Creative Play Helps
Every child is born with creative potential, but this potential may be
stifled if care is not taken to nurture and stimulate creativity.
Creativity shows one's uniqueness. It is the individual saying: "I
can be; I can do." Isn't this what we want for our children?
Creativity is the ability to see things in a new and unusual light, to see
problems that no one else may even realize exist, and then come up with
new, unusual, and effective solutions to these problems.
WAYS TO STRENGTHEN A
controls. Adults who constantly exert supervision and control
diminish the spontaneity and self-confidence that are essential to the
Inspire perseverance. All the creative
energy in the world is useless if the product is not seen through to
completion. Show appreciation for a child's efforts. Suppress the impulse
to accomplish tasks for children.
Tolerate the "offbeat." Let
children know that it is not always critical to have the
"correct" answer to the problem - that novel, innovative, and
unique approaches are valued as well.
Provide a creative atmosphere.
Creative materials should be available to the young child for his use.
Some of the basic equipment includes books, records, drawing materials,
objects to make sounds with, clay, and blocks. Toys for imagining: Supply
preschoolers with unstructured toys and materials. Provide the child with
toys that can become a variety of things. Be careful about discouraging
daydreaming. Daydreaming is really an imagery process. Some of what goes
on in the name of daydreaming is really problem solving.
Planning and problem-solving.
Encourage creative problem solving in a variety of ways. Teach a youngster
to look at alternatives, evaluate them, and then decide how to carry them
Offer - but do not pressure. Resist
the temptation to overcrowd children with organized activities in an
attempt to cultivate their creativity. Allow the child time to be alone to
develop the creativity that is innate in all of us.
Have the children create a "machine" piece by piece. Some
players become parts that move and make noise, while other players operate
the machine. Others can then guess what it is. Try making a lawnmower with
people as wheels, body, and handle, and have another player push it.
Everyone can join in the sound effects as it tackles the lawn. More good
objects to role play: eggbeater, record player, garbage disposal, toaster,
pencil sharpener, and water fountain.
Someone starts a story and each person adds a part.
CREATIVE DRAMATIC PLAY
One of the best ways children have to express themselves is through
creative dramatic play. Here they feel free to express their inner
feelings. It occurs daily in the lives of young children, as they
constantly imitate the people, animals, and machines in their world. It
helps them understand and deal with the world. Stimulate this spontaneous
kind of drama by providing simple props and encouragement.
Animal Cracker Game - Child
chooses one cracker; looks at it; then eats it. Then the child becomes
that animal for 1-2 minutes.
Read a story and then act it out.
A child can develop and express his or her
personality in his own way - pretending to be animals, snowflakes,
fairies, giants, snails, mice, etc.
Role playing family happenings, everyday activities such as a visit to the
doctor, store or bank, day care situations, etc., stimulates creative
thinking and is a good way to help children see the viewpoints of others,
help them explore their own feelings, and handle their emotions.
The following are some creative play activities that require the use of
large muscles and help in the development of those muscles:
Follow the Leader - The leader
child moves freely about. He or she may
imitate animals, hop, skip, or whatever. The others must follow the
leader and act as the leader does.
Guess What I Am? - Without saying a word, a child tries to act
movements of some object. Suggestions include an airplane making a
landing, a rooster strutting around the barnyard, a cement truck dumping
its load, a clock telling the time of day. The child may think up
things to do, or the teacher may whisper suggestions.
Building with Sand, Mud and Clay - Children use large muscles to
sand mounds with moats around them. Sand pies and sand forts can be
built in a sandbox, on a sand table, or at the beach. Children use mud
to make large structures. Clay is also used to create structures and
Ask open-ended questions: Show the
child a picture, then ask questions to stimulate and create a thinking
atmosphere, for example: What are the people in the picture doing? What
are the people saying? What would happen if ...?
Ask children to use their senses: Young
children may often have their creative talents stretched by asking them to
use their senses in an unusual way.
- Have children close their eyes and then
guess what you have placed in their hands - a piece of foam rubber, a
small rock, etc.
- Have children close their eyes and guess
at what they hear - use such sounds as shuffling cards, jingling
coins, rubbing sandpaper, ripping paper, etc.
Ask children about changes: One way
to help children to think more creatively is to ask them to change things
to make them the way they would like them to be, for example:
- What would taste better if it were
- What would be nicer if it were smaller?
- What would be more fun if it were
- What would be better if it were quieter?
- What would be happier if it were bigger?
- What could be more exciting if it went
Ask questions with lots of answers. Any
time you ask a child a question which requires a variety of answers, you
are aiding creative thinking skills. Here are some examples using the
concept of water:
- What are some of the uses of water?
- What floats in water?
- How does water help us?
- Why is cold water cold?
- What always stays underwater?
- What are the different colors that water
Other concepts: fire, sand, cars, smoke,
Ask "What would happen if..." questions. These questions
are fun to ask and allow the children to really use their imaginations.
Here are some:
- What would happen if all the trees in
the world were blue?
- What would happen if all the cars were
- What would happen if everybody wore the
- What would happen if you could fly?
- What would happen if no one cleaned the
Ask "In how many different
ways..." questions. These questions also extend a child's
- In how many different ways could a spoon
- In how many different ways could a
button be used?
- In how many different ways could a
string be used?
Reprinted with permission from the
National Network for Child Care -
NNCC. (1993). Creative play helps children grow. In M. Lopes (Ed.)
CareGiver News (October, p. 3). Amherst, MA: University of
Massachusetts Cooperative Extension.