The importance of the creative arts, part 3
          In the last two weeks, I touched upon the benefits of the arts in the educational process. Following are ideas to incorporate them into your home life:

         1. When you read to your children, be dramatic. Act out stories with props and costumes. Encourage them to create their own stories to act out for you.
         2. Save old Halloween costumes for dress-up fun. Add to the collection with clothing you no longer need: hats, scarves, purses, shoes, and items you can find inexpensively at garage sales.
         3. Put together an “art studio” in your home. Stock it with a variety of tools and materials: crayons, markers, fingerpaints, scissors, pastels, watercolors, brushes, glues, papers of various sizes and textures, intriguing found objects, leftovers from your own home improvement, boxes and containers of all sizes. 

         4. Expand your musical repertoire at home and in the car. Venture into unknown musical territory so that you and the children can hear something out of your usual fare. This can be easily expanded by turning to different radio stations and by checking out cassettes and CDs from the public library -- all for free!
         5. While the music is playing at home, dance together. Teach your children traditional dances you know or improvise with them. Body movement is fun and good exercise.
         6. Sing together. Teach the kids your favorite songs. Many of them allow for verses that can be made up, such as “Down by the Bay,” which can have an endless and hilarious number of rhymes added to it.
         7. Look for arts programs after school, on weekends, and during vacations. Many community park and recreation departments offer these. Summer camps based on the arts are a good departure from the typical competitive sports camps.

         8. Create a scrapbook together. Put photos, memorabilia, drawings, and captions together creatively. In doing so, you will not only have a shared experience but a memory that will last for many years (if you use acid-free paper).
         The most important ingredient in the recipe is your interest. Be there to
appreciate and encourage during every step of the creative process.

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s  Advice for Parents.

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