Let’s make History

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, if we keep repeating the same mistake, but expect different results, we are insane. Up until recently, too little was done to preserve the expression of children. The result is that the contribution by children to the societal narrative has been erased and historians do not have access to enough if it to draw significant interpretations from it. This situation is particularly unfortunate for the past 150 years, since the emergence of public elementary education in western cultures.

Fortunately, change seems underway in the 21st century and a few historians demonstrate a growing interest in what kids have to say or show. It is about time because whatever was left on paper by children during the second half of the last century is about to vanish. We created our Collection largely to remedy the situation and to leave mistakes of the past behind, when it comes to preserving children’s drawings.

A superb article by Professor Karen Sánchez-Eppler (Amherst College), published by The Conversation, is an encouraging sign that children’s drawings may find their rightful place in history and help history reveal itself to future generations: How studying the old drawings and writings of kids can change our view of history.

We also take notice of the recent mostly European initiative by the International Research and Archives Network (IRAND) and their Historical Children’s Drawings display. This initiative is a contribution to the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. Read the beautifully illustrated article by Dr Jutta Ströter-Bender, co-founder of IRAND, published on Research Outreach.

The Nelson Brothers’ Encyclopedia of Their Fictional World, 1890s. Amherst College. Source: TheConversation.com, 23 November 2020.

Make a donation, take action

By November 20th, make a donation, make a pledge and take action. For the second year, we began our fundraising campaign in June on the International Archives Day. Our campaign closes on World Children’s Day. Celebrate with us this important date in the United Nation‘s and our calendars.

Your generous donation will help us make postage paid envelops available to families and make it easier for them to send us their contributions to the Collection. Our plan is to make envelops available in schools, libraries and community events, where our volunteers can meet the community and new contributors. Added to our existing bookmarks and flyers, this will complete our contributor’s kit. Make your donation online and make more mail contributions possible.

Crazy Hair Day, by Sahana, 2020. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

All ears

Anytime is a good time to celebrate music and drawing all at once. Let’s be thankful for music. It helps us going through the global pandemic and so many other dire experiences, or beautiful ones just the same. Put on your favorite or a completely unexplored playlist and draw lightheartedly while letting yourself transported by the sound of music.

For educators and homeschoolers, here are two nicely put together activity descriptions to explore with kids. The first one, Drawing to music, is from a quite interesting project called TeachRock, by the no less fascinating Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. Make sure to go read who the founders are on their web site. Like most of us, many visual artists are inspired by music. It is quite fitting that they suggest Kandinsky’s bursting Composition VII for this activity.

The second one, Musical Art, was shared on KinderArt by Geoff Simpson, a teacher from the Greater Toronto Area, where our Collection is based. Go on and revisit Piet Mondrian and Serge Tousignant’s works, only two of the many great painters who could not do without their musical inspiration.

Composition VII, 1913, by Kandinsky. Source: TeachRock.org, 10 November 2020.

Pumkin, I “live” you

Among our recent entries from a young mom and her children, were a few Halloween related images. They just arrived and we did not have time to process them all yet. Admittedly, the pandemic is also slowing us down a bit these days and months.

It is however impossible not to share right away, this one by Sahana, with an irresistibly poetic title. Just in time for the big scare, with resilience.

Pumkin I live you, by Sahana, 2020. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

In the arms of Morpheus

Halloween is coming up and so is the time to set back the clock. It is certainly a time to make the celebrations as normal, fun and COVID-proof as possible for the kids and the loved ones. Add something more 2020 related this week and invite people around you to reflect on sleep hygiene.

Round up the household in the evening for a meaningful discussion about bedtime “rituals” and habits. Share likes and dislikes about noise, screens, temperature, snacks, the beds, the pillows and bedtime itself. Do the same in the morning. this time to share if sleep was good, long enough and how wake up strategies work, or not. See if someone had dreams overnight and can remember them. See if everyone knows the difference between a bad dream and a nightmare. Have kids draw their dreams, good or bad. Don’t over analyze, simply appreciate how inspiring sleep is.

There is plenty of literature about sleep. An excellent source is the Sleep on it public health campaign and web site. It is led by four prominent Canadian health organizations. For more medical insights about Nightmares and Night Terrors in Children, see a short article on the American Association of Family Physicians‘ web site.

