Wondering how to channel your preteen or teen’s extra energy in the right direction? Here are some exciting creative activities for him.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.” — Albert Einstein
Go ahead and give your child this preview by giving a free rein to his imagination. The creative activities for your preteen and teen in Part 2 of this series, will help you in this.
26. Spin-a-yarn: An ideal group activity, this can be the perfect avenue for your teen to take off on flights of fantasy. Write down different words on chits of paper and shuffle them up. Get your child and his friends or cousins to sit together. Each child should have a turn in drawing out a chit and reading aloud the word. The child should then begin reeling out a story using that word. For example, if the word is ‘alien’, the child should narrate a story involving an alien. A variation of this activity can be had with spinning a story based on a key character such as ‘the White Rabbit’ from ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Hermione Granger’ from ‘The Harry Potter series’, or ‘Aslan’ from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. Whoever keeps spinning the story non-stop will be declared the winner.
27. Stunning murals: What better way to give vent to creativity than painting on a wall? Allocate a portion of the wall of any of the rooms in your house for this purpose. Let your teen decide which mural technique he wants to go in for — stencilling, sponging, stippling, glazing and so on (there are online tutorials for each technique). Get him the necessary brushes and paint. And, let him exhibit his creativity through a stunning mural. Of course, you may need to help him do the prepping (clean the wall to remove any dirt or stains; scrape the paint off, if required; apply a coat of primer). And, remember to seal the mural with varnish or polish once done. This would be an ideal activity when you are painting or renovating your house.
28. Jingle all the way: With television commercials constantly screaming for attention, why not encourage your adolescent to come up with jingles for different products or even concepts? This again, can be a group activity when friends or relatives come over.
29. Wordsmith: Why don’t you get your preteen to come up with catchy slogans? For important days and weeks such as ‘World Environment Day’, ‘Say No to Plastic Week’ and so on, let her come up with witty and thought-provoking slogans. You can put them up in your residential campus or on your Facebook/Whatsapp/Twitter posts.
30. If I were a …: You can ask your teen to imagine being someone or something and write down his thoughts. “If I were a butterfly…,”, “If I were a smart phone…,” — topics such as these can be interesting take-offs for your child’s dreams.
31. Wordsworth: Good-old poems can always serve as the perfect outlet for creativity. You can choose topics from day-to-day happenings, simple household objects or personal experiences and ask your preteen to pen poems. Take care not to restrict her style. She can even go in for free rhyme.
32. DIY time: Get your child innovative DIY kits and let him spend his time usefully and, at the same time, in a creative manner. Sample kits could be a terrarium kit, cell phone case kit, gift pouch kit and so on.
33. Mimic away: Your teen can get creative with her voice by trying out mimicry. She can attempt to copy the voice of famous personalities, the cries and calls of various animals and birds, or even the sounds of vehicles. Using variations in rhythm, tone, pitch and volume, and adopting proper voice modulation and intonation, she can entertain family and friends during get-togethers.
34. Pant-o-mime: Perfect for school club activities, family parties and weekends with friends, pantomime can serve as healthy entertainment. Along with his peers, your preteen can put up a pantomime act on a theme of his choice — Shakespeare’s plays, social and civic awareness skits, funny scenes and so on. As this form of presentation involves using facial expressions and gestures to express emotions, your child’s creativity will develop.
35. Super chef: Where else can creativity be more evident than in the kitchen? Let your teen choose the type of cooking he wants to try his hand at — baking, grilling, toasting and so on. He can either come up with his own recipes or follow a recipe but give a twist to it (for example: peanut butter and coconut noodles, fruit and nut dosa). Not just cooking, even in presenting the food and laying the table, your teen can display his creative skills.
36. Ooh…la…la: Is your child good at singing? Why not ask her to write the lyrics for her songs and set them to tune too? You can even record the songs and upload them for all the world to hear your li’l nightingale!
37. Dear diary: Encourage your teen to jot down his thoughts in a journal. Teach him to observe everyday happenings around him and record his reactions to the same. Apart from proving to be cathartic, diary writing will get his creative juices flowing.
38. The orator: Writing down and practising speeches, and debating help your child hone her oral communication skills. Enrol her in literary clubs and ensure she participates in elocution and oratorical competitions, moot courts and other engaging activities, where her speaking skills can be fine-tuned.
39. Gardenia: If your child has green fingers, gardening can be the perfect outlet to unleash his creativity. A tiny patch all for himself in your backyard, a few pots in the balcony or terrace, or even a few indoor plants can serve the purpose. Give him a free rein in arranging the plants — hanging pots, step garden, etc.
40. Read and be merry: So, your child is a bookworm? And, you’re wondering how to satiate her hunger for books, books and even more books. School and public libraries, reading circles and clubs, can all prove helpful. Of course, you can also gift her books on special days so that she can build her own little library. And, she will always have a place to go to whenever she wants to take off to fantasy land!
41. Through the lens: If Alice went through the looking-glass to Wonderland, your child can work magic through his lens. Yes, get him clicking away at anyone and anything of interest to him, and designing his own album. If need be, you can even enrol him in a photography course.
42. Motion pic: Go one step further and engage your teen in shooting videos. She can begin with her mobile and go on to using a video-cam. Family parties, community activities, nature walk — all these can offer enough scope for shooting creative videos.
43. Blog it: If your teen is tired of the conventional diary, let him go the virtual way and log his observations, thoughts and experiences. But, caution him on online safety and etiquette.
44. Sketch and shade: The simple pencil can unleash your preteen’s creativity. Get her to do simple pencil sketches and shade them. She can also go in for thematic sketches to create an album.
45. Wield a brush: Set up an easel, lay out a palette, open up bottles of paint and get your young artist to play with colours. Painting can keep him engaged for hours and satisfy his creative urges. Whether it is on paper, chart, glass or fabric, whether it is using water, poster or oil colours, painting can be a healthy pastime. This creative activity can also be a family affair, with each family member painting a portion of a scenery or an event.
46. Fruit and veg art: Not just on an easel, art can be on a platter too. Get your preteen to carve and sculpt fruits and vegetables into various shapes and figurines. They can serve as decorative salad when you have guests for dinner.
47. Community E-zine: Let your teen get his friends in the neighbourhood and together let them compile an online ‘community magazine’ (a crash course for basic publishing and design software will come in handy here). This can be done on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, with the young reporters filing news, events and happenings in their locality along with other interesting snippets.
48. Mel-o-drama: Get your child to put on the director’s hat and write, script and direct a play. This can be a fun creative task to engage in with friends or cousins. Designing the set and putting up the props can also prove as outlets for creative energy.
49. Event management: Give your teen the opportunity to plan and manage family or community events such as birthday bashes, moonlight dinners, farewell parties or musical evenings. Involve her in every aspect of the event — drawing up the guest list, planning the menu, listing out the programme, emceeing, etc. Apart from being creative, this activity can also hone your teen’s interpersonal and organising skills.
50. Order…Order: Setting his desk or room in order can in itself be a creative exercise for your teen. He can even rearrange the furniture in creative ways. And, once done, he can go about fitting out his room aesthetically by recycling waste products.
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj