Creativity Lesson Plans and Learning – Sometimes the best gifts are those you don’t ask for

As my social media part of “My Family Tuesday” here on the Balancing Act, we’ve been talking about how the sweet smell of success starts at home. (See part 1 part 2 part 3) Parents can do a lot at home to inspire their children and help them find their interests.

My parents were always buying me science kits, electronics kits, and Dad would even let me take apart sensors and broken equipment from the farm so I could see the electronics inside. I remember one summer, Mom let us actually dig an archaeology project in the driveway with spoons. It started innocently enough but we did have some great finds (as well as tearing up the underside of the farm truck when the unwitting driver did not see our archaeology pit!)

With my own children, I was a stay at home Mom for the first four years of their life and spent a lot of time doing cool experiments and a wide variety of things at home. As much as I love my computer and our family iPad, hands on is very important too.

As part of the Balancing Act Community, I get to receive and review items that I like. Today there are two items that I’m excited to review. One is an art and creativity program for homeschoolers and teachers from Madcap Logic (the animators at Disney and Dreamworks) called creativity express and the other is a cool polymer chemistry set from discovery kids for my 10 year old.

Creativity Builders Lesson Plans

This is an award winning standards aligned 16 lesson journey into the language of art. I think the thing I like most about these lesson plans is that they have a “by-hand” and a digital version of almost every lesson plan. Templates for use in digital paint programs are available for download from their website.

I recommend the free paint.net if you need a low-cost alternative instead of the paint program that comes with your computer.(  Also note that the link in the book is not working for downloading the items, but I believe that you have to have an online teacher account to access that material. I will ask.) This is an online program as well, but if that is not for you, there is enough in the Creativity Builders Lesson Plans book to have at least 1 art lesson a week for the entire year. (For those schools who need standards alignment with the lessons, you can download them from their website.)

Parents can also have their children with an account at home to go through these lessons as well. I’m going to talk to my artistically inclined son and daughter about setting up an account here at the house.

Discovery Kids Polymer Chemistry Set

Chemistry sets are a big hit in our home (except with me as sometimes they make a mess.) In full disclosure, I am a Discovery STAR educator and have been to their headquarters to help facilitate a meeting of the best STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) teachers for the prestigious Siemens STEM Institute. I went to Georgia Tech and STEM is my “thing” so yes, I’m a bit biased. I think every child should have some hands on science in their stocking!

But on a personal note, every year I buy things for my elementary age children from the Discovery Store just because it is my go to place for science. I was completely thrilled when I opened my box from Randi Farina, the Balancing Act’s Social Media Director, to see that there was a Polymer Chemistry Set for us to test. We’re all over this thing.

You make slime and make snow with this small, compact kit that comes with one mixing flask. Perfect for a parent who wants science but doesn’t want the bathroom taken over for the next month. (If you don’t mind the bathroom being taken over I’m sure the store will oblige you there too with some of these science projects.)

I do love the Discovery store because I use it every year to buy things for my kids. I’d tell you that whether I was asked to review a product for them or not. Great site and great people.

Sometimes the best gifts are those you don’t ask for

I know your kids (like mine) want video games or clothes or all kinds of things. Some of the best things I’ve ever gotten that I didn’t ask for were my first James Michener book from my Dad in eighth grade, the electronics sets where you had all the voltage and connections, and the science kits where I did take over the bathroom for a month.

School is a great place for learning but the best homes have lots of learning and laughter too. The sweet smell of success does start at home.

Best wishes for a lovely holiday season. It is hard to balance it all. Do your best and sometimes when you’ve done all you can do, follow my Granny Martin’s advice and know that “sometimes you’ve gotta let the rough end drag.”

Merry Christmas.

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