Gifts that Spark Creativity in Kids

Gifts that Spark Creativity in Kids

We live in a magical* world in which a child is never far from another reason to receive presents from loved ones.

*There really should be a sarcasm font.

Opportunities abound for parents, aunts/uncles, and grandparents: birthdays, special occasions; even previously minor gifting holidays like Valentine’s Day and Easter have become ubiquitous for gifts in a child’s life. And, of course, let us not forget The Colossus Event of Gift Giving, Christmas.

For parents, what results is a wasteland of abandoned toys littering every nook and cranny of our homes, and children who have already moved on to requesting the next object of desire on a never-ending list.

Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? Well, let me tell you, as a parent, it can feel pretty bleak. Looking around at a home that is overtaken by children’s play things and realizing that you don’t remember seeing your child actually playing with most of the items.

The problem is, children don’t see the problem in this scenario. They will continue asking for the hot new toys, and the cycle.will.never.end. Whew, sorry, I started to black out there for a minute.

Friends, let’s break this cycle. Let’s stop buying fixed and rigid toys and electronics that offer no room for imagination and creativity. These types of toys are one-trick ponies; they’re often electronic in some way, such as a robotic or singing creature. They require pushing a button and watching.

Those are fun at first, but children quickly tire of these types of toys, which explains the ever-expanding piles of untouched toys.

Our goal here is not to parent-shame your choice of gifts for your children, but to encourage you to think about creativity when buying for your children. Feeling stuck? Here are some ideas for open-ended gifts that promote creativity in kids:

1- Instruments

Research shows that playing an instrument can benefit a child’s language and math skills, enhance brain function, and improve memory and concentration. Also, learning an instrument can boost confidence, promote a feeling of achievement, and improve discipline. Not to mention, playing an instrument is fun!

Even if your child doesn’t take formal lessons, just jamming with whatever instruments are around is good for creativity, and a good time. Grab some maracas and join in!

2- Building Toys

What parent hasn’t cursed the Lego gods after stepping on one of those devilish little guys? However, we all keep bringing them into our homes and spending exorbitant amounts on those tiny blocks because building is so creative and the possibilities are endless. Blocks of any kind are great for exercising those creative muscles; our favorites are Legos, wood blocks, and the big cardboard blocks.

Fort-building is also fun and beneficial for creativity and problem-solving. There are fort-building kits, or your could just go old-school with chairs, couch cushions, and sheets.

3- Imaginative Play

Imaginative play toys are vast in number, and offer even more possibilities: dress-up clothes, pretend tools and household items, tents, animal figurines – truly, the prospects are endless and there is something out there for every possible interest. Anything to spark their imaginations and encourage pretending.

4- Art Supplies

Is there anything more quintessentially creative than making art? Invest in your art supply stash and encourage your child’s creativity. Some options are paints, brushes, markers, pencils, pastels, canvases, play-doh, and clay, which is a favorite at our house. You could even go the sewing or knitting route.

You’ll never regret giving your child the capability to make their next great work of art. Personally, I would rather have a bigger art supply collection and fewer Shopkins.

5- Games

Games can be insidious because they’re so fun, you’re child won’t even realize he’s learning and growing his creativity. Some great options are Rory’s Story Cubes, Pictionary, and Kids on Stage. There are myriad options of games that promote creativity and, if you join in, togetherness.

6- Experiential Gifts 

Giving your child the gift of experience is a win/win situation: you get to spend time together and you’re not adding to the toy mountains in your home. Also, you’re child is getting a fun, and often new, experience. So, I guess that’s a win/win/win. 

Some great options are visiting your local children’s museum, zoo, or historical locale, or taking some fun lessons like rock-climbing or an art class. New experiences open a sea of possibilities.

Play is a wide-open world for children –  the possibilities are vast and creativity is perpetually expanded and encouraged. In this expansive universe, anything can be a plaything. My hope for my children is that they are never limited by reality; that they can look at anything and see the possibilities that their imaginations offer. Giving them gifts that promote creativity puts them on the right path.

What is your favorite creativity-promoting gift that you received as a child, or have given to a child in your life? Share in the comments below.

Jessica Beresh is a blogger and co-founder of MossyBrain. Along with her husband Ben, their 4 kids and their sweet puppy Charlie she resides in Broken Arrow OK. She is a 9 on the Enneagram, loves rainy days and can often be found sipping loves Chai (hot or iced).

Connect with her on Facebook or jess@mossybrain.com.

