In a society where creativity and imagination seem to be undervalued and almost suppressed, Ginger Carlson's book "Child of Wonder" comes as a breath of fresh air and really an essential for the parent or teacher who wants to nurture the natural curiosity of their children. Carlson, an educational consultant, shares her unique way of integrating critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity into children's daily tasks and personal interests.
"Child of Wonder" is designed to help you nurture creative, confident thinkers. Carlson explains the characteristics of creativity and how to encourage them in your home - both with practical ways to set up your environment, as well as providing hundreds of ideas, techniques, recipes, and instructions for creativity building activities. Carlson also shows you how to help your child develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as helps you to determine his/her learning style and unique way of self-expression.
Though the book seems somewhat geared to parents of preschool age children, I found plenty of inspiration and ideas that I can use with my seven- and nine-year-old daughters. For example, I have a lot of craft supplies that I've accumulated from yard sales, stores, recycled objects, etc. but they were all kind of mixed together and piled on top of each other. After reading the chapter "Setting Up and Organizing the Creative Environment," I cleaned out and reorganized our `craft closet.' Since then, my daughters are much more independent and spontaneous about making a painting or doing elaborate craft projects, then they were when I had to locate supplies for them.
I especially loved the chapter "Art Smart" where Ginger talks about "developing creativity through visual arts." I was particularly intrigued by her suggestion of making sculptures from recycled objects so one night when my kids had a friend to sleepover and I thought it would be fun to have them make sculptures the next day. After they were in bed, I gathered toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, strawberry pint baskets, boxes - whatever I could find - and left them on the kitchen table. When I got up the next morning, the girls were already up and working away. Using the supplies I had left out plus others they found on their own, they were crafting elaborate houses for their stuffed animals. I just loved that the idea came from them and not from me, and it really showed me that what Ginger says in her book is true. If you set up an atmosphere conducive to creativity, it will happen naturally.
There are so many more ideas in the book that I want to try. In her section on "Creating a Communication System," Carlson explains a "Letter Notebook" as an on-going activity which will help the child develop writing and spelling skills, as well as place to practice creative expression. When the child writes a letter (using words, scribbles, or pictures), the adult responds on the next page within a few days. She encourages the adult to add picture, stickers, or other treasures (and why shouldn't we nurture our creativity as well!). A similar idea that I also love is setting up mailboxes in the house where your child can receive and send mail from/to other family members.
Homeschoolers and teachers will especially appreciate Carlson's creative ideas to make math, science, storytelling, writing, and music fun and interesting - which of course can be used to reinforce concepts no matter what kind of schooling you do. The "Ways of Play" portion is also full of ideas for games and toys that build creativity, as well as ideas for cooking and messy fun.
I felt so inspired after reading this book - and not just for my kids. My husband and I are talking about some art projects that we want to do too. I highly recommend this book - it will nurture creativity not just in your children - but in the whole family.
Review as seen on [...] by Cathe Olson