If anyone ever needed proof that human beings are creative, all they would have to do is fall asleep.
Every night when our heads hit the pillow and our eyes shut, we dream. Our brains become the directors of these interactive movies, and we get to be the star.
We experience our dreams as exhilarating, scary, funny, and sometimes even strange.
Actually, that makes them A LOT like the movies we watch at the theater!
How We Dream
The difference is dreams aren't created in Hollywood. They are created by our subconscious minds.
While there is not a lot of definitive science on how we dream, a study done by a group of French researchers in 2013 suggests that dreaming is generated by the brainstem: the part of the nervous system that connects the spinal cord to the brain itself. They did find however that more complex or creative dreams do require higher-order processes. For example, if you have a dream where your dog is talking to you and then takes you to a dog kingdom full of talking dogs.
Actually... that sounds like an awesome movie!
Regardless of how we dream, a more interesting question to ponder is...
Why We Dream
There are a few theories out there on why we dream.
1. Dreams Act As Therapy.
Dreams often bring up our negative emotions and negative events that are happening in our life that may be hard for us to face in waking life. When we face an event like this in our dreams, our brain doesn't know that it's not real. The exploration of the issue might even allow us to dig to the root of what's really going on.
2. Dreams Let You Deal with Threats in a Safe Way.
You might never fight a bear in real life. In fact I would recommend you NEVER fight a bear in real life! In a dream, you might have the opportunity though. Again, your brain can't tell the difference between what's real and what's a dream. Fighting a bear in a dream may give you confidence in waking life and sharpen your fight-or-flight sense if you ever do find yourself in a precarious situation.
3. Dreams Allow You to Practice a Skill.
You might want to be a rock star or President of the United States. Whatever it is, dreams give you the opportunity to practice being on stage or giving a speech or anything else. (If you really want to dive deeper into this, learning how to lucid dream could change your life!)
4. Dreams Let You Get Creative.
Dreams are an amazing way to come up with new ideas! I once had a vivid dream that was so scary, but when I woke up I realized I just dreamt a script for a whole horror movie! I unfortunately was the main actor in the film... But taking the perspective of being the writer and director of the film as well allowed me to not only not be afraid of it but be empowered and emboldened creatively by the dream!
5. Dreams Declutter Your Brain.
Some think that dreams are just a way for your brain to sift through the important and unimportant information lying around. Essentially, it's your brain's way of "taking out the trash" when the garbage can is overflowing.
We may not be sure of how or why we dream, but we now have a few theories for both!
I believe we create our own meaning in our lives and therefore also our dreams. Nightmares are nothing to fear! Just as challenging situations in our lives are nothing to fear! They are all moments and experiences for us to learn and grow.
And if you don't believe me, why not try giving it a shot? Do it for yourself, but also for your kids (if you have them!) This mindset will empower you and your kids to embrace your creativity and face your fears head on which are both valuable skills in Life.
So, dream on.
What are dreams? Why do we dream the things we do? Are there hidden meanings or messages in them? Even as adults we probably don’t have solid answers for any of these questions. So how are we supposed to help a child or Sajja and Kabba understand what a dream is?
Of course, there is the scientific explanation of sleep and sleep cycles that give us answers on what is happening to us physically while we sleep and dream, but I think what most of us really wonder about is why we dream the things that we do and why our dreams can affect the way we feel even when we are awake. Each time we drift off to sleep a whole new world emerges, and it’s full of imagination and creativity. It’s impossible to know what might happen. The mystery is exciting and scary to a lot of us, especially for our younger buddies out there.
Kids and Dreams
Kids probably won’t remember their dreams every day but occasionally there will be a dream that sticks with them. They might recall just a few images from the dream, the overall feeling of the dream or perhaps even the entire thing. When they do remember a dream, it can be confusing or unsettling. They might not understand how they came up with the content and even experience emotions they can’t explain or aren’t familiar with. Maybe it was a dream where they were the most successful unicorn farmer in the country, and upon waking feel silly or embarrassed for having such an unconventional dream? Or maybe they were so excited by the prospect of being a unicorn farmer that they were bursting to tell everyone they know?
Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself, it's only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and,
Have you any dreams you'd like to sell?
Stevie Nicks, Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few ideas to help anyone out there, young or old, to process their dreams:
I did what every scared child would do and called my mom.
During our 10-minute conversation, she reminded me that everyone gets scared sometimes and to just accept the unknown. "None of us have control of our dreams." She told me.
Having only that short talk and simply acknowledging what I was feeling made the uneasiness go away, and I began to feel better.
Dreams can be a great source of creativity and inspiration and can expose us to different emotions/experiences that we might not have otherwise. The more channels we have to share and explore our dreams, the more we might be able to learn from them and incorporate those lessons into our everyday lives. Encourage your little buddies to embrace their dreams and share them with you in a format that works for them, you never know where their dreams might take them!
