In my opinion, creativity is the real genius. Intelligent children learn fast and apply their knowledge in everyday life situations. But – inventing something new, creating something original, that is a real genius. I always admire originality, whether it is original artwork, an original story, or an invention that can make life easier for many people.
How can we teach our children creative thinking? How can we teach them the habit of thinking “outside the box”?
Here are a few easy and fun suggestions for activities that 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.
1. Play the following game: one person starts telling a story. He stops after a few sentences, and the next player continues his story. There is no limit to the number of players. It is a great idea to 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 you too, if you are participating) to think creatively.
2. Prepare a series of pictures. The pictures 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 can have several variations: put the pictures face down on the table, then turn them over one by one, to continue the story. Gradually increase the speed of turning the pictures over, so that the storyteller has to come up with the story continuation faster and faster. When you are done with a set of pictures, just change the order, and see if your child can come up with a different story, based on the new order.
3. Prepare a series of words written on cards. Play the same game – tell a story using these words. You can use the same variations as above.
4. Play a piece of classical music, and let your child tell you what kind of mood does this music create, what kind of story does this music tell?
5. 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. When your child comes up with a story in one of the previous activities, ask your child to change the story in order to change the mood. For example, if the story is sad – can he change the story to be happy? Can he change it to be a mystery? Can he change it to be a comedy or a funny story?
7. When reading a book with your child, always 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?
8. Print several pictures on paper. (You can use cardboard if you’d like to make the pieces more durable). Cut each picture into 9 parts (or more, if you want to make this game more complex). Now let your child put the pictures back together. After putting all pieces back together into the original pictures, you can mix the pieces, so that your child can create new pictures, combining pieces from different pictures. Start with two pictures mixed together, and advance to more and more pictures. Start with bigger pieces, cutting the picture into 4 parts only, and advance to smaller and smaller pieces, cutting the picture into more and more pieces. Also, use more and more complicated pictures, that include more details.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Choose a day a week, 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 way to school. Sing instead of talking. Get up earlier, and play a new game. Walk backward… Be creative, and encourage your child to be creative too.
13. Don’t ever discourage your child from using his imagination. If your child tells an imaginary story, always praise him and acknowledge the creativity. If your child comes up with an original answer to a question, even if the answer is incorrect, acknowledge creative thinking.
14. Keep your eyes open for any signs of creativity and originality. Always praise and encourage these traits.
Have fun, and enjoy! To your child’s creativity!