Over the years I’ve advocated the idea of regularly pursuing creative projects with your kids in the minority language. Such short-term activities not only can add to the amount of language exposure and engagement your children already receive through daily habits and routines, they can be very productive fun. In fact, projects like this can potentially foster glowing memories and impact people far beyond your own family.
Some examples include creating short films and videos, a podcast for other listeners of your target language, a published book, even a worldwide journey by a stuffed animal (definitely see that last link!).
Creative projects with older kids
When my kids were younger (they’re now 17 and 14), I tried my best to do both: nurture their development in the minority language through persistent daily efforts as well as an ongoing number of short-term creative projects.
Yet as children grow, and come to lead busier, independent lives, the amount of time we’re able to spend with them each day shrinks sharply. In my case, I no longer can talk to my kids, and read to them, and play with them, to nearly the extent I once could when they were younger. I continue to do what I can, but realistically, my presence, and influence, in their daily lives is only a fraction of what it used to be.
This is where creative projects are so valuable because they can generate engagement in the minority language at available times, like in the evening or on the weekend. And when these activities have structure, and longevity, building toward a result or product of some kind, they can encourage continuing interaction.
This is exactly the approach I took with my son last year, an effort enabled by the school closings last spring when the pandemic began. As I detailed in this earlier post, I took advantage of this time to realize an idea we had imagined but hadn’t really made a concrete move to pursue. Inspired by our little bearded dragon, we created a coloring book together, working with an illustrator who brought our vision to life. And because this first project went so well, we created two more fun coloring books as a team.
All three are now available at Amazon and other booksellers and were not only fulfilling experiences for us to create together, they’re now touching many others out in the world, too. (Like any coloring book, they can be springboards for engagement in any target language you like. I bet you and your kids would like them!)
Bearded Dragon Daydreams Coloring Book (70 5-star reviews at Amazon!)
Our creative project for this year
So this year I decided to pursue another minority language project, and this time engage not only my son but my daughter, too, in the creative process. Again inspired by our bearded dragon, and with the talented support of the same illustrator, we’ve managed to build an online store with a growing catalog of unique products.
Although this site took several months to put together, while stumbling along the learning curve, we finally opened it to the world the other day! And the initial response has been really positive!
Please take a look at our store! And if you see something you like, we’d be so grateful for your support!