Tips and Resources for Encouraging Creativity in Children

Tips for Encouraging Creativity in Children - Creative Play - Art for Children - How to encourage kids to be creative

5 Tips for Encouraging Creativity in Children

  1. Sit with your child on the floor and play for 5-10 minutes WITH them. I like to use this time to model out of the box ideas…or even silly ideas. You know your child, so make it something they WANT to do. Then say, “Now I need to go _______. You keep playing, and I will come back when I am done.” When you finish your task, check in on your child. It might be time to find something new to do, but they MIGHT be interacting in play. Let them be if they are having a good play time. I like to add encouragement, such as, “You are just having so much fun using your imagination.”

  2. Have open ended arts and crafts available. We love a good coloring book at our house and there is nothing wrong with that. BUT, your child also needs opportunities to create from scratch. This could be coloring a picture on a blank piece of paper or creating a masterpiece with miscellaneous craft supplies. Check out this post on Craft Items You Should Keep At Home.

  3. Have building toys available. This is one of my favorites, because I have loved seeing growth take place in my own daughter. Again, sit with your child and build along side him or her. Model how you create a structure. Then step back. If your child is having a hard time coming up with a great idea, give him some ideas. Some of my favorites are: build a playground for your babies (jumbo blocks), build a house for (insert favorite character), or build a town. After giving ideas, a lot of times your child’s imagination will start to take over.

  4. Have open ended toys that encourage pretend play. Some examples would be dress up clothes, play kitchen, play food items, baby dolls, baby doll strollers, plastic animal figurines, fort building kit or materials, doctor kits, blocks, train sets, and, of course my favorite, sensory bins.

  5. One of the most important ways to encourage creativity in your little one is to STEP BACK. Give your child some space. This might be painful. This might take some time, but that is the main way your child is going to learn to PLAY and CREATE on their own. Don’t you want that for your child?

Resources for Encouraging Creativity in Children

**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a SMALL commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

10 Independent Activities for 4 Year Olds

A four year old is old enough to have independent activities and play time. While I LOVE to encourage just good ole’ play time, we all have those moments that need structure. That is why I always have activities on hand for my four year old daughter. These are activities she can get out all on her own, play with on her own, and clean up on her own.

Before I jump in to some of our favorite activities, I think it is important to emphasize that these are supposed to be INDEPENDENT. That means that you, as the parent, need to step back and let your child be in control of how they want to play and how long they want to play with that specific activity. Of course, you will probably have to model how to go about threading a pipe cleaner with beads if your child has never done that. I’m not saying you should not help them figure out what they are doing. What I’m saying is that and independent activity is supposed to encourage INDEPENDENCE!

Enough of the rambling, here we go…

**Most items are linked bellow.**

Bead Threading on Pipe Cleaners

This is a great activity for fine motor skill practice, and I PROMISE it will keep your four year old busy for a good 20-30 minutes! All you need are these beads and these pipe cleaners.

*Make sure little beads are kept away from baby hands (you know they will stick them straight in their little mouths)!*

Lacing Cards

Lacing cards are also a great activity that four year olds should be able to do on their own. It might not be perfect, but you are encouraging an independent activity. You can get all kinds of lacing cards on Amazon, but this is my personal favorite (these might make it on our Christmas List)!

Wiki Sticks

Wiki Stick are great for your little creative one. There are endless possibilities.

Pipe Cleaners and Wiffle Balls

Pipe Cleaners and Wiffle Balls are a great alternative for a creative building activity. Tell your kiddos to thread, connect, and build!

No Mess Markers

These Crayola Wonder Sets are amazing! You don’t have to worry about finding marker stains or cleaning up a mess. Someone recently gifted us the Melissa and Doug version of these, and we love them as well. These are perfect for traveling also.

Magna Doodle

My four year old loves the freedom of a magna doodle. There are no rules about where she can use it…she can even use it in her bed! This one is also great for travel.

Magnetic Play Set

So I normally pick these up in the dollar isle at Target, but here is a link to one on Amazon. It is still a good price, and I think would hold the attention of a silly four year old for a while.

Boogie Board

This is a lot like the Magna Doodle but less bulky! For the longest time, every time I sat down to meal plan and make a grocery list, my daughter would grab her boogie board to make her own grocery list. She would draw pictures of things she wanted to get at the store.

Grab & Go Play Packs

I normally pick these up in the Target dollar section also. But here is a link to a set of 15 (5 of 3 different books). This would be great for party favors or to add into Birthday gifts. And I’m sure your special four year old would not mind repeating some of the packs either.

Art Sets (Color By Number)

My four year old loves any type of princess coloring set, but she especially loves color by number sets. She will go back to the same set time after time for months.

Sticker Books

We get these from my Mother-In-Law’s gift shop in MS. You can order from Amazon, find at Target, or any local store with gifts.

