Creativity is so important and it must be cultivated. The world is full of cookie cutter art where every child’s projects look the same. These craft projects are cute, but if we teach children all art should look exactly the same, what are we really saying to them? 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.
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.
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 back yard 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.
I remember creating games with my sister. I remember 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. Creating 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. Kids 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 nurture children who think on their own? Art in not offered in schools in Oklahoma until 5th grade, but creativity is formed in children by the age of 8. Creativity has to be nurtured earlier.
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 the awesome spray bottles we got from Oriental Trading Company, and they were able to express themselves in any way they wanted in their painting.
I was allowed to receive products from Oriental Trading Company in exchange for my honest opinions on the products, so I will be telling you about some things I got from them. 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 chose from to create with and allow them to choose what they will make.
This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company to provide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own.
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.
I got these collage materials from Oriental Trading Company 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 we got from Oriental. 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 Oriental had 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 or be how you want them to be. 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.
If everyone was forced to make buildings that looked the same, how would our cities look? 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.