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Teaching Art to Your Child Made Simple – Madcap Logic Introduces ‘The Art Factory’ Integrated Lesson Plans for Hands-On Projects with Creativity Express Online

September 4th, 2014

 Perfect for Homeschool and Distance learning families, ‘The Art Factory’ ‘Integrated Lesson Plans for Creativity Express Online make it easy and fun to include art education in any child’s curriculum. No prior experience necessary!

Parents know that Art Education is important for their children, but what exactly is art? Very few adults were fortunate enough to have top-level art instruction in school. Those who did will point out that learning to paint or draw is secondary – there’s much more involved. Art education is so much more than the study of a single subject – it is a gateway to history, science, geography, math, culture, and a world of ideas. It is also one of the best ways to help children develop their critical thinking skills, and explore their own creativity.

Each Art Factory Lesson Plan begins with a Group Activity Summary

The Creativity Express Online curriculum includes 16 lessons with interactive learning activities. Each cross-curricular lesson offers engaging lessons with animated characters, followed by interactive activities to strengthen understanding of the ideas presented. Children explore art and visual literacy through the three progressive components of Creativity Express : sayART, seeART, and doART.

Children are introduced to fundamental art principles and ideas in sayART, discover meaning and interpretation in seeART and explore self-expression in doART. “Creativity Builders’ provide the basis for hands-on activities.

A set of Teacher lesson Plans outline all necessary steps for each project.

In addition to the existing ‘Creativity Builders’ hands-on art projects, Creativity Express now includes a second comprehensive set of teacher/student lesson plans.

Designed with younger children in mind, each lesson set of ‘The Art Factory’ includes detailed step-by-step Teacher guides and ‘On My Own’ Children’s activities.The combination of the Creativity Express Online content and integrated lesson plans allows homeschool and distance learning families to give their children a comprehensive art curriculum without additional support.

For each of the 16 Creativity Express Online lessons, the integrated Art Factory Plans provide:

1) Group Activity Summary: an overview of lesson content, its educational purpose, and the sequence of hands-on projects.

Children’s ‘On My Own activities provide independent hands-on fun.

2) Teacher Lesson Plans: 4-5 plans for each lesson module, these detailed guides move step-by-step

  • Overview
  • Vocabulary
  • Objective (Students should be able to…)
  • Class time needed
  • Materials
  • Procedure
  • Extensions
  • Additional print-out template files as needed

3) ‘On My Own’ Activities: 2-3 projects for each lesson. Playful character introductions and easy to follow graphics promote creativity and independence

‘The Art Factory’ lesson plans utilize both traditional and digital art techniques. They are downloadable from the Teacher Account Center for Creativity Express Online subscribers.

What’s the Secret to Creativity? Simple Strategies to Raise Creative Children

April 30th, 2014

How Parents Can Raise Creative Thinkers in the Face of Elementary and Middle School Social Pressures

It’s proven through government studies that creativity is a valuable asset best developed through the arts. Creativity is known as the fundamental driver of innovation. Art education develops the critical thinking skills and problem solving abilities necessary to create our future innovators. However, it can be quite difficult for parents to retain the adventurous free spirit of early childhood in the face of elementary and middle school social pressures. How can parents raise the next generation of creative thinkers?

Unstructured artwork is characteristic of pre-school and kindergarten age children. They draw stick figures and love to splatter paint with fingers onto huge sheets of paper. Parents enjoy the self-expressive free nature found in their child’s art. Exploration and risk-taking are encouraged, even if the kitchen floor is a disaster and there are two loads of laundry afterwards.

By third grade it’s clear something has changed. Children become much more cautious with their artwork. Looking at class presentations shows heightened conformity and a great degree of similarity across student artwork. Many seem too perfect to be a typical third-grader’s. Children seem a bit embarrassed by their work, and more concerned with approval than enjoyment of the process. Unless parents and teachers step in, children will continue to lose their inborn creative spark.

So what can parents do to nurture creativity into adulthood? Here are four strategies:

  •     Children’s physical ability to color inside the lines is seen as a developmental milestone, thus teaching at an early age that creativity has strict rules and expectations. Relying on coloring books leads to the same conformity. Instead of using structured materials such as coloring books, parents should try sketchbooks to help children find their own source of inspiration and ways to communicate through art.
  •     Peer pressure can influence a child’s artwork the same way it controls what clothes a child wears to school. Our society places high value on creativity, yet children instinctively feel that artwork has to be pretty to be praised. Parents need to be aware of their child’s need for social acceptance, even in art class. Asking about projects can give insight into the amount of peer pressure involved. Try “How is your work different from others in class? Or the same? What do you like / not like about your artwork? What would you do differently next time?” Let you child know that being an individual is important, and that you value an ability to be thinking independently.
  •     School administrators face pressure to keep art as part of the school day in the face of rising budget cuts. However, a comprehensive standards-based art curriculum isn’t just about making clay dinosaurs or painting with acrylics. A true study of the visual arts is cross-curricular, uniquely connecting the “core” course of math, history, language arts and science. As a parent, don’t let art get pushed aside as being a “special”. If your child has art class in school or as part of an afterschool program, find out just what topics are being explored. It’s not just about what they have made in class, it’s about learning to ask questions and explore the relationship between subjects. If you want children with critical thinking skills and better grades, it’s proven that you should start with art.
  •     Art needs to stay fun. It develops self-expression that is free from “right and wrong” test-driven coursework. Art explores the basis of human knowledge about our world and is the best way for children to discover their unique place in it. So keep it fun by taking trips to museums, talking about movies or picture books – really anything visual that creates an emotional response, good or bad. Then think, discuss, and ask “Why?” “What did it mean to you?” “Would you change it?” Not only will you have more quality time with your family, you’ll also be developing critical thinking skills.

