Summer is almost here, and even with all the handheld gizmos and gadgets out there, how many times are parents going to hear that classic "I'm bored" from their kids?
How about trying some old-fashioned recycled arts and crafts projects that stretch not only their thumbs, but also their imagination? And, since they hardly cost anything, stretch the budget as well.
Shelly Everett, an art educator at Rock Springs Elementary has some thought-provoking ideas about this and how it is more than mere recreation.
"Art for kids is not necessarily about beauty; rather it is about learning and discovering materials that can be manipulated into something new through the use of the lifelong skill of problem solving," Everett said. "Art has links to math, science, language and history and because of that it makes it an integral part of a child's education."
Everett lists throw-away items that scout leaders, preschool teachers and many of us grandmas have stockpiled for years: Popsicle sticks, toilet paper rolls, pie plates. You get the picture. But Everett suggests ways to help kids link this recreation/re-creation to the rest of the world and even their future.
"Some kids are more interested in some things than others," Everett said, noting that a child's creations could indicate career interests. Whether it's a bracelet made from bottle caps or a car made from cans, it provides an opportunity for parents to help their kids explore that field of interest either at the library or online.
Field trips are also a big part of that learning experience.
"Art is all around us and we all gain ideas and learn from what we see," Everett said. "Places like the Gwinnett History Museum are fun to go and see how things have changed over history and talk to your kids about how new ideas are generated to make things in our life easier than it used to be."
Many of those ideas spring from recycling or reinventing what we already have.
Summer exhibits at the Hudgens Art Center include Skateboard Designs by Didi Dunphy and Pulp Fashion, The Art of the Paper Dress, both incorporating math and science with art and Altered Books, the ultimate in "re-creational" reading.
At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, junk sculptor Leo Sewell's exhibit in the main terminal is free to the public.
The High Museum displays recycled art by Howard Finster, who also has his own museum, Paradise Gardens in Summerville.
And from June 26 to Sept. 11, kids can see Atlanta artist Radcliffe Bailey's creations, which includes Windward Coast, "a rolling ocean of wooden keys harvested from over 400 pianos," inspired by events in history.
I've always seen myself as a pretty creative person, but I must admit, Shelly Everett has helped me to see not just art projects in my home, but also the art of projecting them into the world around us. And just in time to share her creative ideas with my granddaughter Brooke, whose birthday is coming up on June 9.
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at email@example.com.