Today we went for a walk around the block. My 4 year-old collected fallen dried-out pine needles and leaves. When we got home, she told me she wanted to make a stage (she's very interested in ballet). I wanted to check my e-mail. I asked her what she'd need and she said a top from a shoebox, crayons, and tape. I was at the computer when she came up, instead of waving her off and being annoyed at the interruption (as is my wont), I asked her what she needed. She asked for scissors, I got them for her and she was off again. When I finished on the computer and came downstairs, I saw quite a creation. Golden leaves with stems taped down, leaves leaning against the sides of the box top, an empty paper towel tube taped upright with pine needles taped all around the top edge. The leaves, which looked like scenery, were actually there to provide cover for the ballerinas from their teachers, so Suzanne told me. The upright tube, which looked like a tree to me, was a dancing pole, the pine needles were there for the dancers to grab ahold of when they leap into the air (I think this may have its genesis in the idea of a May pole which she and I discussed before). She asked for construction paper which she cut into a few pieces and taped down for ballerinas.
I was so pleased to see her creation and all the thought and work that went into it. This helps assuage my guilt for not providing prepared art projects for her to copy. I think its laziness on my part for not having projects for her to do -- I read plenty of books with projects and activities, I just don't set them up for her. While its partially laziness on my part, its also partly because I want her to have the freedom to do what she wants and allow her to use her creativity for herself and not to copy what someone has told her to do.