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GET CREATIVE, GET MAKING: Halloween Costume Ideas 2015

Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding from this post– I LOVE THE SUMMER. (I love all seasons except spring when my allergies play havoc on any fun opportunity that might present itself). So when I begin to talk about Halloween and the Fall, I don’t want you to click away because you liken me to those folks who want to rush away our last week or so of summer. I’m the one who will be out in my shorts and T-shirts and enjoying those late evening strolls, but during these walks I’ve started to bring up a conversation with my eldest – What do you want to be for Halloween?

SEE ALSO: Top Ten Items for a Dressing Up Box

My goal this year is to ‘make’ the costumes as opposed to ‘buying’ them, and that needs time. Time to incubate ideas, time to plan, time to prototype, and time to make – think about all the creative thinking and problem-solving opportunities that will manifest over the next couple of months. Searching for Halloween Consume Ideas should begin with this type of question, but research can benefit from visits to sites like Pinterest, where lots of parents and educators share their creative ideas for Halloween.

Halloween Costume Ideas 2015: 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!

Last year I wrote about the many Ana and Elsa’s who we encountered while Trick or Treating. They were all very cute – but the same cute. All the costumes had been purchased from the same store and I felt this took away any opportunity for originality or creativity. I began to wonder if the quality of a costume can impact a child’s fun and/or belief in their character. As I reflected on this question I recalled my own experience at a fancy Lord of the Rings birthday party on top of a hotel in London. Some of my college friends had rented their costumes from high end wardrobe departments like the BBC – I had made my costume from scrap. Yes, I had to answer the ‘who am I’ question a little more than my friends, but I felt just as much an Aragon, Legolas, or Hobbit character than anyone else in the room.

This is a little pile of ‘rubbish’ that I’ve begun to collect in preparation for Halloween. The challenge will be hiding it from my wife who might ‘mistaken’ it as garbage. It’s always sensible to have an arsenal of items for the costume.

So if time allows (which I appreciate is the greatest battle) join me this Halloween in ‘making’ a costume. I’ll be documenting our efforts on Instagram, and while the challenge of making a Wild Kratt, with Frog creature powers is intimidating, it’s a lot better than last years Fire Breathing Skelton Dinosaur request.

Characters from Peter Pan: Last year we had to creatively steer Lucas away from his Fire Breathing Skelton Dinosaur idea, and to a more family friendly, and doable in short-time frame.
Characters from Never Never Land: Last year we had to creatively steer Lucas away from his Fire Breathing Skelton Dinosaur idea, and to a more family friendly, and doable in short-time frame. I was a Lost Boy – can’t you tell?

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My New Years Resolutions for Cultivating Creativity at Home

It’s another New Year and time to make some New Years Resolutions! So how might we better cultivate creativity at home? I’m honestly not sure at how to best approach this task, but I think it’s important to work at identifying where our little ones are currently exhibiting areas of creative thinking at home and work at building upon them. Below is my list for Lucas (Liam, if you’re reading this just remember I’m writing this when you were nine months – this is NOT favoritism to Lucas!):

My first is to research how I might better nurture some of the talents Lucas has demonstrated. I’m sure we all see them in our kids but what do we actually do to nurture their development. Lucas loves to draw and make stories, so I’m going to try and help him make some books that we can read at night and might even investigate some art classes.

My second is to slowly introduce the use of technology. Lucas is a skilled operator of the iPad, but we don’t do enough with the many apps that are designed specifically to cultivate creative thinking. I’m also going to make more of our movie production and start utilizing some of the stop motion apps. This links back to nurturing his desire to make stories and hopefully will become an activity we both enjoy once a month.

My third is perhaps the most easy to adopt and is simply being better at recognizing the ‘micro’ moments of creativity. These are those small acts of creative thinking that we might respond by ‘good boy/girl’ but never actually celebrate. A perfect example was last month when Lucas turned to me as said ‘I’m trying to draw a different picture in every one Daddy’ this was his contribution to our Christmas Card. *

My forth resolution is another simple one – cultivate more questions. Yes they’re annoying, and there’s only some many answers to ‘Daddy how does the bladder work?’ (He’s learning about the human body in school), but actually asking questions is one of the greatest creative acts of a scientist and the scientist within us all is probably one of the most creative aspects of our personality. A renown Physicist stated that he owes his success to his mother asking him ‘what questions did you ask at school today’ as opposed to the more common question ‘tell me what you learned at school today’

Finally, I recognize that if I’m going to better cultivate creativity at home then I better get a little more creative myself, so I’m going to search out a creative hobby of my own. I’m thinking astronomy, photography or a combination of the two.

* The act of trying to create a different picture in each card was a perfect fluency exercise, which is a specific creativity skill that was identified by E. Paul Torrance and involves the ability to produce and consider many alternatives.

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Choosing Presents that Promote Creativity at Christmas

Santa… Claus… is coming to town! And this means lots of Christmas shopping for parents. My boys haven’t got to the age where they can identify a list of wants and send these off to Santa – and this means their choice of presents is mine to make!   So, what gifts can we buy that will create magic on Christmas morning, but also provide opportunities to nurture and cultivate creativity at home.

