Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Creativity Week: Part 1: Can Creativity Be Canned?

LOOKOUT for a Giveaway ($30 value) of some very awesome looking OTish fidget/accessory and look at the amazing cans. Creativity for Kids wants creativity to make a comeback but can we get it from this little can? There is only one way to find out.
WHAT: Creativity Can by Creativity for Kids
DOES: according to many people who take time to observe and reflect, there is a crisis in our country.  It's been dubbed the "Creativity Crisis" and so this week Toys are Tools is kicking off Creativity Week. 
INVEST: $ Only.Your.TIME  (Costly but high returns highly probable!)
hmmmm... supervise if under 3 but if over three, don't supervise, join, play, encourage, assist and document them but don't be like me (talk too much and ruin it)
TOOLS: Express Yourself, I Can Take Care of Myself
EXPERT OPINION: Petra Pankow,  Manager of Tours and Gallery Interpretation, Montclair Art Museum and independent museum arts educator at various institutions (MoMA, Guggenheim)

GIVEAWAY:  Win Color Cord Bracelets Kit AND Make Your Own Paracord Bracelets Kit  (valued at $14.99 each but really, have you tried buying one of these?  They're not cheap!)

Inside my head yesterday morning:

Q: Jenn, why would Toys are Tools ever have a Creativity Week?  Aren't all your toy reviews about creative toys?

Jenn: I guess so but sometimes the resulting creative output is rather a "surprise" benefit. (eg. "I didn't think he would be so creative but wow, _insert phrase of astonishment here__)

Q: So if all of Toys are Tools' toys are creative then why bother having a "Creativity Week"?  Isn't that lame?

Jenn:  Good question but think about it... we don't really talk about creativity in depth, do we?  For example, have we ever figured out how we compare someone's creativity over another? As with common core subjects, do we have standardized tests to measure how much a school is teaching creativity?  

And Moppy even has a blanket for sleep..
This picture may not look like much but I like to capture "the thought process."  I wonder what would happen if I put this and this together?    The vase of flowers is mine.  I did it because I could not just sit there and watch them create while I made nothing.  This is why I always try to get good toys and games - it helps me stay interested because my kids like me to hang around.

Q: Is a standardized test even possible?

Jenn:  I am embarrassed to say that I have done very little research in this area.  The closest I've come is to discussing problem-solving skills but I don't think that necessarily equates with "creativity skills"

Q: So what are you saying?  Is there a way to measure this skill?

Jenn:  Perhaps there is but it might not be perfect.  However, the good news is that choosing to work on creativity testing and how to bring more creativity to kids WILL NEVER BE A WASTE OF TIME.  The more we talk about it, the more we will remember how important it really is.  So in a roundabout way, the answer is that I believe that all of us can measure creativity, maybe not by fixed units but certain things will be very creative and certain things may be just... EH.  It really depends on who's judging.  And that is the question, who's judging our child now and what is the criteria?  AND who WILL be judging our child in the future and will it be on the same criteria?  If you say no then I suppose that is where the word "crisis"  fits in.    

So let's do something about it........ 

How can you go wrong with ZERO Dollars and ZERO Cents?  Believe me, you are going to profit from this can.

Okay, it's quite a nice looking can. You never get a big brown paper cylinder like that. Maybe it can be a pencil holder someday? But what could Creativity for Kids possibly put in there to make a child more creative? 

It's All About the Message

Honestly, I think there is nothing you can put in there to make a child more creative.  Rather, it is how you define the objective of the moment with a child before she sets out to do something.  Thus, the can, like the cardboard box, really becomes a symbol to a child.  It represents ownership which is the first step to creativity: my can, my time, my ideas. 

I like the idea that there was a potential for making three dimensional things. - Petra Pankow, museum arts educator

I don't love glue but at least my kid is NOT using school glue. Still, the can's glue dots ROCK!

Even so, while we know that the can is free, you finding it, calling to make sure it's there, driving or walking to the store to get it, going home with your kids and doing it and then cleaning it up is not exactly "free."  Thus, I asked Petra Pankow, museum arts educator extraordinaire to help me inspect the contents of this can with me.  She's taught many classes in the best museums in the world.  She'd know if the can had the right ingredients.

Petra used two of these cans with her own children and she liked them a lot.  Which element stuck out most?  Petra liked the glue dots. Basically, not only does this mean that you didn't have to get your own glue but the drying part would not stall things.  Petra knows all about that as she has taught tons of art classes to children at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). "When I worked at MAD, usually I would try to find other ways of attaching things like wire or rubber bands," she said about the glue dots in the can. "I think that was just a smart thing to include."

You just can't tell him no (actually it was my idea to use the hairdryer- although using glue was NOT)  but I think he was actually SAVING them!  I didn't realize how precious they were to kids.  Glue dots have never been on my shopping lists but now they are! Note to self: give art teacher glue dots next year, start searching for sales now.

Why mention glue dots? Well because glue is a standard way to attach things but since you have them, it basically means that you need not walk away from your can.  Why disturb the flow? "
You can absolutely use what's in the can and just run with it," Petra said.  That is really important because if you are really challenging your creativity, you want to run it through a simple and uniform sample, do you not? "And that is the idea of creativity, that you work with what you have."  

