Kids can be incredibly creative, especially if we give them the opportunity to do so. Have you seen how many ways a child can find to play with a cardboard box?
Here are some fun ways you can encourage creativity in your kiddo:
Have craft supplies available
My boys almost always have craft supplies available. This doesn’t mean they get free reign of any and all craft supplies we have -that stresses me out just thinking about it! I shared on Instagram last week what my husband and I woke up to when my two older boys found their way into my paint supplies!
But, I keep out a certain amount of supplies that they can do whatever they want with, including scissors, glue, construction paper, and crayons and colored pencils. They often come up with really interesting things to create and play with. I shared in this post how we organize our craft supplies.
Open ended toys
Giving your kids open-ended toys is a great way to encourage creativity and imagination. Legos are my particular favorite open-ended toy (even as an adult!). My favorite memories growing up are building elaborate Lego cities and spaceships with my brother.
Legos are so versatile and fun. We really enjoy big Lego sets like these to add in with the Legos from the regular sets. You get a bunch of interesting pieces to get creative with.
If you have kids that really love building with Legos, I’d highly recommend a book like The Lego Ideas Book. You can often find books like these in the library. It can inspire a ton of ideas in your kids with what they can do with Lego. Another favorite is the Lego Chain Reactions book. We bought this for one of our nephews, and the projects looked like so much fun!
We have a card table set up in our boys room where our boys keep their Legos. It’s not a perfect solution, and I’m still brainstorming ideas to make an “ideal” Lego play area and storage for them (I have a whole board on Pinterest where I’m collecting ideas and other Lego fun), but it works well for now.
Limit the Toys
Having a dozen (or more!) open ended toys available doesn’t do much good if it just overwhelms your kiddo. Since our kids were really little, we intentionally limited the number of toys they have available to play with. At first, it was out of necessity. We’ve lived in some tiny spaces! (Remind me to tell you about we lived in a house with 6 adults and 7 kids total! Our bed + baby’s crib took up our whole room!) But even when we moved into a bigger space, we’ve tried to keep the toys from taking over.
We do a fairly simple toy rotation. We keep very few toys out – Legos (regular and Duplos), some figures and a castle, and a few dress-up items. And we always keep books and craft supplies out.
We keep a couple bins in the closet with the extra toys. We’re really picky about what we keep. Every few months, I’ll pull out our bin of toys, and the boys can pick what they want to put away and what they want to take out. I’d say we probably keep about 25% of our toys out at a time.
A long while back, I had read Ruth’s (Living Well Spending Less) post about taking all her girls’ toys away. One week, the boys had been fighting a lot, and I asked my husband what he thought about me taking the toys away for a week. We ended up putting all the toys away except for Legos, books, craft supplies, and cardboard boxes.
While it certainly didn’t cure the fighting (if there are two cardboard boxes in the house, my kids will manage to fight over one of them), it definitely improved things and it was so neat to see how much our boys found to do with what they had. We slowly put toys back in their room over the course of the next few weeks, but we ended up with even less in there than before, and they are super happy.
Give Them Opportunities to Explore
Part of encouraging creativity in kids is just letting them explore the world around them. Be willing to slow down and let them examine things. Step back and let them figure things out on their own. From finding neat things on walks outside to letting them take apart old electronics, there’s a whole bunch of amazing things that can inspire kids to think and learn.
For us, part of this means letting our boys use technology for creative things. They love to build things in Minecraft. And while back, I introduced Malcolm to a 3-D modeling program called TinkerCad. It’s a very basic 3-D program, and is a great place to start learning 3-D modeling. Malcolm had so much fun exploring how it worked.
Being Willing to Create with Them
For those of you who are creative, it might be easy to sit along side your kids and do crafts. You might love digging up fun projects to do on Pinterest.
But, there are some who get stressed out at the idea of even doing crafts. You envision glitter everywhere, and the big stress of a mess.
Crafts don’t have to be elaborate. Being creative with your kids doesn’t have to mean 20 different supplies and complex crafts. Sometimes just sitting down and doing a watercolor picture with them would brighten their day. Maybe you cut out some random shapes out of construction paper and glue it down to make a picture. Maybe you just scribble with crayon. Maybe you just print out a simple printable craft and do that for 10 minutes. I have a great round-up of simple printable crafts here.
I’m a huge (huge!) fan of Kumon books. I can’t tell you how much Malcolm loved his Kumon Book Of Easy Crafts. And I loved the fact that when he asked to do a craft, all I had to do was pull out the book and hand him a page from it and he was all set!
Being creative doesn’t have to be elaborate. And it doesn’t have to be stressful. Doodling on some silly pages like this can be all it takes to be creative with your kids.
So don’t stress. Enjoy yourself a little. Glue can get scrubbed off. Crayon can be wiped off the walls (trust me…I’ve done it!). Scraps can be swept or vacuumed. Even when things go horribly awry (did you catch that picture from Instagram above?), it can be cleaned up. Encourage your kids to explore and be creative, and have some fun doing the same yourself.
How do you encourage creativity in your own kids?
P.S. Stay tuned for a post about encouraging creativity in yourself!