There are so many gorgeous toys on the market these days, it is hard not to get overwhelmed and almost all of them have some kind of educational value attached. But while these toys are brilliant for teaching our kids about the alphabet, counting, shape sorting, and many other needed skills, what happens to their inherent creativity?
How are we providing an opportunity for them to be creative?
As a mom of three little ones, 4 , 3 and 1 year old, I often find myself in a predicament of what to do with the kids. I started a blog last year to keep myself accountable and to share the crafts and activities I do with my kids. I am very happy to say that we are really enjoying our play times. The kids are like sponges and eagerly absorb almost everything I present them.
I feel that it is import to create a balance between our tech world and that of being creative, by getting down to basic play.
How can we encourage our little ones to explore and be creative?
Here are a few suggestions:
Get out the good old blank paper and crayons! I have discovered that I love to join the kids when coloring. I sit with them and doodle on my piece of paper, and it is very therapeutic.
The same goes for water paints. My 4 year old loves to paint and tries to draw things he loves, like monkeys, bananas, and clouds with rain coming out of them. I love hearing him tell me a story that goes with his drawings as he makes them. The key is not to force an image into their heads but just to give them the brush and let them at it.
My 2 year old likes to ditch the paint brush after a few minutes and get into “painting” with his fingers, not always on the paper either. He often uses himself as a canvas for paints and crayons. Sometimes when I’m changing a nappy on the baby he will get hold of the crayons and draw in “forbidden” places, you know the walls and even the floor!
I have since then made a DIY kids chalkboard for him to use and, frankly, chalk wipes off the walls way easier than crayons!
Other ideas for creativity and exploring involve gooey finger paints. My 12-month old loves this one — she can squish the paints and mix them up and if she happens to “eat” some, no big deal as they are made from flour, food coloring, and water!
You can try to introduce creative and sensory play with everyday things:
My favorite is colored rice and colored pasta noodles. I made the four base colors (blue, red, green, and yellow) and then introduced them one at a time for inspection. My 2 year old is more of the sensory type and loved running the grains through his fingers, whereas my 4 year old poured the rice from cup to cup. Again I did not show them any of these things, I just provided the opportunity.
For younger kids (mine was about 7 months old at the time), I love to pack a grass basket with all sorts of stuff — not always their toys but random things, the wooden spoon from the kitchen, a plastic bowl, a bit of ribbon, or her brothers wooden train track — and then let them unpack it, exploring the items one by one.
Activities and crafts can be used for “screen free time” as well, I am a total convenience parent and I do use the TV from time to time just to get five minutes to drink a hot cup of tea! Totally nothing to be ashamed of!