Playing and Creating With: Katie

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Today, with have with us one of those women who exudes creativity; she makes her own clothes (with her own patterns), whips out adorable outfits for her kids in an afternoon, teaches art classes, did homeschool in a way that made me ask myself if I should homeschool my children since the experiences her kids were having were so amazing, and has most recently been traveling the world with her 3 children.

Exhibit A: Katie's family on their way back from Petra

. . .

Exhibit B: The amazing dresses Katie and her girls are wearing were all designed and made by her.

Oh, and you know the people who make the Anthropologie store windows and interiors look so amazing season after season, pre-kids she was one of those people.

My favorite thing about people who are so multi-faceted is that there is so much to learn from them because they have so much to share. Please join us as we welcome Katie and her thoughts on play and creativity!

Name: Katie
Location (could you also tell us how you ended up there?): we live in Bahrain, a tiny island kingdom next to Saudi Arabia. It is a pretty welcoming gulf country and many expats live here because it has more lenient rules (women can drive, you don't have to be covered etc) than surrounding countries. My husband always thought it would be cool to live here, so when we saw that there was a spot open for the job my husband was doing, we claimed it! Uncontested. ;)
How many kids do you have and what are their ages? I have three kids, ages 6, 4 and 3.

What elements have worked best in your playroom?

We have moved every 1-2 years since we got married and had children, so in every house, almost once a year, we have had to take our furniture and make it work in a new home. This means that I have rotated furniture and done lots of different things in my playrooms over the past 6.5 years. At the last two houses we've eliminated the actual playroom and made my two daughters' room the main play area.

Downstairs I keep educational toys in our (former) homeschool area, and upstairs we keep all the rest of the toys in their room. This method helps them get more use out of their puzzles, learning games, etc.

Currently, they are using what was once their clothes dresser as their toy storage and I love it. When the room is all picked up it looks great, but it's also easy for them to access, and the drawers fit all their stuff!

When they were all babies/toddlers, I liked having their toys more visible in their organization.

Another element I really loved in the past was the play tent I'd sewn for my kids, but in this house there wasn't a good space for it.

What are you top 5 favorite play related purchases to date?

Magnatiles, Keva Blocks, Legos, GoldiBlox and the Plasma Car.

How did you choose which children's toys to take with you half way across the world?

We took them all, but I'm always purging what we own. I dislike clutter and dream of being a minimalist. So I only let my kids have so many stuffed animals, dolls and other things. We try and pare down every few months and definitely when we move every 1-2 years!

Do you have any toy purchase regrets?

Not enough to call them out. ;) I wish all my kids toys were beautiful and vintage or wooden, and dreamed it would all look photo-worthy, but they really love princess dolls and characters from the movies they watch, so it is what it is!

Is there one thing you think everyone should have in their play spaces?

Space. As much as possible! My girls' current room and the room in our last house have lots of space. They can build giant things and put on shows, and set up little vignettes because they have the space to do it.

And Magnatiles. Those things are amazing and everyone LOVES them.

You have your Master's in Art Teaching, what are 5 materials you think every home with kids should have?

Watercolors, decent paper to paint on, play dough, construction paper, and colored tapes (and fun shaped sequins, colored tissue paper, pom poms, and all the things to glue and collage!) Oh and a small bin of recycled items to turn into art and inventions. Oh! And watercolor pencils are super fun too! That's more than 5 I know. :)

How do you foster the desire to create in your children?

Out on the kids' desks are washable markers, colored pencils, crayons, glue sticks, and scissors. There is a giant roll of white butcher paper below and at anytime the kids can pull a piece off and create. The storage of the rest of our art supplies varies by the place we live, but it is always nearby and accessible. The kids know that they can pull out any of the bins (we have a painting bin, paper bin, tape and collage item bin, wooden pieces pin, and play dough bin) and create without having to ask. There is only one bing they know they have to have permission for, and that is the bin that has the tempera paint and glitter glues. They are constantly creating which makes my heart so happy. :)

How do you structure your days, so that your kids have opportunities for play and creativity?

When we were homeschooling and during the summer, I would put out a few cool art supplies or toys for them to see when they came down in the morning. This would start them off creating. Days I didn't, they knew they could and if they had a whim they'd make stuff! Honestly, my kids all play really well together and love making art and props for their dolls, etc, so I don't have to direct or structure most of that time.

In the afternoon sometimes I'll ask if they want to paint with me and we'll all sit and paint (this is when they get to use the "special" supplies). They play in all their free time and they only get to have 1-2 hours of media time per day, which we usually do in the afternoon when everyone needs to chill for a bit (my youngest still naps).

You come from a very creative family, what's one piece of advice you would give you other families who are hoping to foster creativity in their homes?

I think putting out the creative elements, instruments, costumes, art supplies, etc and making them available and easy to get to at all times, rather than being something they always need permission to get out, is key in fostering creativity. I don't give my kids specific creative projects to do most of the time, so they come up with their own. Also, tell them it's okay to make mistakes, that art can be anything and everything and it doesn't have to look just like the person's next to them.

My favorite piece of advice may be when she says, "Also, tell them it's okay to make mistakes, that art can be anything and everything and it doesn't have to look just like the person's next to them." I feel that same way about life. 

Also, I can't get over how amazing those dresses are that her girls have. 

If you have a fun and unique play space, homeschool space, or creative space that you want to share please let us know

p.s. When we were going through Katie's Instagram feed looking at all the amazing places she's traveled we knew we wanted to hear more from here on traveling with kids so stay tuned for another post, with the most amazing images, in the upcoming weeks.


  1. Thanks for interviewing me!! I love your blog and all the cool daily inspiration you give to all of us on instagram as well.

    1. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful thoughts with us! So glad you enjoy our blog and Instagram, seriously loved having you!



© Tee & Penguin All rights reserved . Design by Blog Milk Powered by Blogger