Our society is entering a time of sweeping change in which innovation is not just valuable, but vital. Today’s children will be pivotal in inventing our collective future-and that future starts now, with the skills, tools and competency they learn today. A new approach to childhood education is needed that encourages creative thinking processes, the capacity to invent with many media, the ability to think across disciplines and a reliance on the imagination.
Built on decades of applied research, New World Kids: The Parents’ Guide to Creative Thinking (Foundry Media, 2009, 978-0-615-19060-0, $14.95), is a handbook for developing young minds to learn and grow in a future requiring visual literacy and innovative skills. Authors and educators Susan Marcus and Susie Monday demystify the often misunderstood territory of creativity, offering parents everyday activities to help kids discover their individual creative abilities.
“We tend to view creative achievement as a mysterious process, or another magical matter of talent,” they write in New World Kids. “It’s not a matter of chance or talent or luck, creative thinking is a matter of focus and practice. Like reading, it’s a skill that is learned by doing.”
Just as the traditional alphabet is used to teach reading and writing, Marcus and Monday say the Sensory Alphabet-line, color, texture, movements, sounds, rhythm, space, light and shape-is the foundation of creative literacy and the basis of our sensory connection to the world. The Sensory Alphabet enhances a child’s ability to understand, symbolize and communicate ideas, which are all crucial skills in our digital media world of pictures, icons, sound and video.
Through vivid photographs, illustrations and more than 200 activities, New World Kids reveals how to identify and develop each child’s natural strengths and creative potential, enhancing their particular brand of imagination.
New World Kids includes topics such as:
- The Sensory Alphabet: Nine essential elements for creative literacy
- A step-by-step guide for mentoring children through the creative process
- How to raise innovative kids for the 21st century
- How to help kids find their creativity, passion at an early age
- How to design your home as a space for ideas
- Incorporating media and play into the learning process
Marcus and Monday were co-founders of the Learning About Learning Educational Foundation, a Texas-based institution that conducted applied research in creativity, individuality, media and play. Together, they translated the foundation’s research into more easily accessible formats by designing programs, materials and exhibitions for teachers, parents, children and museums.
Monkey Mama’s Review of New World Kids:
I loved, loved, loved this book! The cover is eye catching, and inside, it just gets better! The photographs, the activities, and the tips are amazing.
As a mom to 5, and having worked with and taught many children over the years, it is quite clear that every child is a unique individual. They learn differently, think differently, react to situations differently, and even play differently. It’s our job as parents to learn all we can about our children and nurture them in ways that will help them succeed.
When I got to the chapter on Individuality, I decided to use the clues to see where my children fell on the spectrum. Zander is very 2-D oriented. When it came to space, he used a single line rather than creating a cube or a triangle. Jace, however, made a shape all his own. When I asked them to design a shirt, Jace’s was scribbles in different colors all over the shirt. Zander’s shirt was a solid color with polka dots. For textures, Jace had textures all over his page: leaves, strings, feathers, beads. They all overlapped and covered the entire page. Zander’s was perfectly and precisely laid out. Nothing overlapped. Nothing even touched. According to the book, Zander’s very strong and linear imagination, paired with his drawing skill would make him a natural animation artist or even a video game designer. (Which I can totally see!) Jace’s love of texture is all about being “hands on.” Cooking, surgery, anything to accentuate the tactile sensibility that he is full of.
My favorite activities to do with the kids were the Texture investigations. Even Parker could get in on the act, touching and feeling the different textures of materials. Of course, I was able to do a lot more with the older children, but I liked that I didn’t have to leave Parker out.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to review this book. It is one that I will definitely go back to time and time again. The activities are such that we can repeat them over and over, changing them up a bit each time, and the kids won’t get bored.