Petra also liked the styrofoam egg halves. "Loads of possibilities," she said.  Moreover, she liked this can because there was a potential for making three dimensional things. "I think that is really fun for kids because they are just used to working on a very flat surface."

I didn't think he would be so creative but wow, he(phrase of astonishment) made something with the contents AND the can.

It's really hard to worry about a "creativity crisis."  In my house, crisis is that someone woke up at 4 am and can't go back to sleep.  Crisis is when someone is in the hospital and you don't know when he'll get out.  But how much of a creativity crisis do we have? I would dare to guess that it is pretty bad but again, I'm thinking about my own family and it's hard to think about the future.  But clearly, I am going to make sure that they exercise their creative thinking skills as much as possible.

I bet you will too but here is the thing: That's not enough for my child. Is it enough for yours?

If you want your child to be creative, then you need your child's school life, family life, and social life, (and fave toy store) to require it, demand it, encourage it and make it accessible...   You can make your home a creativity zone all you want but if he can't do his thing elsewhere, well, that's a problem. 

Creativity must be exercised with different people in different places.  It's not enough to be creative in one place.  It's a skill to be able to express yourself outside your comfort zone.

Speak Up: Tell Everyone That You Need Better Toys and Other Creative Outlets

Already, the toys that are available in mass retail stores do not satisfy your creativity skills and other skill building goals. Right??? Of course, not all of the toys are bad, but if all of them were good you wouldn't be reading what is the latest and the greatest here at Toys are Tools would you? (And thank you for that by the way). If you don't have an independent toy retailer (toy stores that sell the good stuff) near you then online shopping is the only option, isn't it?

So by now you've seen the Creativity Can.  It's really not a can with just stuff.  I mean it is but once you open it, it's going to be about the stuff they made rather than the stuff itself.  And that is what tools are but to be sure, presentation is important. It doesn't matter if they have seen all those materials somewhere else.  When you hand them a can, you hand them a message that what they make MATTERS.

You'll also see a tiny brochure from Creativity for Kids.  My kids didn't open it because they went straight for the foam egg!  But I like that the packaging has a brand they've seen before.  They are used to commercial products so why tell them that it's free? If you have your child carry the coupon and get their own can, they won't feel like it's free.
Rainstick or drums?  Two cans become one.

No matter what, you CAN get your own can:

1. Go to and sign up to get your "Creativity Coupon" 

2. Find a store near you, call ahead to make sure they have cans for you. (and tell them that you found out from Toys are Tools!)

3. If you don't have a store near you, do not despair, go on this site for suggestions on how you can make your own Creativity Can.  Then, "send" the creativity coupon to your child and have them present it to you to start their project.  oooh!  Want to be crazy? Make it for your child's entire class.  What a great end of the year teacher's gift!

4. FINAL STEP: Upload your child's creation to this site. (just press big green button).  For every creation uploaded, Creativity for Kids will make a donation to the LilySarahGrace Fund to support arts education in underfunded public elementary schools in America. 

 A Rafflecopterian Penny for your thoughts? WIN!!! For your precious thoughts, you can enter to win Color Cord Bracelets Kit and Make Your Own Paracord Bracelets Kit both by Creativity for Kids! They are both $14.99 each and you'll be getting BOTH of them which means you can mix up all those colors!!!  I haven't tried these yet but paracord bracelets are so cool. They make for a good fidget but it doesn't look like its a toy so it won't get taken away from them at school.

I WOULD LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear your answers to any of these questions.

  • Do you think we have a creativity crisis looming in America? If so, why?
  • How can we best use this can to make a difference? 
 Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Creativity Can™ by Creativity for Kids from TWIST CREATIVE INC on Vimeo.

For More: Check out CreativityCan.Com
and the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools and the expert to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.  The giveaway prize is being offered by the manufacturer.


  1. Love the idea of glue dots! I need to invest in those. We have gotten similar type toys from other manufacturers in the past and they are a hit with the kids. They love having a range of items to make arts and crafts with and the freedom to make anything. As a parent I like having the guide as I am not as creative as my kids. I also love Creativity for Kids products. We have gotten several of them and they have always been a hit with the kids.
    I don't think there is a creativity crisis. It seems like there are are more creative outlets for my kids today than when I was growing up from music to art and drama classes they can take.

  2. Not sure if there is a crisis but I am concerned that these state tests are doing more harness than good. As for the can. I think it could be a good play date activity and possibly a birthday activity or goodie bag idea. Glue dots are a good idea.

  3. I love the glue dots too! Thank you so much for commenting! The best kit we had from Creativity for Kids was the solar system set which I don't think is around anymore... wah! But still, they are cranking out more and I was floored to see their paracord bracelet kits. I think it might be nicer for both girls and boys to have access to both colors so I'm so happy that CFK is giving away both! But back to creativity! It's hard to say how much of a crisis it is hard to say but I'm also thinking not just about classes but just toys... I dislike that I have to cross a river to find decent toys that are natural creative outlets for my kids. Toys are great because we can do it at home without me having to schlep them to classes that I sometimes can't afford! ARGH! thanks for the lovely comment. OFF to find some decent glue dots for our arts and crafts cabinet. I just realized that I don't have enough 3D art supplies at home. Glue dots will help.

