movement’, which has offered new ways to engage young children in Creativity, through creating and making. Ultimately, this activity is another example of how Digital Technology, can take an original picture produced by a child, and turn it into something that can be enjoyed and cherished by others – there’s something ‘Christmasy’ in that concept. I hope you enjoy!

How to Make a Family Christmas Card

  1. Paint or draw the picture*
  2. Capture and crop finished picture using your smart phone
  3. Visit online printing company (I use Vista Print)
  4. Select a customized card option that best fits the size of your picture*
  5. Upload image and be sure to preview sample
  6. Confirm order

CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

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4 Great Things for Advocates of Creativity

As humans we have a habit on focusing on the negatives, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, as I feel (or hope) it’s part of our natural instinct to produce solutions to problems. However, given that it’s Thanks Giving, I thought it would be nice to identify 4 great things for advocates of Creativity.

SEE ALSO: Introducing some of the principals Design Thinking to young children

1. Digital Technology

In some circles within education, digital technology might be perceived as a distraction, or worse, a nuisance to the traditional system of information transfer that is still a significant component of the classroom experience. However Digital Technology, which continues to evolve as a rapid pace, is offering new opportunities for our children to create and make. Many of us see this in our little ones, who having been inspired by their favorite YouTube videos, ask for our devices so that they can produce their own content. With minor adult intervention, these videos can not only be impressive, but also engage a variety of Creative Thinking skills along the way.

SEE ALSO: DadsforCreativity – Moviemaking Tips and Activities

Moviemaking is just one example of how digital technologies have encouraged creating and making, which also encompasses 3D Printing, Digital Game Design, Authoring iBooks, and storytelling through a variety of mobile apps.

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2. Maker Spaces

One of the greatest outcomes of our Digital Age, has been the transformation of the everyday user from consumer to producer. As I mentioned above, Digital Technology now offers a variety of opportunities for people to create and make, and this has spawned a new type of D.I.Y movement, which has led to Maker Spaces, popping up all over the place. Libraries, museums, schools, and universities are redesigning rooms so that they can accommodate this exciting venture. While many of the early Maker Spaces usually centered on 3D Printing, they have since evolved to include, not only other forms of Digital Technology, but also traditional arts and crafts as well. More importantly, from a Creativity perspective, the facilitators of these spaces often encourage participants to apply Creative Problem-Solving principals to their process, with one of the preferred favorites being Design Thinking, which I particularly like because it places significant emphasis on the intended user, as well as some type of Iteration process.

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One of our first inventions using Little Bits. We took a trip to Michaels to gather the materials needed for our Solar System.

3. New Toys

The combination of new technology, and the interest in engaging young children in creating and making, has led to some exciting developments within the toy industry. Little Bits, which is an electronic kit, has offered support to the Make Movement, and with a vibrant online community users can be inspired to make absolutely anything. I might add that with the introduction of the Little Bit apps, children can also interact with their creations using their mobile devices, which I feel is taking this toy to another level. The base kit is a great place to start for the little ones, and runs between $80-$100.

Little Bits is not the only cool new toy to embrace the Maker Movement, Makey Makey is another cool example that engages young children in computer engineering and software development, and Legos now offers kits that teach children about robotics and programming.

4. Growing Discussion

With an energized community of parents and educators, who are engaging young children in creating and making activities outside the classroom, the discussions about Creativity in Education is expanding. Once more, as the alternative learning opportunities outside the classroom begin to define themselves further, the school system and the traditional role of the teacher might be challenged for the first time by parents – who are taking an increasing interest in Digital Technology, Creativity, and Project-Based Learning.

As I look at the 4 great things for advocates of Creativity can be grateful for this Thanks Giving, I can’t help but highlight the opportunities that have arisen because of Digital Technology. Yes, it certainly brings about challenges within society, but the innovation that is has spawned has allowed people like me to share my voice, and engage my little boys in Creative activities that wasn’t possible just 10 year ago – for that I’m truly thankful!


CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

Read More

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How to apply the principals of Design Thinking during Halloween?

Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding from this post– I LOVE THE SUMMER, but we are now technically in Fall, which is a fantastic time of the year. While Apple picking is probably high on the agenda, most of the conversations with family friends seem to center on that all important question – What are you going to be for Halloween? 

Last year our goal was to ‘make’ the costumes as opposed to ‘buying’ them, and I wrote an article about the need for time – time to incubate ideas, time to plan, time to gather the material, and finally time to prototype (when you’re trying out ideas to see if they work, you’re prototyping).

SEE ALSO: Introducing some of the principals Design Thinking to young children

I advocate for the making of costumes, because it provides an opportunity to involve the family in a design process that engages our creative thinking and problem solving skills.

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Design Thinking is the name of a specific problem-solving methodology that has been made popular by design firms such as IDEO, but many of it’s principals can be found in most problem solving methods that require practitioners to navigate toward a creative outcome. Below is how parents can apply some of the principals of Design Thinking during Halloween.

STAGE ONE: Clarifying the Problem: What are we going to be?

The first stage of the process begins with clarifying the problem. Ultimately, this is where you have to work with your little ones to identify what costumes you need to make? During this stage you will no doubt welcome the whacky ideas that naturally manifest, and eventually settle for something in the middle (unless of course, your field of expertise is costume design). A few years ago Lucas was intent on being a fire breathing, robot skeleton dinosaur, but over time he opted for a Peter Pan theme, which was more inclusive for the family.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2013
Halloween Costume 2013: My wife deserves all the credit. She researched the idea of a plane and made it. We noticed Lucas had difficulty climbing stairs and turning around in tight corners, but it certainly got all the attention from fellow parents! A little more prototyping perhaps!

