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How to Foster Creativity in Kids: a Mom’s Guide

Creativity is not just about art. It’s about thinking outside the box, problem-solving, being curious about the world, and being able to turn imagined things into realities. Sounds like your kid? Sure it does! Kids have a natural penchant for creativity, but to foster it, rather than suppress it, we may have to make a few little compromises. I’m not talking about letting them get away with sheer naughtiness, but I do mean giving them an opportunity to be kids, and sure, they’ll make mistakes and that’s OK too. 

The best thing about fostering creativity is that you don’t have to do an awful lot to get it right. The worst part is that you may have to hold yourself back at times and resist the urge to interfere or show them how to do stuff. 

Honor Their Creativity, Sense of Wonder, and Intellectual Curiosity

OK, I admit it. I didn’t coin that phrase. It’s almost word-for-word the slogan of a great private school in Connecticut. But you have to admit it, it’s food for thought. It can also be hard work: especially since creativity can lead to some interesting situations like Junior deciding that golden syrup would give the floor a nice sheen. So, it was funny. But he had to clean it up himself. Actions have consequences.

As for intellectual curiosity, any parent who has been through the “Why” phase of kiddie development will know that “Why” can be a tiring question when it’s asked over and over, and at some point, it’s tempting to just say “Because!”

As for wonder, it’s around every corner, and sometimes it just takes a little nudge on your part to prompt that “Wow” moment. Now, a few more thoughts on creativity.

Give Them Space

Unsupervised, unstructured play is a great way for kids to learn. It means prying them away from the gadgets and getting them to go outside, or to the playroom, and keeping themselves entertained. While there will be the occasional “Mommy I’m bored” gripe, the merest hint that they’d be less bored tidying their rooms is usually enough to send them dashing off to find something else to do. Maybe the jungle gym becomes a pirate ship or the doll house becomes a target for a dragon - but don’t ask too closely what’s going on or you’ll get the inevitable “Nothing” in response. The main thing here is space - both in terms of supervision and a place to play where they can make a mess if they like. 

Let Them Have Fun With Arts and Crafts

There’s been a huge debate based on the premise that arts help kids to do better in other subjects. A controversial study showed that it wasn’t so, but further studies have gone on to prove the benefits of the kind of creative thinking that arts stimulate. Some academics say that artistic activities promote focus and concentration, while others point out that envisioning something when confronted with a set of materials and then going on to make it encourages imagination and the ability to conceptualize. All I can say is that it’s awesome to see children totally absorbed in their art - and of course, I love the results. I’m no scientist, but I will say that I can almost see those little brains working away - which is more than they seem to be doing in front of the tv! 

Chill Out and Let Kids be Kids

I’ve read a lot of material on creativity and how to encourage it in kids - and I’m not convinced that everything I’ve read is good advice -  or even whether the people who wrote it have kids of their own. In fact, I’m betting they don’t! 

So, I’m just a mom, but in my opinion, creativity is there already, and our job is to resist the urge to suppress it. That means refraining from showing or telling them how to do absolutely everything, being less achievement-focused than we might be, allowing unstructured and largely unsupervised play, and letting kids get on with the business of being kids within the basic parameters of safe and decent behavior. 

Making Laundry FUN!

September 23-29 is National Keep Kids Creative Week. Gain recognizes the importance of National Keep Kids Creative Week and believes that there are ways to make laundry more fun. I am so thrilled to be teaming up with Gain to show you a very simple way to make a sometimes boring chore for a kid, a fun adventure! If you ask my son William what his favorite things are he will quickly tell you, DINOSAURS! He carries around everything from dinosaur flash cards, books, toys and loves his dino apps on the Kindle Fire. It has gotten to the point where he can tell you the names of at least a dozen dinosaurs and fill you in on how big they are and what they like to eat.

I figured that dinosaurs would be a great subject to incorporate into helping out around the house and allowing his creativity to shine. We decided to make a "Dino Adventure" laundry basket. You should have seen the excitement on William's face when we were gathering our craft items for the basket project. I came up with the basic idea but had William do all of the coloring, gluing and helping to hold things to assemble.

We started with some dinosaur template cut-outs that we found online. William chose all of the colors he wanted his dinosaurs to be and enjoyed making dino sounds as he colored. He really got into it! His big sister helped him to cut the dinosaur and dino egg shapes out and glue down them down on construction paper to make them sturdier. We attached simple assorted plastic greenery to our laundry basket to give that jungle feel. Once all the dinosaurs and eggs were completed, we punched holes in them and attached them with bag ties onto the basket in between the greenery. To personalize the laundry basket even more, we made a nameplate so William can be proud to have his very own hamper in his room.

He just loves the fact that this is his very own basket that he helped create. I think it turned out really cute and it was such fun crafting this masterpiece together. He is already asking about what our next project will be!

He is so proud of his special basket.

