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Using art to help develop the creative thinking skills of a child

Activities for Creating a ‘Tradition of Giving’

There’s just something about the Christmas Season that brings joy to the hearts of all of us. Last week I shared some thoughts about giving a gift to your children that will stay with them forever. That gift is: helping them to create a ’Tradition of Giving’. If you’re like my family, we have already begun the memory-making activities of giving to others.

This last Saturday, three of my grandchildren and I went shopping for Mommy, Daddy, Great G-Paw & G-Maw. We laughed our way through four stores, refueled at Starbucks with some hot chocolate, and then started back on the ‘hunt’ again. In each store, I loved that the kids were really thinking about the gifts they were wanting to buy. “Mommy loves this color.” “I know Daddy will use this all the time.” “Doesn’t Great G-Maw like to do puzzles?” (I’ll just say that getting ’The Three’ to come to an agreement on the gifts was my most memorable part of the trip.)  :)

Our last stop was at a dollar store to buy white gift boxes and plain colored gift bags. The grand kids had decided that they wanted to create their own wrappings for the presents. (It’s amazing how one small suggestion got their creative juices going.)

Here are a few last minute ideas that may help as you create a ‘giving’ atmosphere in your home. You will only need: white gift boxes, plain colored gift bags or wrapping paper, index cards, markers, crayons, colored pencils, creative minds and loving hearts. (Of course, your children can get as ‘fancy’ as they want by adding glitter, ribbon, bows, etc. to their designs.)

Your children can:

  • create a picture or design on the top of a gift box and write a special message to the one they are sending it to. I doubt if these box tops will end up in the trash.:)
  • design and color ‘one of a kind’ wrapping paper for their gifts. The wrapping itself will be ‘priceless’ to family and friends.
  • put a loving twist on a gift bag by drawing a picture of something special about the one receiving the gift. Special messages of love and appreciation can also be written. I don’t care if your child is two or twelve, the bag will be loved as much as the present!
  • make their own ‘gift tags’ using index cards. Cut out a designed shape or simply cut the card in half, then have your child draw a picture on one side and a message on the other. Punch a hole in the card and connect with a ribbon. The tags can later be used as treasured bookmarks.

As Winnie the Pooh said:

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

I hope you have a blessed Christmas Season as you thinkimagine…and create the traditions of giving in your home.

Miss B.


Turkey-time Thinking Fun (part 1)

Here are three easy, fun and exciting ways to will encourage your “Little Turkeys” to use their imaginations. These activities are a great way to bring imaginative thinking into the themes of November. Your kids will absolutely love doing them, and at the same time, they’ll be developing and practicing these important critical and creative thinking skills: imagine, create, design, invent, perceive, hypothesize, analyze and problem-solve. (See post: Two Ways to Think About Thinking.)

Be an Inventor! Think about, imagine, and then create a design for your own robot that could cook your entire Thanksgiving dinner. You are allowed to be the assistant chef, but your robot will do all the cooking. Draw a picture of your helpful robot and then explain to your family how it’s different parts work. (i.e. One arm has a big spoon on it to stir the vegetables.) With a robot like this, your family will really get to relax on Thanksgiving day. Oh, by the way, does your robot clean up too? You might want to build in a broom.:)

Be a costume designer! “It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s Super Turkey!” He’s the world’s newest and most amazing super-hero. He can fly faster than a rocket ship and his claws are sharper than a sword. He has one big problem though – - – Super Turkey doesn’t have a costume to wear!:( Could you design an original, fantastic costume that our mighty hero would be proud to wear? After you have created his costume, it would be fun to make up some exciting adventures about how Super Turkey rescued some animals on a farm or at the zoo.  You could even draw an illustration of each of your different stories and then make them into a book to share with your friends and family. What fun!

Be a Detective! Oh no! You just got a phone call that all of the pumpkin pies at the Yummy- Yummy Bakery have been stolen.:( Mr. and Mrs. Yummy have asked if you can help them find their pies! Make up a story about how you solved this case and then share about your great detective work with your family.  (This is a easy way to creatively fill those hours in the car when your driving ‘over the river and through the woods’. Your family will have fun thinking up many different ’cases’ that need to be solved. For example: All the turkeys at the Nelson’s Farm have suddenly disappeared from the barn. Can you figure out what happened?)