(We had the good fortune of having Rachel step in and direct a couple episodes while Sacha was out of town. She was also gracious enough to contribute to the blog!)
Hey Good Buddies!
Last summer, I was riding a bus down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago when I saw the most perfect rainbow I had ever seen. A thunderstorm had just lifted, and the first bits of sunlight were cracking through the clouds above the city skyline. I looked out across Lake Michigan, and there it was - a fully arched rainbow featuring the completed spectrum of color - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet - or, ROY G. BIV, as I learned in the second grade.
Like many of you, I’ve been learning about colors since before I could talk. I just assumed that after 30+ years of learning about colors, I knew everything there was to know. However, I was proven wrong when I joined Sajja and Kabba onset to shoot this episode. Behind the scenes, I learned something new.
If you’re like me, you learned the three primary colors in your grade school art class: red, yellow, and blue. These three colors can be mixed together to make just about every other color of the rainbow. Grab some paint and you can experiment mixing these colors with your kiddos:
Red + Yellow = Orange
Yellow + Blue = Green
Blue + Red = Purple
Mix in a little black or white, and you can make varying shades.
While shooting Sajja and Kabba, we were working with light, not paint, and I learned that the primary colors of light are different than those of paint: red, GREEN, and blue.
I was shocked. How could this be? Why are they different?
I did a little research, and not only did I uncover why the primary colors of light are different, I also learned that red, yellow, and blue aren’t the true primary colors of paint (or pigment as the arts and sciences world like to refer to it), but yellow, magenta, and cyan are. Talk about mind blowing!
Color is simply light traveling at different wavelengths. For example, light with a wavelength of about 700 nanometers is seen as red.
We are able to see color because our eyes contain two different types of photoreceptors that are sensitive to light. The first kind of photoreceptor is a cone, which is sensitive to color, and the second kind of photoreceptor is a rod, which is sensitive to intensity.
The reason we can see more than one color at a time is because each of our eyes contains three different cones. Guess which colors these cones are sensitive to?
You got it! One is sensitive to red, the other green, and the third blue, creating the foundation for the primary colors of light.
You can experiment with light mixing at home by grabbing a flashlight and buying some of these colored gels off amazon.
When you do, you’ll discover, as I did, what the true primary colors of pigment are:
Red Light + Blue Light = Magenta
Blue Light + Green Light = Cyan
Green Light + Red Light = Yellow
Now, it’s up to you to decide how much you want to confuse your kids before they go to school. My suggestion? Just gather your paints and lighting gels, and mix the day away. Your kids are sure to have a blast.
Rachel Clair lives in Chicago and can be reached at https://www.rachelclair.com
Recently, Sajja and Kabba have been learning about colors, and we have been talking about how to incorporate these concepts into your child’s life. Check out our posts on The Importance of Coloring and Color Theory. Today, let’s talk about how we can use these techniques to help build our child’s creativity
Why is this important?
In the 90's, a movement began in education called the 21st Century Skills. This is a set of skills that was created based on research collected when employers were asked the simple question: What skills do individuals need to succeed in the workforce? These skills include: collaboration, critical thinking, leadership, and creativity (among others). While this inventory is widely accepted by educators and administrators, execution in public education has been difficult. Ken Robinson, a leader in the education sector, addresses the problem with our current education system and views on intelligence in general in his humorous and enlightening TED Talk. Ultimately, children are tremendously creative and inquisitive beings, and we adults tend to squash that creativity.
How to encourage creativity?
One way is to present problems (or avenues for discovery) to children and let them explore without fear of failure. For example, you could collect a variety of cooking supplies (oil, flour, baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, etc.) and let kids experiment with mixing various substances. Last week, Sajja and Kabba were presented with an avenue for discovery when their whole world began to change colors and, like any child would, they began asking questions and learning and having fun.
Other great ways to engage children in creative pursuit is through art, music, and dance. Get a poster board and various art supplies and encourage them to create art, without any guidelines, rules, or order. Turn on music and have an impromptu dance party in your kitchen. Make up silly songs when you're driving in the car.
By infusing creativity in our daily lives it becomes a part of our cognitive processes. Many business professionals take improvisation classes because they recognize the need for creativity in their presentations and interactions with clients.
Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Help your child hold on to their artistic nature and rediscover your inner artist this week!
Life is made up of colors.
We see them everywhere we go:
Blue, Red, and Yellow together make the three Primary Colors, and when mixed together, they create every other color in the Universe.
Unless your child is color blind, they're going to be seeing and interacting with every color of the rainbow on a daily basis.
And according to a study conducted by NASA, we all are born creative geniuses.
This includes your children, so you may as well set them up for creative and artistic success in their lives and teach them Color Theory.
Color Theory is the study of the combination of colors, and while it can get complicated, it can also be broken down into simple terms that even the youngest of children could understand.
If your child is of preschool age, begin by explaining the three Primary Colors to them:
After, you may ask them to combine the colors and let them see what happens.
Don't try to explain it too much at this point. Just let them have the experience.
