Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Setting Up a #creativetable For The Little Makers In Your Home

I'm not the most creative when it comes to playing and designing. Or at least, I often feel like I'm not. If someone was to give me a bunch of art supplies, I would probably panic if I didn't have direct instructions on what to build or make or feel overwhelmed by looking at an end product that seemed impossible to achieve.

And when I'm playing with Sebastian, sometimes I feel that same "uncreativeness". So instead of scanning Pinterest with projects that look totally over the top, I've been making more of an effort to think of creative play from the perspective of the maker movement. I discovered this amazing book by Rachelle Doorley. It's called Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors - 55 Playful Experiments that Encourage Tinkering, Curiosity, and Creative Thinking.

One of my favourite things is that this book is specifically designed for children between the ages of 2 and 6. At this age children may not exactly wander into their craft supplies and start creating on their own, but they will happily play if given a little nudge. An invitation.

A play invitation is basically setting out a specific number of art or building supplies for your child to encourage exploration.

Then, and this is the hardest part, once everything is set up and your child comes to play, keep your mouth shut. You are not there to direct their play, just to give them an offering to begin. "I wonder what would happen if...."

And once Sebastian dives into an invitation, I get to enjoy my tea while it's still hot.

There are no specific end projects in mind with each invitation. We never know what the result of our play will look like. Rather, the goal is to give our children the space to discover, to create, and to explore.

As he was playing with glue and paper (above) Sebastian said to be, "I'm making a volcano. This is the lava." It is so amazing to watch how he sees the world.

Giving children the space to explore and discover (without getting all up in their business) allows them to develop into the best kind of adults: innovative ones.

Here's how to set up your own super easy #creativetable at home

If you can setup an uncluttered space in your home, that is ideal. We've turned the sunroom beside our kitchen into a craft room and even added a chalkboard wall as a bonus. Then we went to Ikea and got this table with these chairs and this amazing utility cart

You can search #creativetable on Instagram to find loads of play invitation ideas, and I strongly suggest picking up the Tinkerlab book. It has so many fantastic ideas of how to stock your creative play space (such as stickers, washi tape, crayons, glue, ribbon, or even container of corks which is the perfect reason to drink more wine). I also make sure there is a package of baby wipes nearby for quick cleanup.

The invitations described in the book are so simple to prepare. I promise! And this is coming from a non-crafty person. They are easy to set up, and they build upon each other as you progress through each section for older makers.

Tinkerlab is divided into sections on designing, building, concocting and discovering. The invitations described are often the perfect blend of art and science without any of the pressure to create a perfect product at the end. 

Sebastian and I have enjoyed exploring with invitations we try in the book, and I've seen it inspire him to create the invitation again more independently now that he has a few ideas to work with. This is an excellent book to add to your home library.

"Regardless of the outcome...a good creative experience is one that gives children the opportunity to solve problems and think independently. When a child exercises flexible thinking in a project without a predetermined outcome, then the experience is a success." - Rachelle Doorley, Tinkerlab


Friday, 16 September 2016

The Things We Wish Were True - Book Review + Giveaway

"Did life add to or take away from who we are at sixteen?"  This one line from Marybeth Mayhew Whalen's new book, The Things We Wish Were True, has really stayed with me. I think because it really connects all of the themes from this story: trust, friendship, courage, secrets, loss, change. Both as an adult and as a sixteen year old we face these aspects of life. But what happened in between?

This is what we see when Jencey returns home after a failed marriage to her small town in The Things We Wish Were True. Take one suburb, add a number of distinctive small-town characters, along with a near tragedy at the local swimming pool, and secrets are bound to be revealed. Both within their community and within their own homes, things aren't always what they seem for the townspeople of Sycamore Glen, North Carolina. But maybe not all of these secrets are really so terrible. Maybe some of our relationships have to hit rock bottom before they can rise again.

The narrative shifts to focus on different characters for each chapter, and I enjoy books told from multiple perspectives. The writing is excellent. Whalen is able to tell the stories of very distinct adults, as well as give a clear voice to a young child in an uncomplicated way that flows seamlessly. And as the book progresses, all of the puzzle pieces and characters fit together in a satisfying, though not "tidy" way.

I always find it fascinating to hear how authors come up for ideas for their books. For The Things We Wish Were True, the author shares that this story was inspired by a real near-drowning in her own neighbourhood, and how that event united and changed their community.

I was engaged from the beginning and though the book is about a near-drowning, as well as suburban "secrets", it is not a thriller. The Things We Wish Were True was very well-paced, interesting, and anyone interested in contemporary or women's fiction will very much enjoy reading this book.

Check out this @asplendidmessylife Instagram post to enter to win a copy of The Things We Wish Were True. Giveaway ends Tuesday, September 20, 2016.


Disclaimer - I received a copy of The Things We Wish Were True from the author and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. To hear what other bloggers had to say about this great book, visit the whole book tour here.