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**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a SMALL commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

Playdough Recipe

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One of our favorite things to do is to play with playdough.  We always have plenty of store bought on hand, but we LOVE to make our own.  I actually like our homemade version better than the store bought, so here is the recipe:

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What You Need:

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  • 1 packet of Jello
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Cream of Tartar (this time I only had 1 1/2 tbsp, but that worked just fine)

What You Do:

This is very simple.  First, mix all ingredients into a saucepan. Second, stir your mixture over medium heat until a ball of playdough forms (takes about 5 minutes).  Let the playdough cool.  Kneed playdough with extra flour until it is no longer sticky. And, lastly, have fun playing!

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If you need ideas for how to play with playdough, check out this post! As always, thanks for reading!

Kindle Fire Kids Edition with Freetime Unlimited Review

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I have been wanting to write a post about kids and screen time for a while now, and then follow up with a post about how much we love our Kindle Fire Kids Edition with Freetime Unlimited. But, in honor of Amazon Prime day, I decided to go ahead and write about how much we love our Kindle Fire Kids Edition.

Kindle Fire Kids Edition

Picture is linked to product.   Original Price $100       Prime Day Price $70

Picture is linked to product.   Original Price $100       Prime Day Price $70

Picture is linked to product. Original Price $130        Prime Day Price $90

Picture is linked to product. Original Price $130        Prime Day Price $90

Picture is linked to product. Not Included in Prime Day   

Picture is linked to product. Not Included in Prime Day

 

The Kindle Fire Kids Edition comes with a year subscription to Freetime Unlimited, a wonderful case for protection from those precious little ones, AND a two year warranty...Really, we started having a problem with ours charging, and Amazon replaced it for us! The Kindle Fire Kids Edition come in 7", 8" and 10". The bigger the screen, the better the resolution and more storage you get.  We have the 7, and are completely happy with it. The above pictures have links to each product.

**We did decide to add this Micro SD card to expand storage.**

Freetime Unlimited

Freetime is a subscription (one year included with purchase of Kindle Fire Kids Edition) to unlimited access to TONS of books, educational games, and tv shows. This is seriously so kid friendly, and you are able to personalize for your child.  We have ours set for the 3-5 year old age.  You can also set daily goals and time limits, block entertainment content until all daily educational goals are met, or even blog specific content you do not want your child exposed to. How cool is that? The ability to personalize makes this even more developmentally appropriate.

You actually do not have to have a Kindle Fire Kids Edition to have Freetime Unlimited.  Freetime Unlimited is actually compatible to many different devices including Fire, IOS, Android, Kindle, and even some Amazon Echo's

Click on these pictures to either buy a 1 year plan and save 40% or to try a 1 month FreeTime Unlimited.

Safety

As I stated earlier, there are so many ways to personalize your child's FreeTime Unlimited profile.  I absolutely love the safety that this brings to your child having access to a tablet.  This world is scary, friends.  Anything connected to the internet could potentially be very dangerous for our kids, but this feature adds another level of safety.

**Sidenote--Personalization aside, I think you should still keep a VERY close eye on what your child is doing on any tablet...no matter how safe it is.**

Books

There are SO MANY books included in the Freetime Unlimited Plan.  There is a huge variety of books ranging from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to Big Sister Dora! and Disney Princess books. I prefer to read actual books to my kids, but this is great for offering variety and especially when traveling. 

Educational Games

I think I was most impressed with the Educational Apps collection when we first bought the kids' kindle. There are several Daniel Tiger Apps, which we love...always great for character development. There are also lots of great Math and Reading apps.  And, of course, there are apps that, in my opinion, serve no purpose...but, used with discretion, these are not harmful.

Shows

While there are no Disney shows available in Freetime Unlimited, there are lots of PBS show and other favorites.  Some of our favorites are Daniel Tiger, Chloe's Closet, Team Umizoomi, and Mother Goose Club.

Traveling

Lastly, I just want to say how wonderful this has been when traveling.  We have traveled a good bit the last two years, and I am so thankful we have had this...for car rides and plane rides. And BONUS, you can connect headphones.  I suggest these.

Also, if you buy a Micro SD card, you can download shows, books, and apps to that so you can have access to them while away from WiFi.

ABC Mouse and Netflix

You can also exit out of the kid profile to access regular apps.  Don't worry, you have to have a passcode to do this.  I love that we can access ABC Mouse and Netflix from the main screen.  We have also downloaded shows on Netflix for travel days.

**You can actually set the profile to allow certain Apps (like ABC Mouse and Netflix) from your regular screen to show up in the FreeTime.  We prefer to keep them seperate, but this could be useful information for some of you.**

If you have been considering buying a Kindle Fire Kids Edition for your kids, take advantage of Prime Day.  You could give it now before your next summer trip, or you could save for a Birthday present or Christmas Present.  Or if you already have a tablet, you could just try out the FreeTime Unlimited free trial or 40% off the year long subscription.

**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

5 Stay At Home Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Some days at home fly by, and at the end of the day I honestly cannot tell you what we did all day.  BUT, some days at home drag...you know the days when you think it is lunch time but you look down at your watch to see it is only 9:00 am...  These are the days that I just need some go to activities.  Activities that fill the time in a productive way and get us through the day.

