A journal of creativity with my daughter Grace

back to main page
programs Fun stuff for families schools reviews bio store

This is my journal the creative ideas I try with my daughter Grace over this school year. I'm posting them so that kids, teachers and parents might be encouraged to try some of them, or be inspired to make up their own. It's to show you I practice what I preach, and hopefully you'll like some of the ideas and pictures of what we try. Grace is five, but things we do could be done with any young child, and the art and music we listen to are certainly useful for any age. Come, join us on our journey! It should be great fun!

Past months:



Monday, February 7

On our trip to the library, Grace brought in Mr. Wibblefeather. I thought, why not just get duck books? So we poured over the shelves and found quite a bit!

Grace isn't sure about the idea, though she enjoyed arranging the animals to listen to Mr. Wibb read. I'll have to see how it works out, and what the other readers in the house think!

Tuesday, February 8

Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras Tuesday. A good day to make a mask. We used tissue paper and a glue mixture (2/3 glue, 1/3 water) to cover a paper plate. It looks properly festive, don't you think? Grace decided to make the wand out of spare feathers.

We also listened to zydeco music -- of course! I have four fun albums; so into the shuffle they went. It wasn't long before Grace and I were dancing again, only she kept the wand and made me use the mask.

And she learned to yell, in good zydeco fashion, "Yeahtwa!" (And ease up, you cajun speakers -- that's just a phonetic spelling.)

Recently, a teacher in a school asked me, "How do you find time to do all these things with your daughter?" The honest answer is that other things get left undone. I'm in a constant state of catch-up. I'm scrambling to keep up with illustration projects. Working nights. Putting in time on the weekends. It's not a smooth ride. But I see the time I spend exploring creativity with Grace as an investment I'm making into her mental, spiritual and emotional bank. It's worth the scheduling hassles for her to be filled up with rich experiences. And it makes me refuse to think of putting her into full-time kindergarten next year, even though it would ease those hassles.

Friday, February 11

Since Grace drew this on her MagnaDoodle, we couldn't save it, but I thought it was worth saving. Check out the picture: birds drawn from hand-shapes, each fishing in the water with one leg raised and beaks full of fish. Apparently, these two are brothers and were learning to share -- from what I overheard of the story she was telling herself.

There's a great article in Time magazine this week about the value of a child's imaginary friend. Makes me think about how Grace works out thoughts through stories. Earlier in the week, she asked to teach her how to draw a tornado, since she's working through a renewed fear of them.

When Alison and I were putting her to bed, we found this little house built for three of her cats. Very cute. And inventive. Get's me thinking about making a "fort" for Grace. That would be recapturing a childhood memory of mine.

And we discovered, at breakfast, a word we really enjoyed: cinnamony. Try saying it. Isn't it fun? That's what she thought her bagle was with cinnamon-sugar on it.

Monday, February 14

Happy Valentine's Day!

Grace and I made cards using sponges and paint, working around heart shapes I cut out out of stiff paper, and inside the heart-shaped holes left in the stiff paper, like a stencil.

And my heart-shaped pizza is a tradition in our house.

Let me use this chance to say how much I love my sweet wife, who does so much to make our lives so filled with goodness and gladness. Happy Valentine's Day, Alison!

Friday, February 18

Out of the blue, we took a family outing today. Alison was able to get a day off from teaching, the boys were home from school, so we drove down to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. One of my very first jobs as a young freelance illustrator was assisting a painter in doing a seascape horizon above the big tropical fish tank in the Aquarium, so it was fun to come back and reminisce.

Grace loved the colors of the fish, and the dolphin show. It was good to be out and filling our minds with the beauty of God's creation.

Sunday, February 20

I had to bring Grace with me to a meeting in the early afternoon. Before it began, she asked me to draw a lizard. That's mine on the right. After I handed it to her, I didn't look over until near the end of the meeting. Imagine my surprise when I looked down to see that she had made this copy of the drawing!

One thing I want to draw your attention to: look at the big footprints going up on the right side. She said the lizard made those to make other animals think a big dinosaur had come that way and they'd all run away!

Thursday, February 24

Today, we just hung out as another snowstorm blanketed the area. At lunch we read some winter poems. I like the way N.M. Bodecker likens snow to insects in the poem, When All the World Is Full of Snow:

I only want to watch and wait,
while snow moths settle
on the gate.
and swarming frost flakes
fill the tree
with billions of albino bees.

Friday, February 25

Some time ago, I picked up these wooden shapes at a craft store. Today, we painted them. But I encouraged Grace to make the snowflakes any color she wanted. She loved it, and it turned out to be a wonderful lesson in patterning as she painting alternating "arms" in alternating colors. The snowflake in the lower right corner is mine.

Marching on to March!

all material ©2005 Bruce Van Patter

back to main page
programs Fun stuff for families schools reviews bio store