Play! Inspiring Creativity with Children in Isolation
Activities and Ideas for Expanding Imagination and Creativity with Children at Home
Many of us are now being required to stay at home due to COVID-19, and this is so challenging when you have young children at home. While many schools are switching to remote learning, I have noticed how anxious many parents are about assisting their children in their education while keeping them busy in isolation. I empathize with this stress, and that is why I wanted to share with you some resources to help make your time at home more enjoyable for you and your children!
Play is such an important aspect of early learning, and as a professional in child mental health, there is nothing that I emphasize more than creativity in a child’s development and emotional health. Creativity is how children learn about the world, and about themselves, while creating strong connections with others. Play is not only fun, but essential for children, and it can create wonderful quality time for you and your children. (Also, if you are having to work from home, you can initiate creativity exercises with your children to keep them busy while you work!)
Trisha Riche, an elementary school teacher and a tutor in art and academics, wrote a beautiful book highlighting the importance of play and creativity for children ages 6 – 9 entitled “Creativity for Kids: 75 Fun Activities to Promote Creative Thinking and Self-Expression”. In her book she highlights the importance of creativity and imagination and how important both are to a child’s development and wellbeing. I have linked her book in the resources below, along with websites that feature multiple creative activities you can practice with your children at home.
Getting Started with Creative Time
There are a few key things that you can do to start structuring regular creative time in your home:
Create a Specific Time During the Day to Create
This is particularly important while we are quarantined at home. Keeping a daily schedule is a great way to create normality during this turbulent time, and if you set aside an hour or so a day to play and create you can help create essential structure for you and your child.
2. Create a Space in Your Home for Creativity
Your creative space can be a space in your living room, backyard, playroom, bedroom, or even just a set tub full of materials that you pull out when it is time to play and create. Having a designated space will make your creative time with your children sacred and protected.
3. Avoid Judgment of Your Child’s Play/Creations
It is important not to criticize how they choose to play or create. Children are often discovering their world and who they are while they play and create, and emotional harm can occur if your child feels attacked or criticized. Affirmations are so essential during this time to inspire your children, and assist their growth.
“The way you are mixing those colors is so unique!”
“I love how much creativity you put into building that tower using those blocks!”
“Your dance moves are so original, can you show me how to do your dance?”
4. Use Your Child’s Interests to Guide their Creative Time
Ask your child what they like to do, and base your activities off of their response.
If you child is artistic, then you can create activities that are centered on art, such as drawing or painting if you have the materials. You can also use found materials around the home (such as cereal boxes, wrappers, tape, etc. and allow your child to create art using those pieces).
If your child loves music, then you can play music from your phone, computer, radio, etc. and allow your child to dance or move along to the beat of the music. You can even create instruments using found items (such as putting rice in empty cans and sealing with tape and aluminum foil/paper to create shakers).
5. Use Everyday Items
You do not have to use “traditional” creative materials when initiating activities with your children, such as toys, paint, pencils, paper, clay, instruments, etc. One of the best things you can do is provide everyday items your child might see or use outside of creative time, such as empty boxes, food containers, plates, cups, bowls, food items (beans, rice, etc.) Using everyday items will inspire your child to use their imagination to create new activities or items using items that are otherwise used for something else.
If you child is able to write, or create stories by drawing pictures, creating writing prompts is a great way to ignite your child’s imagination.
To create writing prompts, look up random photos on the internet, or in books/magazines, and ask your child to create a story based on any of the pictures that you show them utilizing either words, pictures, or acting out their story. You can also provide your child with magazines or other visual materials to create a collage based on the writing prompt!
Skies the Limit Sensory Jars (Taken from “Creativity for Kids: 75 Fun Activities to Promote Creative Thinking and Self-Expression”)
I absolutely love this idea of creating sensory jars from Trisha Riche’s book!
To create these, gather:
any empty plastic bottles or containers that you have available throughout your house
small items such as sequins, beads, beans, rice, pebbles, etc.
cooking oil and water
food coloring (optional)
Have your child fill their bottle halfway with cooking oil and food coloring if desired, then allow them to add any of the small items to their bottle that they would like. Fill half of the rest of the bottle with water (so there is still room for shaking) and screw the lid back on the bottle (glue to the bottle if desired).
Your child’s sensory bottle can then be used for play or a calming tool when anxiety rises! (You can also have your child connect to their senses by having them play with their bottle and identify what they are seeing, hearing, and feeling as they shake it)
Acting is a great way to connect your child to their imagination and inspire connection. To do this activity, gather random items from your home. Then, choose a subject, such as a pirate ship, and ask your child to utilize the items to recreate being on a pirate ship or being a pirate. Guide your child by asking them to imagine that they are on a pirate ship and ask them to identify what they can see, hear, taste, smell and touch – all using their imagination.
Other possible topics: tropical forest, shopping mall, museum, etc. (Get creative!)
Are there any other activities you enjoy to inspire creativity with your children? Share with me below! Let’s make this place a resource for parents of children of all ages
“Creativity for Kids: 75 Fun Activities to Promote Creative Thinking and Self-Expression” by Trisha Riche
50 Fun Activities for Kids: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/craft-ideas/how-to/g1389/diy-kids-activities/
50 Best Indoor Activities for Kids: https://www.itsalwaysautumn.com/best-indoor-kid-crafts-activities.html