Saturday, March 2, 2013

Imaginative Builders

We just started a new series of play dates called Imaginative Builders. It's once a month attempt to creat an environment that enhances the development of creativity and imagination... in kids... and in adults... at least, I need it to remember how to do it :)

"Creativity is the production of novel thoughts and solutions based on experience." The main idea is to use an item in a new and creative way. This time, we built a farm. The ducks in the pond are made from paper plates and colored with the finger paint by Camilla. And we made apple trees from apple, pretzels, peanut butter, marshmallow, and candies: Yummy Trees! 

Here are some ideas.

Household items.  A variety of textures, colors, and scents.   A plastic container that held cinnamon or vanilla will hold those scents for a long time. Shakers are always fun!  A clear plastic bottle with some oil, water, glitter, and coloring (with the lid securely glued on). Pine cones and leaves.  

Starting at about 18 months, toddlers have better hand-eye coordination. This is a good time to introduce finger paints (or pudding), crayons and chalk.  They can develop their creativity by using paste (water and flour), tearing, cutting, and manipulating play dough or shaving cream. 

Mix familiarity with novelty to keep these materials interesting.  Add toy cars or toy people to the shaving cream.  Small rolling pins, plastic cutlery and cookie cutters along with the play dough. Boxes and tubes of all shapes and sizes.  Figure out what can be done with the new additions. Include as many real things as safely possible. But be careful not to take over or over-direct their play. However, you can ask questions, label objects and be there to smile, admire and encourage the child’s play.
Fantasy play begins somewhere between 18 & 21 months of age.  Linked to creativity and problem-solving, larger vocabularies, and ability to be more flexible and adaptable. Avoid questions like, “What is it?” or “What color is that?” as these are questions with a specific answer and do not enhance creative thought.  Open-ended questions encourage children to think.  Open-ended questions rarely have one right answer.  Ask questions such as, “Why did you put that there?” or “What do you think will happen if…?”

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