Teaching children to ask questions is essential towards their creative development. Art should be a place where children can learn, explore and create without right or wrong answers. By nurturing creativity we develop future innovators. So don’t be afraid to teach children to color outside the lines

Do All Children Need Art Education? Test Your Creativity IQ To Find Out

February 11th, 2014

Parents are faced with a dizzying amount of information on what, exactly, children should be learning in school or after school. They’ve been told “Creativity is Essential for 21st Century Skills”. So what exactly are those skills any why are they necessary?

Here’s a short quiz – it’s easy, True or False?

Creativity is a vitally important skill, but difficult to measure.

Question: Art is just for kids who like to draw. Unless a ‘gifted’ child likes to spend time doodling, sketching or drawing there’s no reason to spend valuable educational hours on a visual arts curriculum.
Answer: False. It has been proven through government studies that art education measurably increases a child’s academic achievement. According to the PCAH Turnaround: Arts Initiative, “Research shows that when students participate in the arts they are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, have higher GPAs and SAT scores and show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12. They are also more likely to be engaged and cooperative with teachers and peers and are more self-confident and better able to express their ideas.” What parent doesn’t want those benefits?

 

Question: A course of study in the Visual Arts will only benefit that small number of children who have ‘natural talent’ in hands-on artwork.
Answer: False. Art class isn’t just about making clay dinosaurs. A comprehensive, standards based art curriculum teaches the 16 elements and principles – those like line, shape, color, and emphasis – that teach children to effectively communicate in our overwhelmingly visual world.
It’s well known that there’s a connection between the Arts and creativity. It’s also known that a Visual Arts training enhances a skill known as ‘visualization’. Not coincidentally, those both contain the word ‘visual’. So what exactly is visualization, and why is it such an important part of children’s education?

Visualization can be explained with one simple question:
What did you eat for breakfast?
Note: This one isn’t true or false.

Answering this question defines visualization. First, the brain goes back in time and recalls an image – in this case it’s (probably) food – then labels it with words for the answer. That’s it. The ability of the mind to creates a picture to solve a problem or answer a question. Visualization skills are innate, yet children tend to lose them during the transition to adulthood. As with creativity, visualization skills need to be developed and encouraged in early childhood education so that they are not lost.

The ability for the brain to create complex images to solve problems is the key to creativity and innovation. Einstein didn’t change scientific thinking about the nature of the universe just because he was good with numbers. Rather, he often spoke about how he ‘was able to see’ the nature of matter and complex systems in motion, then follow with mathematical proofs. Clearly, visualization is a necessary if students are to study even high school level science and mathematics. However, at a basic level knowledge is not just a static standardized test. All of those building blocks start moving in real time. That’s where visualization is an essential skill. Children can know the names of the planets, yet without visualization skills there’s no understanding beyond rote memorization.

The last questions are actually disguised answers.
What does this have to do with the Visual Arts? well, Art is a visual language. If you teach children to decode art, they can understand why a Coke commercial will make them want to drink Coke.
Why start early? Why before Middle School?
Parents of teenagers know that children are most energetic and free thinking in Elementary School. By Middle School conformity sets in, and from that to teenage years parents can only hope they’ve distilled enough foundation to weather the storm. In sum, it’s never too late, but it’s always best to start early.

A Short List of (Mostly) Free Digital Paint Software

June 17th, 2013

 

          The internet is a mixed bag. On the one hand it can provide a treasure trove of knowledge and information, and on the other hand it can quickly turn into a confusing array of choices. It can also be a terrific way to spend large amounts of time that you really didn’t have in the search for that one thing you’re actually looking for. Admit it, we’ve all wasted time trying to get Google to cough up relevant information. So we thought we’d save you some time in the search for a kid-friendly (mostly) free digital paint program.

          For those new to Creativity Express, our 16 online art lessons include doART  ‘Creativity Builders’. These are hands-on art projects that can be completed using both traditional art supplies as well as digital paint programs. From a parent’s point of view, a digital approach can have several advantages. Anyone who has supervised an art project involving glitter appreciates the lack of cleanup time computers offer while still encouraging their child’s creative self-expression. Looking towards you child’s future, a vast array of jobs use digital tools for real-world products; a simple example would be architects who rely on computer aided rendering software to design buildings. So it’s a good idea to give kids at least some experience with digital paint programs – it is a worthwhile stepping stone to more complex software.

          In order for us to recommend a digital paint program it needed to meet three basic rules.

  • First, the software has to be kid-friendly. This means that the child can learn to use the program either because it is simply laid out, or because there are good tutorials. This should be fun for the kids, not a burden for the parents to trouble-shoot.
  • Second, the software should be free to download, or low-cost. Though free sound great, it has its downsides. Generally software is free because it has ads in it, and with kids involved that’s not always okay.
  • Hence my third rule: any advertising must be child-appropriate.

