I’ve always loved writing. When I was a child, I kept creative writing journals and scrawled my innermost thoughts on the pages of tiny diaries with even tinier locks and keys. Writing was a release for me. When things weren’t going well at home or a boy at school didn’t return my affection, I’d lie in bed and unload my raw emotions without fear of judgement or critique. I always felt a sense of calm and satisfaction after a writing a few pages.
I also loved making up stories about cats. They were always fictional, never my own. They’d go on adventures and meet new friends. It was a fun escape to dream up these plots about my favorite animals. Sometimes I’d read these out loud to my family; other times, they were only for my eyes.
My daughter is a talented visual artist — a gift I’ve always envied in her and others. From a very young age, she’d burn through sketch pads and copy paper. Her mediums were crayons, colored pencils, markers … whatever she could get her hands on. These days, she’s into digital art. Like me, she enjoys cats as a subject and much of her artwork reflects feline beauty.
When she’s creating, her self-confidence is at its zenith. She completely focuses on the project at hand and makes her own decisions — no one tells her what to create or what colors to use. There’s a confident feeling of independence and pride when a piece of art is completed. Sometimes she doesn’t share her art — she has a few private sketchbooks, but I know she has a place to go to express herself. I see the benefits and respect her privacy.
Kids benefit on many levels when they write (creatively or otherwise) or express themselves through visual art.
Individuality: A child’s creation is her very own. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s and it’s perfect.
Self-expression: Feelings that are sometimes complicated and difficult to share are more easily expressed through art and the written word.
Confidence-building: When children write or create art, they usually feel better about themselves. If they choose to share it and receive praise, they gain additional confidence.
Encourages creativity and imagination: Kids can use their vivid imaginations to share “out of the box” plots and visions. What a lifelong benefit!
Practice: The more you do something, the better you become at it. Therefore, more writing helps children hone their grammar, sentence structure, word choice and all-around style. WIth visual art, they have the opportunity to see what happens when they try new methods or mediums, and practice skills.
So we know writing and visual art have all these benefits, but what if a child sits down and is faced with writers’ block or doesn’t know where to begin with the markers and paper? I’ve attended creative writing classes in which we were given a prompt — a seed of an idea — and were charged to create story around that prompt. The cool thing was — even though there were 20 of us in a class — we each produced wonderfully unique finished products.
Children generally only want to do something if it’s easy and fun, right? If your child is a kitty-lover, why not provide creative prompts that include cats? They can be silly, creative, serious … anything goes! In fact, you can even grab a notebook or a paintbrush and join in on the activity. Read the prompt and ask your child to then write a story or visually create the direction in which the prompt will go. Children of most any age can participate on some level. Here are some great prompts:
Those are just some ideas — come up with your own! You could even make the creative writing more interesting by having the child write a poem or use onamonapia (use of words like buzz or meow that imitate the sounds associated with the object or action). And, of course, all art and writing children create is unique and beautiful — with or without prompts.
Does your child enjoy writing about cats or creating feline-tastic artwork? Tell us about it in the comments! And share photos of artwork!
About the Author: Angie Bailey is a goofy girl with freckles and giant smile who wants everyone to be her friend. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, and thinking about cats doing people things. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that may or may not offend people. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.
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