5 Holiday Craft Projects You Need To Do Now!

I’m totally kidding.

I am not going to do that to you. I am not going to list supplies you need to buy, instructions you need to follow in this exact order, and I am definitely not going to show you what a craft project should look like when it’s done (and if doesn’t look like that then, well, you must not be very good at art.)

Sorry. Not doing it. (Feel free to go to your next email if that’s what you wanted — I hear they’re giving out 10 tips to revitalize your laundry room!)

Here’s what I suggest instead:

Picture your mind like a hallway lined with doors. One of the doors is labeled “CREATIVITY”. In front of that door is a pile of boxes stacked so high you can’t see the doorknob. The boxes are labeled: “I have no time”, “I’m not good at art”, “Mean things my art teacher said to me 30 years ago”, “I don’t have the right paintbrush”, “But what if it’s not perfect?”

You get the idea.

I hope you’re wearing good shoes, because now I’m going to ask you to kick those boxes to the side. Hard. Until they’re not in front of the door anymore. Until you can see the doorknob.

Now open the door.

Walk inside.

Welcome to paradise.

IMG_7678.JPG

You can put all the “HOW TO” articles down because I have good news:

You are already more creative,

right now,

as you are,

than you give yourself credit for.

There is no picture I can show you of a snowman made of cotton balls that you could ever recreate. Because you do not create like me. You create like you. You bring something to the art table that no one else has.

Maybe it’s your wit. (Write a funny poem on your family’s holiday card)

Your innate sense of color. (Go nuts wrapping presents in coordinating patterns)

Maybe you’re really good at _________. (Really? You are? Teach me please.)

Whatever it is, I don’t need to tell you. You already know. And you don’t need any more instructions.

If you want to be more creative and inspired this holiday season, do what you love, and take it one step further. Enjoy the process. Do it with intention. Tell yourself out loud, “I am really good at this,” and let your kids hear you.

In the creativity room, where you’re standing now, we have fun. We are successful, no matter what we make and what it looks like. We laugh at our mistakes and turn them into surprises. We collapse on the floor laughing and say, “Wow, when can we do that again?

NaavaKatz_ArtsNCrafts.jpg

If you pinned the article that says, “This is how to be the perfect creative mother who makes all the perfect crafts that your children will also do perfectly and no one will make a mess,” I’ve already read it. Spoiler: It doesn’t work.

A creative home for the holidays means things get messy. It means there are 10 markers with mismatched tops. It means we hang our pictures on the wall with washi tape. It means your kids let glue dry on their fingers just so they can peel it off. I swear there was a scissor on the table five minutes ago, but no one can find it anymore.

Spend some time in this place. See how it feels. Then send me a picture of what you made over the holidays that you’re REALLY proud of. I’d love to see it. Whatever it is.

Love, Naava

PS. If you know someone who could use a creativity pep talk right now, please forward this to them and encourage them to sign up for more :-) (thank you!)

Making Thank You Fun Again

 Thank You cards designed for kids, by Naava

Thank You cards designed for kids, by Naava

I was in a cafe and I overheard a mom ask her toddler-aged son what Thanksgiving was all about.

Without missing a beat he said, "Winning."

"No," she sighed, like they'd been through this before.

"Losing," he said.

"NO," she said.

"Being-thankful-for-friends-and-family," he recited quickly.

"Yes," she said, relieved. (I was trying not to laugh.)

We've all been there. Standing next to our child as they open a gift and then whispering to them, "What do we say?" and hoping they'll offer a polite, "Thank you".  Pleading with them after a birthday party, "Say thank you for inviting us, say thank you, SAY THANK YOU."

But do we want them to just say they're thankful, or do we want them to mean it?

Ultimately what we really want our kids to know, is that saying thank you is more than good manners. It's a way of making someone else feel really good.

I designed a collection of THANK YOU cards for kids that reflect a child's style of communication. Each design features a shoe as a way of representing a kid's portrait. Each has a version of THANK YOU written on the front as though the child is saying it. The inside of the card is up to your kid.

As the artist, I give your kid full permission to use the inside of these cards to make someone feel special. They can write a kind note, draw a picture, sign their name, or cover it in their favorite stickers. What's important is that they use their own creativity to share how thankful they are.

And that my friends, is winning.

Below are the cards that I have left in stock and they're about to sell out. Each design comes in a set of 6 with envelopes. In honor of Small Business Saturday use code SmallSaturday at checkout for free shipping when you order 3 or more packs. 

So before all the presents are opened this season, get your kid a box of their very own stationery to show thanks for all they receive:

Why Your Child Thinks They Aren't Good At Art (And how to change their mind)

Naava Katz - Why Your Child Thinks They Aren't Good At Art.jpg

At the beginning of every school year, when I faced my elementary-aged students, one child would always raise their hand and say, "Just so you know, Ms. Katz, I'm not good at art."

