Held during the last week of September, National Keep Kids Creative Week is a time set aside to encourage kids to grab hold of their innate creativity and never let go! This year, the holiday is listed in Chase's Calendar of Events.

"All children are artists, and it is an indictment of our culture that so many of them lose their creativity, their unfettered imaginations, as they grow older."

Madeleine L’Engle

Why have the holiday? Who's behind it?

What's the history of the holiday?

How can families celebrate it?

Why have the holiday? All kids are creative; they're born that way. But more than ever before, children are losing their innate ability to "think outside the box" at early ages. In schools, government standards have prompted teachers to focus on teaching skills and knowledge needed to pass tests. They hope that parents will be able to encourage children to explore and imagine. But parents, overwhelmed by the pace of their schedules, all too often don't have time to sit down and help their kids write or draw or discover. They hope the school will pick up the slack.

Where do most kids go to feed their imaginations? That's right. Television. Computer games. Videos. Though these provide entertainment, they do little to encourage kids to make up their own stories, their own games, generate their own ideas.

There are many reasons for this attrition of our children's creativity. This holiday was created to help parents and teachers focus on the imaginations of kids.

What's the history of the holiday? Keep Kids Creative Week was started in the fall of 2003. Two years ago, four newspapers in my state of Pennsylvania ran articles on the holiday. (See two of the articles.) Teachers began to celebrate it in their classrooms. Since 2006, KKCW has been listed in Chase's Calendar of Events, a high-profile, national directory of holidays and celebrations.

Who's behind it? My name is Bruce Van Patter. I created this holiday to encourage kids. I'm an illustrator and author who specializes in inspiring kids to use their ideas. I've worked with nearly 100,000 school-age children and have lots of "field" experience, not only with creative writing but understanding what motivates kids. For two years I wrote an online column for a national parenting organization, providing activities for parents to do with their children.

How can families celebrate it? During National Keep Kids Creative Week, sit down with your kids or students and give them a chance to dream up a story. Help them brainstorm. Develop a main character together. Give them some paper and challenge them to come up with their own superhero, cool treehouse, or perfect pet.

Want more help? To celebrate National Keep Kids Creative Week, I've got lots of ideas. They'll get you and your kids a running start into activities that will help to awaken imaginations.

If those weren't enough, here are some fun things on my website you might find useful as you
encourage your child to be creative:

• an introduction to the articles for families
Magic of Making Stories: making stories is great fun! See how your family can create your own.
Seeing With Your Imagination: why just see when you can see creatively?
Wacky Headlines: simple and fun way to make stories. Easy to do and your kids will laugh.
Build a Hero: here's how to make an interesting main character to build a story around.
Mugshots: still need help building a character? Click on a face and I'll walk you through it.
Invent a World: when you make your own island... anything can happen!
Cloud Shapes: remember seeing animals in cloud shapes? What do you see in these?
Seeing Double: they're simple drawings. Or are they? Another way to look at things differently.
DaVinci's Doodles: the best and easiest imagination game for families. It's a classic!
Igyft: the ultimate doodle game. Can you take the challenge?
The Story Kitchen: pick the ingredients, and see a story I've started for you to finish!
KidTales: use a drawing I've done in a school as a starting point for stories
Reading Aloud: curl up with your child and a good book. Here's practical advice.
Sharing Your Own Stories: "Did I ever tell you about the time..? " Your personal stories matter.
Food Art: playing with your food? You'll never look at your lunchmeat the same again
Random Headline Generator: a crazy way to start stories, and there are over 100 million of them!
Scavenger Hike: it's a hike with both eyes wide open. What will you be looking for?
Town Treasure Hunt: like the Scavenger Hike, but in a town or urban setting. The game's afoot!
Drawing from Nature: here's a free art lesson about drawing from real life
Mythical American Animals: those wacky pioneers! What will they think of next?
Looking at Constellations: got stars in your eyes? Here's how to see the real constellations.
Strange Inventions: what were they thinking? Real, patented -- and weird -- inventions
Family Brainstorming: here's how to help the kids in your family come up with ideas
Classroom Brainstorming: the same material as above, but applied to kids at school
Adventures in Graceland: read my journal of creative discovery with my daughter

Read articles I've written about creativity in families.

Want to see how I use my creativity professionally? Here are examples of my illustrations.

2010 is the seventh year of Keep Kids Creative Week. Let's keep the holiday building. I would love to hear from you. Let me know what you do to keep your kids using their imagination, and let me know if I can post it here.

Together, we can help kids to know that they are creative and can always stay that way.

All material © Bruce Van Patter and cannot be reprinted or re-used without permission.

Pick the ingredients to stories and click through to see how I've started them. Then you finish the story!

Make a character out of some funny people I've drawn for you!
Use random zany headlines as a story starter or just for a good laugh!

click on the images to go to the writing activities

To find out more about National Keep Kids Creative Week, or for information on my programs for schools assemblies and workshops:

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