Creativity on a Dime

Have you heard this little bit of wisdom by Dr. Seuss?

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.

I am tempted to cross-stitch this quote on a sampler and hot glue it to the refrigerator . . . If only to remind my 13-year-old son to exercise his brain cells every now and again. Anybody here with me?

I am not going to talk about the woes of teenage angst today. I am going to talk about Creativity.

When most people think of creativity they think of beautifully painted pictures and elaborate DIY projects. In my humble opinion, creativity is just a matter of thinking out of the box. Are we teaching our children to become problem solvers? Are we equipping them to think out of the box? Can they use their gifts, talents and resources creatively?

Part of this training is to fill their days and nights with beautiful things and magical experiences. I’m not talking about trips to Disney World and the fanciest gadgets money can buy. I’m talking about living, breathing and the pure pleasure of enjoying God’s creation. Filling our homes with lovely art and music. Giving them experiences that are simple, yet meaningful. Sowing those seeds of creativity so that our kiddos can fly.

It is no secret that exposure to the Arts does a body (or a child) good. A curriculum that is rich with art and music can make a world of difference.

We, as homeschool parents, don’t have a school board to “de-fund” our arts programs. Most of us are frugal by necessity. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. So here’s the question. How can we provide a well-rounded arts education on a beans and rice budget?

There are many of us that count out our dimes and pennies every week just so that our children can enjoy music lessons. In our area there is a choir and orchestra co-op that meets weekly for just a small cost. If this isn’t possible there are plenty of free resources and lessons available online…there are even singing lessons! Check out thrift stores, yard sales, classified ads for loaner instruments or to purchase. My mom learned to play the guitar on a little Roy Rogers model when she was 16. If you have a willing and eager pupil they will be likely to learn the best they can. If music lessons aren’t possible consider teaching Music Appreciation. You don’t have to have a musical bone in your body to appreciate music. Make your own instruments out of recycled trash. Study church music and composers. Learn about American Folk Music. Enjoy free concerts from home and start a Family Sing-A-Long night.

We enjoy doing picture and artist studies. Of course, those aren’t nearly as fun as hands on art experiences. Do you feel like you couldn’t draw a straight line to save your life? Take advantage of all the wonderful resources online. There are a number of wonderful art education sites to help you along. If your family are visual learners there are plenty of art instructional videos to help you along. Worried about the cost of art supplies? Keep a look out at yard sales, thrift stores and back to school sales. I like using my 40% off coupon from Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Don’t worry about perfection or the mess.

I also encourage you to enjoy the art lessons right along with your kids! Host a family art show. Make easy snacks, set up a display area and invite family, friends and neighbors.

One of my favorite jobs of all time happened working with a Children’s Theater. It was amazing to see the kids come alive in front of an audience. Even more were taken with all the comings and goings behind the scenes. There are a number of FREE Reader’s Theatre script for easy and fun table readings. If you are an ambitious group consider putting on a full production. This site has actual full length scripts from a variety of genres. Although performing Euripides might be challenging for most of us.

Every creative family needs a costume trunk. If you have a budding tailor or seamstress put them to work designing costumes. Any designers or master builders in training? Set construction is challenging, but oh-so rewarding. Take a well-known fairy tale and challenge your budding author to write a script. Is your crew small? Try making puppets, use Legos or action figures as your main characters. Put the film crew to work and create a movie!

One of my favorite summer activities are all the concerts and performances in the park. We have enjoyed the Ballet, Symphony, Shakespeare and Bluegrass…all FREE at the park.  Take advantage of these wonderful art education resources near you. Public schools are great locations to see a musical concert or show live and in color. Our library hosts off beat and local music groups. We provide music for a nursing home several times a year. They often have special groups come in as well. Nursing Homes generally welcome volunteers.

Encourage your kids to take up new hobbies. The library is a good place to find books about interesting and new crafting techniques, cooking styles or photography. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to rush right out and buy all the “recommended supplies.” Help your kids learn to use what they have or make their own supplies

Just a bit overwhelmed? The best place to start is to throw the kids in the backyard. Let them explore, make forts, dig in the dirt and have adventures. Keep a bucket of random art supplies handy. Let your kids draw, cut and create without the benefit of a structured lesson or project. Have your “decorators” design the tablescapes for family and holiday dinners.

Don’t wait for the perfect circumstances or the perfect budget to start planting those seeds of creativity Just start today!

Rebekah Teague is the homeschooling mama to one busy and beautiful boy. She is married to The Muffin who is a pastor and a really great guy. In her spare time she can be found with a book and a cup of tea. She blogs at There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining.

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