For most of my son's first two years, he didn't watch much t.v. or play with the IPAD. I believe in many cases, screen time ends up 'thinking' for children rather than inspiring them to think creatively. Like it or not, as he got older and a baby sister shared my attention, more shows and apps found their way onto our screens. That's why I jumped at the opportunity to review the Creative Galaxy series from Out of the Blue Enterprises, produced by Angela Santomero (Blue's Clues and Super Why) and offered via Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Creative Galaxy is a create along, interactive art adventure series for preschoolers following Arty and Epiphany as they travel through the galaxy solving problems with art. The episodes are designed to inspire children to use their imaginations and instill an awareness of how art is all around us. At the end of each segment, there is a live action piece with children creating their own projects based on the art created in the show.
My three year old son enjoyed the characters, storylines, and the 'problem to solve' style plot that he's very into. It's common for him to act out the scenarios that he watches on a show. We often have 'rescues' for trains trapped in a mine or need to tow an engine that has derailed.
After watching only one episode, I saw him make a circle in the air with his finger and when I asked what he was doing, he said he was drawing the spaceship that Arty flies in. What makes Creative Galaxy unique and valuable as a learning tool is that seeing characters create on the screen made him imagine he was creating, rather than just miming what he saw.
In one of my favorite episodes, Arty paints a portrait of his friend Annie but is frustrated when the crooked features on his canvas don't look at all like her. The episode conveys the message "If you like it, it's not a mistake" and goes into a lesson about Pablo Picasso's style of painting and surrealism, making Arty realize that his portrait was perfect just the way it was because he liked it.
We decided to paint our own Picasso-esque portraits of baby sister on some foam pumpkins. After he showed me where he wanted to glue the eyes, my son chose to use red and blue to paint her features on the pumpkins while she 'posed' in her chair watching his every move.
I asked him to paint her eyebrows, nose, and mouth and he understood that I wanted him to look at her and try to paint her face because he had just watched Arty and Annie in that same scenario.
Watching episodes of Creative Galaxy followed up with an art project is a great addition to the art class my son gets in preschool. With many schools cutting art classes, I could also see this helping parents that may not have an art background, give their young children a lesson at home! Parents that are versed in art history will get a kick out of seeing artists like Seurat, Pollock, or Picasso referenced in the series. (Because I was a fan, I also just have to mention that any parents who were fans of 90210 will recognize the voice of 'Sketch' the pencil as Jason Priestley.)
Teaching young children that it's fine to paint trees that are purple or draw a dog with five tails if that's what makes them happy isn't always easy but so important for building on their creative ability and Creative Galaxy did a great job getting that point across. It's a good lesson for anyone to take away- focusing too much on perfection or little details can cause you to miss more important parts of an experience; in this case, the creating. I know these pumpkin portraits mean the world to me because of who created them!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.