There are quite a few digital paint programs to choose from, so let’s get started!

Traditional MyPaint toolsMyPaint – Available for PC and Linux operating systems; MyPaint has a range of functions similar to Adobe Photoshop including pressure-sensitive capabilities for use with drawing tablets. In addition to basic layering features, MyPaint has many different brush settings. Kids can even create their own brushes, allowing them to be really creative with this program!

Firealpaca – This kid-friendly art program is available for free download on both Macs and PCs. A relatively new program, it does contain advertisements. However they claim to be art-related, and only placed ion the introductory screen, along with any relevant update information or user tips. The program has layer capabilities and many different brush settings.

Copic – Another free program compatible with Macs and PCs, Copic has a user-friendly interface that incorporates Copic’s color system as well as different brush settings. Kids will love the easy look of the program, and should be able to pick it up quickly.

Sumopaint – Users can draw online or download a more comprehensive version of this easy-to-use program; it has both PC and Mac compatibility. Its tools for drawing are virtually unlimited, allowing kids to have an expanded choice for their artwork.

ArtRage ToolboxArtRage – This program is very kid-friendly and simplistic, and is our choice for digital art software. It’s available for both Windows and Mac operating systems for $49.90. Supporting all levels of artists, ArtRage is designed to be like a virtual painting space, increasing authenticity and making the experience for kids more fun and realistic.

Artweaver – Suitable for beginners, Artweaver is a freeware program that is available for Windows computers. On this program, kids can even draw from a photograph scanned into the computer – draw on paper first, then paint on Artweaver!

SpeedyPainter – SpeedyPainter has a simple and intuitive design, and is suitable for children to use. It is downloadable for free for Windows users. It includes basic features, as well as a brush library and separate viewfinder to allow kids to really see what they’re drawing.

SmoothDraw – This program has many different brushes that can be used, as well as a simplistic interface; it’s available for free download for Windows operating systems. Children will love the ease of use in this program, and will be able to use it with little basic knowledge of tools in art programs.

Qaquarelle – Part of the Sourceforge portfolio of software, Qaquarelle supports tablet functions and has a simple design that children will find easy-to-use. It’s an open-source software that has a free download.

Last but not least, a clever drawing tool….

DrawPile – Although not specifically a digital paint program, DrawPile is a freeware program that allows multiple users to share the same online drawing board. Kids can have fun doodling and creating with their friends wherever they may travel.

With such a range of choices, we look forward to user comments on these programs, and links to others we may not have discovered.

Enjoy!

The Madcap Logic Team

Color is Overrated – People Have Forgotten Their Values! Or Have They?

July 6th, 2012

You may be used to the new “3-D” look of the latest Disney films, but what happened to the old line art that you can see in older Pixar movies, such as ‘Mulan’ and ‘Cinderella’? Well, Pixar is bringing back that look with their new animated short, ‘Paperman’, which is scheduled to be run before their new feature film, ‘Wreck-it Ralph’, in November. It’s not unusual for a short to be attached to another film; Disney and Pixar have been doing the same thing with movies such as ‘Brave’ and ‘Monsters, Inc.’.

The line art look that is going to be used in ‘Paperman’ will combine both the “old” and “new” Disney visual art, using shading to make some things look like forms, but still using traditional hand-drawn animation that will be transferred to their art software. They will also use only values of black and white, so color will not be used at all in this short! This makes value a very important feature, and the animators have to pay close attention to how dark they make the shadows. If one area is too light, it might clash with where the light source is coming from, making it look unrealistic. The irony in the color scheme is that the title of the short is ‘Paperman’ – usually we associate paper with being black and white. Since Disney and Pixar are going back to the basics; maybe you can draw some inspiration from them and get some ideas for artwork! Try using only shades of black and white to draw something; make sure you add in some shadows and shades of grey, not just black and white.

A Creative Look at Pixar’s New Animated Feature, ‘Brave’

June 27th, 2012

 

As you know, we at Madcap Logic are big fans of animation. That’s why when Pixar’s new big movie, ‘Brave’, came out this past Friday, we were all very excited.

‘Brave’ follows the story of a Scottish princess named Merida and her quest to become free of the responsibilities of being a soon-to-be queen. She had always had a fascination with archery, but her mother became more and more insistent on her education on how to be a proper princess. Soon, it is announced that Merida would have an arranged marriage, at which point Merida becomes furious and takes it into her own hands to change her destiny. However, things don’t go as planned, and she must reverse what she has done before it is too late. Throughout the film, the relationship between Merida, her mother, Queen Elinor, and her father is explored. In addition to the fact that this is Pixar’s first movie with a female lead, it is also the first in which both parents are present in the entirety of the plot.