Me dreaming, by Valerie, c1982. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

Show me the wind

Early in 2020, we were made to explain to children, why a virus that we could not see was forcing us do so many things differently. Months go by and we need to keep this conversation going. It is important to continue the discussion with children and among adults, about what we are collectively going through and how we feel about it.

They draw themselves, the family, the family pet, the nearby trees, street traffic and maybe the virus too. Did you ask your child to draw the wind yet? Please do, and take this opportunity to continue a conversation about what our eyes cannot readily see. A much useful conversation about what is invisible but real, as opposed to what is invisible and indeed does not exist. Make sure to conclude this conversation with safety measures and the cooperation needed to keep COVID-19 at bay.

See how your child can figure out how to draw the wind. After the drawing is made, watch together how others have done it. Visit the playlists we are compiling on our newly created Youtube channel. We just bookmarked this one minute video showing one way to draw the wind.

How to draw the wind, by How to for kids. Source: Youtube, 18 October 2020.

When it’s all up to you

As a parent, you may be an art enthusiast and your child’s biggest fan. You have set up a creative corner, you have a framing and display system in place in the kitchen or elsewhere in the home. Most of all, you involve your child in decision making, when comes the time to keep, re-use or dispose of drawings. Your disappointment comes when each time you ask, your child does not share your interest and suggests that everything can just go in the trash.

Drawing and what comes out of it might just not be your child’s number one interest and it is perfectly fine. Your artistic inclination does not have to converge with your parental guidance and judgement. It is probably time for you to decide whether collecting your child’s images is your own project, for the time being. As a parent, cherishing and keeping traces of your child’s cognitive progress, imaginative storytelling, and his or her interpretations of play and family moments, can be your own personal project. Your child might not be that interested at the moment, but what about when she or he will have grown up? You might want to know what the reaction will be years from now, when you open your precious archives. Joy and gratefulness will most likely be the response. And even then, if it is not and you are instead met a “but why”, you will know exactly why and will not regret a moment of it.

My dream, by Valerie, c1982. Source: CDIC-CIDE, 12 October 2020.

Drawing siblings

Whether you are a parent or an educator, it is a good idea from time to time, to ask a child for a family drawing, and to pay attention to the depiction of siblings. The image may reveal aspects of the child’s emotional and social life that you would like to discuss with the child, or with another adult involved in the child’s education.

Siblings may have constant and intense interactions (think twins, but also school mates) or have only family time together with parents, like during meals, and only sporadic joint activities by themselves. Age difference, interests and affinities have of course an impact on sibling interactions, but circumstances, parenting, neighborhood, extended family and even interior design may impact on how siblings grow together.

The family drawing will be particularly useful while mommy is pregnant, when a sibling begins or changes school, or after major changes such as moving, separation or marriage. On the family drawing, look for specific activities siblings do, how they dress, size and place on the page, in relation to parents and self. For further reading on this subject, see the research article by Özge Metin and Elif Üstün of the Department of Early Education, Hacettepe University, Ankara. This analysis of seven drawings was published in 2010 in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 2, Issue 2.

Figure 5, Reflection of sibling relationships into the kinetic family drawings during the preschool period. By Özge Metin and Elif Üstün. Source: Sciencedirect.com, 4 October 2020.

A Lebanese nightmare

Only people who have suffered unspeakable traumas can fathom what citizens of Beyrouth are experiencing since last month’s explosion at the heart of their city. Author and mother of two, Yasmina Farah Massoud shared her thoughts about the horrendous time she, her family and her people find themselves in. See her August 11th Facebook post and her son josef’s rendering of the aftermath of the explosion (in French).

Puis il y a les enfants de Beyrouth au mois d’Août, by Yasmina Farah Massoud. Drawing by Yasmina’s son Josef. Source: Yasmina’s Facebook page, 26 September2020.

Our YT channel launch

Our first introductory video is now available, on our newly created Youtube channel. More to come next week and the week after, so stay tuned. We have already subscribed to several family and youth service organizations that follow us on other social media. Please subscribe, comment and make suggestions for the playlists that we want to make resourceful and fun.

We began video producing during the pandemic lockdown, with all the restrictions that this represents. Thanks to Andrea, our Youtube volunteer, for the planning and video editing her way to making today’s launch a reality.

CDIC-CIDE Youtube channel. 20 Sept. 2020