I taught a full day workshop yesterday at Fibrefest in Almonte, Ontario. What a fun class! Everyone was really focused on their projects and did such a great job. It was a great group to teach. That will be the last time I offer my Nature & Landscapes class until next Spring. In the meantime, I’m looking at offering an evening Beginner Rug Hooking with Yarn class (likely my last beginner class for a good long while so if interested in being put on a list for more information, send me a message :)) and I’m gearing up for my first Portraits class in November (this class is full, but if interested, send me a message and I will put you on a waiting list for next time. 🙂 )
I posted on Facebook last week that I would do a blog post on this topic, and then with prepping for teaching time got away from me. So here I am now, talking about the observations that I have made between kids, travel and their creativity and art. As I’ve mentioned before, my kids do a lot of travelling. From the time both of them were babies- actually, from the time they were in the womb!- they have been travelling with us. So they have grown up seeing it as a normal part of life. I absolutely love that.
Of course I know that not all families are in a position to offer these opportunities to their kids, but I am forever grateful that we have been able to. I really see travel as a gift to my kids. I was fortunate enough to have been given the same gift by my own parents. Every summer without fail, we went somewhere. Whether it was flying to the UK or Europe to visit family, or road-tripping to the maritimes; vacations and travel were a part of our family. And those experiences have stayed with me and have motivated me to pass on these formative experiences to my own kids.
I mentioned on Facebook that I purchased the book pictured above for my son on our recent vacation. He is a five year old geography-addict, and has an overwhelming array of atlases, travel guides and information books about countries around the world. But when I saw this one in the store, I picked it up for him because it was specifically geared to kids without being “dumbed down”. And he loves it. It got me thinking about how travel and world experiences affect kids and their understanding of the world, their curiosity to embrace new experiences and their creativity.
Both of my kids have an avid desire to learn new things. They both enjoy learning how other people live, the plant life and animals in other countries, languages,and the experience of other kids around the world. I credit that partly with travel. They have both been in so many different places, seeing different ways of life and different things. And a lot of what they have seen is just the everyday stuff. When we travel, we like to immerse ourselves in the lifestyle while we are there. We take time to go for a walk around the neighbourhood, shop at the local grocery stores and play at the parks. My kids have spotted snakes in the forest at the top of a hill in Vermont, have eaten skyr by the shore in Iceland, have been blown down a hill by the strong winds in the Faroe Islands and searched for rocks on the beaches of the maritimes. They’ve gone to art galleries, and museums and to the top of tall towers. And wandered the streets with us in New York City, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Reykjavik looking at cool architecture. They’ve gone on a three hour canoe ride where we passed waterfalls and looming rock faces, snowshoed through the woods to watch chickadees in flight and experienced hawks landing on their outstretched gloved hand. And all of this has affected who they are, what they notice and how they think.
My kids have long become accustomed to me pointing out cool things wherever we are: from the shape of a tree’s canopy, to lichen on a rock, to a building’s façade. And over the years, they have started to notice their own things and point them out. The consequence is kids that are always aware and focused on their surroundings- when they are travelling they are taking it all in and making their own little observations and deductions. And these too stay with them.
And it also has a great effect on them artistically and creatively. When we travel, I always make sure to pack lots of art supplies for the kids, because I know that seeing all of these new things and having all of these new experiences inspires them to express themselves creatively. On a recent trip, the first thing my daughter did on arrival at our hotel in Old Quebec City, was to get out her sketchbook and sketch the view from the window. In PEI this summer, my son set himself up outside in an Adirondack chair with his paints and painted the view we had of the ocean. And when camping the other weekend, the three of us spent a few hours sitting at the picnic table and painting and sketching and chatting to each other. Being in new places, and seeing new things, gets kids’ minds going and opens them up to creative expression. My son also loves to draw maps, and the shapes of countries, and create his own maps. His view of the world and his surroundings is different because he has travelled.
I can’t say enough how happy all of this makes me. I can’t wait to go on more adventures with them, not just for the fun that we have, and not just for how it benefits them, but also for the fact that seeing the world through their eyes is a tremendous gift to myself as well.