What is really amazing in this new film is the animation: it took nearly three years and two programs to just make Merida’s hair, which is composed of 1,500 unique strands of hair, each controlled differently. Animators had to study curly hair and the way it moved to make the most lifelike version of the firey mane that Merida sports. The scenery and backgrounds were produced using 350 custom brushes in Photoshop, which were then layered to add depth and realism to the forests in ‘Brave’. Even the weapons used in the movie were studied – employees took archery lessons, and Mark Andrews, one of the directors of ‘Brave’, taught swordfighting to animators. Along with making Merida and the other characters move, the animators also had to work out what colors to use for the film, and they settled on vivid red hair – a warm color – for Merida and some more subdued hues for the nature areas (think about complimentary colors – red and green!). This makes the characters really stand out and adds a lot of variation in the animation. Throughout the production of the film, creativity was essential, as the animators and writers had to come up with solutions to problems and create the entire plotline, script, and scenes!

While ‘Brave’ experienced some difficulties in producing and directing the movie (Brenda Chapman was replaced as director by Mark Andrews), it is an amazing movie. The quality and realism of the animation made it difficult to look away, and the plot was both heartfelt and action-packed. If you haven’t seen it already, you should definitely give it a look!

Madcap Logic Introduces the New Assessment Rubric for Creativity Express

June 25th, 2012

The sixteen Creativity Express lesson modules in combination with the hands-on Creativity Builders projects create an entire curriculum that meets the National Standards for the Visual Arts. Our new interactive rubric has been designed to assist educators and parents in assessing the depth of understanding any one child has gained from the Creativity Express lesson content.

The National Standards for the Visual Arts are divided into two grade level groups: K-4 and 5-8, with different achievement goals for each age group. Entering the child’s grade level in the ‘Student Information’ area will select the appropriate rubric for that child

The K-4 Standards focus on conceptual comprehension over hands-on execution of artwork. In this age group there may be some quite talented children who simply lack the coordination or maturity to fully execute their ideas. Children progress at different rates during these early years; their achievement level on this rubric should reflect their relative capability at their given age or grade level, and effort put into the curriculum and projects. By grades 5-8, it is expected that the child is able to grasp the concepts rather easily. Their assessment is focused on the ability to analyze, discriminate, and make choices in execution of the projects to fully express these concepts in artwork. Again, those using the rubric should focus on relative skills and effort when deciding on assessment level for any one child.

Though it seems counterintuitive to attempt to measure creativity at a time when most children face a burden of standardized tests, we hope that both educators and parents find this rubric a useful tool. Creativity Express was designed by artists and education professionals to encourage experimentation, analysis, self-expression, and ultimately teach children to find their individual artistic voice. This rubric was designed to encourage these behaviors and serve as a guideline for further exploration.

 

The Madcap Logic Team

“The Balancing Act” on Lifetime to Feature Madcap Logic’s Unique Educational Arts Program ‘Creativity Express Online’

January 11th, 2012


“Madcap Logic is thrilled to partner with BrandStar Entertainment’s TV popular morning show “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime in their effort to address the complex educational needs of today’s students.”

BrandStar Entertainment

“Creativity Express Brings Art Into The Classroom Tuesday January 17th, 2012: Lifetime Television 7:00-8 AM EST. & PST., 6:00-7AM CST

PRLog (Press Release)Jan 09, 2012 -
(Pompano Beach, FL) Madcap Logic, LLC – creators of Creativity Express, a fun an innovative arts educational program, recently completed filming for BrandStar Entertainment’s hit morning show, The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television.

“Madcap Logic is thrilled to partner with BrandStar Entertainment’s TV show The Balancing Act on Lifetime in their effort to address the complex educational needs of today’s students. In today’s challenging environment we applaud the efforts of The Balancing Act on Lifetime to provide parents and educators with essential resources required for lifelong academic success,” says special guest, Elise Ruiz-Ramon from Madcap Logic.

The segment which also features Robert Monson, President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, will air this month as part of The Balancing Act’s Parent Teacher Corner series on Lifetime Television.  In the upcoming segment, they’ll discuss the importance of including art lessons in your child’s curriculum as part of the learning experience.

In this edition of the Parent Teacher Corner on The Balancing Act on Lifetime, viewers will learn that with so many schools cutting their budgets, educators are looking on-line to find the types of tools that teach effectively and are cost efficient. “Arts education enables children to draw from their experiences to create meaning that will enhance their learning,” says Robert.  “Research tells us that the arts have a tremendously positive impact on teaching and learning, especially in discovering talents, stimulating academic interests, and awakening an awareness of the vast possibilities of life.”

Children with art education do better across the board.  “Our Creativity Express curriculum reaches some children who would otherwise be left behind,” Elise adds.  “An arts education also helps students develop motivation for higher academic achievement, leading them to become lifelong learners.”

Make sure to watch BrandStar Entertainment’s special Parent Teacher Corner edition of The Balancing Act to discover how a properly applied art education may lead to academic improvement, as well as develop more intuitive thinking and developing creativity and self esteem.

For more a preview of the segment, please visit The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television: www.thebalancingact.com/video/?v=FX6W49ANG03517

About “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime Television
The Balancing Act TV show airs daily on Lifetime Television at 7:00am (ET/PT).  The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television is America’s premier morning show that’s about women, for women and trusted by women.  For information or to view a show, visit http://www.TheBalancingAct.com.  You can also follow The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television at; http://www.facebook.com/TheBalancingActFans, www.twitter.com/BalancingActTV and www.youtube.com/thebalancingact.

