A Mom with a Lesson Plan on Raising a Creative Kid (+ a Giveaway!)

Jillian Riley Raising a Creative Kid

Jillian Riley, otherwise known as A Mom with a Lesson Plan, is the mother of two and a former preschool teacher. I love her blog tagline, which is “add a little learning to your playtime.” Here she shares some ideas and tips with us on ways to encourage creativity in our children.

Jillian’s new e-book, Raising a Creative Kid: Simple Strategies for Igniting and Nurturing that Creative Spark, is filled with easy-to-use information that parents can implement everyday. While she included a chapter on arts and crafts, she focuses on showing parents how we can encourage creativity in our children in many different ways such as buying open-ended toys, playing creative games, the language we use, and appreciating mistakes.

A Mom with a Lesson Plan 4

Painting the egg cartons was my idea… the party blower/ egg carton game was Big M’s idea.

JEAN: I enjoyed reading your e-book, Raising a Creative Kid, and especially like that you look beyond arts and crafts when discussing creativity. How do you define creativity?

JILLIAN: Creativity means having the confidence that you will be able to find an answer, whatever the situation might be. While using creativity can be fun, relaxing, and profitable, I think the bottom line is that being creative makes you a problem solver.

JEAN: What is your best bit of advice for parents who want to encourage their children’s creativity, yet don’t consider themselves creative (and who may feel hampered by their own self image)?

JILLIAN: Oh, I love this question. It really cuts to the heart of Raising a Creative Kid. Creativity can be overwhelming if you think in terms of what is difficult for you. I am not an artist, and if I tried to find creativity in my drawing I would surely be frustrated and defeated.

The great thing about creativity, though, is that it looks different in every person. You might be creative with numbers, creative with ideas, creative with social situations. Finding places where you are already creative and focusing on those will help grow your confidence, nurturing your creative spirit.

Imagine how much learning your kids will absorb by being a part of your creative process!

A Mom with a Lesson Plan 3

JEAN: What are your children’s favorite creative outlets? What really engages them and get’s them to them to think and create “outside of the box”?

JILLIAN: Big M creates all the time. This morning he dragged an old rain gutter, two large orange cones and a bucket full of wiffle golf balls over to the slide. I watched as he placed the cones on either end of the rain gutter and propped one cone up on the bottom of the slide.

He spent the rest of the morning dropping balls down the slide, into the cone, through the rain gutter, out the other cone. The pride on his face as he watched his idea come to life was exactly what drives me to provide them with a creativity rich environment.

Little M loves to sing. She makes up songs while she is playing or working. One of my favorite things is to sit close to her while she plays and listen to her stories unfold.

A Mom with a Lesson Plan 5
Little M prefers open ended toys that revolve around pretend play, but every once in a while she gets creative with Legos.
JEAN: I appreciated how you championed open-ended toys in your book. If you could choose just three toys for your children, what would they be and why? (Let’s just imagine that you put away everything else for a week…)

JILLIAN: That’s easy. Legos, dress-up clothes and wooden blocks. Those are the three toys that are constantly being used.

A Mom with a Lesson Plan  A Mom with a Lesson Plan 2

Big M pretending to build a sand castle at our indoor beach. Little M love to make fun mixtures. Here she used dirt, water, leaves and (eww) slugs.

JEAN: How do you feel your past experience as a preschool teacher and co-owner has affected how you parent?

JILLIAN: Early childhood training and experience has given me an extensive tool bag to grab from and the confidence to grow with my kids. I sometimes joke that every parent would benefit from an Early Childhood Degree. Really though, we are lucky to live in an age where finding easy, doable answers is just a click away.

JEAN: And, the flip side of that question is, how has being a parent affected how you view teaching?

JILLIAN: Having the opportunity to watch M and M learn in their everyday lives has increased my passion for playful learning. I see that they learn so much faster and soak up so much more when they are in charge of the course their learning takes. Now that they are entering school I am working hard to keep learning about life, not just something you do at school.

JEAN: Thanks so much, Jillian!

For more about Jillian and her blog, visit A Mom with a Lesson Plan. She has a lot of great ideas for making learning fun. My favorite? Her post about using kid-made storytelling cards (yes, I pinned it).


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  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Would love to read this book!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Sounds fantastic!

  • Reply
    Aussie Mum
    July 10, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Sounds like a fantastic e-book. Fingers crossed and thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:09 am

    This is what I aaspire to be…

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Another great interview Jean, thanks to both of you. I couldn’t agree more about creativity not just being art related – goes back to that whole conversation we had here on your blog! This sounds like a great read, right in line with my interests. I’ll have to check it out.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Would love to read this as I have a very crafty girl and limited ideas about how to keep her creative.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:35 am

    My husband is mechanical and I am artful, we are hopeful that our daughter will have a bit of both :)

  • Reply
    Lucille Halifko
    July 10, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Thanks for this post. Very interesting. Would really enjoy reading the book.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:47 am

    I would love to read this book. It sounds right up my alley!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Thanks for sharing this interview. This is something I am trying to do with my son!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 9:02 am

    This is an area I am suddenly struggling with with my 4 year old. I would love a chance to read this book.

