Craft projects are cute, but if we teach children all art should look exactly the same, what are we really saying to them? We have to raise creative kids.
When I see a provider show pictures of their kid’s art and each piece looks perfect, I know young children didn’t make those projects on their own. I also know that when the provider or teacher fixed those pictures and made them each look perfect; they were telling those children they weren’t good enough. I know teachers would not do that on purpose, but they just don’t know.
How to raise creative kids
It makes me sad. It’s so common for caregivers to churn out project after project where they show kids what a craft should look like, for instance, a butterfly made of the child’s handprints, and they work with the kids until they each have a perfect butterfly. Someone has to be trying to raise creative kids if we are going to have adults that will create.
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Do you remember a time when you were young and your creativity was flowing? I can remember, for instance, making mud pie bird nests in the backyard with my sister.
We took plastic containers and filled them with mud we cultivated with the garden hose, and we added a bunch of “ingredients” and mixed and “cooked” them over a pile of rocks we called the stove. After a few days, we would dump out the pies and they looked just like bird’s nests to us, so we started a bird nest factory.
Creative thinking activities
I remember creating games with my sister. And writing poetry in elementary school. I remember painting in my Mom’s college art class one evening. I remember making up games with my sister like a catalog store where we took “phone calls” and took orders from catalogs for hours on end.
Creating brings LIFE into a child’s brain. It brings LIFE into a child’s heart. People were made to create. Even our Creator was creative. He gave each of us our own skills and talents.
When children are expressing their creativity, we should not squelch it. When they express their own visions, we should not correct them. Kids need to get messy. They need to think outside the coloring lines. Kids NEED to make their own ideas.
How, in a world full of cookie cutter ideas, can we raise creative kids who think on their own? Art is not offered in schools in Oklahoma until 5th grade, but creativity is formed in children by the age of 8. Creativity has to be fostered earlier if we want creative kids to turn into creative adults.
There are so many ways we can encourage kids to develop the creativity inside them. One great way is by letting them get MESSY. I know it’s a pain, but kids NEED to be able to experience art mediums and other messy experiences.
This stimulates their sensory development and forms connections in their brains that are pathways for future knowledge. Playdough, mud, paint, and all kinds of messy play are great for kids to learn from. Let them use these mediums in all different ways.
For instance, we hung this paper on the fence and let the kids spray liquid watercolors on the paper however they wanted. This was a group project and they learned cooperation in sharing the paints and places to paint, they developed fine motor skills from spray bottles and they were able to express themselves in any way they wanted in their painting.
Another great thing you can do with kids is when you do art with them, make it open-ended. Don’t show the kids what you expect them to produce, but rather, show them what they can choose from to create with and allow them to choose what they will make.
Creative child care
You will love seeing their eyes light up when they are presented with a table full of things they can use however they wish. Watch them as they think through what they are going to make and see the pride in their eyes as they make something THEY love and tell you all about it. That’s how you raise creative kids.
I got these collage materials and placed them all over the table. The kids were able to choose between pieces of regular construction paper or geometric and bug-shaped cut outs.
Adding in the cut out shapes helped the kids have more choices in what product they wanted to produce. We used animal foam stickers, which the kids loved! The stickers were easy enough for the kids to peel the backs off of because they were made from the thicker foam, and of course, kids LOVE animals.
Some kids used 2 stickers, some used 20, according to their tastes, and they were developing fine motor skills throughout the collage project.
I also chose glittery pom poms, the kids LOVED these. They were excited they were sparkly and they were perfect for the kids to hold onto. I added crayons to the table for them to choose from and glue, as well as glitter glue pens.
Children were able to draw with the pens or use them to stick their pom poms to the paper. They loved the bright colors of the glitter glue pens and they were easy for them to use, but I didn’t like that the glue took so long to dry. They had to wait two days before they could take them home because that’s how long it took for the glue to dry.
Another way to foster creativity is by following children’s interests. My kids LOVE to make rainbows, so when I saw that rainbow crayons, I knew that would be right up their alley. They loved making the multicolored crayons dance and sing across the pages of their papers. I enjoyed drawing with them as well.
They were able to create some lovely masterpieces with their new crayons. These crayons are great to offer as a part of choices kids can make when they create something.
It’s fine to do crafts with kids once in a while as it teaches them to follow directions and listen, but most of the time, your art should be open-ended and child-directed. This will give the kid confidence and allow them to express themselves and develop creativity.
Remember if you do crafts with kids, make sure you don’t correct how they chose to create the project or ever expect all the kid’s projects to look the same. This shows kids that their teacher is better at the project than them and they aren’t good enough. It’s super hard on their self-esteem. And it doesn’t help us raise creative kids.
If everyone was forced to make buildings that looked the same, how would our cities look? And if everyone only made one type of fashion, many of us would not enjoy wearing it. If everyone was forced to have the same haircut, the world would be a boring place.
Creativity drives us, it allows us to express ourselves, and it makes the world a beautiful, free, colorful place. Nurture that creativity in your kids and show them what’s inside of THEM has value too. We need to raise more creative kids!
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