Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hidden Talents

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I have always admired crafty folks because they possess a type of creativity I seem to lack. When it comes to arts and crafts, I have far more interest and desire than I do skill or knowledge. I was hoping that with my son, I would have the chance to explore my own craftiness and discover hidden talents in both of us.

I started with the basics, crayons. At this point, Munchkin is more interested in eating the crayons than coloring with them. Inserting and removing them from the container is also a fun game.
Munchkin is not inspired by crayons

I also tried non-toxic, washable pens. Decorating his hands and face was far more amusing to him than putting pen to paper. 

I decided to skip the finger paints and other drawing/coloring media for now. Oatmeal or yogurt provide similar results, with at least a bit of nutrition! 
Munchkin eating his 'artwork'

With the Play-Doh Fun Factory, we had some luck. Munchkin liked the mechanical aspect of pressing down on the lever, watching the Play-Doh emerge, balling it up, and then repeating the process. He was deeply focused for a good 20 minutes!
Insert play-doh, then...


Then there is creative building and construction. Munchkin is getting more skilled with the Mega Bloks and takes pleasure in stacking them "up, up, up!" Natural wood blocks are at the top of my list of toys-to-buy-next. Good thing I won the Beka Blocks from the NPN giveaway!

Still, I've been feeling like we're pretty boring in the creativity department. That is, until I began to look for ways that Munchkin is creative on his own, rather than how he is "creative" at an artsy activity I put together for him. For instance, he made a point of showing me how he could line up his cars in a row. Pretty imaginative for a 19 month old who's never been stuck in gridlock traffic!
Munchkin's car creation
Munchkin's pièce-de-résistance, however, was an innovative creation so exciting that he ran to get me from the other room.

"Dat! Dat!" he urged me, beckoning me to take his hand and follow him. I let him lead me to his design, something he was immensely excited to show off. He pointed and said, "Wah-oow!"

I exclaimed "Wow! Look what you did! You put the flags on top of your tractor!" He grinned and chuckled with self satisfaction.  I was, indeed, quite proud of him. Proud, partly because he had invented a novel "hat" for his tractor. Mostly, I was proud because he had initiated the creation on his own and he displayed unadulterated delight in his own accomplishment. He expressed himself purely. 

Tibetan prayer flags on top of tractor

I realized then that a sense of fulfillment and the freedom of self expression are what I most want to provide for him when it comes to creativity. I care less about how or what he produces than I do about whether it brings him joy to create, and whether the activity engages him.

Of course, we'll keep working on the arts and crafts. I'll do my best to present him with a variety of opportunities for creativity. At the same time, I'm going to marvel at and encourage the unpredictable, creative ways he finds to be creative...his hidden talents.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


  1. That's awesome! I love that he created that all on his own, and how excited he was to share with you.

    Mikko never got into crayons, either. I think they're too hard to push or something. His first love? Sharpies. Oy. We've weaned him onto washable markers now — much less dangerous when he colors on his face and clothes. :)

    Congratulations on winning the Beka blocks! How timely is that!

  2. "Natural wood blocks are at the top of my list of toys-to-buy-next." I'm so excited you won the Beka blocks - how ironic that you wrote this post before winning them! Your crafting with Munchkin is much like what Kieran and I enjoy doing as well. You don't need to be a seamstress or anything to craft with kids, fortunately - you just need to be able to have fun :)

  3. I can relate very much to this post, especially this: "When it comes to arts and crafts, I have far more interest and desire than I do skill or knowledge."

    But as I just read over at Little Green Blog (, creating memories, not elaborate things or crafts, should be our goal, and it looks like you're doing just that with Munchkin!

  4. I can totally relate as a wannabe crafty mama! I love how you have embraced that your child's sense of fulfillment and the freedom of self expression are the most important things and how you are just loving and celebrating unconditionally - it's a beautiful gift.

  5. Hooray about the blocks! I absolutely think building and construction is a great outlet for creativity and some kids are very drawn to it (no pun intended, ha!). Looks like your other creative explorations are perfect as well -- I've found it takes awhile before my kids get into some things, too, so just keep reintroducing things at different times and see what happens. Love the story about the tractor and the flags! So cute!

  6. I think it's funny that we, as parents, feel the need to "push" our children to be creative. If we were to step back and look afresh, it's obvious that they are the ones who need to teach us 9 times out of 10! I got so frustrated and saddened by boy Earthly's apparent lack of creativity - or desire for it - until I realised that his explorations were his own unique way of expressing his creativity, without a specific goal in mind: a valuable lesson for each and every one of us!

    Thanks for sharing this. I love the pictures of Munchkin exploring his toys, and it's so great to hear others' experiences. Boy Earthly likes to organise his crayons too!

  7. I agree - it is really exciting to see the creativity emerge spontaneously - sometimes in ways you wouldn't expect!

  8. I also struggle with creativity in the arts and crafts department, but you're so right on... "a sense of fulfillment and the freedom of self expression" are what creating are all about! Your little munchkin's creation is so great!!