It seems like these days children are getting less chances to just be creative. Their days are filled with structured school work, T.V., video games, and electronic toys that do the thinking for them. The idea that children are just not as creative as they used to be was actually proven in a recent 2010 study done by Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary. She found that children these days find it harder to produce unique and unusual ideas, and are less imaginative. While IQ scores are slowly rising with each generation, a phenomenon known as the Flynn Effect, creativity scores have been doing the opposite since 1990. Here are some things to help encourage creativity in your school-aged child.
Blank Book or Journal
A blank book invites creativity with its endless blank pages. Get one with lined pages to encourage your child to write more, or get one with unlined pages to encourage your child to draw. A fun pen or set of colored pencils will complete the gift, and hopefully encourage your child to let out their imagination.
When they were younger, a bunch of my cousins and siblings got into making "movies". Armed with my Aunt's video camera, they wrote, directed, and acted in their own recorded movies. They turned out pretty funny, and attested to the potential creativeness of kids if they're given the right materials!
It seems that so many of today's toys don't leave too much room for a child's own imagination and creativity. But there are definitely toys out there for children that will encourage their creativity. One time-tested favorite is building blocks. Not the building sets that tell you what to make that are so popular today, just the big bucket of an assortment of different shapes and sizes of building blocks. Another good creativity-building "toy" is simply popsicle sticks. Set your child up with some popsicle sticks, glue, something to color with, and watch him get to work! Jewelry-making kits, especially ones that leave most of the design decisions to your child, are also a good idea.
Reading a lot is an excellent creativity-building hobby. It's been said that books can open up whole new worlds to a person. Wouldn't T.V. serve the same purpose? Not necessarily. Books force you to imagine what the characters look and sound like, and what the scenes are like, rather than in movies where it's all laid out for you. So provide your child with lots of age appropriate books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Game Idea: Bag Plays
I played these as a kid with my family, and now as a Girl Scout troop leader with my scouts. You'll need to gather about 5 random objects and put them in a bag. Next, you'll need to write down several people ideas (like clowns, football players, astronauts, babies) and several scene ideas (like 'at the playground', 'in French class', or 'in an antiques museum') Fold up the pieces of paper with the people ideas and scene ideas, and let each group randomly pick one of each. Then they have to make a play about whatever subject they've gotten (farmers on the moon, lawyers at a carnival, etc.) using the 5 props they have in their bag.
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