Most of our children’s rooms are brimming to the top with toys. However, what are the right toys to help develop their problem solving skills and nurture their creativity? Read on to find out more…
The dictionary defines creativity as “the use of imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work”.
Leave your toddler with some wooden blocks, or hand them some paper and sticky tape and you will see this very definition come to life. All children are inherently creative, but we as parents don’t often do enough to nurture this. We often fall into the trap of giving structure to their creativity through organized play, structured activities or formal instruction.
What we should be doing instead is playing with them using the right kind of toys and materials. Given the right stimulus, we will see our children hone their creative skills from a very early age.
However, do remember whatever tools you choose to use, the most important factor is you – the parent, and how you engage your child.
#1 Go old school
You don’t need expensive toys to encourage creativity in your child. If you are lost for ideas, think back to your own childhood and bring out utensils for them to bang on (to experiment with sounds) – torn newspapers, ice-cream sticks, cardboard boxes and loads of sticky tape.
You will suddenly find yourself in the middle of a dragon’s castle or on a space adventure with your child, where ordinary looking things would have been transformed into magical objects.
Of course, your child will take their cues from you, so remember to shed your inhibitions and let your imagination run wild.
#2 Stock up on art materials
Thick crayons, chunky paintbrushes, water-based colours and plenty of paper are just what you need to encourage lots of scribbling, free drawing and doodling. These allow the child to experiment and give him the freedom to explore and experiment with colours, shapes and textures.
Structured art work such as colouring within the lines and doing dot-to-dots hampers their creativity.
When I was first told to write an article on this topic, I was slightly taken aback. Truth be told, I believe ANY toy has the ability to encourage creativity in young children. Apart from your typical LEGO and Play-doh “creative stimulation” toys, almost anything and everything can be just as stimulating if not more!
#3 Blocks, blocks and more blocks
Wooden blocks and lego blocks (without an instruction manual) are the best things you can give your child to play with. Kids love blocks – stack them together and it could be a plane, an ice cream truck, a zombie, or a princess.
Never question what they have made, but go along with your child’s imagination. In fact get in there and make your own block wonders with them.
#4 A play-kitchen is a must
Kids love the act of preparing a meal and serving it to you. They watch the adults in the house do it, and love this role play.
Make matching chef hats for yourself and your child and get cooking. You don’t really need a fancy play-kitchen, a basic one with plenty of pots and pans, some wooden fruits and vegetables and basic cutlery should be just fine.
#5 Cleaning toys
They may not want to do household chores when they get older, but the little ones love to mop, clean and dust. In fact the Montessori classrooms are always equipped with a broom, a dustpan anda mop in child-sizes.
What these toys, along with things like real-life gardening tools, allow your child to do is to pretend play, while actually learning a real life skill.
#6 Every house must have a dress-up box
The dress up box is like a magical box for the little ones. Open it up and you get transported to distant lands and different eras. Just a simple scarf tied like a skirt, or a stick used as a sword can allow our children to create new characters and explore a whole new persona of themselves.
Take time to assemble a dress-up box. It can have anything and everything from proper dress up outfits to your old clothes, to party props that you collect over a period of time.
#7 Experiment with puppets
Kids love puppets. Anything from a sock, to eyes and nose drawn on your finger can be a puppet. Kids love having control over their ability to create a whole different character and make them speak as they wish.
# 8 Puzzles galore
Puzzles are a must for every child. They allow the children to be methodical, organized and adopt a problem solving approach in order to achieve the creative end. They learn how to identify patterns and put things together.
#9 Get folding
Folding bits of scrap paper into houses, boats, dolls, and airplanes is a highly creative activity for the children (of course they can work their way up to origami later).
Besides encouraging creativity, it also teaches them hand-eye coordination.
All of the above are fun tools that can really engage children and allow them to explore and develop at their own pace. But remember, if you want your children to be innovative, you must foster creativity first.
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What toys did you get for your child to encourage creativity? Do share your thoughts with us by commenting below!
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