When Top Ender was young she had set ways in which she played and explored the world and whilst her verbal skills were very advanced, I wanted to help her to develop her creative and imaginative side so that she could explore the world in other ways. As every parent knows the want to help your children develop their skills as much as possible is deeply rooted, we want to make sure that our children have the same opportunities (and more) that we did. We want to pass on our knowledge and with things such as Reading and Maths Skills but I think that helping our Children with developing Creativity and Imagination skills isn't something that we think of as being able to be taught... but they can be!
I of course don't mean that you can teach your child to be Mozart (well maybe you can, but I think that a lot of talent like that is within a person to start with) but you can help them to develop skills that will help them make the most of their own natural talents and enjoy things of their own making. It's important that we do help these skills develop as in the future when children are learning problem solving they look at the problem using their creative and imaginative side and then can then solve the issue, and maybe even create a new solution in the process. Most of the ways in which you help develop the creative and imaginative side of children are things that everyone can do at home.
Play with blocks and beads. We love blocks because you can build a city, a house, a theme park, a robot, a tree, a castle, a car, a plane, a helicopter, a school, a computer, a bed, a climbing frame... and with beads you can make necklaces, bracelets, pictures basically anything that your heart desires! There are also added benefits of blocks and beads helping teach maths skills (sizes and shapes), helping develop fine motor skills and in the case of my two also help to increase co-operation as they learn to work together to build the scene they are after.
Play and make Music together. We are always singing or listening to music here at A Mothers Ramblings, we dance to music, we pretend to be animals to music, we learn to count in French or memorise our times tables. This is great because whilst it is developing the creativity of music and laying down the basics of musical composition it also helps develop other skills and improves the memory!
Books Reading creates a world for your child to be drawn into. It doesn't matter if they are story books, or non fiction both will get your children thinking about things outside of the life they lead. You can look at pictures and create stories from the scenes you can see or even write your own stories as Daddy and Top Ender do together. Even sitting together and telling each other stories is great, the story cubes that I reviewed in the past are perfect for younger family members who might need some help in coming up with plot lines.
Jigsaw puzzles are about using your mind to work out how something goes together, you probably don't even realise that you think about the shapes and how they fit together any more because it is second nature, but watch a child and you will see them turn jigsaw pieces this way and that way to see if they can make something work.
Board games are so plentiful these days, we have a number that require you to act out or create items, or to feel that you are part of another world. This is good for starting imagination as Children can take what they have learnt in the board game and expand upon it.
Word association games or games like Scrabble or Bananagrams are something that we all play a lot. Finding words associated with each other no matter how tenuous the link is great because it helps children to think outside of the box and other word games help develop spelling skills too.
Computer games and TV aren't as bad as people may think in my opinion. Some television shows help to allow the child more situations to develop their own stories from. Big Boy for It might be that they act out a TV show but give it a better ending or that a computer game gives them an idea for a real life game. As with everything moderation is key.
Art is great, not just looking at art and making up stories, or recreating the piece yourself, but making art and going through the process to come up with something which means something to the Artist. I am always amazed at the stories that Big Boy and Top Ender tell me that they have painted. And remember even if what they have created is more modern art in it's approach, as long as it pleases them then they are developing the creative and imaginative skills they will need.
Creative thinking about objects, it's how new inventions are come up with. If you child has an idea then work it out with them make it with them, let them see the process from start to finish. Would something in your home work better with a minor adaptation?
Imagination games such as cloud watching (where you can see if you can find shapes in the clouds that remind you of something like a Rabbit riding a motorcycle) or where you talk to each other in Simmish (or Gibberish and you have to work out what the other is saying from tone, gestures etc) or pretending to be Superheroes or dogs or anything that isn't normal everyday things. It helps a child to play these and to see there aren't limits to their world.
Just remember that whatever you do you should do it with them. Interact as much as possible, talk to them, tell them stories, sing songs, make sure that they tell you what they see and use descriptive words and feelings and pretty soon you and your children will be enjoying free range creativity and imagination.