I have never seen William so eager to help with laundry before. He very happily loaded all of the dirty clothes in the washing machine.

Of course you must have some good old-fashioned shenanigans to make the chore of laundry even more fun! I am sure William is going to show a lot more effort in keeping up with his dirty clothes. Hopefully I will find more of it in the hamper instead of on the floor!

Won't you join Gain in this great initiative? Have your kids decorate a basket and tag Gain on Facebook. It is such fun! Check out the Gain Facebook page for more details on National Keep Kids Creative Week. You can also follow Gain on Twitter. What creative things will you do with your kids or what suggestions can you share that can bring out your child's creativity

I am being compensated by Gain to share the importance of National Keep Kids Creative Week and Gain believes that there are ways to make laundry more fun. All thoughts/opinions are 100% my own.
Shelly, Mom Files

Adding to my cast iron cookware collection

If you have been a regular blog reader or you follow me on Facebook, then you would know how much I love to cook and bake. I have fallen in love with cast iron cookware in recent months. I currently own the big, two-sided griddle/grill, a small frying pan and now a large, deep pan (great for frying) and a shallow pan (great for steaks and for days when the big griddle is too much).

My hubby actually brought them home as a surprise. He bid on them and bought them at an auction. How thoughtful was that?! I am so excited that I have so many different size options and these will get plenty of use in the years to come. I am so happy they are pre-seasoned as well. Hopefully I will be able to properly maintain all of my pieces to be able to pass down to my kids. 

You will be seeing some upcoming recipe posts using my new pans in the near future :-)
Shelly, Mom Files

My latest food obsession

I am the type of person that when I taste something that I love I tend to go crazy with it. Don't worry, it is not nachos. I have become obsessed with Greek yogurt! I tried the Yoplait brand a few weeks ago (strawberry) and fell in love. Now I know that Greek yogurt is nothing new. I have had it in the past and was not too crazy about it. I found it to be way too tart. Now it seems that so many brands are popping up with their version. I tried Fage in the plain variety and used it in place of sour cream on my nachos. It was amazing! I actually prefer it over traditional sour cream. So now I am coming up with a long list of foods I want to prepare using Greek yogurt.... potato salad, dips, mac and cheese, pasta salad, cheesecake......

I'm glad it's a healthy choice since I love it so much. Even the husband is on board! He has warned me that I better not eat it too often since I tend to eat things to the point of hating them :)

So are you a Greek yogurt lover? How do you like it best?

Shelly, Mom Files

Mini Sandwich Cookie Cheesecakes {Recipe}

Did you know that COOL WHIP is currently having a Fan Dessert of the Month contest on their Facebook page until the end of December? All you have to do is upload a photo of a COOL WHIP dessert you created for a chance to win $500! (one Grand prize winner per month)

I decided to create a recipe with some of the flavors my kids love the most... cookies, cheesecake and chocolate! I put together these adorable Mini Sandwich Cookie Cheesecakes.

The great part about this recipe is that it requires no baking and very few, simple ingredients. I used Snackwell's cookies but you can change up the variety of cookie or chocolate according to your family's taste. Here is the recipe:

Mini Sandwich Cookie Cheesecakes

What you will need:
1- 8 ounce tub of COOL WHIP
1 package of Cream Cheese
12 SnackWell's Creme Sandwich Cookies
6 mini milk chocolate bars
2 tbsp melted butter
1/3 powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 aluminum muffin liners
Additional cookies, milk chocolate and COOL WHIP for garnish (if desired)

How you make it:
Blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Crush 8 of the cookies until fine and mix with melted butter to make the crust. Press cookie crumb mixture into aluminum muffin liners and set aside. Chop up the remaining cookies and milk chocolate bars in small pieces and fold them, along with your COOL WHIP into cream cheese mixture. Spoon cheesecake mixture over each cookie crust and smooth it out. Refrigerate until firm and serve garnished with a dollop of COOL WHIP, a chunk of SnackWell's Creme Sandwich Cookie and a piece of milk chocolate.

My family instantly closed their eyes when they took the first bite of this yummy dessert. They loved it and have already requested I make it again. I really loved how nice the texture of the cookies were along with the smooth, creaminess of the cream cheese and COOL WHIP. If you try out this recipe, please let me know how you liked it.

Be sure to stay connected on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for great recipe ideas using COOL WHIP. Also check out Snackwell's on Facebook.

I am working in partnership with the COOL WHIP brand and I am receiving compensation for my participation in this campaign. All thoughts/opinions are 100% my own

Shelly, Mom Files

Yummy sandwich idea

Do you ever have those days that you are trying to come up with something different for dinner, but you want it to be quick and light? I came up with an idea for a sandwich that my family loved. Since it was such a big hit, I figured I would share it with you all.

