Guest Post: Encouraging your kids to be creative

Creative thinkers make the world a better, richer and more exciting place, and are valued for their ability to try new things and improve on old ways of thinking. Steve Jobs revolutionised computing; Picasso took the principles of art and turned them on their head; Vivienne Westwood shook up the fashion world by introducing punk style into mainstream fashion.
However, we don’t all need to be computer geniuses, bold artists or ground-breaking fashion designers to benefit from creative thinking. Qualities like not being afraid to try and to fail are essential to problem-solving in many situations. Having an open mind and a willingness to find solutions that aren’t obvious are valuable skills that can lead to success at school, with relationships and in employment, so it’s a great idea to foster creative thinking as much as possible when your kids are young.
Here are five tips for encouraging your kids to take a creative approach to life:
1.      Allow them to make mistakes.
Go so far as to encourage them to fail by sharing with them ways you have failed yourself. It will show them that it’s not a thing to be afraid of – and that being able to look on a past failure, laugh and then move on is healthy and positive.
2.     Give them the space
If you can, have a dedicated space for creativity in the house – even if it’s a small corner set up for art and craft, allow your kids autonomy in that space and take a step back from it.
3.     Encourage daydreaming
Letting the mind wander is a key element of creativity. It’s at these times when great ideas are reached, inspiration is found and lateral thinking is explored. So if you catch your kids with a far-off look in their eyes, don’t shake them out of it.
4.     Join in
Playing games with your kids, painting pictures with them or telling each other stories is a way to encourage engaging in creative activities if they are reluctant to.
5.     Use technology
Kids are now usually more tech-savvy than their parents. Encourage them to use programs like Garage Band to create music, or give them a video camera or a recording device and free rein to create something special.
How do you encourage your kids to be creative?
Vivienne Egan writes for Baker Ross the arts and crafts supplier

Halloween DIY: Cost Effective Kids Costumes!

With Halloween coming up, it’s worth thinking about how put together cost effective kids costumes. These can take a range of forms, but with a shared emphasis on avoiding spending a lot of money on expensive shop bought costumes. Simple costumes can be created for children with a minimum of effort, and can be an ideal way of saving time for a Halloween kids party. This is a particularly important approach for younger children that may feel uncomfortable in a more elaborate costume, with DIY costumes primarily being simple adaptations of clothes around the house, or made up of parts that can be separated if children become too uncomfortable.
Perhaps the easiest way to make a cost effective kids costume is to adapt clothes around the house, and to rework existing uniforms and costumes around Halloween themes. For example, a leotard or dance costume can be made into a fairy costume with some papier mache wings and a skirt. Ordinary clothes can also be adapted to make construction workers costumes with plastic hard hats. For very young children, you might also add on wings or a a cape to existing clothes. Young children can similarly be dressed in a smock and beret, and given time to play with paints as part of Halloween games.
Another costume option is to make up outfits from favourite sports teams. This can be as simple as using an existing football kit, or can be adjusted for ballerinas, boxers, and racing drivers with jump suits. Second hand clothes can be ideal here for picking up cheap suits, shorts and gloves that will hold up for a single night. Alternatively, you can make sports costumes more distinctive by using face paint to turn children into zombie and vampire players.
In terms of Halloween classics like vampires and ghosts, you can easily make up these costumes without having to buy a complete set. A vampire costume can consist of a black outfit and formal shirt with a bin liner cape, with white makeup or face paint combined with plastic fangs and hair gel. Vampire costumes that use contemporary clothes are also recommended if you want to change the look.
Alternatively, you can fall back on the standard Halloween ghost costume by measuring and cutting an old sheet to include eye and mouth holes. This costume is always useful if small children don’t want the hassle of a complicated costume. Witch costumes can similarly be achieved through bin liner capes, skirts, and a cardboard box rolled into a cone, cut and taped for a witches’ hat.
While superhero costumes can be more of a challenge for DIY creations, you can create a Superman effect by ironing on a badge to a normal shirt. Alternatively, you can make up a Joker costume using green hair dye and makeup, and use an old suit from a charity shop. Other costume ideas, like drawing on The Hunger Games, can simply involve old clothes, and plastic bows and arrows.
In terms of general safety, make sure that all makeup and face paint won’t irritate a child’s skin. Invest in bin liners that are tough enough to act as capes without fraying or becoming tangled. Old parts of costume can also be recycled to make new outfits. If possible, attach some reflective tape to capes if children are trick or treating after dark, and make sure that they are always supervised when going out in costume.