I know that these three activities will capture the imaginations of you and your children as you thinkimagine…and create together.

Miss B.

p.s. Turkey-time Thinking Fun (part 2) is coming soon!

This is one FANTASTIC site!

I recently came across an awesome educational site that uses computer games to reinforce basic academic skills, plus it provides many fun and creative thinking activities. You will want to check this one out! The site categorizes their games, ‘K thru 5th grade,’ but many of the ‘K’ games can be used for pre-k, and I’m still trying to master one of the 5th grade activities!:)

If you are a parent, grandparent or teacher – this ones for you!  (Oh, did I mention the word - free?) Let me know what you think about it.

It’s so rewarding when we can help our children to think…imagine…create!

Miss B.

ABCya.com Logo

A Pumpkin Patch of Thinking Activities for Fall

Welcome leaves, pumpkins and fresh apple cider!

I think that you’ll enjoy using each of these fall creative thinking activities. They will turn those ’down and boring times’ into highly productive and creative ones. It’s amazing that such a small, fun-filled investment of your time pays such big dividends in your child’s thinking abilities!

Ever heard of a Pumpkin Tree?   (A fall Making a Mind Movie scenario)

You are looking out of your window one fall morning and are so surprised to see that a new, very strange tree has just appeared in your backyard. It definitely doesn’t look like any tree that you’ve ever seen before. You also notice that it has a very weird shape to it and that it’s leaves are not green. But the most amazing thing is: there are tiny pumpkins growing on all of it’s branches and each pumpkin has two eyes and a mouth! What are you going to do? Should you be afraid? Is it a plant or an animal? Have you just discovered a new species?

Think about it – - – - then share your ’mind movie’ with your family. ( It would also be fun to create a movie poster.)

What a Pumpkin!?!?

How many different ways can you think of to decorate a pumpkin? Together with your child, brainstorm various ways that they could transform a plain pumpkin into an  “original-for-sure-no-one-else-thought of this” work of art. Then have your child make one or more of these creative pumpkins to help decorate your home for fall. You can use paints, ribbons, yarn, leaves, feathers, or any other art supplies that you can think of.  Beautiful or wacky, silly or stylish, who cares because it’s an original!

Have fun reading: Jeb Scarecrow's Pumpkin Patch
Your children will love this story about a very clever scarecrow who uses his creative thinking skills to outwit a flock of crows that are trying to destroy his family’s pumpkin patch.  After reading the story, have your children think about other ways that Jeb could have saved the pumpkin patch from the pesky crows.

Pumpkin Jokes  :)

What is huge and orange and good at math? (The Great Pumpkin with a calculator)

How does a pumpkin get down from a tree? (He sits on a leaf and waits for the fall)

Why did the pumpkin paint her toenails red? (So she could hide in an apple tree)

How do you mend a broken pumpkin? (With a pumpkin patch)

What is as big as the Great Pumpkin but doesn’t weigh anything? (His shadow)

What vegetable does a pumpkin turn into when an elephant steps on it? (Squash)

What if…

What if pumpkins were an animal instead of a fruit? What would yours look like? Would it be a pet?

What if pumpkins were no larger than grapes, would they still be useful?  Why or why not?

That Many?

How many words can you and your children come up with using only the letters found in ‘a tasty pumpkin pie’. What are the shortest and longest words that you thought of? Can you make a sentence from the letters?

Would You Rather Be….

This activity is great to use anytime or anywhere. You simply ask, “Would you rather be a _____ or a _____? Why?

Here are some fall choices to begin the fun, but your children will soon be coming up with their own:

  • pumpkin or apple
  • leaf in a tree or leaf on the ground
  • decorated pumpkin or jack-o-lantern
  • carmel apple or pumpkin pie

Creative thinking activities like the ones above help and encourage your children to become CREATIVE THINKERS, which leads to all kinds of success, but I’ll leave THAT for another blog post!;)

I hope you enjoy this colorful season of autumn with your children as you inspire them to think…imagine…create! 

