7 Activities That Spark Children’s Creativity
Creativity fosters not only resilience and happiness, it’s also is key to success in nearly everything we do. Here are seven everyday activities you can enjoy anytime, anywhere, with kids of all ages.
Creativity — discovering new and original ideas, connections and solutions — is an inherent part of our children’s journey, and it’s our job as parents to encourage this important skill. According to sociologist Dr. Christine Carter, “Creativity is not limited to artistic and musical expression—it is also essential for science, math, and even social and emotional intelligence.”
Because creativity involves critical thinking, problem-solving and focus, it supports not only artistic but also intellectual development. Plus, it calls upon different parts of the brain to do different things, making it the ultimate brain workout.
Here are seven everyday ways to spark creativity in kids of all ages:
Time and space are two essential components of unstructured play. Given enough freedom, kids make their own magic with even the most simple objects, from cardboard boxes and gift-wrapping tubes to wooden blocks, balls, dolls and anything with wheels. Get out the box of old costumes or even some swaths of fabric and play dress up. Bring out the blankets and pillows and make a fort. Let your kids discover the blocks, shapes, figurines and building shapes hiding in the baskets and bins and make their own fun. You’ll be amazed at what they create all by themselves.
Sure, we all love going on swings and playing at the playground, but so much excitement awaits just outside your door. Let your kids dig in the dirt, make designs from scattered stones or a fairy castle out of sticks. Bring out a magnifying glass or binoculars and discover the patterns and shapes up close or visiting birds and wildlife from afar. Play made-up games with balls, rackets, bubble wands or frisbees. Being outside inspires curiosity, exploration and adventure, so go out and let your child lead the way.
Dance & movement
Turn on the music and dance! Then freeze! Then dance…Dancing is great for the mind and body, helps kids develop gross motor coordination and is incredibly freeing. Inspire the imagination with games where you take turns moving like a bunny, then a frog, then a dragon or a snake, then explore movements around feelings or experiences, or let your child create a dance routine that you can follow—get the family to join in for added fun.
Listening to & playing music
According to a recent study, listening to happy music promotes “divergent thinking,” the ability to come up with original ideas. It also improves cognition, enhances learning and elevates people’s moods. Kids love experimenting with musical and percussive instruments, from simple drums and shakers to kid-size keyboards and ukeleles. Let them freestyle, play to music, make up songs or simply explore sounds, beats and rhythms.
Reading, writing, storytelling
Stories expose kids to new worlds—both real and make-believe—and expand their vocabulary, perspectives and ways of thinking. Writing stories provides an opportunity for self-expression and creative exploration. Take turns telling one another stories just before bed, when you’re both relaxed and your minds are at ease. Integrate storytelling into playtime, with stuffed animals, dolls or favorite toys as characters. If your child likes a book series, read them all, then make up some adventures of your own!
Kids love experimenting in the kitchen and are more eager to taste their own creations. Give your child an assortment of cut fruit and berries to arrange into edible designs or create recipes together. Give your child the opportunity to taste different ingredients, then create their own sandwich, snack or dessert. Spread out a washable mat or tablecloth so you don’t have to worry about spills and messes. Let your child explore the kitchen with a toy stove, pots, pans and food and watch them putter around making meals fit for a queen (or their favorite doll or stuffie)!
Arts & crafts
From finger painting to shaping clay, drawing with sidewalk chalk or stringing beads, kids’ art can take endless forms. No matter what your child gravitates towards, allow maximum freedom and minimal comments. Rather than say, “Oh, that’s beautiful!” or “Is that a unicorn?” focus on the colors and shapes, or how well they’re focusing and concentrating. As with cooking, lay out mats or old towels so you can both savor the process without worrying about splatters or spills.
For best results? Put away distracting electronics, focus on your child, the activity and the present moment. Give your child space, time, and the opportunity to explore. Most of all, let loose, let go and have fun!