Welcome to the November 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Indoor Play
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared ideas and inspiration to keep families happy and healthy while cooped up indoors.
Like many other mothers I love to create. I enjoy baking, painting, drawing, sewing, knitting, writing and gardening. The list is endless! However, since I gave birth to my first child seven years ago I’ve realized that many of those creative pursuits seem to be (or are) incompatible with the actual business of mothering.
Yet over the years I’ve also learnt how important it is for my own wellbeing to have a creative hobby. So, like many other mothers I’ve learnt how to find pockets of time for my own creativity. Some mothers find that they need quiet, solitary time to create. Naptimes and evening times work best for them. I certainly appreciate quiet for drawing and writing, but I can no longer always rely on sleep times now for my own creative pursuits. Which is why I like to get creative alongside my children during the day. By doing this, I can guarantee that I get a little time for creativity each day.
As painting and drawing is something that we all enjoy this is something that we all tend to do if we have one of those days when it’s so cold or windy outside that no one feels like braving the weather.
Two things I’ve learnt from my ‘art sessions’ (as I like to call them) is this:
1) ‘Messy’ art that has the potential to stain clothes, carpets and surfaces are probably best avoided if I don’t feel I have the patience (or energy) on that particular day to be philosophical about the mess. (And by the way, I’ve tried various covers, table cloths, floor covers etc. but my son is too much of a genius of the random splash to fall for any of my cunning protective paint traps!)
Likewise, an art activity that uses very expensive materials is most likely to cause me to worry about how much of that material each child is using, and so again, perhaps making the experience less fun for everyone!
2) Having too high expectations of how much I can get done alongside my children is almost always a recipe for an unhappy mother. I’ve found that starting the art session with a ‘let’s see what happens’ attitude is much better than an ‘I’m going to get at least this done, and then this, and this…’ attitude.
So what do we like to do? LOTS!
At the moment, we’re very much into simple pencil (or pen) and paper fun.
- One of the easiest things to do is the (what we call) ‘one line’ game. Each person has an A4 (or A3) piece of paper which they draw just the one line on. The line can be curvy, or squiggly, or spiky, though it’s best if it goes right across the paper, from one end to the other. When each person has drawn their line they pass it to their partner who draws something incorporating that very first line. It can be a landscape, or a portrait, or a funny doodle, or a something else — just use your imagination! Once you’re both finished, show each other your works of art. You’ll be amazed at what’s been created from just one line!
- Another family favourite is the ‘crazy dudes’ game. Again, each person has a piece of paper (portrait orientation works best for this) and you each draw a head in the top quarter of the piece of paper. You then fold the piece of paper over the head (so that your partner can’t see the head, but only the base of the neck) and then swap pieces of paper. Each person then adds a torso below the neck in what is, roughly, the second quarter of the piece of paper. Once you’ve drawn the torso, fold the piece of paper over the torso (so that no one can see what has been drawn before) and then swap again and then draw the legs from the base of the torso. Fold the piece of paper over the legs once you’re done with the leg drawing, swap pieces of paper and then finally, draw the feet. Once you’ve both done the feet, swap and open up each folded piece of paper so that you can admire the ‘crazy dude’ you’ve drawn!
[WARNING: this game can get addictive.]
- Which brings me on to more collaborative fun. As I particularly like to draw faces I can quickly sketch a something which I then pass on to one of my children. They add the body and the surroundings and voila! a new being has been created.
For more inspiration on this theme, do check out this incredible post:
- Origami fortune tellers are also a lot of fun.
Here’s a good link for how to make one:
But again, a warning — they can get rather addictive!
- Then there’s the time-honoured ‘guess what I’m drawing’ game. Both kids like to snuggle up on either side of me and try to guess what I’m drawing. The first person to guess correctly what I’m drawing gets a point. And the first person to get to 5 points gets to be the next one who does the drawing. As we’re all quite attune to what we each like to draw from our imaginations (or surroundings) both guessers often guess the correct answer at the same time!
- In a previous post (written for inclusion in an earlier Carnival of Natural Parenting) I mentioned other family art fun we have: my husband is particularly brilliant at drawing mazes for the children, and he’s also a dab hand at making board games. These are both things that can be done just with pencil or paper, but of course, they can be enhanced by the use of coloured pencils or paints.
So that’s just a small sample of the fun we have with pencil and paper (or magnetic sketching pad). However, once you bring in just one or two other items e.g. scissors and glue then you can start on all kinds of other fun arty paper crafts such as paper cutting or making collages from random bits of paper. (Cutting heads and bodies out of magazines and then adding your own drawings to them is really good fun too!).
- I really like the idea of using up all the old paint swatches I have hanging around. I think this would make for a really fun project:
(By the way — as you’d expect — my seven year old is more into paper crafts than my four year old who’s most happy with paper and pen, or paint. Actually, he loves glue, but the main game then becomes ‘what can I smear this on’!).
Of course we have days when we don’t just want to draw. Then we have lots of fun with paints or printing or marbling — all sorts! I’ve also gleaned a lot of ideas from the wonderful Amy over at Amy Hood Arts. Her e-zine ‘Art Together’ is inspirational!
The main thing is to have fun. I’ve been so inspired by just watching my children, and doodling alongside them. Their creations and their limitless imaginations feed mine; I always take away a whole bundle of ideas for future drawings/paintings after we’ve been having arty fun together. I’m sure that this stems from the fact that we have no great expectations, no fixed ideas on ‘how things should look’. The main emphasis is on play. And that’s how it should be.
Do let me know if you have any of your own favourite paper and pencil games — I’m always on the lookout for more!
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” — Carl Jung
(This list will be updated by afternoon November 11 with all the carnival links.)
- Congestion Be Gone Shower Vapor Discs — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a fun way to beat the indoor blues while creating something useful at the same time! Come learn how Jennifer and her daughter created congestion relief discs so you too can get creative in the kitchen. It makes a fun science experiment too!
- Indoor Fun: Dads and Moms Who Listen Prevent Cabin Fever — Laurie Hollman Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence reminds us that even with all the best planning for indoor fun, it’s helpful to have creative tips that forestall daytime upsets and build parent-child bonds.
- Outside? What’s that?: 13 Boredom Busters for 13 Weeks of Winter — Joining us from rural Ontario, where she is no stranger to massive amounts of snow and frigid temperatures, Leslie at Eat Your Peas shares 13 Boredom Busters to get you through the 13 weeks of winter.
- Where to get the wiggles out in bad weather — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers indoor places to escape to when kids need to run and shout away from the rain and snow.
- 12 Ways to Entertain a Toddler on a Rainy Day — Holly at Leaves of Lavender presents a list of simple ways to keep a toddler busy when stuck at home on a rainy day.
- Pencil, paper… bright ideas! — Marija Smits shares some ideas on how to make family ‘art and craft time’ inexpensive and fun.
- 6 Ideas for Sibling Fun Indoors — Kati at The Best Things shares kid-initiated activities that involve action, adventure, and some roughhousing. Perfect for busting up cabin fever! Plus a few extras invented with a little help from Mom-O.
- The great indoors — Charlie at Peeling Clementines divulges ways she entertains her chaotic little one indoors, from yoga to arts and crafts.
- Family Zentangle Fun: Tutorials and Activity Ideas to Get You Started — Zentangle is the perfect marriage of mediation and art, and it can be fun and relaxing for the whole family. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares resources to help you start doodling.
- Cabin Fever Plan of Attack — Momma Jorje offers some low-key plans for days that she and her littles are stuck inside.