Miss B.


Thinking Story | The Little Red House With No Doors and No Windows

This is a great fall activity for homeschoolers, preschoolers, or any parent wanting to encourage creative thinking at home. You can use it when studying about the fall season, apples and seeds or when doing creative art projects. My grandmother used to tell this story to me and I can still remember my feelings of pure delight when she revealed the astonishing end. Your whole family will be intrigued and surprised when you share with them this story, that’s in the form of a riddle, ‘The Little Red House With No Doors and No Windows’.

For your younger thinkers, it may work better if you paraphrase the story into simpler language. They will still get to enjoy the surprise ending!

Before you can tell your story though, you’ll need:

  • a large red apple (the larger the apple, the bigger the star)
  • a cutting knife
  • some way to conceal both items until you’re ready for the surprise ending (i.e. under a towel)

ENJOY this European Folktale . . . Then download the free printable for easy retelling at the end of the story!

Once upon a time there was a young boy who played all day long. One day, he got so bored with his own toys and games, that he asked his mother, “What can I do?” His mother, who was full of wonderful ideas, told him, “I know about a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside. Why don’t you try to find it?”

The boy’s eyes grew wide with wonder. “Which way shall I go?” he asked. “How can I find the little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?”

“Go down the lane, past the farmer’s house, and over the hill,” said his mother. “Come back as soon as you can and tell me all about your journey.”

So the young boy started down the lane. He hadn’t walked very far, when he came to a girl who was dancing and singing in the sunshine. “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?” asked the boy.

The little girl laughed and said, “No.  I don’t know. But why don’t you ask my father. He’s a farmer and he might know.”

So the young boy walked on until he came to a big, red barn. The farmer himself was standing in the doorway looking out over his green pastures. “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?” asked the boy.

The farmer laughed and said, “I’ve lived a long time and I have never seen one. But ask Granny who lives at the foot of the hill. She knows how to make molasses taffy, popcorn balls, and red mittens. Perhaps she can help you.”

So the young boy walked on until he saw Granny sitting in her pretty garden of herbs and flowers. “Please dear Granny,” said the little boy,  “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?”

Granny was knitting a red mitten, and when she heard the boy’s question she laughed. “I would like to find that little house myself,” she said. Perhaps you should ask the wind, because the wind goes everywhere and I’m sure it can help you.”

The young boy waved good-by to Granny and began walking up the hill. He was beginning to wonder if maybe his mother had made a mistake about the ‘Little Red House’.  Suddenly, the young boy felt the gentle wind at his back and he called out, “Wind!  Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?”

The wind replied, “WHOOOOOO!  WHOOOOOOOO!   WHOOOOOOOOOO!” which sounded like, “Come follow me!” to the young boy. So he chased after the wind through a grassy field and into an apple orchard. Here the wind blew at the top of an apple tree and gently shook a large, rosy red apple to the ground. The boy picked up the shiny apple. It was so big that it took both of his hands to hold it. Then he knew! He ran all the way home, grasping his apple tightly in his hands.

“Mother! Mother!” he called as he entered his house. “I found it! I found the little red house with no doors and no windows!  But Mother, I don’t know if there is a star inside.”

Mother took the apple (reveal your apple) and very carefully sliced it in half (cut the apple horizontally). “Oh, now I see the star!” exclaimed the happy little boy. I asked the farmer, I asked the little girl, I asked the granny, but only the wind could help me solve the riddle of  the little red house with no doors and no windows.” (Show your children the star inside the apple.)

Click HERE to download a printable of this story, “The Little Red House with No Doors and No Windows”

Miss B.

p.s. Your children can extend their creative thinking and performing skills by illustrating the different scenes from the story and then retelling it to someone they love.  It is fun for older thinkers to draw their illustrations in a ‘comic strip’ format and then add in some conversation bubbles. :)