Of course my goal was to convince them otherwise. But then I started wondering WHY they believed that.

Kids are often expected to make art that looks exactly like everyone else’s. This happens when lesson plans are product-focused, which means the emphasis is on the final image. It can begin with a teacher holding up a thing they saw on Pinterest and announcing, “This is what we’re going to make today.” The child’s success is then determined by whether they could make that thing. This is where the frustration begins.

Not every child creates in the same way. Some kids love to paint, others love to construct. Some kids have rich imaginations, others are keenly observant. If we don't support our children's creative differences, they will believe that when their art looks different, then they aren't good at art.

"Process art" however, is when art education is based on experimentation and exploration. It’s a way to celebrate all creative results. Instead of saying, “Today we are making this snowman” a teacher can say, “Today we are going to make art about winter” and then discuss with the kids what that brings up for them. Instead of saying, "This is what we are going to make," it helps to say, "Let's see what happens when we try this." It’s a tone that is both inviting and suspenseful.

A child being led through product-focused art will likely say, "I'm done" when they’ve made the expected result. But a child engaged in process-driven art will often ask, "Can I make another one?" because there’s always something new to discover on the page.

 There are so many different ways to make art.

There are so many different ways to make art.

Assessment during process-driven art education is based on the child's engagement with the theme, creative use of materials, collaborations with peers, and participation in class discussions.

Setting parameters that help a child reach certain learning goals is ideal (such as how to mix color or vary lines) but ultimately the child is the artist. Unexpected outcomes are a sign that real exploration occurred.

As a professional artist, I'm happy to admit that for every drawing I share with the world, there are pages of sketches that I don't. Everyday I challenge myself as an artist. I experiment and make decisions and erase and redraw and observe and push through. The end product that the world sees is a result of my process. My commitment to the process is what makes me an artist. 

4 Talented Kids You Need To Follow On Instagram

These 4 incredible kids (along with their parents) are using social media in creative ways and inspiring others to do the same. They're all talented, smart and kind. And P.S. They're all girls. Want to meet them?

Meet Mayhem

NaavaKatz_MayhemPaperDresses

Mayhem is a 6-year old with endless creativity. When she was four, she started designing beautiful dresses for herself out of paper. Her mother took photographs of her wearing them and shared them on Instagram. Soon everyone was talking about Mayhem and her paper dresses. She was featured by Vogue and was asked to design real clothing with J. Crew. Through it all, her parents have supported her passion with humor, love, and guidance. Mayhem continues to inspire creativity on Instagram daily. She and her parents partnered with @nothingbutnetsofficial to raise funds to protect kids from malaria. To get the word out, Mayhem designed a dress (see my portrait above) made out of blue bed-netting that can protect kids from deadly mosquitoes.

Meet Rayssa

Naava Katz - Rayssa Leal Skatergirl

Rayssa is an 8-year old skateboarder from Brazil. In 2015 a video was shared on social media of Rayssa doing a trick while wearing a blue tutu made by her grandmother. She fell a few times, but when she put on her fairy wings, she nailed it. The video went viral and Rayssa was hailed as the new symbol of girl power. Rayssa recently helped carry the Rio Olympic torch and was able to raise funds to renovate her local skate park. She still shares videos of herself doing tricks with her skateboard and inspires kids to believe in their dreams. Rayssa hopes to one day compete in the Olympics.

Meet Josephine

Josephine is a 7-year old artist with a prolific talent. She LOVES to draw. Her images are filled with ball gowns, royal crowns, and always a girl with a smile. Josephine was also born with EDS, a disorder that often makes it very painful for her to move her joints. For weeks on end, sometimes drawing is the only thing she has the strength to do. But Josephine is a shining example of how art can empower even in the face of unyielding struggle. Ever since her mother started sharing her art on Instagram, Josephine has become an inspiration to everyone who follows her. She is an artist-in-residence at Arizona Young Arts Foundation and her art has been in galleries throughout Phoenix. When you buy prints of her art all proceeds go towards helping her family care for her long-term health needs.

Heaven is a dancer. We know this because she told us so when she was on Ellen. We also know this because when the music starts, Heaven's smile widens, her eyes light up, and her talent takes off well beyond her years. When she was two, her mother Tianne, a professional dancer, filmed the two of them dancing to Beyoncé. Their video went viral and the world was captivated by this little girl's natural ability. Heaven is now 5-years old and she still shares her joy for dance on Instagram with her mother by her side. The inspiring duo choreograph music videos, film national commercials and teach dance classes to kids around New York City. Tianne's words echo true for every mom: "Find what it is that your kids enjoy and encourage them to be great at it!"

Do you know a talented kid using social media in a positive way? Let us know in the comments.