Is Creativity Inherited?

A few weeks back at the FEI11 conference, I helped setup the Lego exhibit. After unloading boxes and boxes of Legos, I dove into contributing the first of many user-generated, or in this case, conference attendee-generated, creations that would grace the exhibit. As I thought about what to construct, I decided it might be nice to welcome folks to Boston by building the skyline. After constructing the John Hancock Tower, the “Boston Legal” building, the Prudential building, and a “Bridge to the Future” with a divergent and convergent staircase, I started on the waterfront. I added water details including Read more of this post

Popsicle Sticks as Toys? Really?

Color The Snow

Image by Joe_Andrews via Flickr

Article first published as Popsicle Sticks as Toys? Really? on Technorati.

My youngest son came home beaming last week. He had a wonderful day at school and was even chosen to be “Star of the Day.” At the dinner table, he showed us his prize for being the star. Sitting next to him were 6 popsicle sticks that he had arranged into a pattern. We oohed and ahhed as my son manipulated the popsicle sticks into stars, planes and birds.

Watching my son playing with the popsicle sticks brought back memories of my childhood. As a child, whenever I went to the pediatrician, he would give me a bunch of tongue depressors as a treat for being good. I shared this memory with my family. My oldest son said, “Really?!? That’s all he gave you? What kind of prize is that?”

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Testing, Learning and Curiosity

Rocco the beaver in studio

Image via Wikipedia

There’s a lot of talk in the business world about the importance of testing and learning. When it comes to web site design, we typically create prototypes to help clients understand user flows, graphical elements, and user interactions. Many times, we take these prototypes out to end users to test and get feedback. This aspect of testing and learning helps to uncover opportunities, understand what is/isn’t working, confirm hypotheses, and find ways of improving outcomes. Though this example was couched in a business context, we all have the innate ability for testing and learning. In fact, testing and learning begins as infants.

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Digital Books that Unlock the Imagination

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Until recently I considered the Kindle, iPad and Nook as nice to haves. When I think about carrying around another electronic device, it makes me cringe. However, after speaking with friends who swear by digital books and seeing the richness of digital books, I’m starting to rethink ebook readers. Here are a few digital books that unlock the imagination (and may cause me to unlock my wallet).

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Using Legos to Teach Kids Financial Literacy

lego-city-folk

Image by dangoodwin via Flickr

Article first published as Using Legos to Teach Kids Financial Literacy on Technorati.

A few days ago I stopped at the gas station with my boys to fill up the tank. With the price of gas continuing to rise, I shrieked when the cost of a fill up topped $50. Luckily, I drive a hybrid so I don’t need to fill up the tank as frequently (phew).  As I handed the gas attendant a credit card, my 7-year old caught my reaction and asked, “Mom, what’s wrong? Isn’t the gas free because you’re not paying with dollar bills?” It was at that moment I realized I should teach my son a thing or two about money.

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A Parent Workshop on Creativity

Tightrope Walker, Palolem, Goa, India

Image by racoles via Flickr

Last week I had the honor of co-presenting a parent workshop on creativity at a local Montessori school. The workshop provided a primer on creativity, lots of hands on activities to build creativity skills, and a wonderful opportunity to chat about raising creative kids. Throughout the workshop, we used experiential activities to raise awareness of creativity. Our lessons centered around tips and techniques that parents could use at home with their children.

After the workshop was over, the parents stuck around – all abuzz about what they had just learned. Though the workshop was focused on raising creative kids, a side effect of the workshop was that parents were able to exercise their creative muscles. The frantic pace of raising kids leaves little time for parents to tend to themselves. In order to raise creative children, we must take the time to exercise our own creative muscles.

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Expressions of Happiness

Coca Cola: Machine of the Friendship

Image by Buou via Flickr

There are all kinds of things that make people happy. Movies, books, comedians, experiences. When I think of happy experiences, Disney is top of mind. Makes sense, right? Amusement park, rides, great characters…all built around an imagined world dedicated to children. Disney is a large-scale business built around happiness. But, how might a soft drink company leverage happiness? A few days ago a friend shared an article about Coca Cola’s Happiness campaign.  I was skeptical until I saw this video.

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Creative Ways to Teach Math, Part 2

DSC_5837 - Dragon Fire

Image by archer10 (Dennis) via Flickr

A few weeks ago I shared tips on how to creatively teach skip counting. Since then, readers have asked for more ways to teach math and logic. Here’s one for you from the “way back” machine. Why way back? Well, the tips I share are from a bedtime routine my husband started when our oldest son was about three. Fast-forward…and 2006 seems like eons ago!

Each night before my son went to bed, my husband would make up a bedtime story. The story was based on a little boy (my son) who had to find three crystals in order to escape the precarious situations he had gotten into. In order to obtain the crystals, the little boy had to solve challenges. These challenges involved word problems, logic and math.

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The Role of Grandparents in Nurturing Creativity

A stereotypical caricature of a pirate.

Image via Wikipedia

Growing up, my grandparents lived with us. I spent most of my first 18 years under their tutelage. I still fondly remember my grandfather helping me learn math by cutting the bottom off a Twinkies box and writing down the multiplication table. I also remember my grandmother spending endless hours teaching me to sew, playing Othello, and showing me how to pick beans from the garden.

Fast-forward many years, and now I have children of my own. I always hoped my sons would have the same relationship with their grandparents as I did with mine. I am elated to share, they definitely do…and then some! My boys are fortunate to have grandparents who love spending time with them and who give the most precious gifts of time and patience. Papa, Nana, and Grandma nurture the boys in another way too. They inspire my boys to tap into their creativity and to use their imaginations!

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Turning Rock-Paper-Scissors into a Divergent Thinking Game

Image via Wikipedia

When I was a kid, we used to play a game called Rock-Paper-Scissors. The game is also known as Stone-Paper-Scissors in the UK, or kauwi-bauwi-bo in Korean. Turns out, it is a universal game. To play, opponents say, “Rock-Paper-Scissors, shoot.” Upon saying shoot, each player uses his hand to imitate the shape of a rock (clenched fist), paper (open hand), or scissors (two fingers extended in a cutting motion). The object of the game is to select a gesture that beats your opponent – rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper and paper beats rock.

Rock-Paper-Scissors is popular with elementary school kids. In fact, my boys were so excited by Rock-Paper-Scissors they couldn’t wait to show my husband and I. One day while eating dinner, the boys decided to teach us how to play. They began, “Rock-Paper-Scissors, shoot.” One said, “rock” while clenching his fist. My other son said, “paper” while holding his hand open like a stop sign. Then, my husband jumped into the fun helped turn Rock-Paper-Scissors into a game of divergent thinking. Rock-paper-scissors became:

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