Creativity and Kids with Anna Hamill
This is a guest blog post written by the wonderful Anna Hamill of AndHopeDesigns, all about being creative with your littles, enjoy!
“I want to save this for my craft.” My 3 year old has had about 5 opportunities to go to a toddler group between the day we moved to Northern Ireland and the day everything closed down. He has had very few chances to be creative in a [controlled] setting, and he loves the idea of doing a craft that has been prepared and planned out with a defined end result on a specific theme.
Of course, creativity doesn’t have to be prepared or planned, it does’t need to lead somewhere specific and doesn’t even need a theme. But when Joshua says he wants to save an empty cereal box or a egg carton for his craft, it is a craft he is expecting me to have planned out for him with an end result in mind. And if not, he has a specific type of craft in mind - one that involves copious amounts of glue, most like a pair of scissors and possibly some poster paint.
Small children thrive on creativity and love to be given opportunities to use their imagination. We often think of arts and crafts when we talk about creativity, but it includes so much more. Art of course, but also music, dance, imaginative play, role play and drama.
Creativity is an active process rather than a passive endeavour or just a result. We use children’s desire to be active and their thirst for creativity to get them engaged in activities. Here are a few examples of this.
Throughout nursery and primary school, teachers use a wide variety of activities tapping to all learning styles to teach a single concept.
When we teach children scripture, we sing a verse, chant it, shout it, clap it out, use actions… use creative ways for it to actively enter their memory and sit will more likely stay there.
To teach a Bible story to children, we use creative solutions to keep their attention. We use story boards, actions, building things that relate to the story, act out the story, do a craft. You’ll see this is toddler groups and Sunday school.
Creativity mixes play and serious in the most magical of ways. The great thing about it is that it can be done in solitude, but it comes alive in community when ideas are bounced off one another and one creative mind builds on another creative mind.
Here are a few ways to encourage creativity in small children:
Ask open ended questions. Let children use their imagination as they answer questions. Then praise children for unexpected answers. That’s not to say you should encourage complete nonsense as a response to a serious question, but children like to use what they know and add in some imagination, and this should be encouraged.
Make the most of being with others, and use interpersonal exchange. One creative mind building on another creative mind, remember? This also teaches kindness, valuing others and taking others opinions and ideas into account which is a hugely valuable skill.
Tolerate ambiguity. Even if something doesn’t make sense to you, that’s okay. Encourage experimentation and persistance. You don’t need to give a correct answer in response to their less accurate one. Oftentimes, there is no right answer when it comes to play though.
Model creative thinking and creative behaviour. Children learn from us in big and small ways.
In reality, while Joshua has missed out on a lot of what he considers to be creative outlets, he has had buckets of opportunities to be creative in ways that aren’t in a toddler group setting. Pretend play, building, making dens, playing the grass is lava, making race tracks, being silly, experimenting with water, coming up with ways to help, encourage and love others, planting things, helping to bake and even the dreaded poster paint (though I imagine he will have far more opportunities for that kind of mess when he goes to nursery next month!)
Anna is a mother of 4 young children aged 7, 6, 3 and 2, and a small creative business owner (www.andhopedesigns.com). She loves to come up with ideas to include the children in creativity and business ownership. Above all, she is passionate about the gospel having a tangible impact on all aspects of life. You can follow along with all things And Hope Designs on Instagram @andhopedesigns and Facebook (Facebook.com/andhopedesigns)