Inspiring Creative: Marissa Moss

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Nurturing creativity in our children is one of the most important things we can do for them. Last week, Lindy-Ann shared an inspiring TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He eloquently and wittily shared that our public education system, around the world, is broken when it comes to this crucial skill set. For this reason, I am so overwhelmingly thankful that we are able to send our son to the American International School here in Israel, where he is given opportunities to flourish creatively and encouraged to embrace how his brain thinks. The most recent celebration of creativity was a week of workshops hosted by children’s author and illustrator Marissa Moss.

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Marissa spent the week holding writing and illustration workshops for each grade. Through her stories and her own personal experiences she encouraged each child to embrace their unique story because, as she puts it, “everyone’s life is interesting.” Marissa also taught them the importance of making mistakes.

On Friday, at our monthly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, she spoke with us parents about some of the activities they did and how important it is to help our kids hone their visual storytelling skills. She even answered questions on how to encourage our budding creatives in ways that would challenge them lovingly and encourage with sincerity, not false praise. She also encouraged us, as parents and teachers, to help the children harness their innate critical reading and thinking skills, because “kids won’t read bad books; if it’s not good, they’ll tell you.” This critical reading by her own sons is how Marissa knew that children would enjoy her books. She even told us that her sons are her best and most brutal editors.

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There are two truths that Marissa hoped to leave with our kids that I think hold true for everyone, no matter what age you are.

Truth #1 Revision is your friend

In working with the second grade classes, Marissa had them work on crafting and revising a great opening sentence. As you can imagine most kids struggled with the fact that their sentence was not perfect the first time and did not want to revise it. In order to help them understand that revision is a good thing she showed them one of her sketches of a first draft – all lines and scribbles, and then the final published revision. Reworking and revising can actually be fun and exciting as you get closer and closer to that “A-Ha!” moment and the children were able to learn and experience that.

I asked my second grader about his sentence, and he exasperatedly told me he had to do it twice, but in the end it was a great hook: Peter has a big secret.  Did I mention Peter is a piece of toast. I’m intrigued, aren’t you?

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Truth #2 Mistakes are opportunities

I first heard this exact truth from my incredibly talented artist friend Joy, as I struggled to perfect a craft we were doing for fun at a girls’ night. Silly Katie.

Back when Marissa was an art teacher she saw this struggle in her own students and she was inspired to use one of their true stories to help other children see the beauty of making mistakes. She wrote and illustrated Regina’s Big Mistake and has helped other children be bold and just get something down on paper. It is the ideal book for the little perfectionist in your life.

Funnily enough, even when signing the books I purchased, she misspelled my son’s name and beside it she wrote “sorry, I make mistakes all the time.” It’s truly a great life lesson for everyone, not just creatives.

“Let yourself explore, take risks, and make mistakes. You never know where a mistake will lead you.” -Marissa Moss

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After hearing Marissa Moss and Sir Ken Robinson words I’m impassioned to encourage my boys and the other children in my sphere of influence to take those risks and be creative. I want them to be a part of this creative revolution we are experiencing and help shift the tide.

Learn more about Marissa and her books here. I also recommend the After School Monster, which I bought for my 4 year old. It’s a great story of being brave and conquering your own monsters.

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A NOTE OF THANKS

Marissa, thank you for your time and your heart for our children. I know all you taught them will impact how they see their {art}work going forward. Hoping the all best for you and your new authors!

Cheers,

kdg

Back to school Prep

We’re home.

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The flight home was great, especially since hubby gave me the upgrade to business class on our long stretch. What a gem! And what a difference that makes. I woke up the day after we got back with extra energy and a ready-to-go attitude.

School starts for us on Sunday.

A new school year = new beginnings, new friendships, new teachers and new opportunities. So how is everyone getting ready for the new school year? For this family, it was a good day to be a mum of 3. Pottery Barn Kids is having a buy two get one free promo. Yup, my smallest person basically got all his new back to school stuff for free 🙂 Now that’s a great start in anyones books.

Besides the morning traffic, I would say that packing lunch boxes probably brings me the most Back To School Anxiety.

That should be a thing don’t you think? #backtoschoolanxiety

Anyway, a few years back I had the delight in meeting a lady by the name of  Jen, from MAMA.PAPA.BUBBA blog here in Kuwait. She is a Canadian based writer on all things mom, kid, creativity, nutrition, family and travel. She has been a huge source of inspiration for myself as an expat mum and her kids lunch box ideas are unrivalled.

Since the start of my kids school careers, we have been fans of PlanetBox Lunch Boxes. With our extreme temps I LOVE that the boxes are non-toxic, non-leaching, safe from BPA, phthalates, and lead. I LOVE that they are strong, high quality stainless steel and warrantied for 5 years. I LOVE the little compartments which makes variety a key element when planning. I LOVE that they are dishwasher safe. I LOVE all the accessories available: magnets for design, knives, forks, specials little containers that then fit into the lunch box itself for specialty foods, fruit salad for example.

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The website boasts so many different combinations of foods and food ideas for you to be inspired from, they have an entire tab on the website dedicated to Meal ideas. It truly takes the stress out of #backtoschoolanxiety 

If you have any Back To School favourite tips we would love to hear from you and share them with our readers, after all as moms, we need to lift each other up and get (and offer up) all the help we can.

Much love and good luck for the first week back to school for our Kuwait readers.

Now, I need to get back to labelling.

Cheers.

la

Right Brain, Right Brain.

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One day when my eldest daughter was 4 years old she came to me and said, quite frankly, “Mummy, I have an art brain, there’s just no room in my brain for anything else except art.”

Being an art brain myself I was naturally thrilled with this idea. When you have an art brain you not only see the world in visuals, you hear it, smell it, taste it and feel it in visuals too. We picture EVERYTHING. As delightful as this is, it can also be a little challenging. When my daughter started to learn to read and write she would literally copy the font script that her words on the paper were printed in, be it arial, helvetica, futura, you name it. It was a struggle to try explain to my little person the differences between fonts and why they were all right but essentially all look different. It was very confusing to her.

At such a young age she knows exactly who she is and where her strengths lie – from dress design to painting, from building 3D models to writing songs. As an adult, I’m still figuring this out. I find myself now trying to keep her out of the boxes that life and society wants to put her in. In school, art becomes a subject along with science, maths, english etc, but for her art is her entire way of thinking. It’s how she sees everything. I find myself using art to teach her maths, I use art to explain science, I use art to help her remember those tricky english words with funny illogical spellings.

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Pablo Picasso put it perfectly. “Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.”

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Using the example of the Mercedes ad by Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive Tel Aviv, Israel, the text for the right brain reads: “I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feet. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.”

I remember when I was younger, I would paint everything, the taps outside, the birdbath, my big white cupboard doors did not stay white for very long. I’m thankful for understanding parents who gave me the space I needed to be colourful and free. I hung coloured bottles from my trees in my garden, yes my parents had one of ‘those’ hippie houses at the hands of their daughter. I can only chuckle when I see the same characteristics reflected in my child. And I look up at my grandmother who was and still is a painter. She has painted all her life and still has her easel next to her bed in her room as she chases 90.

I am very proud of my art brain kid, she has already taught me so much more about parenting than any best selling book or Google could ever do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-left brain at all, after all I married one, I am just so deeply in love with my right brain, it’s everything I ever wanted to be.

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If you have an art brain child we’d love to hear from you. Please share your child’s most recent creation in the comments below so we can celebrate them with you!

Cheers,

la