“Creativity is just connecting things,” Steve Jobs
Living in an artistic community, such as Venice, parents may be prone to want to foster creativity in children. Although some children are born with a natural inclination to use their imagination and think outside the box, other children can benefit from activities that expand a creative mindset.
Parents can try some of these activities at home. Some are so easy you can do them at a restaurant while waiting for dinner. Here are a few you may not have tried yet.
1. Story Prompts. It’s a simple, engaging activity. The child or the parent can give the other participant a name with an occupation, something that happens, and each person takes turns making up a story. Parents can encourage children to ask questions about the story and develop problem-solving techniques.
2. Doodle line stories. You doodle a line on a piece of paper and have the other participant turn it into something. This activity can spark imagination. It uses simple materials and can result in some unexpected creations.
3. Foldover art or Foldover stories. You take a piece of blank paper and fold it accordion style from top to bottom four times, leaving some white at the bottom. In Foldover stories, you put a few words at the bottom, and the next participant adds a few more words and then folds the paper, so only those words are shown. Finally, after four rounds, you read out the story. In foldover art, often each person also takes turns. The first person draws the head and shoulders, folds and hides it, the next person draws the torso, and the next person draws the upper legs, and last, someone draws the lower legs, and when you unfold it and see what’s been created.
Here are a few options to take advantage of technology or use items that you may have in your home already.
4. Video Games. A study at Michigan State University discovered that video games foster creativity in children, whether the games are violent or nonviolent. Gamification is linked to improving this skill set by providing opportunities for increased attention and participation.
5. Free play. Take a break from striving for perfection, and try some unstructured play. Make an activity out of coloring outside of the lines. Next, you can add shading or add texture by gluing other materials to a picture. Children can think of what other objects they can layer onto, turning a flat image to make more dimensions. Other ideas include creating a space for LEGO play or dress-up or a play area to use play dough, clay or slime. These activities let children take risks and focus less on being right.
6. Create with restrictions Sometimes placing restrictions on art play can give children tools they need to expand their thought processes and use what experts call divergent thinking. For example, create a painting using only three colors. Having color limits can show children how mixing colors can expand a color palette and how coming up with ways to use non-traditional colors for certain animal or human features can still work.
Creativity is not a skill set restricted to artists; it’s a skill that can be cultivated.
Guiding children to develop their creativity can expand their mindset and become a useful tool in all of their future aspirations. Whether your child wants to focus on art, math, science, biology, engineering, languages, the tech world, NFTs, creating computer software or something else, creativity and divergent thought skills can encourage children to dream bigger and create more
*A version originally published in Venice Living Magazine. Photo Credit: Sadie