About BrandStar Entertainment
BrandStar Entertainment is well known for their cutting edge content driven women’s programming, including “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime Television.  The Balancing Act TV show inspires and empowers women with entertaining and educational segments, placing them in the best position to achieve success in every aspect of their lives.  For more details about BrandStar Entertainment please visit http://www.brandstartv.com.

For information on becoming a content partner for “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime Television, contact BrandStar Entertainment at Brandutainment@o2mediainc.com.

# # #

O2 Media’s parent company, BrandStar Entertainment, producers of The Balancing Act show on Lifetime TV, have proven themselves as pioneers in the Branded Entertainment industry bringing Social Media to TV with the vision to Engage, Entertain and Educate.

Teaching Children to Help Others

December 22nd, 2011

Madcap Logic is proud to join Primrose Schools supporting the Feeding America virtual food drive.

Virtual Food Drive by Primrose Schools     Primrose Day Care Centers<http://www.primroseschools.com/> have teamed up with the charity, Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief chairty in America, to raise food and money for those in need this holiday season. As the virtual food drive will come to an end Decemeber 31st, be sure to visit the Primrose Facebook page<http://www.facebook.com/PrimroseSchools> where you can like the page, which will donate 1 can (or $1) or you can share the page which will donate 2 cans (or $2).

     Although it is a basic life skill, cooperation is not something that we are born with, but rather something we learn as we go through life. It allows us to develop and maintain relationships, and work successfully with other individuals. Infants do not come into this world with an understanding of the importance of sharing and compromise. These traits are learned through experience when the child becomes old enough to interact with others. Most children are introduced to cooperation when they are taught by adults to share their toys and take turns with other children in the playground and nursery. Through sharing such seemingly inconsequential items early in life, one will form a permanent habit of sharing that will most likely continue forever. This habit will manifest in many ways, such as one’s participation in charity work or the volunteering of his or her time to a worthy cause.

     Learning to cooperate and share is the foundation of many other positive characteristics that most parents hope their children will acquire, such as the importance of “giving back” when one has enjoyed success and good fortune in life. It is also how youngsters develop the skills they will need to get along well with other individuals throughout the course of their life.

Leading by Example

     As a parent, it is your behavior that your child will attempt to mimic first. Acting in a cooperative manner and displaying a sharing attitude toward others will instill the importance of these characteristics in your child’s mind. Important values are almost always learned from our parents in the course of daily life. For instance, you might say“If we all pitch in to help clean the kitchen after we eat, we will get finished quicker and can begin reading your new library book.”

Activities Requiring Family Participation

     Planing a family project that requires the participation of each member will help a child to understand the importance of teamwork, and how assisting each other to work toward a common goal will benefit everyone involved. Such projects can be as simple as the planting of a garden, or playing an interactive game.

     Preparing a meal is another ideal family project, as such activities offer a role for each member of the family. Children can search for the appropriate ingredients, and help mom and dad to mix and measure. Additionally, cleaning up after the meal can also be completed through teamwork. A great bedtime storybook to read to your youngster at the end of such a day would be the popular children’s favorite “Stone Soup.”

Stories With a Moral

     The concept of cooperation can be introduced by reading stories to your child that feature characters who share. The Little Red Hen is an ideal choice in such books. After reading the story to your child, you should involve him or her in an active discussion of the outcome, and ask the child how he or she might react if asked to participate in a project that requires cooperation with others.

Children and Music

     Children have an almost magical way of responding to music. Select a short musical piece and listen to it together. Then discuss the way the band, orchestra or chorus made these beautiful sounds by working in concert, sort of like a team. Children love when they can sing along with a karaoke machine or a CD. They also enjoy using simple instruments of rhythm to keep time to music. Gather a few of these things, let them make their own production and record it. They will love knowing what they accomplished together and will want to hear it again and again.

Sumitted by Emily Patterson on behalf of Primrose Schools.

Madcap Logic / Creativity Express Online Awarded 2011 EDDIE

September 25th, 2011

  Creativity Express selected as Best Upper Elementary Art Education Website   

 

      The ComputED Gazette honored Creativity Express as a winner of its 16th Annual Education Software Review Awards. The EDDIE Awards target innovative and content-rich programs and websites that augment the classroom curriculum and improve teacher productivity, providing parents and teachers with the technology to foster educational excellence. Some selection criteria are academic content, potential for broad classroom use, technical merit, subject approach and management system. Winners are selected from titles submitted by publishers around the world.

      Creativity Express Online was additionally selected for a comprehensive product review. The award committee summed up the review with this excerpt:

In a time when budgetary cutbacks are impacting the visual arts programs in schools, Creativity Express offers a reasonably priced, enriching outlet for parents, schools, after-school and home school programs, addressing this vital educational need. Clearly, this holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to art education will help develop the well-rounded student needed in our complex world.”

    Madcap Logic is pleased to add the EDDIE to our portfolio of Awards. “We have spent a this year focusing Creativity Express Online to address the needs of teachers through enhancements to the Account Center. Our teachers work extraordinarily hard, and class management is critical to their daily success. We want the teachers to have the resources they need to foster creativity and self-expression through the arts, without having to call the school technical director for assistance. The EDDIE Award proves that we are on track to provide an engaging and enriching curriculum through a simple web-based platform.” says CEO Elise Ruiz-Ramon.

