Yesterday I introduced The ABC's of Imaginative Play, a five day series with tips and ideas for fostering creativity and imagination in children. Today with the letters A - E the focus is on CREATIVITY.
Imaginary play begins with creativity. Children are naturally imaginative creatures. They see the world with different eyes than we do. They see possibilities and opportunities. As adults we can foster their imaginations or inadvertently stifle them. With CREATIVITY as the theme for the day I want to focus on ways we can nurture and encourage creative thinking.
A is for art. We do art almost every day around here. Art should not be confused with crafts. Crafts are awesome, and we do a lot of those, too. Art is open ended and free with an emphasis on imagination. There is no fixed outcome.
Some of our favorite art experiences:
We foster a love for art in our house by making a variety of supplies available to our boys to create when and how their minds desire. JZ (5) and J-Bug (3) know where they are allowed to paint and do messy art, and they clean up after themselves afterwards. They also know to ask for help when they aren't sure what to do.
Painting and making collages are their favorite, so those supplies are most accessible to them. There are also plenty of crayons, markers, glitter, scissors and within their reach or within easy reach with a step stool.
I leave their supplies within reach on purpose. I want them free to paint or create when they are in the mood, not just when I am in the mood. By giving them control I am also giving them responsibility. It is up to them to clean supplies and pick up after themselves. By giving them freedom and responsibility I am also giving them confidence. They know I trust them with these supplies and that I believe they are capable. In turn, they also believe they are capable.
If you're looking for ideas to expand your art supply, I wrote a post about the Best Art Supplies for Kids.
B is for books. If you take one tip away from this series I want it to be this one: Read to your children every single day. Reading is the best thing you can do to encourage creativity and imagination. Every time they open a book they are lost in a world of fantasy. Characters grab them and give them a different point of view. Settings paint a picture for them of worlds not yet visited, worlds they may never visit except in their imagination.
Read every day, several times a day. Choose a variety of books and authors. Store books where children can reach them and consider putting a comfy chair close by, so they will curl up and read or look at picture books on their own.
A great way to learn about different authors it by following the Virtual Book Club for Kids. Authors we have explored so far:
C is for creativity, the theme of the day. Encourage creativity during play by throwing the rules out the window. No I don't mean your children don't need any rules, I mean throw out the rules of play. Toys shouldn't be limited to one function. With imagination a boat can become a UFO, a stick can become a magic want, and a cardboard box can become a dollhouse. Encourage children to color outside the lines. Specifically what I mean is, don't use color sheets. Instead, offer a blank canvas for your child to create a masterpiece from her own imagination. Leave the expectations for play low, so a child's imagination has to do the work. Too many toys and too many plans can get in the way of real play.
D is for dress up. We save all our old Halloween costumes and store them with the boys' toys, so they can dress up and fall into character whenever the mood strikes. At any given time we have a pirate, fireman, dragon, and even Buzz Lightyear in the house!
We also have a bin of props full of pirate props, shields, masks, and more. A prop bin doesn't have to break the bank. A few of our favorite items came from a birthday party last year. Each party guest got to decorate a cardboard shield. They were also given homemade capes. Those are two of their favorite props!
E is for every moment, because every moment can be an opportunity for imaginative play. We schedule many aspects of our days, but we don't pencil in imaginative play. That just happens. Allowing for flexibility leaves plenty of time to engage in imaginative play with our children when they get lost in a moment of fantasy.
Stay tuned tomorrow for letters F - J!
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