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Home » Articles »

Creating with Media: Pre-Teens


Other ages: Preschoolers | Grade Schoolers | Teens

Adolescence is a time often characterized by conformity as well as self-expression. As pre-teens form close bonds with groups of friends, it’s not uncommon for them to feel lost in the shuffle or uncertain about how they fit in. Everything from the clothes and shoes they wear to the clubs and activities they join become ways to express who they think they are and how they want to belong.

Now is a good time to help your child find new creative outlets, which may involve pointing to tools he can readily use as well as places he can go for inspiration. In addition to traditional art supplies, such as colored pencils and watercolors, digital media tools, like a mobile video camera and editing software, can fuel your child’s imagination.

  • Get your pre-teen making visual art.
    Digital cameras will put your pre-teen behind the lens and get her thinking about framing a shot, while software such as Adobe Photoshop, which is used by designers and other professionals, will put her in front of the computer screen where she can manipulate her photos and design original artwork. Likewise, introducing your pre-teen to the inner workings of photography by making a pinhole camera, may alter how she uses a camera phone. Sites like Oatmeal Box Pinhole Photography or the Pinhole Spy Camera offer step-by-step instructions.
  • Introduce your pre-teen to new ways to tell stories in both written and oral forms.
    Take your pre-teen on a tour of the many online magazines and Web journals where she can publish her poetry, stories and thoughts. Help her make her own book, magazine or literary blog with photographs and construction paper or using freeware that incorporates electronic text, images, sounds and video.
  • Encourage your pre-teen to experiment with sound and to learn about radio production.
    Youth Radio, Radio Rookies and Radio Rootz are just three of the national organizations where young people are using music and words to tell their own stories.
  • Encourage your pre-teen to take a course or explore local library and web resources on film production.
    Apple's iMovie and Cyber Film School are two online tools with tips on shooting, editing and making use of visual effects. For inspiration, introduce your pre-teen to youth-produced films, like those found at Listen Up! Youth Media Network and the Educational Video Center.
  • Find out how your pre-teen understands social networking as an opportunity for creative expression.
    Whether it’s decking out a profile space with personal photos or writing on a friend’s wall, social networks are outlets for self-expression. No doubt your pre-teen is putting thought into how she represents herself among her peers and talking to her about these choices may be an eye-opener for you as well as a gateway to her creativity.
  • Let your pre-teen know that there is a larger community of youth filmmakers.
    While your pre-teen may not be ready to formally submit her videos to film festivals created for students, such as the Urban Visionaries Film Festival and Young Cuts Film Festival, it may be inspiring to know they exist.
  • Encourage your pre-teen to create original songs, recordings, and sound effects.
    There is an abundance of tools that will give your pre-teen the freedom to manipulate a recording and to share it online. Explore audio production tools from the free to the commercial, talking about what it means to try and build a following of listeners among people your pre-teen may not know.
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