  4. Renee, we haven't stressed about tests but I have friends who do. I dislike seeing little kids stressing about tests the way I did for my SATs. It's just too weird. good call on the birthday party idea. parents might say, what the heck? but they'll be surprised with what they see in their kids. the social element rocks. again, glue dots. Petra is so smart to point it out.

  5. Love the blog! I agree with the other comments that jobs focused around creativity are going to be what drives our economy. I can already see it with so many of the jobs that my friends have. This is a great way to encourage our children to be creative. Many of us as adults will say we are not creative and so we may find it hard to foster creativity in our children. This is an easy and wonderful way to get our little ones started! Unfortunately there are not any stores around me that are carrying this lovely "toy". But if there was I would definitely have my 4.5 year old participating. In fact I am pretty sure I would be getting myself one to "play" with too!

  6. Remember, you can encourage creativity with any found materials...buttons and an egg carton for sorting, classifying counting, creating your own Mancala game, fabric, lace, clay, paint and chalk, hole punchers, pipe cleaners. Even preschoolers can sew with giant embroidery needles, yarn and newspaper! Take your inspiration from these wonderful toys and games that develop specific skills and then adapt them and give children the time and space to work on their own. Jenn is a master of seeing toys as tools!
    Susan J Schwartz, Learning Specialist

  7. not a master but know how to interview masters.. that I can do. thank you so much for contributing your thoughts. we're about to face a summer of T.V. and air conditioning and your words will help me remember what is the better way to spend time. thanks!!!

  8. I didn't even know about glue dots! There is definitely a creativity crisis and I think unfortunately, the solution is to declare a no-screen-time/hands on playing period, whether it's for an hour or two, a day, a few days etc. We have to make it important in our lives.

  9. OHHHH! Big News! In one of my Linked In groups, Dr. James T. Webb, globally-recognized for his work with twice-exceptional children (who happen to be quite creative), recommended a book that just came out, Raising Creative Kids by Susan Daniels PhD and Daniel B. Peters PhD. Dr. Webb shared that it was an excellent and practical book that is both for parents and educators. COOL! I love the cover- oil pastels! I'm sold!

  10. I, too, agree that it is very near to being a crisis. Being a 3rd grade teacher for the last 20 years, I have seen how the state has little by little stripped us of our creativity as teachers. So much emphasis has been placed on one single state mandated test that we are no longer afforded the time to teach with creativity. Everything is given to us with directives to implement on a daily basis. Sure, I have tried to continue putting in my creativity with our current curriculum, but it is extremely hard when you have administration coming through your door weekly to make sure you are sticking to the set curriculum. If teachers are feeling this way, how are we conveying the concept of creativity to our students? Hopefully things will change this year since the state finally woke up and has banned the curriculum that we currently were using. Creativity is hopefully back in our hands now!! Yippee!!!

  11. I think the can is a great way to show kids that they do have creativity in them. This would be an awesome activity for a birthday party or summertime sleepover. Ohh, I love the suggestion to make a class set for my son's teacher to use as an end-of-the-year activity! I may even do it for my own 3rd grade class - as a teacher, I am always looking for cute end-of-the-year activities! Thank you!

  12. Thank you to Patricia Seres at the Dyslexia, Gifted, and Creative FB Page., who said on Linked In: Our schools need more than cans. The entire test-centric standard ed approach directly discriminates against creative thinkers and destroys creativity in general, leaving it all up to parents to nurture in their own child, but only in the summer, since the entire school year is consumed with grade level busy work packets called "rigor," and the never ending test prep and testing treadmill that never stops (formative tests, summative tests, quarterly tests, semester tests, EOC tests, high stakes state tests...). No room for creativity, when there are so many only one answer tests.

  13. In an additional comment, Patricia Seres said, "The current recession
    deform of our public schools is maddening and sad -- going in the exact
    opposite direction of what is needed to develop the creative,
    innovative minds for the jobs of the future. I don't know of anyone
    enamored with the current test-centric rigid system other than the
    textbook and test production corporations who get to resell repackaged
    materials, and the politicians using education propaganda as a platform
    for votes.... and public ed budget-slashers since it reduces services
    substantially to serve only the rote memorizing auditory sequential test
    takers. It's harming a lot of children, but most of all the creative
    minds... gifted, dyslexic, out-of-the-box thinkers, innovative
    problem-solvers. We are producing rote memorizing test takers instead,
    for the jobs of yesterday. The so-called "higher order test questions"
    of PARCC are simply poorly worded questions that are designed to
    frustrate and trip up, rather than test knowledge. Critical thinking is
    nurtured and created in a classroom, not on a test. Gifted programs have
    been eliminated. Differentiation has become extra work packets.
    Teaching has become testing, and homework has become test prep. So, much
    more than cans are needed. However, I did that can project in gifted in
    elementary decades ago, and have to admit it was fun."