See the world anew and write down the bones of it.
Creativity is a sign of the real genius that lies within us all. Children tend to learn quickly, and figure out how to apply their knowledge to their everyday life situations. But, inventing something new, creating something original, that is different. People always admire originality, whether it is original piece of artwork, an original story, or an invention that can make life easier for everyone.
So, how can we help our children keep their creative thinking? How do parents, and others, teach them the habit of thinking “outside the box”?
1. The crowd-sourced story. One person starts telling a story. They stop after a few sentences, and the next player continues the same story. There is no limit to the number of players. It is a great idea to also record the story, so that it can be distributed to the participants later, for the enjoyment of everyone. This is a very fun activity that trains your child, and for that matter, you too, to think creatively.
2. Picture series. The pictures that you can use for this activity can be taken from a book, from several books, from newspapers, or even downloaded from the Internet and printed on a home printer. Put the pictures next to each other, and let your child tell a story, using those pictures. You can take turns, your child and you, developing the story based on the pictures.
This game also has several variations. Place the pictures face down on the table, then turn them over one by one, to continue the story. You can gradually increase the speed of turning the pictures over, so that the story teller has to come up with the story continuation more quickly. When you are done with the set of pictures, change the order, and see if your child can come up with a different story, based on the new order.
3. Word series. Prepare a series of words written on cards. Play the same game as above. Tell a story using these words. You can also use the same variations.
4. Listen to a piece of classical music, and let your child tell you what kind of mood it inspires or creates. What kind of story does this music tell?
5. Mixed Media. Play a piece of music, and have your child paint a picture that shows the mood this music creates, or tells the story this music is telling.
6. Read together. When reading a book with your child, ask open ended and thought provoking questions like: How would you handle this situation? What could the character do differently? How do you think did the character feel?
7. Let’s pretend… together. Play “pretend” games with your child often, or use “role playing” with your child. When you read a story, ask your child to play the role of his favorite character.
8. Do a play. When your child has friends visiting, have them come up with a short play and perform it for the parents. This is always a fun activity for the children, and it also keeps them very busy. My children didn’t have to be coaxed into this type of activity. With or without friends they were always happy to put on a “show.” Sometimes the show was a musical with dancing and singing. Sometimes it was a play with acting parts and props. It gives them a precious time of your undivided attention, and this is what helps cement relationships.
9. Paint… outside the box. Encourage your child to paint a picture of an object. Then have him paint it in different colors. For example, ask your child to paint or draw a bunch of fruit. Then have him change the colors of all the fruit. Have a red banana, yellow apple and so forth.
10. Walk backward. Choose one day of the week, or weekend, and have all family members do their routine activities in a different way. For example, brush their teeth in a different way than usual. Take a different route to school. Sing instead of talking. Get up earlier, and play a new game. Walk backwards… Be creative, and encourage your child to be creative too.
11. Don’t ever discourage your child from using his or her imagination. If your child tells an imaginary story, praise them and acknowledge the creativity it took to come up with the ideas. If your child comes up with an original answer to a question, even if the answer is incorrect, acknowledge creative thinking. You can of course, explain why it is not the correct answer, but make the time to explore the thought process that went into the new and unexpected response.
These few easy and fun suggestions for activities will go a long way toward developing this very valuable skill of creative thinking in your child. Slight adjustments may be needed for your child’s age and skill.
Have fun, and enjoy! To your child’s creativity!