Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 15th-April 21st is World Creativity and Innovation Week (WCIW)!!! What might be all the ways to celebrate creativity with your children this month?

By Dr. Cyndi Burnett
Associate Professor

WCIW is a global celebration of our natural ability to create. It is about “celebrating our ability to get new ideas, use imagination, and make new decisions to make the world a better place, and to make your place in the world better too.” The wonderful thing about WCIW is that you can celebrate your creativity anywhere.

To jumpstart your creativity, I wanted to provide you with twenty-one things you can do this month to celebrate creativity with the children in your life. Many of these ideas are taken from a book I am currently co-developing with Michaelene Dawson. The book is called, “My Sandwich is a Spaceship: Creative Thinking for Parents and Kids.”

1.              Teach your children your favorite childhood game. If it is a board game, go online and see if you can find it, and treat your family!
2.              Create a curiosity tree or corner in your house where you can post all of you and your children’s questions (post-its work great!). Talk about the questions over meals.
3.              Take a day to mindfully play with your children. Turn off TVs, cell phones, and computers, pack a picnic and go to a small park. Get lost in the park, daydream, and spend time being totally present. Notice new things around you in the park.
4.              Eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Completing tasks out of sequence has demonstrated higher levels of creative thinking. Let your children pick the meals.
5.              Get a big professional canvas (Michael’s or Joanne Fabrics has many sizes), put on your painting clothes (make sure you have a spare set of clothes and washcloths on hand), pick up some finger paint, and together using all body parts, paint a “masterpiece”. Once complete and cleaned up, talk to your child about how they felt, what colors they used, and what your picture looks like. Most important, find some place in your house to showcase your work of art.
6.              Engage in fantasy games with your child. My son loves to make up games. His current favorites are called Carzoom, Dropsidy Whapsidy, and Train Around. Don’t be afraid to engage with the imagination and create your own games!
7.              Try a completely new meal together as a family.
8.              Together, come up with as many ideas for a Saturday morning as you possibly can think of while delaying your judgment (so try not to put down any of the ideas). Then, plan and execute a Saturday morning adventure (breakfast at the local diner, swinging in the local park, followed by launching their favorite stuffed animal into outer space – or as far as they can get it…).
9.              Pick a room in your house to rearrange; sit in different chairs, and notice how the view has changed.
10.           Plant a small tree (it is also earth day this month) in your backyard and take a picture of it. Then, make a family pact to take photos each season.
11.           Come up with different ends to your favorite bedtime story. (In the great green room, there was a telephone and blue baboon and a picture of grandma jumping over the moon…).
12.           Pick up some kabob sticks at your local store, and put your children’s favorite foods on the stick. Then, add in some new foods and see if they will try it.
13.           When faced with a parenting problem, try to look at it in another way. For example, when my son wouldn’t eat cheese, I gave him “sprinkle cheese” and he was eating it by the handfuls. What is something else you can try?
14.           Find a color wheel on the internet. Go grocery shopping, and try to find food from the color wheel.
15.           Create a song from one of your favorite tunes. For example, imagine singing “cookie cookie, chocolate milk” as the title to the song to “Twinkle Twinkle little star”.
16.           Think about your favorite soundtrack as a child. Mine was Disco Mickey Mouse. Download it from iTunes and dance with your children.
17.           Together, think about all the things that can be created with water. Then, try to do something new with water (maybe create a river in the bathtub where the toy dinosaurs can live).
18.           Go through your closet and get rid of things you haven’t worn in the last year. Then, use those clothes as dress up clothes. Remember your old skirt could be your child’s superhero cape.
19.           Have a “silly” talent show, where each member of your family showcases a silly talent (holding a spoon on your nose, singing the abcs in a gibberish language).
20.           Before you throw anything in the garbage, think of another use for it with your children. Perhaps the baby food jars could act as spice holders or your cereal box could be the head of a robot you build!
21.           Think about something you used to love to do as a child and try it with your children. One of my favorite memories as a child was sitting in the Burger King parking lot with my mom, eating french fries in the car and talking about anything. Being the youngest of five, I was so grateful to have time alone to talk to her. Think about what you might do this week (and beyond!) to build creative memories with your children! And don't forget to take photos!

If you have any more ideas you would like to share, please post them in the comments section below.

Check out the following website for more creative ideas to try at home, in education, or at work! And don't forget to share what you did with the world!

***Photo courtesy of Rebecca Murak at Elmwood Franklin School

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