5 top tips for getting creative at home

Published on: 18 January 2021 Author: Mary Richards

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Mary Richards was thinking about fun ways to get creative for her new children's activity book Take Me Home.

Here, she shares five top tips that will help you see the place you live like never before...

The front cover of Take Me Home and an illustration of author Mary Richards

In 2020, the strangest of years, we spent many months at home. My children were 8, 8, 11 and 13, and together we navigated everything lockdown threw at us.

As it happens, my main work task in the first part of the year was to write and illustrate an activity book, Take Me Home, filled with facts and thoughts about our homes and how we use them. I'd planned it in 2019 – but who'd have known it would be so relevant?

We all got thinking about homes, past and present, and how we live in them. Your home offers a world of inspiration and a jumping off point for creativity... if you know where to look. Here are a few activities inspired by the book, which you might like to try:

1. Take time to really look at everything around you

How well do you actually know your home, and the furniture and objects that fill it? Can you draw your bedroom from memory? Or a view of the street from a window?

You might sit on the same chair every day to eat your breakfast, but what does it actually look like? Take a close look! It was designed by someone who thought carefully about how it looked, what angle to make the backrest or whether to put any padding on the seat. The same goes for your spoon, bowl or breakfast cereal packaging. What are your favourite objects in your home?

2. Create a home diary

Write down all the things you do in your home, at different times of day. Which rooms do you visit most – and when? What time do you eat meals – and where? You can pick one whole day, and record what you do in detail, or just jot down a few observations every day.

Make a note of your daily activities as if you were a detective observing someone else. Where do you like to sit? What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? What do you do to relax? Keeping notes will help you remember what you were doing at this point in time far into the future. Years later, you'll look back at them and remember your experiences clearly.

3. Use your home to spark new ideas for stories or pieces of art

Many authors have used homes as inspiration, setting their stories in the places where they live – Louisa May Alcott's Little Women was based on her family home, Orchard House in Massachussetts, USA. The objects in our homes can spark stories, too – like the wardrobe in the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis, a portal to another world. Homes can be great settings for dramas, detective stories, ghost stories – and many more.

An illustration of two girls drawing

In writing Take Me Home, I researched a young writer from the 1820s called Mary Yelloly, who grew up in Norfolk. At the age of eight and a half, she invented a story – in words and pictures – of an imaginary family she called the Grenvilles. Mary based this story (which she called a 'picture history') on her own life. She created detailed drawings of this fictional family with four children, their home and their daily activities. Mary must have enjoyed the world she'd created, as she continued writing her story for four years!

4. Use your imagination

You don't have to stick to what's actually in your home – you can create impossible, zany spaces! My children and I love the world of the 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, and how the treehouse keeps expanding.

At school workshops with children, I like to invent new worlds and characters only very loosely based on everyday experiences. Children have created remarkable 'dream' schools with tall turrets, rooftop slides that whizz around or bowling alleys and ice cream parlours that fill the playground. You can invent a dream home, too! What would you fill it with? Be as wild as you like.

5. Homes are filled with people

Finally, take time to appreciate the people you live with and what they mean to you. Draw a picture of you all at home, and give it to them as a gift. It'll be much appreciated!

Take Me Home, published by Agnes & Aubrey, is an activity journal written and illustrated by Mary Richards. The book has space for five separate home 'adventures', and includes pages for creative writing, recording things you notice and drawing what you see.

Visit www.agnesandaubrey.com/activities for some free downloadable activity pages, including a diary page.

Topics: Features

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