Halloween Spooktacular Featured Activity – Story Doodling

In celebration of our first-ever public event on October 31 at SPARK! we’re sharing three featured activities happening that day. Our first post was an overview of how oil pastels and black construction paper can be used in a project to spark creativity in kids ages 8–10 before they outgrow Halloween. More on that here.

Our second activity is story doodling on trick-or-treat bags, another craft we believe can challenge kids to think beyond what they know and tap into their imaginations to produce original work. According to a study on Drawing Development in Children by researcher Viktor Lowenfeld, kids enter the the “pseudo- naturalistic stage” around age 12. Meaning art is no longer a spontaneous activity because their focus has shifted towards creating “adult-like” naturalistic drawings. We’re confident that this activity will teach kids to be less critical of their work by helping them slow down and enjoy the process. Here’s how it works.


A brown paper bag

Story doodling worksheet



Utilize the worksheet as a brainstorming exercise. Next, review your worksheet to use it as inspiration to design your bag. Select your favorite doodle(s) and repeat across the surface of your bag.

Final Product:

Story-Doodling (1)

During the Halloween Spooktacular, you’ll also get to explore our newly renovated Creepy Crawl, see the Mad Scientist in action, and stop by all 13 treat stations. This event is open to families with children in 2nd grade through high school. No drop-offs are allowed. Admission is $8 in advance; $10 at the door.

Stay tuned for the next featured activity: Spooky Jars

Halloween Spooktacular Featured Activity – Haunted Landscapes

We’re so excited to be hosting our first-ever public event, Halloween Spooktacular, on October 31 at SPARK! While you’re here, you’ll get to explore our newly renovated Creepy Crawl and participate in creative, Halloween-themed activities as a family. See the Mad Scientist in action, decorate your own trick-or-treat bags and stop by all 13 treat stations. This event is open to families with children in 2nd grade through high school. No drop-offs are allowed. Admission is $8 in advance; $10 at the door.

Take advantage of this event as an opportunity to lead your children down the path of self-discovery and help them identify as creative individuals. (Before they decide they’ve outgrown Halloween.) Take a note from researcher Viktor Lowenfeld on the stages of creative and mental growth, explained through drawings by Betty Edwards.

According to his studies, during the dawning of realism stage (occurring between the ages of 8–10) children find that generalization doesn’t suffice as a form of expression for reality. Instead, children spend more time on detail imitating reality. And while we sometimes suspend reality for Halloween, SPARK! offers art activities that challenge children to think abstractly and independently.

To kick-start their creativity, we’ve decided to give you a sneak peak of a few activities happening the day of our October 31st event. (All materials are included with admission.) First up: Haunted Landscapes with one of our favorite instructors, Vet.


Black Construction Paper

Oil Pastels


Using oil pastels, create your own haunted landscape against a black backdrop and then take your masterpiece home and hang. We suggest skeletons, ghosts, monsters and mummies. This activity is suitable for all ages.

Final Product:


Stay tuned for the next featured activity: Storydoodling on Trick-or-Treat Bags


Creativity Is…

Cadillac Ranch backdrop for SPARK!

Creativity is something different to everyone. Creativity comes in many different forms.  At SPARK! we’re all about igniting the creativity inherent in each child.  We are all born creative – we just need the opportunity to exercise our creativity muscles and find out how we individually express our unique interests.  While not everyone agrees on what is, or is not creative we all believe we recognize it when we see it.  At SPARK! our programming committee has worked hard to define Creativity.

We believe Creativity is:

A sense of wonder…

that invites exploration….

And the discovery of new possibilities.

Creativity is a process.  It encourages collaboration and iteration.  It engenders an outcome.  During our Creativity Confab we discussed the meaning and importance of creativity.  This Video shares the highlights of that experience.

Stop Motion Video – All the Rage

Stop Motion Video
Stop Motion Video was unveiled at SPARK! this Saturday. SPARK! explores and ignites creativity by introducing children and families to a number of different disciplines. Instructor Lynn Raines created a wide assortment of props taking visitors from the streets of Dallas to the waves of the bay. Check out the fun on our You Tube Video
is now taking reservations for group visits, check out our calendar of events and join the creative movement.

Only 1 Week Left to Register

Shoes & Stories, sponsored by Marsha Clark & Associates, is destined to be an annual event.  I’ve been saying that I believe this will be my favorite event this year.  I believe it ever so much more now.  Last night visual artists Lynn Raines and VET led the SPARK! staff through our own shoe decorating experience.  Lynn’s warm-up exercise was really great, giving us all a confidence level we likely would not otherwise have had.  If I may so say, I believe we produced some really fun shoes.  If you have girls between second grade and high school you have only 1 week remaining to sign them up for this fabulous event being held August 15.  Enroll Now

SPARK! Staff Design Own Shoes

SPARK! Staff Design Own Shoes

Take A Tour of SPARK!

With Ribbon Cutting just 3 days away, excitement is building around the SPARK! opening.  It’s impossible to describe or imagine the fully immersive, creative environment we’ve built.  So, I’m thrilled to share this short video tour.

Fostering Creativity by Developing TEDx Talks – For Kids 10 – 18

SPARK! is excited to offer our first programs with TEDxSMU.  TEDx Kid Talks help our youth develop their great ideas into good and great presentations.  We love TED Talks as they help to develop confidence in young presenters, spark new thoughts in the audience and make us think like a kid once again.  Creativity springs to life when kids are invited to share their ideas with a city wide audience.  We’re partnering with TEDxSMU and DHD Films to create a unique opportunity for kids 10 – 18.

On July 15 we present: “Turn Your Great Idea Into a TED Talk.”  150 spaces are available – please register:  TEDxKidsInfo  This session is perfect for any kid who has an idea they believe needs to be heard, for those who wonder what a TED Talk is, and those who’ve begun working on their TED Talk.

Then on August 7th we’re here to help coach the kids through their audition tape, record their presentation and post to the TEDx web site.  TEDxSMU staff will be on-hand to assist with the final tweaking and preparation for recording.  Professionals from DHD Films will be set-up in the SPARK! recording booths to video the audition tapes.  All auditions will be uploaded to the TEDxSMU submission page.

For more information: TEDxSMU Kids 2015

Spread the word and let’s hear what the kids are thinking about.




SPARK! Opens To Children

SPARK! opened Tuesday.


It’s been a rewarding week as three groups of children from Communities in Schools, third graders, middle school and high school students experienced SPARK!  They loved our Climb, Crawl, Slide sculpture and customized programming.

This young lady was our very first “second time visitor.”  From Lady Bird Johnson Middle school, she visited first in April during World Creativity and Innovation week and painted this hubcap to be installed at SPARK!  This week she returned to find her hubcap affixed to the SPARK! wavy bridge.  Her emotions, a combination of excitement and pride were a thrill to witness.  Our mission: To ignite the spark of creativity inherent in all children is manifested through experiences such as this.

Programming for the summer is off to a great start with over 300 children scheduled through August.  We look forward to working with these children, immersing them in creativity and helping them develop their own craetive works.  We have opportunities for more groups. We serve children second grade through high school and take reservations for groups of 24 or more children.  Sign up soon and make sure the kids you love get to experience SPARK! before they go back to school.