      Tickles, Furnace, and Ruby celebrated with snow cones. “We’ve worked hard lately,” said Ruby, “Furnace tends to slouch, and I was continually telling him to stand up straight! Then he almost ate the award paperwork. Fortunately we were close to refrigerator, and I was able to save the forms.” Furnace was unable to comment, as his mouth was full. Tickles was tickled, and tweeted all her friends the good news.

The Heady Thrill Of Having Nothing To Do

September 6th, 2011

Is constant stimulation Hurting our creativity and the economy?
Scott Adams pays tribute to tedium.

Scott Adams      All fans of Scott Adams, Dilbert devotees, parents, and a friend/colleague of anyone continuously hooked to an electronic device will love this attack on our current state of information overload.

      Without giving away our ages, most of us can admit that our children are growing up with electronic gadgets we never dreamed possible. However, Adams is clear on the downside of these time fillers – of life without boredom- and their effect on the development of creativity. In his sarcastically amusing style, Adams reminds us that imagination is not the result of  being constantly entertained. Individuality is not developed by playing ‘Angry Birds’. Most critically, he recounts that he attributes his creative success to the somewhat excessive boredom he withstood during both his childhood and his corporate years. The genius behind Dilbert was simple tedium, not an iPad.

      Is America lacking innovation? Here’s a test : ask your children to unplug for a week and find out how much they know how to do on their own, or want to try. Hint – pick up some earplugs first, as you’ll hear more than a few screams along the way. The bonus is finding out what genuinely interests them, without devices giving them ideas.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903454504576486412642177904.html

Enjoy!

Creativity Express Awarded 2011 BESSIE

April 6th, 2011


Madcap Logic's “Creativity Express” is awarded ComputEd Gazette’s BESSIE award for

Best Upper Elementary Art Education Website.

The Best Educational Software Awards “target innovative and content-rich programs and websites that provide parents and teachers with the technology to foster educational excellence.

Winners are selected from titles submitted by publishers around the world.”

For a full list of winners, and more information about the ComputED Gazette and the BESSIE Awards visit:

http://computedgazette.com/page3.html

For a compete list of the Creativity Express portfolio of Awards, visit:

http://www.madcaplogic.com/awards.php 

Madcap Logic Moves to Florida

January 4th, 2011

Leaving Colorado in late 2010, Madcap Logic, LLC has officially relocated to Florida. Our move is accompanied by a change in ownership and refocusing of Madcap Logic’s business plan.

“Our flagship sixteen lesson Creativity Express curriculum has been quite successful.” says the new CEO and Owner, Elise Ruiz-Ramon. “However, the CD-ROM delivery has caused significant frustrations from our customers – the operating systems are changing so rapidly that compatibility has become serious issue. We are at the mercy of Microsoft and Apple, and whatever upgrades or patches they may choose to place on any given computer at any time. Our Creativity Express Online product is free from those potential bugs, and is always on for any number of users from any web browser. The internet delivery of curriculum content is now widely accepted by home and traditional school students. Creativity Express Online is specifically designed to meet the needs of teachers and students alike, increasing productivity and creatively engaging the minds of children.”

The new CEO will begin by upgrading essential services within the Teacher Account Center, then improving the store front for greater product choices, pricing transparency and ease of ordering.

“We expect next year to be challenging for teachers and schools given the upcoming budget cuts,’” says Mrs. Ruiz-Ramon, “and we need to be able to provide a viable solution for art education to remain a core component of elementary curriculum.”

Newsweek Reports on the "Creativity Crisis" in America

July 20th, 2010

Affecting a generation of Americans, both children and adults,
"For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong – and how we can fix it."

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis.html

If you have school-age children this comes as no surprise. Children are spending more time in front of televisions and computers, and spending days in school being tested rather that taught. The long term effects are now being felt by a society that needs innovation more than ever to solve long-term problems.

What can you do? Read the article, learn, and reach out to the schools and children around you. Stay involved, and use books instead of television. Force your children outside (weather permitting) without electronics. Let them fail so that they understand how to creatively find solutions on their own. Encourage individuality.

Furnace recommends picking up a paintbrush and finding out where your imagination can take you! It’s a great way to spend a summer day. Just try to find a brush your own size…

Time4Learning Provides Creativity Express Art Curriculum to its Members

July 12th, 2010
Time4Learning Provides Creativity Express Art Curriculum to its Members

Durango, CO – Representatives from Madcap Logic LLC announced today that Time4Learning.com is bundling the Creativity Express online art curriculum with its existing curricula to its Time4Learning members.

Time4Learning.com has licensed Creativity Express web-based art program to add to the educational services that Time4Learning.com provides to its thousands of members. The animated online program teaches art as well as art appreciation and art history. Students learn the principles and history of art through interactive lessons on topics such as line, form and color, using real examples from art history to illustrate each concept. The sixteen-lesson program is available to Time4Learning subscribing members. Creativity Express features a built-in reward system as each lesson concludes with a quiz designed to assess the students’ understanding of the material presented: the higher the students’ scores, the more artist cards and puzzle pieces they collect.

