Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cultivating Creativity, Part 2

For me, creativity and play go hand in hand.  This is likely why, among the pile of books on my desk, there are titles like Playful Learning and Pray and Play Bible.  Almost any early childhood educator will tell you how important play is for children.  It helps them learn a whole host of things, it fosters their growth, and it nurtures their imagination.

Yet play isn't just for young kids.  I think it's just as important for kids of all ages--including adults.  That's because playing has a way of helping us tap into our creativity.  It helps us not take ourselves too seriously, and it encourages us to come up with solutions to "problems."   

I recently heard Sir Ken Robinson say something that relates to this.  He was giving a TED Talk, and during the talk he spoke about how much effort we put into preparing our kids for the future.  However, he said, we don't know what the future holds.  So the best thing we can do is help our kids think critically and be creative so that they are able to tackle whatever the future brings.  In the same TED Talk, he also said, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original."   I love that.

With all this in mind, when I came across an article in the Metro Lutheran called "Imagination Goes to Camp" it fit right in.  The article is written by Laura Mann and is about Leonardo's Basement, a nonprofit in Minneapolis, MN.

At Leonardo's Basement, the walls are lined with shelves full of all sorts of things kids can create stuff with...fabric, paint, building materials, sprockets.  Laura Mann describes it as a "colorful cacophony that invites kids to dig in and start experimenting."  She then poses the question, "In an environment like this, how could kids not be engaged?"

I think that's a good question.  And especially since I do not live in the metro area with immediate access to places like Leonardo's Basement and the Children's Museum, I think it's a good one to keep in mind.  For me, the question becomes: What can I do to foster learning right where I am?  How can I help cultivate creativity and imagination for myself and others?

After a quick scourge of some resources, here are some ideas that I found to do this:
  1. Read poetry.  In addition to Shel Silverstein's "Miss Sarah Silvia Synthia Stout," I love this humorous and rollicking poem from the book Blackberry Ink by Eve Merriam:   
                                                                                                                            Bella had a new umbrella
    Didn't want to lose it,
    So when she walked out
    in the rain
    She didn't ever use it.
    Her nose went sniff,
    Her shoes went squish,
    Her socks grew soggy,
    Her glasses got foggy,
    Her pockets filled with water
    And a little green froggy.
    All she could speak was a weak Kachoo!
    But Bella's umbrella
    Stayed nice and new. 

  2. Draw or paint.  And while you do, try hard to silence your inner critic!                         
  3. Play "Just-Imagine" Games.  These are great to do with kids, but also with yourself.  If you want to give it a shot, ask yourself what you would do if you didn't have to worry about limits on time, money, etc.  Then, ask yourself if any of the ideas you came up with could work, even within the constraints you do have.  I often do this with work-related issues, and it's sometimes surprising what you come up with.  For kids, creativity games, such as the "One Goes Back" game, help children learn more about themselves, including their preferences and reactions. In this game, you might ask:
    • "Suppose you were given these three objects (name the objects): Which one of the three would you give up if you had to give one back? Why? What could you do with the other two things? Could you use them together? How?"
    • The "Uses" game draws on children's ability to conjure up lots of unusual and unconventional uses for objects, such as a tin can, paper clip, or cardboard tube from a paper towel roll.  Lay out the object and then ask your kids what they can do with it.  Even better, come up with creative ways to use the object yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogging tips