I recently had the privilege of helping my adult daughter edit the manuscript for her first book. Her first real, published book. A book with an agent, a publisher, a release date (April 2017), and it’s own pre-order page on Amazon. A proud parenting milestone for sure! But this book of hers has been a long time in the making. In fact, we can trace its origin all the way back to pre-K!
Before my kids could even write their names, they would dictate their stories to me – I’d write the words and they’d draw the pictures. And well before that, they learned to love words and art, thanks to our daily habit of reading wonderful children’s books with mesmerizing illustrations that we’d check out from the library each week.
An early childhood filled with literacy and creativity is critically important to developing minds, and here’s why…
We often hear about today’s jobs becoming obsolete, tomorrow’s jobs that don’t even exist yet, and young adults entering the job market who will likely change careers several times throughout their life.
How do we prepare our children and our students for a job market like that??
By helping them become excellent readers, effective writers, creative problem-solvers, and lifelong learners. Those are skills that will never become outdated!
Looking back, I realize my kids were blessed with teachers all through the years who taught them to love reading and writing and encouraged them to be creative – to innovate and think outside the box. As a result, their writing, creative thinking, and problem solving skills have flourished. Today they are intelligent adults who communicate well, ask good questions, and have a knack for finding creative solutions.
They are well-equipped to keep learning, growing, and adapting to whatever their world throws at them.
Writing and art form a powerful mode of creative self-expression, helping students develop the innovative thinking skills that will serve them well no matter what career path they choose.
So, in honor of my daughter’s new book, “Twenty-two”, here’s my list of….
22 Ways to Combine Writing & Art to Encourage Creativity:
1. Read to them…. it’s never too soon! Appreciation for the written word is a precursor to writing well. Choose books with wonderful illustrations to help draw kids into the story and inspire discussion. Instilling a love for reading is like planting seeds for a lifetime of creative growth!
2. Have very young children dictate their stories to you. Write one sentence per page, leaving room for the child’s illustrations. Laminate the cover and bind the pages like a real book. Take it a step further and designate a special ‘author’s chair’ where kids can sit to share their books with others!
3. Keep an illustrated daily journal.
4. Create a 3D book report, like a diorama, and include a written summary of the story.
5. Make a “Haiku Tunnel Book”.
6. Read classic children’s literature aloud to older students and have them draw their own illustrations of a particular scene. Illustrating a story helps students slow down and really think about the details.
7. Design a greeting card for a holiday (or any occasion), with a written poem or message inside.
8. Make a “Fingerprint Self-Portrait”.
9. Collage or paint a background and letter your own inspiring message on top.
10. Design a coat of arms for your family and explain on the back why you chose the symbols you used.
11. Create a comic strip about something funny that happened.
12. Make an illustrated timeline of your life (or someone else’s), adding extra details in writing.
13. “Plant” a gratitude tree. Get creative with the design of your tree! Then, each day add a new leaf to your tree and write about something you are thankful for.
14. Try your hand at Visual Note Taking.
15. Make a mind map using both words and symbols to explain a process or work through a decision you need to make.
16. Visit a museum or gallery, or choose a piece of art that interests you online or in a book. Draw a sketch of the artwork, then be an art critic and write a review!
17. Design a website – at least on paper! Imagine a business that might be needed in the future. Choose a name and a tagline, and design a logo. Then sketch the layout of your website, including text and image ideas you might use.
18. Create a board game. Then write out the instructions and rules for playing in a way that’s concise and easy to understand.
19. Be a travel writer! Describe and illustrate one of your favorite places, near or far. Make the reader want to go there!
20. Think of a simple step-by-step process you do often. Make a numbered list of the steps. Then do a quick sketch of each of the steps to add extra clarity to your directions.
21. Write and illustrate your own graphic novel.
22. Write a book and use your own hand-lettering for the title on the cover – like my daughter did!
These 22 ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to combining writing and art…. practical applications are all around us if we just keep our eyes open for them! Challenge your students to think of their own projects that feature both writing and art.… you may be surprised by what they come up with!
Do you have a favorite activity for combining writing and art? Please add to this list by sharing your ideas in the comment section below!