I’m delighted that Anna from the Imagination Tree has agreed to be interviewed. If you haven’t visited the Imagination Tree do hop over. It is a must if you have young children-full of ideas which are fun and educational as well as the vital recipe for play dough.
Anna was recently awarded the MAD blog of the year award for the Imagination Tree.
Anna and I attend the same church so I know her in real life as well as on the internet. My children especially like the Imagination Tree because they recognise Cakie and Pop.
Thank you, Anna, for agreeing to be interviewed.
Many people have been inspired to do arts and crafts with their preschoolers by the Imagination Tree. What made you start your site?
Good question! I became a full time Mum after 10 years of very full-on teaching and was initially shocked by the change in pace in my life having just one little one to care for. I found myself feeling frustrated creatively and wanted some sort of outlet for my ideas and to keep me challenged, on my toes and in touch with my teaching. When my little girl became one and I started to do lots of hands on activities with her, some friends asked for ideas and I realised that people might like to have activity ideas to do at home with their own children. And so the blog was born! It is less about us as a family, which is the traditional blogging style, and more of a collection of activities for readers to dip into when needing an idea!
The thought of the mess involved with paint and creative play with pre-schoolers can be off putting. You seem to launch happily into messy play with your little ones. Presumably, you must have some ways of preventing the mess from being overwhelming so that the play is fun, for all concerned. Have you any suggestions about this?
I know I am more relaxed about mess than lots of people and perhaps that doesn’t reflect well on the state of my home in general! I think the best advice is to do as much as possible outside, where the mess isn’t such an issue. Otherwise, using wide, shallow boxes (such as garden trays or under-bed storage boxes) to contain the mess works pretty effectively. I think you can teach children not to go crazy with messy play materials by making sure they help clean it all up if it goes everywhere. By a certain age they are aware enough not to make so much mess in the first place! But I believe that if mess takes place during some seriously engaged play then it really is a necessary by-product.
One of the things that I love about the Imagination Tree is that many of the ideas involve ordinary household items. Beyond these which other art/craft items would you suggest are most useful ?
Washable paint, PVA glue, chunky chalk, glitter and sequins, pipe cleaners, air drying clay, thick paintbrushes, cartridge paper, coloured card, feathers and googly eyes, sellotape and a laminator!
Do you get any time to enjoy art/crafting yourself? If so what is your particular interest.
I used to love to do little paintings, paint furniture, cross-stitch and to applique onto cushions and clothes but I rarely create time for my own crafting these days. It’s something I’d love to do again in the future. My next mission is to learn to crochet and to use my sewing machine properly to make dresses and toys for the girls.
I know that your faith is very important to you. How does it impact on your everyday life?
We are a Christian family and that impacts our whole world view and the way in which we approach the raising of our children. We want them to grow up with a huge love and compassion for people around them and to learn to be responsible, hard working and respectful. Most of all we pray that they will have a deep love for God and a desire of their own to please and follow Him as they grow. We try to have family worship twice a day and C is learning Bible verses as part of this, which she loves at the moment!
As a wife and mother of two preschoolers, and one on the way, how do you make the time to write?
The way I have approached writing the blog has evolved over the past year or so since I started it, to coincide with the girls growing older and slowly dropping naps etc. Now that I am practised at it I write a post much more quickly and tend to write only in the evenings after the girls have gone to sleep. I don’t really enjoy watching TV so choose to spend some of my free time this way instead, which I see as my hobby and stimulation for my tired brain! I plan my posts in advance and schedule them to be published ahead of time, so that I don’t need to turn on the computer in the daytime often.
I’m always fascinated by the books other people enjoy. In the spirit of your 5-a-Day books, can you share your all time favourite children’s books and perhaps, your own favourite books.
That question is hard! There are SO many wonderful children’s books out there and I think (if I admitted it) I am addicted to them and would happily line my shelves with hundreds of titles! I just love Dogger by Shirley Hughes because of the strong connection with my own childhood and the wonderfully evocative memories of my Mum cuddling me close on her lap as she read it to me so often. Later on I loved The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and I feel impatient for C to grow up so I can read this to her too!
My own favourite book, apart from the Bible, is currently One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp which is such a beautiful reminder to take every single gift to us and treasure it, as a way of bringing us our ultimate happiness and fulfilment in life.