“A child’s mind is not a container to be filled but rather a fire to be kindled.” – Dorothea Brande
To kindle that fire, parents need to ensure that their children are continuously engaged in activities that arouse their imagination and keep their creative juices flowing. In Part 1 of this series, we bring you creative activities for your preschool and primary school child.
For Preschoolers and Primary schoolers (Ages 3 – 9 years)
- Splashes and blotches: Assign a corner of your home for this activity. It can get messy; so, be prepared to clean up. Also, ensure that there aren’t too many objects or pieces of furniture in this area. Mix different colours of paint in a palette or in different bowls. Spread sheets of paper on the floor. Get your little one to splash paint on the sheets using his hands or tiny bowls. He can even use old toothbrushes to create a spray painting. If you don’t mind, you can even let your child splash paint on the walls of the corner.
- Catwalk: Let your child do a catwalk down the hallway imitating the walk of animals or birds. She can strut like a rooster, leap like a frog, crawl like a turtle, jump like a monkey, and so on. Let her be as imaginative as she can in her imitation.
- Twitter chit-chat: This can be a group activity for little ones. They can imitate bird calls and engage in chit-chat amongst themselves. Be prepared to hear tweets, chirps and caws! You can then ask them to translate the conversation they had.
- Cloud kaleidoscope: Ask your child to mention as many patterns as he can by observing the shapes of clouds. If one cloud seems to be a dinosaur, another one may appear to be a little bunny, and yet another one like a funny old man. Let your child give a free rein to his imagination and go cloud-watching.
- Shadow play: This game can be played with the lights off and candles or tiny lamps lit up. Ensure candles are in proper holders and do not pose any risk to your child. Form different shapes using your fist/fingers and allow their shadows to be cast on the wall. Let your child guess the shape by looking at the shadow. You can form a dog, a cat, a crow, a crocodile and so on. You can even use props for extra effect.
- Jiggety-jig: Play some music and, together with your little one, do a little jig. You can come up with creative steps as you sway to the music and dance away merrily.
- Keepsakes: Choose any theme and help your child collect pictures from old magazines. Let her then stick the pictures in an album or scrapbook. Not just pictures, even leaves, shells and other collectibles can go into the album. All her albums can serve as keepsakes or can be even given as gifts.
- Puppetry: Stick puppets, glove puppets, finger puppets… the list can go on and on. Arrange a get-together of your child’s friends or cousins. Provide them the necessary materials and help them to create puppets. You can work around a theme – a fairy tale, a social awareness message, and so on. Once done, they can put up a puppet show for the family or community.
- Role-play: Give different situations to your child and let him take turns enacting it along with his friends or neighbourhood kids. A conversation between an astronaut and an alien, a favourite cartoon character interviewing a sportsperson, an interaction between Batman and Superman - all these can serve as healthy creative pastimes.
- Fancy dress: For birthday parties and other family get-togethers, this can serve as a good creative outlet for your child. Plan the character she will play in advance and help her get the costume and props ready. Everyone in the family can be dressed up to suit a theme or can be hidden behind a mask so that the others will have to guess who it is. All this will add to the fun element.
- Music time: Whether it is kitchen utensils or the writing desk, anything can be used by your child to belt out a tune. Just give her a pair of ladles or spoons; she can tap them rhythmically on any object and, voila, there’ll be music!
- Doodles and scribbles: Encourage your child to engage in freehand drawing. Even doodling and scribbling should do. Let him unleash his creativity on paper and allow shapes to form out of squiggles.
- Art from waste: Encourage your child to reuse and recycle to create works of art. Pieces of cardboard, empty cartons, plastic bottles, lids, CDs – practically anything can be used by your little one for his craft work.
- Pebble and shell art: Wondering what to do with all those pebbles and shells your child picked up on visits to the beach? Let him turn them into pieces of art. He can paint them, dip them in glitter paint, stick them on cardboard to form shapes and patterns, and so on.
- Collage: Make your child put together a collage using anything of his choice – pictures, parts of pictures, photographs, pieces of fabric, beads and so on. Frame his work and display in your drawing room. Also, as a family, attempt a big collage.
- Comic strip: What fun if your child can make her own comic strips (a change from watching cartoon shows)! Begin with familiar stories such as the Aesop’s Fables or Fairy Tales; take one scene at a time. Help your child draw the pictures first and colour them. Then, she can paste them in sequence in an album or chart. Next, she can draw speech bubbles above the pictures. Finally, she can write the dialogues inside the bubbles.
- Mould and sculpt: Using playdough or slightly damp flour, your little one can mould as many shapes and images as he wants to. He can even sculpt figures from pieces of chalk.
- Arts and crafts: There’s so much your child can do by way of arts and crafts - greeting cards, book markers, pencil holders, stationery pouches and so on. Virtually anything can be used to create these – chart, cardboard, empty boxes, plastic containers, and so on.
- Marbling and printing: Simple techniques such as these can keep your little one’s creativity going. He can add different colours of paint to a bowl of water and dip little cards, shells, pebbles and so on in it for the marbling activity. For printing, he can dip cut portions of vegetables such as ladies finger or capsicum in paint and press them onto chart paper.
- Gardening: Maintaining a flower pot on a window sill, taking care of a patch in the backyard, being in charge of hanging pots in the balcony, growing plants in a bottle, setting up a terrarium, growing bonsai plants – the list of gardening activities can be endless. Let your child enjoy being close with nature as she expresses her creativity.
- Walking: This can be not only for physical exercise but also for observation and thought. When you go on a walk with your child, encourage her to question you on what she notices. Remember, curiosity is the first step to unleashing creativity.
- Assembly challenge: Choose toys which can be dismantled and put together. After dismantling them, encourage your child to come up with creative ways of putting them back together. Of course, be prepared to end up with weird and funny-looking toys!
- Make-believe play: Engage in pretend play with your child by imagining you are out on the beach, on a shopping spree and so on. Take up roles and enact the scenes. Then swap the roles for more fun.
- Origami: Sheets of paper and a pair of scissors are enough to create Origami art. For variety, go in for different types and colours of paper. For very young children, do not permit them to handle the pair of scissors. But, involve them in deciding what shape to cut, and in folding and unfolding the art work.
- Flower arrangement: A bunch of flowers and flower vases – your child can go creative in decking up your home. If you can get real flowers, that’ll be wonderful (and even more if it is from your own garden); or else, you can get artificial ones. Let your child think of innovative ways of arranging the flowers and showcasing them.
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