It is a tuna salad sandwich with baby greens on a whole wheat roll. This is how I made it:
I mixed up a big can of premium tuna (drained) with some mayonnaise, brown mustard, sweet relish, a little bit of honey, a squeeze of fresh lemon, some cracked black pepper and a touch of hot pepper sauce. For the greens, I used fancy baby greens (Spring Mix) and tossed them in some balsamic vinaigrette with some feta cheese crumbles and dried cranberries. I then mounded some of the tuna salad on the whole wheat roll and added a generous amount of the greens on top. I served it with some plain potato chips and some sweet tea. Everyone was happy and has requested that I make this meal again. It must be the combination of the hint of sweet, savory and tangy all at the same time that got everyone hooked. I think this sandwich would be great with some oven fries or sweet potato fries. It's amazing how you can transform a simple can of tuna into something so appetizing and delicious! :)
Shelly, Mom Files

It's always the little things

Time flies when you have children. They truly do grow up fast. As a mom, I try to do my best to make sure they feel special every day. With my daughters being teenagers it seems like quite a challenge sometimes. The good thing is they appreciate the littlest things. I love doing something unexpected for them when they get home from a long day at school. Many times I have purchased their favorite candy and left it on their bed so it is the first thing they see when they walk into their room. I stand at the top of the staircase to listen to their reaction. It's amazing how excited a teenage girl can get over some candy that cost me 2 bucks! Then having them run up the stairs to grab a big hug and thank me is the best feeling in the world. It makes my heart full to know that they are so grateful for the small gestures done out of love.

The other day I made this Creamy Oreo Pie for the girls. It was intended to be the dessert for a mom party I hosted in our home. I realized that all the moms might not want this sort of dessert and I asked the girls for other suggestions. You should have seen the look of sadness in their faces. Well obviously I still made the pie and I also made an additional dessert as well. I only had a few Oreos left to garnish the finished pie with and I plopped a few dollops of COOL WHIP on as well. I looked at it and thought that it looked a bit sloppy. You see, dolloping is not my talent. I just get it on there the best way I can! Of course the girls thought it was absolute perfection. My guests felt the same way too. It just goes to show that it does not take a whole lot to make your loved ones feel special. 

Be sure to visit the COOL WHIP Facebook page to share your own ways on the little things you do to make your family feel extra special. While you are there, be sure to check out all the great recipes and download a coupon (while supplies last). 

I am working in partnership with the COOL WHIP brand and I am receiving compensation for my participation in this campaign. All thoughts/opinions are 100% my own.  

Shelly, Mom Files

HUGE Klutz Books Holiday Giveaway {closed}

**Winner is #68 Pascha Dudley~ Congratulations!

Hey guys! I am so thrilled to have been given the opportunity to review a couple of the Klutz Books for kids. They are truly fun and entertaining and I love the fact that they allow kids to use their imaginations and creativity through art. I received the Window Art Classic and Capsters books and they are amazing! The Window Art Classic book features the neatest ready-to-trace designs using window paint. When your artwork is complete they can be displayed on windows, mirrors, glass surfaces and more. I know my teenagers would love to create their own mirror art to decorate their rooms and bathrooms.

The Capsters book turns bottle caps into great works of coolness! All you do is add one of the over 300 punch-outs (included) and any gem, charms or knick-knacks you can find that will fit in bottle caps and add the gooey glaze. The result is cute little pieces of art that kids can give to friends and family by personalizing it! I am truly loving this idea for kids instead of video games or traditional toys. I know this will bring hours of creative fun and makes a fantastic holiday gift!

A couple other Klutz books include the Headband and Hairstyles (make your own hair accessories) and also the Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes. Right now through December 17, 2010 Momfiles readers can get 25% off a $50 or more purchase at by using coupon code KZ25. Offers cannot be combined. Code expires December 17th.

How would you like to win ALL 4 of these awesome books?
One (1) winner will receive a HUGE KLUTZ prize pack featuring:

* Window Art
* Capsters
* Headbands & Hairstyles
* Paper Airplanes

Prize Pack Valued at $75.99
Here is how to enter: *Mandatory: Let us know which one of these books you would love to have and why or share who you would give this prize to.

For additional entries (leave a separate comment for each entry to count):
~ "like" Momfiles and Klutz books on Facebook
~ Follow Momfiles on Twitter
~ Tweet this giveaway (once per day)- Win a HUGE Klutz Books Holiday prize pack #giveaway @momfiles valued at $75! Perfect for gift giving!
~ Mention this giveaway on Facebook (once per day)
~ Sport the Momfiles button on your blog
~ Follow Momfiles through Google Friend Connect

This contest is open to US residents only and will end on December 3, 2010 at 9:00 pm EST. Please leave a visible email address if you do not have a Blogger profile. Winner will be chosen via and will be emailed. Good luck to everyone!

Disclosure: I received products only as compensation for my post and hosting giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own.
Shelly, Mom Files
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