Wear Your Imagination: The Intersection of Creativity, Sustainability, and a Growth Mindset

A person in a costume made out of a cardboard box

Wear Your Imagination! The week of October 30-November 3rd is our annual Treehouse Learning Dress up Week, something we coin, “Wear Your Imagination!” Let’s get creative and wear interesting, creative, and thoughtful things all week long! (But always things that are also safe, appropriate, respectful, and sustainable too!)

Cultivating Creative Imaginations, Sustainably

We love using our imaginations! It is good for the whole child and the whole planet! Did you know that “Dress-Up Play” is a form of imaginative play that supports all sorts of Whole Brain, Whole Person learning? These include: Problem-solving skills, self-regulation skills, communication and social-emotional skills, abstract thinking, literacy, turn-taking and cooperation, math, and more!

Children love costumes, dressing up, and pretend play. Expanding our imaginations by stepping into the performance of a character is actually really fun for grown-ups too!! This time of year easily coincides with culturally-celebrated costumes and creativity. The process of imgining or creating costumes is also like a blank canvas for imagining possibilities. 

Can you create without all the waste?

An overflowing Trash Can
Photo by the blowup on Unsplash

The big challenge with the traditional, consumption-based costume industry is all the waste! Disposable costumes create a lot of waste, and the waste isn’t necessary and doesn’t actually require much imagination. Anyone can press a button on a phone app and have a plastic-packaged costume delivered to your door, but only a person with an imagination can create a costume out of found, upcycled, thrifted, or recycled items!

We challenge our entire community: What kind of sustainable costume can you imagine this year? Can you and your child imagine any costumes, stories, or inspiration for dressing up during the last week of October, sustainably, and through intentional consumption and a circular economy, as much as possible? How little costume waste can you create? 

*And, if you still have costume or candy waste (in the form of clean, dry, plastic or candy wrappers, including coated little boxes, etc), please bring in all your eco-bric-brac to Treehouse Learning, where we will sequester it into a colorful and vibrant Ecobrick!

A person in a costume made out of a cardboard box
When is a cardboard box not just a box? When there is an imagination involved!

Not Just a Box

The interconnection of the Creative Arts, our ecology and land, as well as diversity, equity, and sustainability, is what we mean when we describe “Whole Person, Whole Planet.” (The Montessori Approach uses the term Cosmic Education). We deeply believe that our planet needs creative people who think in diverse and imaginative ways. This is why we are so intentional about cultivating an environment for a mindset of creativity, curiosity, imagination, growth mindset, openness, resilience, and more! Art, music, movement, and the natural world around us (and which we are part of!) all support creativity, which is a core ingredient of resilience.

Our ability to creatively overcome challenges builds resilience. Creativity, or flexible thinking, is what allows us to shift our perspective, “see things” from a different angle and imagine a different set of possibilities. Through a growth mindset, we can imagine possibilities or outcomes from a starting place that is abundant, infinite, and rooted in trust in each of our ongoing capacities for learning and growth.

To us, there is little distinction between a costume that has been mass-produced in a factory (often in conditions that are incredibly exploitative and environmentally devastating), an idea of a residential lawn of identical, lush, green, uniform blades of water-thirsty Kentucky Bluegrass, or a children’s snack of a plastic-packaged bar (with substantial added sugar), produced in a factory out of crops originally grown in monoculture. In all of the above scenarios, little imagination is required, and the outcome is meant to be identical.

Can we imagine even parts of costumes, dress-up, or pretend play materials made from things that we find in our recycle bins, around our house, in a thrift store? Can we imagine a garden of diverse species of native, pollinator-friendly plants? Can we imagine food systems of locally grown ingredients that are seasonal and varied in colors, flavors, or textures?

Xicano Puppet Theater

An image of Treehouse Learning Big Room in preparation for Xicano Puppet Theater mask workshop
Xicano Puppet Theater

We invite you to check out the in-progress display work of the corn papier-mâché puppets and masks made in the traditional style of Xicano Puppet Theater, who were featured at our recent Tree Planting Party. Xocimilco Corona, as well as her daughter Denise, created a family business out of cultural storytelling, through an art form passed down from the previous generations connected to their Indigenous Mexica heritage. Their art form is based on creating art from upcycled, repurposed, and found materials, held together with a glue made of maize, or corn. They also make custom piñatas, one of which we celebrated with at our Tree Planting Party! 

At Treehouse Learning, we find inspiration for learning everywhere! This includes the work of traditional storytellers, such as Xicano Puppet Theater. Melissa Lam, our Art and Environment Specialist also embodies this perspective of experiential art in a sustainable way through her training as a Montessori educator. Even trash doesn’t just have to be waste: We can creatively imagine, instead, “ fancy trash” and adopt a Whole Person/Whole Planet approach that organically leads to learning and community-building. 

You’ll see some further collaborations this fall with Xicano Puppet Theater as we continue to tell the story of Treehouse Learning through the land around us, from the apple trees growing on the property to the surprise pumpkin peeking out of the Juniper bushes along the parking lot, to our pollinator gardens and wildlife habitat, to the food we grow on-site, and even a fallen tree! At Treehouse Learning, we are cultivators of creativity and imagination, so by all means, Wear your Imagination!

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