We had the good fortune to go see astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson a couple of years ago. He gave a fantastic talk about math and science in this country compared to other places around the world. One of his talking points was fascinating to me: other countries make math and science visual in every day life. For example, Germany has math equations on their money. His point is that by making it a part of every day life, it doesn’t seem as foreign to learn the concepts behind it, which can result in higher achievements for individuals who are exposed more often.
I have been thinking about how this applies to our little creativity project. If we want our daughter to be comfortable expressing herself, what can we do to make it visual?
Well to start, I know that I am much more likely to use my creativity tools if they are accessible. I have little “stations” for sewing, crafting, drawing and writing in places around the house. While not all of my supplies are out in the open – they are easily accessible and well organized <insert Lean 5S joke here>.
The second important thing that I need to get my creative juices going is unstructured free time. This part is difficult. Where can you find a few hours where there isn’t anything going on where you can just focus on thinking, creating, exploring and playing with different ideas and tools? I find that I need to specifically block out times so I can have a little “me” time to relax, consider different ideas via a walk through nature, play with new painting or sewing techniques and even sit to write this blog.
Translating this to our daughter, I need to remember that allowing her to have creative “stations” around the house means that 1) her things need to be organized and accessible for her and 2) she needs free time to use them. This means I need to get used to a mess – even though I will try to help her learn the 5S techniques early on. This also means I need to start saying no to so many outings and structured activities. I am making a mental note of this for a little later on.
One other way to make ideas more accessible and familiar is via clothing. Putting on something every day can become a conversation piece and if it has something on it that isn’t usually in conversation. For example, if you are wearing the rocket ship dress from Princess Awesome, talking about rocket ships with the wearer might become more of a normal activity. This makes selected concepts more familiar just by making them a part of your every day life. If you are feeling crafty, Spoonflower.com is a great place to get any kind of fabric you can imagine and even upload your own design. If you want to expose your child to pi and raptors, it would be easy to upload your images, design the fabric and make a cool dress covered in dinosaurs talking about 3.1415926…
Our daughter is still only 5 months old, so we don’t need to set up our creative stations yet, but we do need to protect her free time and start making things visual. I love this math mobile project as well as doing simple things such as a map of the US in our hallway, a nice poster of the planets (I really want to include Pluto?!?) in her space as well as some cool pictures of animals to stare at while in the bath. My pi fabric is on its way from spoonflower – project posts to come!
What other ideas do you have to make creativity visual and accessible for your kids?