Below is a list of five items that I believe can be used to cultivate skills in creativity.

  • The Olloclip can be found on Amazon. It’s basically a micro lens that clips on to your smartphone and lets you take really, really close up pictures. Come Spring you can take your kids on nature walks and grab all sorts of images that will stimulate curiosity and provide a whole new perspective to the tiny world that lives under our feet.
  • My boys are a little to young for this gift but the Makey Makey – An Invention Kit, has got ‘Maker’, ‘Wow Factor’ and a verity of problem-solving skills written all over it. I confess I haven’t checked it out but have identified it for Christmas 2016. I’ve seen people turn bananas into remote controllers for video games.
  • Legos – this stuff doesn’t need an introduction, I just encourage you to be cautious when purchasing ‘branded’ based playsets.. There’s certainly a place for our little ones to reenact the stories they see in the movies, but we don’t want them to be confined to the characters in these worlds. Instead we want them to create their own characters for their own worlds. Apart from that I really don’t think it matters what Lego you purchase. Some kids will probably play, others will build, but whatever happens Legos make create ‘Makers’. I don’t plan to spend this kind of money on Lego, but for educators the story starter kits from Lego Education are worth exploring.


  • Science Kits/Telescopes/Ant Farms, anything that stimulates wonder and curiosity for the world around us. I’ll be keeping it simple and purchasing a magnet set. These types of activities will work best with parent participation, who can facilitate questions and arise curiosity.
  • Games should really have their own section. Most games are renown for their problem-solving skills. There’s certainly little debate on the learning that takes place in game. The discussion is usually on whether this learning translates into the real world. Personally I feel that probably varies from game to game. Just to clarify, traditional board games are just as important as digital games. Personally I’m not in a rush to introduce Lucas to video games so I’ll be keeping to simple things like Connect4 – Remember not to give it away – let the little ones try and problem-solving how to win the game.

This is only my third Christmas as a Dad so I’m still learning on what to buy. Generally speaking, play is a creative act so you can’t really go wrong. I’d just suggest that you try and vary the types of toys in order to stimulate a wide variety of creativity skills.

Happy Holidays!

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Creativity Chit-Chat: 5 ways to engage Creativity at Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love the Holidays and consider it my duty to make it a magical experience for my boys. Merging family traditions with my wife can occasionally be challenging, but for the most part extremely fun because you get to choose best of both worlds.

Not only can Christmas become a magical experience, but it can also be one full of creativity and imagination. As my eldest is only celebrating his third, and my youngest his first, we’re still building on our annual endeavors but I’ve been making efforts to integrate activities that cultivate creative thinking:
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  1. Making the front cover of our family Christmas card; this was new for this year and turned out to be an enjoyable experience. It’s basically an art project, but because the drawing will be uploaded as the front cover of our card it has added value and purpose. I didn’t challenge the imagination too much this year but anticipate we’ll try and introduce some storytelling elements in the future. They’re currently in the post but I’m looking forward to showing him so that he can make the connection that he’s a ‘Maker’.
  2. Writing a letter to Santa; this should go beyond the writing of a list of presents, which I’ve been told by many parents helps install the ‘I want…’ attitude in later years. Instead this year we wrote a letter telling Santa we’ll be in London, England and will leave him a Mince Pie this year as opposed to a cookie. However, I think that this is another opportunity to tell a story, draw a picture, or write a story to Santa.
  3. Choosing Christmas presents that cultivate creative thinking; I’m going to write another article with some gift ideas that I’ve identified as being particularly helpful when trying to cultivate creative thinking in our little ones. For now I would just say that all children should open gifts that engage the imagination, use fantasy, and have some elements of making, problem-solving, or stimulating curiosity and wonder.
  4. Making, Making, and Making; The Maker Movement has renewed in purpose and energy since the birth of the World Wide Web and other digital technologies. For children below five, making a Ginger Bread House, decorations for the tree or doing some cooking all encourage kids to make and engage in problem-solving. For older children I’m getting particularly intrigued by 3D Printing and plan in the future to make presents for my boys using a 3D application like Blender, or to take my boys down to a 3D printing shop such as the Maker Bot store in Greenwich, CT and have them make decorations or stocking fillers. I’m really excited to see how this one develops and hopefully will be writing bout it this time next year.

    A 3D printer has just begun to print a toy plane for my eldest.
    A 3D printer has just begun to print a toy plane for my eldest.
  5. Make a Christmas Story; this is still in development. I’m hoping to identify time over the next ten days before we jet off to the UK to make a book. I’m still not sure if we’ll make an eBook using Apple Author, or if it will just be made up of pictures and published via iPhone, but I’m going to work with Lucas to create a story of Christmas, and obviously as we get a little older I hope the stories will capture some of the values that we hold so dearly during this time of the year.

Please feel free to share how you plan on cultivating creativity this Christmas. I’m only three years into being a Daddy at this time of the year so am looking for lots more suggestions.

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