Spooky Stories for Teens in Pretty Monsters

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Monsters, ghosts, aliens, wizards, and magical librarians all make an appearance in Pretty Monsters, a multi-genre book of short stories by local Northampton author, Kelly Link. In her first book written specifically for a young adult audience, Link demonstrates her ability to blend elements of fantasy, magical realism, and horror together. The overarching thread of this enchanting collection is Link’s skillful voice. The author’s writing seems to be strongly influenced by fairy tales, a factor which gives her unique narratives a sense of familiarity even as they dazzle readers with imaginative twists and turns. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Landscapes: Summer Creativity Challenge

Summer Creativity Challenge

Each year my family and I do a Summer Creativity Challenge. The goal of this playful challenge is to celebrate creativity, inquisitiveness and innovation. We explore local natural resources, as well as dig through our recycling bin and challenge ourselves to design and build anything that can be imagined. Yes, it can be that simple, but we try to take it further by inviting family, friends and neighbors over to build, play, laugh, learn and strengthen community throughout the summer and beyond.

Where did the idea for our Summer Creativity Challenge come from? It was inspired and grew out of something we learned about three years ago called the Cardboard Challenge. The Cardboard Challenge was inspired by a 9-year-old boy named Caine who designed an entire cardboard arcade business. Now playful building with recyclable materials (aka Cardboard Challenge) is an annual, global event presented by Imagination Foundation. However, by extending the time we dedicate to the challenge we are able to slow down, integrate more of the natural resources in abundance in our area and cultivate on-going community connections.

In September the Imagination Foundation encourages kids of all ages, all over the world to design and build anything they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials and imagination. Then the designers (aka the children) who worked all September invite others from their community to get together on a specified date in October to share, play and celebrate creativity knowing that other children in other communities all over the world are celebrating in play that same day.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Landscapes: Re-Framing Creativity

Re-Framing Creativity

For a long time psychologists, educators and parents alike have assumed that imaginative play was most useful for learning when set in as realistic a situation as possible. However, is “real” always better than “imaginative” when it comes to the learning landscape?

Many have a fear that learning about, or at the very least not clearly distinguishing between, fantasy and reality can lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions. This assumption underestimates the importance and value of the childhood and nature design principle of “Imagination and Fantasy” as termed by David Sobel, director of Teacher Certification Programs in the Department of Education and director of the Center for Place-based Education at Antioch University New England.  Read the rest of this entry »

Comics & Role-Playing Gaming Promote Creativity & Storytelling for Teens

Comics & Role-Playing Gaming Promote Creativity & Storytelling for Teens

Serving as a continuation of innate childhood creativity, comics and role-playing games offer maturing tweens and teens the opportunity to exercise imagination and creativity within complex structures. Comics challenge readers’ ability to combine textual and visual elements for understanding, while role-playing games challenge players by containing creative story-telling to a pre-existing structure. Families can utilize a handful of community resources to pursue these interests!

As children grow and move through the early stages of human development, their innate creativity runs wild, allowing their imaginations to know no bounds. Children are expert storytellers and clever artists. But sometimes this creativity gets lost as children move towards the adolescence and early adulthood – as children mature, they sometimes outgrow the creative outlets that they once enjoyed.

Serving as filler for the hole created by the outgrowing of childhood creativity are comics and role-playing games, both of which serve as a more complex form of creative storytelling for older children, teens, and adults. Comics and role-playing games touch upon the fantasy-driven storytelling that is a hallmark of childhood, but put this practice into a much more sophisticated structure. Comics offer complex stories that weave real-life with fantasy in engaging narratives in a format that uses both textual and visual elements – making them appealing to and engaging for creative readers. Readers of comic books (and their graphic novel cousins) not only read words, but take cues from the visual elements included – engaging their abilities to comprehend language and visual cues simultaneously.  Read the rest of this entry »

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