Encouraging Creativity at Home

Chalk

I’ll never forget the day when my first born was about 2 years old and he grabbed some wet red chalk that we had been using on paper and headed for the chalk board. The words,”Don’t you dare write on the chalk board with that chalk!” flew out my mouth. As they did so I couldn’t help but notice the obserdity at what I was saying. The reasoning was that wet, red chalk is a mission to clean up BUT he was exploring and discovering and learning and here I was qualified remedial teacher and all standing in his way.

8 years later I daily make it my aim to make our home as “free” as possible. Don’t get me wrong we have very clear boundaries but when it comes to creativity, exploring and learning our rules are simple – “No one is to get hurt (this includes any verbal nastiness, nothing gets broken and you clean up your mess.” Wow these new boundaries freed me as Mom and my kids to be kids they were revolutionary!

However we do still try to create other circumstances which encourage creativity and here are a few easy ideas that you can simply slip into your daily life.

  • Make up stories together. As you drive along and see an old lady and her dog. Who are they? Where are they going? What secrets do they have?
  • As you walk along create new and weird animals and plants.
  • At bedtime create new lands filled with wonderful creatures and characters. We used to live in a place called Albert Falls that had a huge dam. Lord Dad created a whole world for our knights around the Giant Chicken of Albert Falls. They have so many adventures and character ranging from the chicken to a toe called Joe!  It’s all crazy, silly but the boys are learning to create stories and think beyond their daily reality.Create an imaginary play area while the children are asleep. So when they wake they find the dining room table has been transformed by a blanket slung over it, and it filled with pillows and books into a mysterious hide out.
  • Let children be creative with their food. For snack time you can give them pieces of fruit and toothpicks and see what creatures they can make with them. Or use a sieve to spread icing sugar on a table and let them use their fingers to “draw” in it.
  • Provide them with a variety of instruments – even if they are homemade – and let them explore with sound.
  • Let them mix different things such as mud, pasta and flour together. Take some time to make some gloop – this is such fun that my 14yr old even wants to stay home from school to play with it.
  • Don’t always tell or explain things, let them figure things out for themselves.
  • Give them different bath toys – some that sink and some that float, add food colouring to their bath water – but only a little as it can give them a rash. If you feeling very brave and don’t mind scrubbing it clean as it may stain let them draw in the bath with chalk.
  • Make gifts, wrapping paper and cards rather than relying on purchased ones.
  • Plan outings and events together.
  • Let them arrange flowers to set on the table.

The lists are endless so the best thing to remember is to try and step back – give them space to think and explore and discover for themselves and this is the essence of creativity being sparked in their minds. The only real limitation being us providing our children with the freedom and time to create.

 

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String Painting

Recently we had great fun doing “string painting.” I put some paint into old meat trays and a piece of string for each child, in each tray.


Once they were sitting down they were each given a piece of paper and I put down one tray. They each took a piece of string and streaked it or twirled it around their page. Once that colour was done I gave them the next colour. This was simply to prevent them from mixing all the colours and ending up with a brown page. If I had only used 2 primary colours I may have given them to them at the same time to witness colour mixing! We worked our way through each colour and produced some wonderful pictures. Something I learned was that the string must not be too long as they find it difficult to handle.

This activity is a fantastic one as it not only encourages creativity but introduces exposure to texture and friction. It develops fine motor skills and figure ground discrimination. The figure ground development in this case is interesting as they are actually witnessing the building of layer upon layer. After the activity it’s interesting to ask them what colour we used first and where is that colour now? Or “how come the red is under all the other colours?”

Taking Forever Pictures

Today we attended Art in the Park. An event that gathers together the top artists in South Africa and they sell their art work in a park. As it’s autumn it’s the park is covered in leaves and it is a beautiful outing.

I always go home feeling inspired and uplifted. Today however I realised something else. I realised that the pictures that really pull at my heart are not the pictures painted by these wonderful artists. Instead it is the forever pictures painted within my mind. The pictures of my children playing in the leaves, my wonderful hubby reading Bible stories at bed time, my girls putting their dolls to bed and a family picnic at the dam.

So I didn’t come home with any paintings (which would have cost me a few thousand rands) instead I have a my own new personal gallery. It includes a picture of my son playing his violin beneath the autumn leaves and my 3 year olds grinning up at me squinting through their new sunglasses. All of which cost me nothing more than taking the time to notice.

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