Easy ways to encourage creative learning

April 3, 2009 7:47:56 PM PDT
Easy things you can do at home to enrich your children's lives and encourage creative learning!
  1. Introduce open ended materials for children to incorporate into their play. Children use their imagination more when they have open ended materials to play with...blocks, tubes, boxes, fabric etc. These are all materials that a child can incorporate in to their play that foster imagination rather than dictate the context in which they should be playing. Recycle one large empty box from your house, add a few markers and/or some fabric and I guarantee you will watch children proceed with hours of imaginative play. Cheap, fun and green.

  2. Recycle and reuse your trash in art products. These products from everyday life that you might normally throw away can create wonderful art projects and in the process teach your child about helping the environment by reusing materials that would otherwise end up in our trash. We had one class which created a working box car out of an old vegetable crate, extra wheels from a shelving unit, an old computer keyboard, paper parasol, and some cardboard tubes and arches. The children first drew blue prints of what they wanted their car to look like and then went through our recycled materials center to find the supplies they needed.

  3. Bring dramatic play into the household. Imaginative/Dramatic play is not only something children naturally love to do but it is a wonderful way to bring creativity and imagination into your house. Engaging your child in dramatic play is also a great way to spend quality time with your child while taking the time to enter into their world.

  4. Bring nature into your house to incorporate into projects. Go out on a nature walk with your children and collect fun and unique treasures to bring home and make a natural art project. Teachers often bring natural materials into our classrooms both as objects of investigation and materials to use in projects. Natural materials can not only add texture and color to creative projects but are a great source of discussion about our natural surroundings. Pine needles add a new dimension to paintings when used as brushes, acorns and fallen seed pods and texture and unique imprints in a project.

  5. Children love to play and explore with dough. Many parents cringe at the idea of bringing playdough into their house. Parents have memories of "oldschool" playdough with harsh colors that stain and a texture that when dry can not be chiseled out of your carpets. Dough/clay is actually something that most children not only love but find theraputic and soothing. WE have often found that playing with dough can calm an anxious child. There are many fun recipes that can be used to make dough at home that is free of harsh smells and that will not stain or damage your house.

  6. Cook with your child. There are so many fun ways to be creative in the kitchen. Cooking is a great way to learn with your child. There are so many lessons to teach ranging from science, to math, to measuring, nutrition and art. It is also a great way to improve fine and gross motor skills. Ex. Seasonal nutrition, vegetable and fruit dies that create beautiful works of art, measuring, cracking, stirring and pouring.
About Michelle Lawton
Michelle Lawton is the founder of Stretch the Imagination. With two locations for Bay Area famillies, Stretch the Imagination incorporates art, yoga, music, and creative learning to enrich children's lives. See http://www.stretchtheimagination.com for spring and summer class and camp schedule.