  • Reply
    Kelly A
    July 10, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Looks like a great book

  • Reply
    shannon niebuhr
    July 10, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Thank you for the interview! A great introduction to a book I’d love to read.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Thanks for a great post! I’d love to read this book!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Would like to get some ideas from this book to use with my soon to be 4 year old.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Love this! Especially the bit about how being creative is more than just the arts. My little one actually does love art and I love sewing and general crafting but I have heard before from others how they wish they could be creative as well. And generally from folks who already already are creative. They just don’t recognize their own creativity. And I love the term “Playful Learning,” I even have a whole board on my personal Pinterest titled that exact phrase. It just captures perfectly exactly what children (and adults too if they let themselves) get from playing. :D Excellent interview. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Melissa B
    July 10, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for the introduction! I just subscribed to her blog and checked out her book online. Looks terrific and v. useful for this mom who doesn’t think of herself as very creative

  • Reply
    olugbemisola (mrs pilkington)
    July 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Thanks to both of you — love the emphasis on the many different ways to be creative, and the ability to develop problem solving skills!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I love the idea of using creativity in all areas, not just in crafts….my daughter loves crafts but my son, eh not so much lol so I think this would be a great way for me to think outside of the box to help get him engaged more in our creativity process. Thanks so much for sharing, would love to read more on this book :)

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I totally want to make a slide project like the one in the picture! Thanks for the giveaway–sounds like a wonderful book and a wonderful family.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Great interview! I hopped right on over to check out her blog. Love it!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:25 am

    This sounds like a great book. Thanks for introducing me to it!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    July 10, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I am having so much fun bring creative with my 16 month old son. We paint, build, sing, dance, and have so much fun together! I love seeing what he comes up with

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Sounds like a great book!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Sounds like a great book!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Sounds great! I would love a copy.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Very interesting and I would love to read it. Thank you for the opportunity.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    nice book! natasa

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Always appreciative of having such talented parents sharing their ideas so the rest of us can benefit. Loving the resources here and will look forward to coming acquainted with JIllian Riley’s blog and book.

  • Reply
    Amanda O.
    July 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I would love this book! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Christine Q
    July 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Learning about this book is a perfectly timed gift. Thank you!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I will do anything to instill the creative spirit in my child.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Looks like an awesome book! I love painting with my 2 year old, and I’m obsessed with loose parts and open ended toys.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Sounds like a fun and creative book. What a wonderful giveaway.

  • Reply
    Lori N
    July 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    What a great sounding book. I love simple activities and toys that my boys’ imagination reign.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading this book.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    This looks like a fantastic resource for me and my wife to use with our two boys. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  • Reply
    Nell Timmer
    July 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Awesome! I’ll get it either way!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Its refreshing to here that legos, blocks and dress-up are the three best toys to nurture creative play. I couldn’t agree more, that’s my 5 year old does :) My favorite parent and kid play is blocks.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Hello, look like a fun and creative books for my three kids, I`m from Argentine and I want this book! Thanks

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I would love to win this book – I could use it at home with my boys and in my classroom with my students.

  • Reply
    Kimmy Davis
    July 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I struggle with this, so I’d love to win!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Looks great!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    July 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I adore the idea of being creative at home because now a days in schools, kids really miss out on the oppurtunity. I believe that it is our job as parents to fill in where our school system is failing our children. Taking an active part in our childrens creativity, education and physical activity is key to raising successful children for everyones future. I would love to win the book, but if not I will go buy it.

  • Reply
    Johnny Reed
    July 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I really need this book!

  • Reply
    Sarah M
    July 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Sounds like a really interesting book, I love that the idea of creativity is so open-ended and ‘solution finding’, not just arts and crafts (though I do love arts and crafts, too!).
    Sarah M

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    This looks like a great book. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Sarah A.
    July 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I’d love to read this book!

  • Reply
    Lora @ my blessed life
    July 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I would love to read this book! I have 2 very creative kiddos:)

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I always need more ideas for creatively engaging my kids!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for introducing me to this book. It looks great!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you for promoting this – play and creativity are so very important to foster. The jobs/careers/education/world of tomorrow will need creative thinkers!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I would love to read this book! We create stories and act them out a lot at our house.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Can’t wait to read this book!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    “I sometimes joke that every parent would benefit from an Early Childhood Degree.” Totally; I know having a degree in early childhood education has been great when it comes to raising my two daughters. That and Pinterest. :-P

  • Reply
    Lisa Howie
    July 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I applaud her definition of creativity! Thanks for the chance to win that fantastic book!

  • Reply
    The Orchard
    July 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Looks awesome and I would love a copy!

  • Reply
    Tauna W.
    July 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    How wonderful! I would love to win a copy of this book

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    horay for open-ended toys. nature is our favorite open-ended “toy”. there’s so many ways you can use a leaf, rock, water, etc. : )

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Great to learn creativity beyond the world of craft. I would love to win a copy of this book

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    This book looks great. Hope I win!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I love how creativity is really linked to problem solving, not to being “artsy.” Great point! I’d love to read more!