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6 Great Ways to Nurture Your Child’s Creative Genius

6 Great Ways to Nurture Your Child’s Creative Genius

We all want to see more creativity in our kids. There is nothing in this world that brings me more joy than hearing my child singing an original song while they are playing alone, or witnessing my children engrossed in a detailed and peculiar game of pretend. It’s like I can see those creative wheels in motion, and it is such a delight to watch. I try to do so without them noticing, because nothing stops a child in his creative tracks more than a mother hovering over him, beaming with pride. I have been known to hide around the corner and listen in. It’s not weird.

Here at MossyBrain, we subscribe to the idea that we are all born creative. Dr. George Land and Beth Jarman developed an experiment to test creative potential, measuring the ability to come up with innovative ideas to solving problems. They gave it to 1600 children between the ages of 4 and 5, and 98% tested in the genius category of imagination! Sadly, that percentage fell to 30% when the same children tested at the age of 10. At 15, only 12% landed in the genius category. Many believe our educational system is a large factor in the decline of creative thinking. For adults, that number is even sadder – 2%!

There is hope, my friends! We believe that creativity is like a muscle and the more we use it, the stronger it grows in us. As parents, we want to encourage their creative genius every step of the way! Perhaps through persistence and mindfulness, we can offset some of decline of creativity in our kids. Here are some ways to nurture that genius in your everyday life:

Make up songs with your child

It began before my child could even speak, much less sing. I would sing to him about whatever we were doing, or how I felt, or our environment. Experts say that narrating for your baby helps them develop language skills. I’m just taking it one step further. Let me be clear – these songs were not good. They were comically bad, but I just let the words flow. As your child grows, take turns making up verses. Belt it out, if you have the moxie. Encourage her to do the same and hopefully she won’t let insecurity or embarrassment hinder her expression.

Offer myriad opportunities to make art

Provide your children with a plethora of art supplies- paints (watercolor, tempura, biocolor, finger, activity), colored pencils, crayons, clay, chalk, even household items you don’t want anymore for recycled and figural art. The possibilities are endless! I will admit that you may have to set some boundaries and also be okay with a little mess. Let them think outside the traditional box of what “art” is. I’m sure they will surprise you with their genius!

Tell stories together

My children love to ask me to tell them a story they have never heard before. At first, that was a huge challenge for me. I felt nervous that I would get stuck or stumble, and unsettled that I didn’t already know the story, but the more I did it, the more comfortable I got with the ambivalence. I actually surprised myself with my storytelling ability and how my own creativity surfaced. Let’s give our kids the same opportunities to rise to the challenge.

Another take on this is what my children like to call, “Read me a book in your own special way.” They reserve this request for Ben because he is the master. He takes a picture book that they know and “reads” it in his “own special way,” aka makes up a whole new, absurd story in its place. My children LOVE this exercise; it is creative and gets the giggles flowing! Once you have had a turn, give them a shot to make you laugh!

Dance parties

Kids seem to be natural dancers; it bursts out of them at random times, with or without accompanying music. They don’t really give a hoot about “skill” or “talent” and it is the best thing to witness. There’s something to just letting go of your self-consciousness and cutting a rug. Lead by example!  Anything can be a dance; let your body move to the music. Rumi said, “Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

Make Believe

I don’t have to tell you that this is second nature to children, but it may be more of a challenge for you to play along. Start out by letting your child take the lead. Ask, “If we could be anywhere in the world, where would you want us to be?” or “Let’s pretend! Who do you want to be?” An open-ended question like this can reveal a child-led world of possibilities, and they will love that you want to play along. It’s kind of like improv; you know the rules: always agree, say Yes And! Have fun!

Problem Solve

Scavenger hunt, puzzles, tower building, and free play; these are just a few of the countless ways to encourage problem-solving. I think the key (speaking to myself here!) is to allow your child to lead. Often times, parents want to be knowledgeable, to teach, or even impress our children with our insight, but what happens when we ask questions, listen, and let our children lead? We give them opportunities to let that creative genius shine, and while they’re flexing those creative muscles, they’re learning new problem-solving skills at the same time.

What I love about engaging in creative play with your child is that these are incredible bonding opportunities. These activities facilitate togetherness, laughter, and fun. Let’s encourage their natural creative genius and, even better, join them in the process! Who knows? Maybe your child could teach you a thing or two along the way.

What are some other ways you nurture your children’s creative genius? Share them with us in the comments or email us- creation@mossybrain.com.

Jessica Beresh is a blogger and co-founder of MossyBrain. Along with her husband Ben, their 4 kids and their sweet puppy Charlie she resides in Broken Arrow OK. She is a 9 on the Enneagram, loves rainy days and drinking Chai in any form.

Connect with her on Facebook or jess@mossybrain.com.

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read more

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