Have I ever mentioned how cold it can get in Montreal? Really, really cold. Or, as Ninna, whose brain operates on a system of wildly dramatic analogies and comparisons, has been saying, "it's as cold as the bottom of space," (which is apparently not quite as cold as the "middle" and "top" of space).
That chill, combined with our finally having a "hang out and do nothing" day, meant I really didn't even feel like bringing the chicks outside. So instead, we had a Snowy Day Art Buffet.
I could have just said "hey, let's glue some stuff on paper." And to be fair, the chicks would have been all over that. But they also get excited by cute titles and arrangements that somehow make things a little more special. A very charming friend of mine from grad school said to me, after buying fancy new pens and notebooks at the beginning of her thesis class, "novelty inspires me." I had never thought of it that way before, but that was one of those moments when suddenly someone's words describe perfectly what you've felt all along. And I get it. It makes so much sense.
And the inspiration novelty can provide doesn't need to mean buying something new, especially when you have a tight budget and/or are trying to avoid excessive consumerism. It can also just mean doing something in a slightly new way. If I had to make a list of the top ten concepts that have helped me in raising my kids, this would be one of them.
Therefore, today we created at our Snowy Day Art Buffet.
With kids' arts and crafts, I usually think simpler is better, but that doesn't mean we can't go crazy every once in a while. So I covered the table with a little bit of everything: glue, feathers, scrap paper, crayons, colored pencils, pieces of bubble wrap, various shapes of cardboard, etc.
I also tried to make it visually appealing to them, which I believe makes a huge difference in our experiences. So instead of putting out a ziploc bag full of pompoms, I poured some into a pretty bowl. I poured googly eyes into a tiny dish. And so on.Those art supplies that we ordinarily store in an aesthetically appealing way, I left as-is:
After I set everything out, I said "OK, you don't have to stay in your seats. You might have to move around the table to get stuff you want." And here is how Bojey immediately interpreted that:Cutting and gluing are among the top activities for my girls, so the scissors and glue saw the most action. And by that I mean: they used up one and a half bottles of glue. I know this seems wasteful, and up until recently, my instinct would have been to stop the pouring out of gallons of glue and attempt to teach the "right way" to use the glue bottles.
But one of the great quotes I keep remembering from Bev Bos, whom I've written about before, is "children have to use too much." By this she means that they learn about their senses, their abilities, and the world around them, by really engaging in materials to an extent that we, as adults, might think is too much. Whole bottles of paint. Whole bottles of glue. An entire bag of flour.
No child exemplifies this better than Ninna. I could tell you enough stories to fill a book about Ninna using "too much," but she finds so much joy in it. And one day, once a year, of pouring out a whole bottle of glue, might be worth it in the experience to my girls, and it's not such a sacrifice on my part.
(Yes...the white stuff on Ninna's paper is all glue):
Oh, and I'm sure you noticed the irony inherent in the fact that on this cold, cold day during which I kept us inside, both girls are wearing swimsuits. They came to the Art Buffet straight from a "swimming lesson" in the "pool" in their bedroom and couldn't be bothered to change, despite frozen feet and goosebumps.