  • Reply
    Sarah M
    July 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Both my son (8) and daughter (4) love being art and crafty. I worked from home yesterday and as its school holidays Will is home with me. He worked for hours making paper beads then stringing them together to make a bracelet for his little sister. He then found a box to put it in, wrapped it up and cellotaped it to the front door so she would see it when she came home from pre-school! I was feeling the love and I guess so was he!

  • Reply
    A Facebook User
    July 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    This sounds like a great book! Would love to read it! [email protected]

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks for this giveaway open to readers worldwide. They’re not easy to find. I’d love to read this book. Like Jillian, my experience as a mum has also influenced the way I teach at school (even though I work with teenagers).

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    would really love this for my kids!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    This sounds wonderful! I’d love to have this book!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    This would be a great resource for teachers to share with parents too.

  • Reply
    Amy Fields
    July 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Sounds great! Would love a copy!

  • Reply
    Sara S.
    July 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Sounds like a great book. As one of the questions above stated, I don’t feel like I have a creative bone in my body and would like any information on how I could help bring out the creative side of my child.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Thanks for an interesting interview and the chance to win the book. Very interested in reading.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Sounds like great fun!

  • Reply
    Eleasha Thorpe
    July 10, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I would love such a book, my grab bag could use some more ideas. I homeschool my two boys to increase their creative play time available to them. but we are in need of some new ideas. thanks for this interview.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Sounds like a delightful read.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Looks like a great book!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 12:17 am

    I find that the games my daughter (17months) creates are often the activites that absorb her more. I am amazed at how creative she has been from an early age and this book sounds a great read to ensure I continue to support her creative processes.

  • Reply
    Vivien Lee
    July 11, 2012 at 12:33 am

    I love to own an e-copy of this book. As a preschool teacher, I am always seeking for opportunities to grow and learn from other experienced people.

  • Reply
    Norma Vantrease
    July 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Thanks for telling us about this book. I checked out Jillian’s website with all the wonderful ideas. I’m sure her book is wonderful too.

  • Reply
    Van K
    July 11, 2012 at 1:52 am

    I would love to have this book, the title itself sounds great already!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Thank you.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 4:07 am

    This looks great! I love the slide activity that’s shown!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 4:59 am

    I would love to get new ideas to encourage creativity

  • Reply
    Anna Case
    July 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Thank you so much for this interview and the giveaway. I’m putting this book on my “career development” reading list. I’m a homeschool mother who is always on the look out for ways to make our learning more fun and getting more learning into our playtime!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for sharing! Would love to win this book too!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Would love to read the book! I appreciate that you considered Legos on of your top three. I didn’t enjoy them much as a kid and always sort of lumped them as a “plastic toy”, but then my oldest boy had a friend who loved them, we got some, and we’ve never looked back. They get hours and hours of playtime and are so great! When making a kit they are learning to follow directions, and getting ideas for their own creations, and when they are making their own stuff their imaginations run wild and it is so fun to watch!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Fingers crossed!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I am intrigued.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    What an inspiring book! I’d love to read it!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    fingers crossed! it’d be lovely to win!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Jean, thanks for the question about the three toys. Thankfully, we have all of those in our house, and yes, they get used the most! Would love to read this book!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 1:45 am

    This post is so encouraging to me. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m doing enough for them. I’m reminded though that as they play library, store, pirates, build cities with blocks for my little ponies, build high towers with legos and knocking them down etc. they are learning. Thank you so much. Play is so important.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Love this! Having some help generate ideas to use as a launching bad is sorely needed ;)

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Wow! This would be great!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I would love to win this book. It sounds like an inspiring resource for creative ideas.

  • Reply
    Make and Play
    July 12, 2012 at 11:06 am

    It sounds like a great book! I would be so happy to read it! Thanx for this opportunity!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    It would be great to get a copy of this book. We are just really starting the creative phase of childhood.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Wow, this is my dream. Creativity is so precious and need to be started from childhood.

  • Reply
    JoKay Ghosh
    July 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I am always looking for more ways to inspire creativity in my son! Very excited about this book!

  • Reply
    Amber Reyes
    July 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Would love to read this book.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    I have two girls and I would love more ideas on how to encourage their creativity!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I’ve been following Jillian’s blog for a while, and have always been inspired. Really look forward to the book!

  • Reply
    Grace Bower
    July 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Would love to have a copy so I can share it with others.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Would love to read;)

  • Reply
    July 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Love the ideas you’re bringing forward. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Milagros Diaz
    July 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I would love to read this book!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    July 13, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Opening a new school where creativity abounds. This could be an excellent resource!

  • Reply
    duncan faber
    March 7, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    We have five kids, and I’d like to say we’re encouraging them to be creative by weening them off TV. We let them listen to audiobooks instead. It’s way more engaging. There’s lots of sites where you can download them, but we use this one a lot because their stories are free and original. And the kids really like them. Here’s the link if anyone is interested. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/moral-stories-for-kids

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