If your kid is doodling aliens during class, you needn't fight it -- encourage it at home! Technology, in the form of a "drawing tablet," can turn a doodling habit into a real skill.
These digital tablets work with a stylus and have a range of features depending on model. Lots allow for drawing in a variety of media, such as water colors, charcoal and paint, all neat and clean in digital form. Most models connect to a computer via USB for saving and uploading artwork, and some offer extras like drawing-related games and lessons.
You can find drawing-tablet add-ons for some game systems, so if you have one you might want to check that out.
Ages start as young as 3 years old for these devices, with easy operation that requires minimal adult supervision. Tablets cost anywhere from $30 to more than $100, depending on features and age ranges. There's no reason why your tween or teen wouldn't love a full-featured "adult" tablet, which can cost more but offers more serious options for creative development.
Of course, using creative technology needn't be a serious pursuit. It need only be engaging and fun. If you happen to end up with the next Mozart or Picasso, that's a bonus.
For more information on technology, art and stimulating creative kids, check out the links on the next page.