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Resource centre - Toddlers & Older Kids
Kiddies – ways to spark there imaginations
it seems like every toy and every children’s program focuses
on education, not creativity.
You can still foster the creative spark. Start by tweaking
your attitude: while rules and statements such as, "No,
no, the sky should be blue," can halt creative thinking,
being open and non-judgmental encourages it.
And don’t be concerned that focusing on creativity will
leave education behind. In fact, creative children are
often better learners. "Creativity lets children develop
their skills in a way that works for them," says Karen
Halpern, a speech pathologist and creator of Thumbprint
Adventures, a creative play-based program in Toronto.
Her own six-year-old, for instance, can do basic multiplication:
she figured it out on her own through playing.
Whether your goal is to raise the next Einstein, or just
have a youngster who can tolerate long rainy days, here
are five ways to light the creative fire under your child.
If you’re finding that every night of the week is packed
with soccer practice, piano lessons and tutoring, consider
opening up some time for free play. "Just relax and let
your children play as children," says Halpern. Avoid toys
that can only be played one way or come with a long list
of instructions. Instead, opt for things such as building
blocks, dough, crayons and paper or just kitchen utensils.
"Free play is about letting children solve their own problems,
as opposed to showing them what the answer is," she says.
For ages 3-5
• Unexpected toys. Grab a pile of household thing — spoons,
cotton balls, toilet paper rolls — and toss them in the
middle of the floor. For even more novelty, mix this grab-bag
with toys that are normally kept in a different room.
• Obstacle course. In the yard or at the park, set up
an example obstacle course to start. (Maybe swing once
on the swing, take five hops, run in a circle, then make
a little sculpture out of nearby leaves.) Then let your
child set up his own course that you and others must follow.
For ages 6-9
• Act it out. Suggest your child and siblings or friends
perform a play or TV show. Give them paper to make tickets,
set a time you’ll able available to watch, then let them
get to rehearsal. (And don’t set up a stage: they’ll figure
that out themselves.)
For ages 9-11
• Create a game. Pull out all the family games and suggest
you child create his own, either using all original materials,
or pulling ideas and props from existing games. Suggest
he write out the rules and agree to play when he’s done.
The greatest thing about being creative with music is
how much fun it is. "It’s immediate, the response kids
have," says Mike Whitla, director of Rainbow Songs, a
pre-school music program. Encourage your child to sing
(and make up their own words or use funny voices), dance
and try their hand at various instruments. And remember
that the more children learn about music — how it works,
how to play an instrument — the more they’ll be able to
creatively experiment with it.
For ages 3-9
• Expose them. World music is structured differently from
western music, so playing it for your children opens their
minds to music’s endless possibilities.
• Get into it. When you’re listening to world music, encourage
your child to move to the music. Certain pieces are actually
inspired by animals, so suggest your child move or make
sounds like the animals they hear. (Remember, there’s
no right or wrong way to move or sound like a lion, and
what sounds like an elephant to you might be a duck to
For ages 9-11
• Invent your own. Set up your children to fashion a guitar
from a shoebox or tissue box. Cut an oval hole in the
middle of the shoebox lid or the top of the tissue box.
Pull a few different thickness of rubber bands across
the box and put a pencil under the bands on one side.
Decorate it if you like, or just play it.
Every child loves books, and every parent loves a child
who reads: they’ll do well in school. But books and stores
are also a great source of creative fun. When children
learn they have the ability to take stories off the page,
they feel empowered to let their own amazing ideas take
over. Children of almost any age have the ability to
compose their own tales, they just need some encouragement
For ages 3-6
• Listen and learn. Start by telling your pre-schooler
stories. Anything that comes to mind: a personal story
inspired by a book or a tale of your own childhood.
• Little tales. As you’re reading books, suggest to your
child that she tell you what the turtle did the next day,
or what she thinks happens after the books ends.
For ages 6-9
• Imagine a story. Give your child a character, object
and place and have them create a story. You can also get
your child to write their story down or make illustrations
For ages 9-11
• Play with stories. Your child’s bound to have a favourite
book or two, so have them take that story off the page.
Have them create a costume for their favourite character,
host a theme party or just have a dinner with food inspired
by the book.
Isn’t doing crafts just creative by nature? Not
always. Choose hand-on projects that include a component
that your child contributes. Sometimes that’s as basic
as choosing the colours they wish (No, the sky does not
have to be blue!), or doing a project where you don’t
have to follow the instructions word-for-word to get a
By Diane Peters