STAGE TWO: Ideating: How to I make the costume?

This is the stage where you need to go out an explore ideas on how to make your costume. Pinterest is a place where all the creative parents hang out, so I highly encourage you to explore this as part of your research, but a quick Google image search is also great place to start.  I encourage you to identify a few different options, as you’ll likely benefit from taking a little bit from here, and a little bit from there, in order to make the perfect costume.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2014
Halloween Costume 2014: Characters from Never Never Land, Last year we had to creatively steer Lucas away from a fire breathing skelton dinosaur, and to a more family friendly, and doable in short-time frame option. I was a Lost Boy – can’t you tell? I rolled on the grass to get the grass stains!

STAGE THREE: Prototyping: Does it work? In other words can they actually wear it?

This is where you get the little ones to try on your invention (or perhaps even better the collaborative invention). Ask them how it feels? Does it need any adjustments? You can also have them make observations, and offer suggestions for improvements. Each improvement is called an iteration, and there might even be a need to scrap the idea and start all over again – but of course time is probably playing against you during this stage of the process.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2015
Halloween Costume 2015: This year Lucas wanted to be a Wild Kratt, with frog powers. I was determined to practice what I preach and design this costume for him, but toward the end he opted for an Indian theme, thanks to a short lived obsession with Pocahontas. Mommy of course assumed the lead role, while Daddy made an attempt to replicate the character of John Smith, from the Disney movie.

Time is always a factor, so perhaps you alternate years of making and buying costumes. Whatever you do, just be sure to start thinking early, involve your little ones in the process, and most of all don’t forget to take those pictures!


CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

Read More

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Using Video Games to Teach Children to Fail

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison

We’ve all probably made the connection on how important it is to fail. I recently read the book, Creativity Inc, written by Ed Catmull, and Amy Wallace. The book charts the rise of Pixar, specifically detailing their process of Creativity and success. One of the things that Ed Catmull, highlights throughout the book, is the importance in learning to ‘Fail Early, and Fail Fast’.

My boys increased interest in the iPad, has come about thanks to his discovery of Minecraft (going beyond YouTube Kids). Minecraft is a great game for Creativity, as it's sole goal is to create and make.
My boys increased interest in the iPad, has come about thanks to his discovery of Minecraft (going beyond YouTube Kids). Minecraft is a great game for Creativity, as it’s sole goal is to create and make.

As adults, I’m sure we all recognize that when we start something new, it’s probably going to take a few attempts before we get it right, particularly if the activity requires a set of skills that must be developed or learnt along the way. However, teaching this concept to a child can be difficult, particularly to the ones that are impatient and want to succeed on their first attempt. How do you explain to a five year old that they’re going to fail at first, and however upset they might become, they should keep trying (and keep failing) so that they can get better – they want to win, and WIN NOW!

See Also: Creativity Chit-Chat: A Parents Quick Guide to Creativity at Home

I’m not going to take a really deep dive into my feelings toward failure, and how students in our current system of schooling are not always given adequate opportunities to fail – neither am I going to talk too much about how we as parents, in our desire to ‘help’ our little ones along the way, often remove the opportunities for them to fail, because we want to see them constantly succeed. Instead, I’m going to talk about a mobile game called Mr. Jump.

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I think this is probably the first time that I’ve actually written about a mobile game, and that’s because I don’t find the time to play them often. However, my eldest has finally begun showing a greater interest in the iPad, and recently requested that I download Mr. Jump, after spending a day with his cousins.

Given his enthusiasm, I immediately made the purchase from the App Store, and we began playing. Oh my days – it was hard, and of course it immediately provoked annoying temper tantrums that made me want to delete the game immediately. But, then I realized that we can use video games to teach children to fail. One of the things that I noticed immediately about Mr. Jump, was that instead of losing a life after dying (failing), the screen displays the percentage of the level that the player has completed. This was fantastic, because it allowed me to show Lucas that he was making progress. As opposed to focusing on getting to the end of the level without dying, we were able to set goals, and the game assisted us with our goal setting by providing a line to indicate our best attempt. At first we just tried to get into the teens, then the twenties, and finally thirties. Each time we reached a new high I took the time to celebrate the success, and slowly the goal of our game shifted to beating our previous number, as opposed to getting to the end of the level (which is really hard!).

Mr. Jump, displays the percentage of the level completed. Allowing players to see their progress, and thus improvement.
Mr. Jump, displays the percentage of the level completed. Allowing players to see their progress, and thus improvement. It’s a minor detail that for me, has made all the difference.

In-between our attempts, we discussed the concept of failure, and I used our progress as an example to how we get better, and learn after each attempt. We even began to singing one of the verses from Zootopia after obtaining a new high number

‘Birds don’t just fly, they fall down and get up’ 

Slowly, but surely, Lucas was discovering that it’s ok to fail, so long as he picks himself back up, and tries again.

On writing this article, I find myself thinking this is an obvious thing to discover. After all, digital games are designed to give their players the opportunity to fail. It’s how players learn, and develop the necessary skills to overcome future challenges. I think this is referred to as ‘Game Flow’ within game theory classes.

Anyway, I’m going to take this experience into teaching Lucas, how to ride his bike – wish me luck on that one! If you haven’t see it, here’s the Zootopia song.

PS. The game’s great. I’ve been sneaking off to play it myself. Just got to level two yesterday!


CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

Read More