Time4Learning parents and students who have used the art program quickly nicknamed it “Time 4 Art.” They are enthusiastic about having an art course included in the Time4Learning academic curriculum and are thrilled by the quality of the content and delivery of the material. “My kids loved the art so much that they work on the program well beyond their homeschool time, spending their free time on it,” reported one parent. Homeschoolers in particular appreciate the structure the program provides to learning about and creating art. “I am so impressed! Our kids adored being taught about art in such an educationally fun and guided way, rather than our usual laissez-faire approach to homeschool art,” reviewed another parent.

About Time4Learning: Time4Learning is a leading online learning system that offers a preschool through eighth grade curriculum for homeschool, afterschool, and summer use in language arts, math, science and social studies. The Time4Learning online educational offering also includes Time4Writing.com, online writing courses for K-12. Time4Learning was selected as one of the “Top 100 Educational Websites” in both 2009 and 2010 by Homeschool.com and received a BESSIE Award after being named the #1 “Multi-Subject Website” by the ComputED Gazette in 2010. Time4Learning is a certified “Green Business” by the Uniform Standard for Green Business Certification 2009.

New York City Parks & Recreation Afterschool Programs use Creativity Express!

May 10th, 2010

“On November 7th, 2008, New Museum staff Chio Flores and Stephanie Pereira gave a presentation at to Al Smith and Hamilton Fish After School Program’s 9-12 year olds. They first described to the students the mission of their museum and talked about contemporary art in general. They presented slides of various artwork and talked about their past and current exhibitions.

We found those students who have been participating in Creativity Express since the Summer ’08 season, were more apt to participate in the group discussions about the slides. They were more confident (than others) to raise their hands, as well as had a larger vocabulary with which to articulate their ideas and opinions about the artwork presented.”-Olga Gazman, Director Computer Resource Centers, City of New York Parks & Recreation

Creativity Express selected as a winner of the 2009 FAMILY CHOICE AWARD

January 19th, 2010

fca_logo_2007

The Family Choice Awards was founded by the Family Magazine Group, America’s largest free parenting publication,    and is recognized as the premier resource for the very best in children’s and parenting products and services.

Staying in School: Arts Education and New York City High School Graduation Rates

November 19th, 2009

Check out this report from The Center for Arts Education on the direct correlation between Strong Arts Programs and High Graduation Rates!

http://www.cae-nyc.org/staying-in-school/arts-and-graduation-report

Study Finds That Online Education Beats the Classroom

October 12th, 2009

A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

Click here for the full story…

Giving Back…

September 28th, 2009

Madcap Logic donates Creativity Express to Accessing the Artist Within project to showcase artists using assistive technologies.

Learn more here: Accessing the Artist Within

How Arts Training Improves Attention and Cognition

September 18th, 2009

Does education in the arts transfer to seemingly unrelated cognitive abilities? Researchers are finding evidence that it does. Michael Posner argues that when children find an art form that sustains their interest, the subsequent strengthening of their brains’ attention networks can improve cognition more broadly.

Check out this fascinating article at The Dana Foundation’s website – Click Here

Woodcraft Rangers Using Creativity Express

July 29th, 2009

Woodcraft Rangers’ Huntington Park Elementary After School program in Los Angeles using Creativity Express!

Creative Education : Something to Inspire You!

April 10th, 2009

One of my most favorite things to read is the Edutopia magazine. They have excellent articles and insights from teachers all over the nation and across the curriculum. As a teacher at university, I am always inspired by my fellow teachers doing some excellent work for students before they hit my classrooms and thought I would share with you, two particularly amazing ideas and projects.


The first involves using art and music together for students — teachers using the 9 Muses of ancient Greek lore to introduce and examine various examples of their specialty through youtube! If you don’t remember the 9 sisters,
there was Calliope who ruled epic poetry, Clio who worked with history, Erato loved lyric poetry while her sister Euterpe was fascinated with music. Melpomene was the muse of tragedy while her light hearted sister Thalia, loved comedy. Then there was Polyhymnia who specialized in choral poetry and Terpsichore, the dancer. Finally, Urania governed astronomy.

In her article, Shari Wargo demonstrates how each of the muses discusses examples from youtube to help students understand the history of all such performances, reconnecting them to the ancestry of rap, hiphop, movies etc. A completely new and at the same time, ancient way of learning about the performative arts! Interestingly, the word muse, has the same root, as music. The sisters, with their dedication to the performative arts, founded learning in a preliterate world. They remind us that before we were homo sapiens ( knowing humans) we were homo narrans (story telling humans).

Likewise, while November is a long way off, it is National Novel Writing Month, and as a teacher who battles with students to write 5 pages, I am amazed at what kids who participate in this program accomplish in one month. A novel in a month! How many authors could do that kind of work? Yet, the kids do and they do it with amazing tenacity in a collective act. As one student reports, “it is not even about having your work read, it is about having written it.” In November 2008, more than 1.6 million words were written in a month! In the same year, nearly 120,000 adults from at least 45 countries became authors. You can too! The program is free for schools and has an excellent website which walks teachers through the program and how to prepare. Perhaps the greatest thing emerging from this program is the fundamental change in the relationship young kids have with books and writing. I have seniors who are afraid to write. I wish they had had this opportunity to unleash their power as a scribe!