This will introduce them to the concept of....
The three Secondary Colors are Orange, Purple, and Green. If your child is in Kindergarten, feel free to use the paint of the the three Primary Colors to show them how:
If your child is in Elementary School (or you believe them to be the next Vincent Van Gogh) feel free to introduce them to the concept of...
When you mix the three Primary colors with the three Secondary colors you get Tertiary Colors which include more nuanced blended colors such as...
If you think your child will understand, explain to them in your own words the concept of Tertiary Colors.
Remember: Teaching your children is also a great way to re-learn these concepts for yourself!
And we could all use a bit more color in our lives.
Hey Good Buddies!
Today let’s talk about the Importance of Coloring.
That’s right. Coloring. The thing we make children do so we can have a moment's rest. Well, it turns out, we should be coloring too!
Here are 5 Benefits of Coloring:
When kids are in an environment that has very simple, easy to understand rules their creativity flourishes, and they can relax. Don’t get me wrong! I’m NOT saying rules are bad. Rules are essential, but they can be very confusing and taxing to children because they don’t understand them. So, the next time your little one is feeling overwhelmed or frazzled sit down with them and color a picture or two, it might even help you relax!
And be a Good Buddy and check out our free coloring resources!
Halloween is approaching! And that means potentially scary things. You can do your best to avoid anything scary, but as people start to decorate their yards and stores start carrying supplies, it's inevitable your kid is going to see something scary... and those scary things might trigger nightmares.
Here are three ways to make those scary dreams a little easier to handle:
1. What are dreams?
Explain what dreams are! Reassure them that they aren't real and can even be fun.
2. Acknowledge and Normalize.
Even though they may not be real, dreams can certainly feel real. Admit that they can be scary, but also let them know nightmares are normal. Talk about how you yourself have nightmares sometimes and how you deal with them.
3. Give them power.
Once they realize dreams aren't real and they can control them, nightmares won't be as intimidating. This can be as simple as leaving a night light on or having easy access to a flashlight. Give them control over their nightmares and the fear will begin to disappear.
Of course, once you start showing that Halloween and scary things can be fun (like in this episode), that can go a long way, too!
For further reading, we recommend this article.
Even as an adult we can still feel that twinge of fear from a really loud bang of thunder. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, your eyes grow wide, and you might even jump a little in your seat.
For a kid, thunder can be even more terrifying. It sounds so BIG.
Here are some tips to ease your child's fears about thunder.
1. Explain the science!
You don't need to get into all the nitty-gritty details, but even a simple explanation can ease some tension. The explanation may spark even more questions, and before you know it, you have your laptop open and you're both googling answers and learning together.
2. Laugh at the sound!
If you're not scared, there's a chance your kid won't be scared. They look to you on how to respond. If you're excited and entertained by the sound, they will also learn to relax.
3. Get creative!
The ancient Greeks thought thunder and lightning was Zeus throwing lightning bolts around. Can you come up with your own myths and stories? See if you can create a story together and get those creative juices flowing.
For a basic scientific explanation for toddlers on how thunder works we recommend this article from fatherly.com.
Check out this week's Sajja and Kabba episode where thunder almost ruins their day... but they figure it out!
Parents who read will have kids who read.
What example are you setting for your kids?
Do you plop down in front of the television at the end of the day and zone out?
Do you mindlessly scroll through your phone?
We understand life is busy (boy, do we!) and a bit of mindless entertainment can be what's needed to let go of the day's troubles. However, there are numerous studies that show that taking the time to read to our kids before bed improves brain function.
Here's a quick list of benefits you can start to see:
1. One-on-one bonding time with your kid.
2. Establishing a night time routine. (Very important!)
3. Improvement in basic vocabulary.
4. Pattern recognition. (Many bedtime books focus on routine and patterns).
For more in-depth information we recommend this article from Parents.com.
Also, check out this week's episode of "Sajja and Kabba" where Kabba reads Sajja a bedtme story.
What are some of your favorite bedtime stories? Let us know in the comments!
Here we are! The episode "M,N,O" will be wrapping up the first month of Sajja and Kabba videos. What an amazing first month it has been. The amount of love and support we've received from our friends and family has been extraordinary.
Perhaps the thing we hear that parents love the most about the show is how POSITIVE it is. (My nephew and niece now say "You good buddy" around their house). It is a wonderful feeling to know that our show is resonating not only with kids, but their parents.
The last couple of weeks we have been getting in touch with teachers to see how our show can be a resource to them. If we can be a tool that teachers can use in the classroom (flashbacks to Bill Nye in science class, anyone?) then we will have something truly special on our hands.
Please continue to reach out to us and let us know what you like about the show and what you would like to see more of! We really do listen!
A note about this blog: This is a new element we are introducing to our weekly tasks. We hope the thoughts, links, and discussions we have here will help you in your quest to raise a functioning adult - whether you're a teacher or a parent.
Peace and love!