The Spacemen Brothers- Musings on Creative Thinking

To know me is to understand my love of quirky Halloween costumes.  It’s a passion so close to my heart, I’ve already written about it:

https://yourmamasallwrite.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/i-miss-shitty-halloween-costumes/

Last night, we went to the Pumpkin Walk at Kellen’s school.  The event included a path of jack o’ lanterns, a cake walk, trunk or treating, pizza and kettle corn.  Kids were thrilled to get an early run in their Halloween outfits.  Parents were happy to get more than a night’s use out of the costumes.

We engage in a lot of pretend play in our house.  Costumes are plentiful.  I advised the boys to go choose a costume from their dress up bin.  After a few minutes, one came back wearing a panda backpack, a knight’s helmet, a large jeweled necklace, and painted rain boots.  The other returned in a wrestling mask, a backpack, and dinosaur slippers.  They both had on pajamas and fingerless clothes.  They told me they were the Spacemen Brothers.  Ah, my boys.  I beamed with pride.

We did receive some strange looks at the Walk.  Many were just curious as to what the costumes were supposed to be.  I guess not everyone understands that backpacks are jet packs, and anything on your head can be a space helmet.  Others looked at my sons with pity- clearly my boys have parents who don’t care about them and forced them to wear anything they could rummage up.

Recently, I had a conversation with another mother, in regards to our children learning to read.  Liam is a little bit older than her child.  She wondered if he was reading yet, and how much writing he was doing.  She was impressed with his progress, but also felt reassured that her child would be performing similar tasks within the next six months.

All parents know we shouldn’t compare our kids, but we do.  When I volunteer in Liam’s class, I take note that he has already reached level two reading, when most of his class is at level one.  His name is on the “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” coconut tree for having mastered all his alphabet sounds- an honor he was quick to point out and I was happy to view.

This week, I had my first parent teacher conference.  Liam is adjusting to school.  He is on track academically, and engaging socially.  Because I already felt confident that he was doing well in his course work, I was able to ask other questions.  How is his self esteem in the classroom?  Does he know how to work through problems when they come up?  Is he confident enough to ask for help when he needs it?  His teacher assured me that he was doing just fine.

I spend a lot of time on creative pursuits with my kids.  Yes, it is fun and I enjoy doing it.  But I have an ulterior motive.  I believe that by teaching them to be creative, I am teaching them how to think in new ways and problem solve.  When they believe that a wrestling mask is a space helmet, I see they are thinking outside the box.  I have no doubt Liam and Kellen will learn to read and count- but will they learn to question, to brain storm, and to believe in their ideas?

At the conference, the teacher told me two things that I thought were interesting.  The children complete writing journals each day.  The entries consist of drawing a picture, and then writing a story describing the picture.  She said that Liam started off drawing things in the wrong colors, and she’d ask him questions like “do people really have red eyes?”

I explained that we drew together every day, and that art is a large part of our lives.  He may not be able to list the actual terms, but we’ve had discussions about surrealism, fauvism, and artistic interpretation.  She said the important thing is that his picture needs to match what was happening in his story- that a reader should be able to look at the picture and know what is going to happen in his words.  I understand and agree with that point.  We’ve since had a conversation about drawing for a story, compared to drawing for our own fun.  But I was a little proud that he needed someone to tell him to use the “right” colors.

She also mentioned that the teachers love his outfits and can’t wait to see what he has on each day.  I thought he was the one who dressed normal.  They might have to schedule a morning fashion show when Kellen starts Kindergarten.

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