Book Review: Sparking Student Creativity


Today I wanted to share a brief review of the book Sparking Student Creativity: Practical Ways to Promote Innovative Thinking and Problem Solving (found here).  I recently came across this book published by the ASCD and felt it deserved a read.

Here’s a excerpt from the ASCD:

In Sparking Student Creativity: Practical Ways to Promote Innovative Thinking and Problem Solving, author and researcher Patti Drapeau explores and explains research related to creativity and its relevance in today’s standards-based, critical thinking–focused classroom.

Even though this book is meant for educators I felt the topic was so compelling that it was worth the read.  In fact, this book is chock full of practical examples for teachers to inspire creativity in the classroom across an array of subject matter.  But more than that Patti Drapeau touches on some key principles of creativity that all parents could benefit from. Below are a few takeaways that I found invaluable:

  • Creativity can be intentional.

Many people believe that a person is born as creative or analytical and there’s no way to rebalance.  Patti shows that creativity is a muscle that grows with exercise, and that creativity can be an intentional aspect of learning.

  • Help Minimize the Fear of Failure.

Most children are eager creators, but over time lose their interest.  This is often due to the fact that as we mature and become more self-aware we also fear criticism and failure.  Helping your child build resiliency will help their ability to create without fear and stay connected with their interests.

  • Fluency, Flexibility and Connecting Unrelated Ideas

Finally, this Sparking Student Creativity emphasizes some important aspects of the creative process to practice with children.  Fluency- creating many ideas, flexibility- modifying those ideas, and being able to connect unrelated ideas in interesting ways all help build creative muscle.

Teachers and parents with an interest in cultivating children’s creativity will certainly appreciate this book!





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Turn your child’s drawings into an eBook to share



My son loves books, so much that he will create his own books, color them and even bind them with a stapler. As a parent I love to share these treasures with family.  In this project we are combining good ol’ crayon and paper with the new tech of ebooks and tablets, making a kids ebook to share with family.  Your kid will create their own picture book and then you’ll help them convert it into a fantastic eBook to share. The wonderful thing about this project is that the technology enables your kid to share their craft with family in a really rich and enjoyable way.  We’ll use the free iBooks Author program to add photos, text and audio to create a special .

all 4 screensWhat you’ll need

For this project you’ll need paper supplies, a Mac computer and the free iBooks Author program.  Why not use a windows program? As I was making the eBook, I attempted to find a windows eBook creator that was both free and easy to use. Well turns I just couldn’t find any, and while iBooks Author may not be perfect, it is easy enough for a non-technical person to use.

Paper Book

Start by having your kid create their own book about whatever sparks their interests. It could be a collection of pictures or an illustrated story, anything that they will enjoy writing about.  Make sure to create a nice cover drawing for the book too.

Scan the Pages

Take the pages and scan them into the computer. If you don’t have a scanner, a camera or phone will do, just make sure you have good lighting and you can hold the camera steady. Keeping the image sizes the same will give a neater finished product.

Create the eBook with iBooks Author


Start by getting the iBooks Author app from the Mac App Store.  When you open the app you’ll be able to create a new book from a list of templates.  We’ll keep things simple by creating a portrait only book that is suitable for viewing on an iPad (you’ll also be able to export to other formats that work with other tablets or a computer.)  Choose the Photo Book template under the portrait only section and iBooks Author will create a sample book for you to start editing.


Edit the Cover

new book

Let’s start be creating the book cover.  Select “Book Title” in the outline section to the left. You should see a full page photo and a title section.  Click on the image to select it, then simply drag your scanned cover page image over the current image.  The sample image should be replaced by your cover.  If the new image is covering the title section, right-click on the image and select “send backwards” which moves the selection one position back.  You may need to do this several times until the text appears.

Edit the title text by double clicking the sample text and add your own title and author.  Save the file once (filesave) before continuing.

Delete Sample Pages

Lets go ahead and delete out the sample pages and sample chapter by selecting each one and pressing delete.  We need to start by adding a chapter so click on the plus (+) button one the upper left and select any of the templates under Chapter.  We will make our chapter page look identical to the cover so that it appears like a regular page when reading the book, otherwise it only shows when first selecting the book to read. Clear all items on the chapter page by clicking anywhere in the page and typing command-A, delete.  Now go back to the title page by clicking Book Title, type command-A , command-C to select all and copy.  Go back to your chapter page and type command-v to paste.  You should have a page that looks just like the cover.

Add Photo Pages

add page

Now we’ll add the remaining pages.  Click on the chapter page in the outline on the left.  Click the plus (+) icon, select pagesdefault to get a blank page.  Repeat for each page in your book.  For each page, select the page then drag your photo from finder onto the page.  Make sure to resize the images so they are full page.  Select the image and drag the corner handles to the corners of the page.

Add pop over text

add popover

Now that we have our basic book in place lets add some cool features.  A popover it a little button on the page that will popup some text when tapped.  To compensate for the 6 year-old handwriting, I thought that a text ‘translation’ would nice feature. Make sure the page is selected and from the menu select InsertWidgetPop Over.  A button with sample text will appear, click on the text to edit.

Add audio

Another nice touch we can add is audio.  You can record your kid reading each page, or in the case of a picture book, talking about the drawings.  On a Mac you can easily record sound with quicktime player.  Open quicktime player, select FileNew Audio Recording from the menu and use the red record button to record from the built-in microphone.  Save the sound file before going back to iBooks Author.

From the menu select InsertWidgetMedia.  From the popup widget menu you can edit the caption text.  Now, locate the sound file that you recorded and drag it into the widget from finder.  Reposition the widgets on the page so that they aren’t covering anything important.

Export and Share

export to ibooks

Once you are done adding all of your pages, creating the iBook file is simple.  From the menu, select FileExport.  If you are sharing this book with an iPad user, select iBooks from, any other tablet or computer select PDF.

Share your kid’s new creation by emailing the book to loved ones.  Your family will adore the drawings and hearing their budding author narrate.

Here’s the eBook the I made with my son.

Bugs – iBooks version  Bugs – PDF version 

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We are all a little bit #LikeAGirl


After seeing Aways’ excellent #LikeAGirl ad during the SuperBowl I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow I could relate to it.  Despite the fact that I’m not a girl and I’m over a quarter century older then these children, I still felt as though it struck a cord.

The thing that feels familiar is the criticism and fear of failure when you choose to create.  I’ve talked before about children losing the desire to create and how we need to encourage creativity as our kids grow.  I’m grateful to P&G for displaying so simply and elegantly that we need to work to ensure our children (and especially our girls) hold on to their confidence, individuality, creativity and self.  Well done P&G!

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