Did you know that when a child uses their imagination, it builds their language and social skills and it can even improve their problem-solving abilities? Children thrive in environments that facilitate originality and expression; that's why creative activities for kids are so incredibly important. Engaging in pretend play, building imagination, and fostering creativity are crucial for your child's development in their early toddler years, but it's also extremely beneficial for them to continue these activities all the way into middle childhood. Try these whimsical ways of sparking your child's curiosity in the world of make believe!
1. Engage in Open Play to Build Imagination
Montessori schools are successful for a reason - they focus on self-paced, hands on learning that hones in on a child's desire to learn and explore the world. This teaching style is a great way to ignite a kid's imagination and promote creative ideas. Best of all, implementing this technique at home is simple.
Montessori toys encourage experimentation. Therefore, invest in blocks, play towers, and balance stepping stones. Play kitchen sets and pretend tools are other great options. Let these items all have a place in your home. Do not direct play. Let your child decide how they want to interact each day. Most importantly, be a part of the process! If they give you a cup, pretend to drink. If they hand you a block, imagine that it is a phone and talk on it. You want them to see the world in a different light.
2. Encourage Creativity as You Explore Your Area
No matter where you live, there are fun things to do outside of the home that foster creativity in children. Head out to your local park, zoo, museum, or aquarium! Go to a national forest and take a hike. Take your family fishing. Enjoy an evening of stargazing in the backyard.
When engaging in these activities, ask random questions. What would you do if trees reached all the way into the clouds? What do you think is a dolphin's favorite place to visit? Remember that there is no wrong answer! In addition, when you head to the park, make up fun scenarios and play them out. For instance, your child can be the captain of the pirate ship (aka the playground equipment) and you can be the shark that is trying to get them.
3. Let Your Kids Write Their Own Story
Simply reading to your child is educational and entertaining, but to encourage creativity, make it a goal to make them a part of the process. Have your child tell their own story based on the pictures in the book. Let their mind wander and see where the story takes them! Also, take inspiration from their favorite storybooks - if they love Old MacDonald, then consider taking them to an actual farm. Or if The Polar Express is a regular read during the holiday season, then take them on a train ride.
4. Keep a Craft Kit on Hand
A craft kit can be the start of so many creative activities for kids throughout the year. To make your own DIY craft kit, simply head to your local craft store and grab age-appropriate items. These can range from construction and tissue papers to beads and sequins. Don't forget glue, kid-safe scissors, and markers. You can also use household items like moving boxes, paper towel tubes, dried pasta, and pom-poms.
Once you have assembled your box of goodies, let your child show off their artistic side. Ask them to draw or create something that makes them happy. Give them a basic theme and let them do the rest. This can include topics like Halloween, Christmas, animals, or foods. They can design decor for the holidays, make masterpieces for the fridge, or craft items for their imagination games. Best of all, as your kids grow, their crafting tools can expand and they can even pick out their preferences.
5. Play Imagination Games With Your Kids
Every 90s kid is familiar with The Floor Is Lava game. There's a reason that it became a popular Netflix show. Games like this, and variations on them, are an easy way to foster creativity in children. Other options include I Spy, Charades, and the Pyramid game.
Another imagination activity is to have your kids put on a play. This requires them creating a plot and crafting their costumes and props. It also improves their communication skills along the way. This can also incorporate dance and music, which are shown to further improve cognitive development.
6. Get Building to Foster Creativity
Building sets like Lego, Magna-Tiles, Lincoln Logs, and K'Nex are all spectacular toys. These not only spark a kid's imagination, but they teach spatial reasoning, math skills, and they can boost concentration. Best of all, there are an endless number of designs that kids can make with these simple toys. In addition, don't forget about the classic pillow fort. This is always a fan favorite for both younger and older kids alike!
7. Mix Up Something Magical in the Kitchen
Cooking is an amazing activity for kids of all ages. No matter if you are planning on pizza, pasta, or a casserole for dinner, your kids can play a big part, while fostering creativity along the way. Choose an array of ingredients that would meld together nicely, no matter which selection they may choose for their dish.
For instance, if you are making pizza, grab a selection of sauces, cheeses, toppings, and spices, as well as a pre-baked crust. Then, let your kids get creative with their culinary concoction. No matter how you slice it, it will be delicious!
8. Sign Up for a Class That Sparks Creativity
Sometimes the best way to spark one's imagination is to let them try their hand at something new. Take your kids to a pottery class, sign up to make floral arrangements or Christmas wreaths, or take a professional cookie decorating course at your local bakery. These can be great bonding moments that allow your kids to learn and show off their creative side.
9. Try to Escape to Encourage Imagination
For the older kids who like solving puzzles, escape rooms can be a fantastic activity to try. Not only does an escape room test ingenuity, but it is a subtle way to work your kid's imagination. Do this as a family or let your kids try their hand at following the clues with their friends.
10. Get a Little Nerdy With Creative Science Activities
Science can be an amazing opportunity for helping your kids think outside of the box. Some great experiments and activities to try are to build a potato battery, grow a butterfly garden, and to make slime. And for the littler members of your family, have them help you make homemade play dough or teach them about rain and clouds with shaving cream, food coloring, and water. These projects may even inspire a love of science!
Techniques for Getting the Most Out of Creative Play
These activities are all great options for kids aged 18 months and up. However, in order to get the most out of these moments, also think about incorporating these tips as you and your children play:
- Ask your kids open-ended questions. These can be serious, silly, or something in between. Why do you think the sky is blue? What is your favorite color and why? What is something that scares you? These will not only help encourage your kids to think in new ways and encourage creativity, they will also start authentic conversations and help your kids feel more comfortable talking to you about anything.
- Engage all of your child's senses. Include a variety of textures in your crafts, turn on instrumental music during playtimes, and add movement to your child's activities to help build imagination in different ways.
- Limit their toys. Inspiration is most often found when a person is lacking something. Choose three to five options to play with each day. This will give them the opportunity to choose their preferred activity, while reinforcing out of the box thinking.
- Take your art outside! Let your kids decorate the sidewalk with chalk or paint garden rocks.
Encouraging Creativity in Your Kids Starts With You
Kids are creative creatures, but they don't always know where to start. That is where you come in! Find little ways to inspire your kids and look for opportunities for imaginative play in unexpected places. This can be as simple as making a maze out of your old moving boxes or as complex as taking a woodworking class. The goal should be to find creative activities for kids that allow them to learn new things and expand their horizons.