From the Muses to the power of the scribe, if you are homeschooling your kids, you might be interested in the annual contests run by the Home School Legal Defense Association, for art, essays, poetry and photography. The poetry competition runs from May 1 through June 1, while the photography competition is coming up this summer and has a submission period beginning July 1 and ending August 1. Check out the website for a host of tips and resources for preparing your work for the competition. It’s a great event and every year, hundreds of home school students from around the country and even around the world raise thousands of dollars for the Home School Foundation’s Special Needs Children Fund.

“[The Muses] are all of one mind, their hearts are set upon song and their spirit is free from care. He is happy whom the Muses love. For though a man has sorrow and grief in his soul, yet when the servant of the Muses sings, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles. Such is the holy gift of the Muses to men.”
~Hesiod~

So, welcome the Muses into your life this Springtime and revel in their gifts as you celebrate the performative arts — arts for all and all for arts!

 

Can Anyone Write Poetry?

April 8th, 2009

Tracing the word back to its original Greek, “poetry” came from a word meaning to make or create. Poetry usually refers to words in verse, but rhyming is not required to write a poem and, yes, anyone can write poetry!

 Did you know that we have a Poetry Month? Do you know why? Poetry is an art that goes back centuries and both men and women wrote poetry. Having a month for poetry brings attention to an art that is versatile and engaging, although perhaps not as studied and practiced as other arts.

Guess what? This month of April is Poetry Month, so let us write a poem! Some of our most memorable writers in history were poets. Edgar Allen Poe’  “The Raven” is quite memorable indeed. What about reading a short poem by Ogden Nash

Kids usually like these. Once they get the hang of hearing poems, perhaps read a Shakespeare sonnet and see how it is received.

You can also have kids choose a topic on one of their favorite subjects, such as a pet dog or cat, hiking, fishing, or perhaps at the beach, and have them write a poem about it.

Perhaps a favorite game they play or a favorite food they eat? For example, my cat’s name is Nicholas and I call him “Nicky” for short.

This one is for the kids:

I have a cat named Nicky

whose paws are sometimes sticky.

He plays in the days,

and naps where he lays.

So goes my cat named Nicky!

 Remind the kids that poets may write and rewrite many times before they find the words they want. Start simple. Perhaps the funnier the poems, the easier they will be to write.

 After their experimental play with poetry, why not create a team poem or a class poem? Perhaps a poem a day throughout a month, where each kid has a chance to share a poem he or she likes or wrote? Perhaps the subject is “A Summer’s Day.” All kids can relate to that. Have the kids provide words that remind them of a summer’s day. As the kids suggest them, write them on the black or white-board.

After you have brainstormed ideas with them, begin to place them in phrases. They may want some lines to rhyme and not others.

Once kids feel comfortable playing with poetry, they can learn about poetic rhythm. When I was studying poetry, the teacher had us listen to poetry being read. It gave me an entirely different relationship with poetry, as it reminded me of singing. Later in life, I heard an Ovid poem read aloud in Greek, and could hardly believe the beauty of the sounds. Listening to poetry, then, enlivens another sense and brings us closer to the essence of the art of poetry.

Ultimately, poetry is not a “thing;” it is a feeling or a tone; perhaps a tiny story, a lesson, a loss, a joy. Through poetry, we can experience another aspect of our humanness. So don your best poet garb and begin to compose!

Arts enrich us!

An Artful Labyrinth? It’s Fun and A-mazing!

April 1st, 2009

Sometimes, art can provide a link to history that captivates the imagination, is active, and aids one in learning history at the same time. In the case of the artfullabyrinth, understanding its history enhances the fun of walking one, creating one, or finding the prize by tracing channels on paper.

Labyrinth designs were found on pottery, tablets and tiles date as far back as 4000 years. Many patterns are based on spirals from nature. In Greek mythology, for example, the Labyrinth was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary character Daedalus for King Minos at Knossos on the Grecian island of Crete. The purpose of the labyrinth was to hold a minotaur—a creature half man and half bull. Eventually, according to the myth, an Athenian hero Theseus eventually killed the minotaur.

Unfortunately, the myth continues, Theseus had made the Labyrinth so cunningly that he himself could barely escape it after he built it. However, Ariadne aided him by providing him with a thread, literally the “clew”, or “clue”, to follow and thus find his way back out again.

At this time of year, when sun changes quickly to rain or snow, why not provide kids with activities that they can create indoors and outdoors? And teach kids a bit of history while they are having fun with art? Creating a walkable

labyrinth in the dirt outdoors, with chalk on the asphalt, or with tape on the grass, kids can design labyrinths then transport their designs outdoors where they walk the labyrinth!

A more popularized form of play is the maze and hundreds of versions exist for kids so they will not easily tire of the activity. Perhaps try using maze fun with birds, bugs, and basketball—printable sheets for kids’ use!

What about making a Lego maze? Think about the following: Do you have a name for your maze? What will be the prize or reward at the center? Will you have a garden maze or a line maze? Will you give players a time limit to reach the center? Is it a contest? When you are finished, share your experiences for more fun!

So study the labyrinth history a bit this week, hand out maze sheets and have them discover the center.  Each student could have a different maze.  Perhaps have a team of kids draw their own maze and then transport their design to the playground by laying down colored tape.

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