Today I plan to share with you the 5 activities we go back to ALL THE TIME.  These are not hard to set up, and offer lots of open ended playing/crafting.

Magna Tiles

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OK, I've mentioned these in so many of my posts (and I don't have that many!), but, seriously, we use these ALL THE TIME.  They are the perfect for preschoolers.  I think one of the reasons I like these so much is that this is something that Emma is able to be successful in.  They are so easy to build with. We normally just build on the floor, but there are lots of other options as well.  These tiles stick to the garage door, so they can easily become an outside activity. I saw on Instagram where someone cut up a cereal box in the shapes of these tiles and created a puzzle with them.  Here, you see that we built off of the fridge.  This just gave a little variety and 'newness' to an old activity.  

Rice Bin

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I talked about how much we love our rice bin in 5 Ideas for Sensory Fun.  This really is our go-to.  We love it.  Sometimes this only lasts for about five minutes, but sometimes Emma will play in the rice bin for an entire hour.  You can get all of the necessary materials at the dollar tree. All you need is a plastic tub, rice, measuring cups and spoons, ice trays, scoops, funnels, foam letters.  We especially love these handy scoopers from Learning Resources. Anything you want to add in is perfectly fine! 

Painting

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We paint at least once a week, if not multiple times a week.  This is just a good way to get our creative juices flowing.  Sometimes Emma does this while I am doing chores, but sometimes I sit down and paint with her.  She, of course, loves when I sit with her the best.  I'm always surprised by the conversations that take place when we are sitting next to each other creating.

Here are a few tips:

  • Offer 4-6 colors
  • Spread out a vinyl table cloth underneath
  • Set out one paint brush for each color paint
  • Give suggestions if they ask what they should paint, but don't give any instructions. Let this be there thing.
  • Always ask them about their painting in the end.  "Tell me about your painting!" "I love your painting. What's your favorite part?" "My favorite part is..."

Puzzles

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This one is not very open ended, but puzzles are a go-to for me when I need to do something and Emma is right under foot.  Puzzles normally distract her for at least 2 minutes...just kidding...they last longer than that.  We love all sorts of puzzles.  This is a great activity for fine motor skills, cognitive development, problem solving skills, and SELF ESTEEM.  Emma is always so PROUD when she works hard to figure out how a puzzle fits together.

**Side note-Emma did not enjoy puzzles for the longest time.  The ONLY way she became interested in them was from a game on the Kindle.  No kidding.  I think this helped her learn the concept of fitting the pieces together.  Once she mastered this on the tablet, we moved back to floor puzzles.  Now that is her first choice.  It just took a little work and encouragement to get there.**

Art Box

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I've shared about our Art Box on Instagram before (click here to follow if you don't already).  This is an easy concept.  I have a box of art supplies. Emma gets to use the art supplies however she wishes.  She always has a new idea.  My only rule when we have this out is that everything has to stay in one place, usually on the coffee table or kitchen table.

This is what is in the box:

  • construction paper
  • paper plates
  • scissors
  • glue
  • popsicle sticks
  • googly eyes
  • yarn
  • plastic straws
  • toilet paper rolls
  • foam sheets
  • anything random I feel like recycling

I hope this gives you some ideas for those days at home that are dragging. If your toddler or preschooler don't like some of these activities, pick something else.  Just always have at least five activities you can pull on on those long days.  It helps SO MUCH!

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Process Art for Preschoolers

Process art is a favorite activity around here...really any kind of art is a favorite.  But today we are talking about process art.  Process art is creating art without having an end 'product' in mind. It develops so many different skills.  I have seen first hand how process art just really encourages creativity in a preschooler, and that is my favorite part.  We live in a world where we are told how things should look, so I think teaching kids to be creative plays a huge role in teaching them to think for themselves. It is an opportunity for them to decide what they want their art to look like.

There are so many great ideas out there for different ways to incorporate process art.  Just do a quick pinterest or google search and you will immediately have tons of ideas at your fingertips. Our favorite recent process art experience gave us a full afternoon of fun.  Here are the details:

What you need:

  • butcher paper
  • paper plates (for paint)
  • paint (we only used 3 colors)
  • ice cream cones
  • forks
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What to do:

Set all materials out and let your child create.  The point of this is to not really give any instructions.  The only instruction I give is that the entire piece of paper needs to be filled. As you can see in the next picture, sometimes we start out really slow.

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After encouragement, Emma almost always gets really involved in the 'process'. She really enjoyed this out of the box process art experience.  I really enjoyed watching her creative process come to life. 

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I really encourage you to set up a process art experience for your kiddos.  This was a great afternoon activity that we all enjoyed. 

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Chores for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Sometimes it is so easy to get bogged down in the day to day life with young children, and I forget the big picture.  The big picture for me is to first and foremost teach my children about the love Jesus has for us. Hands down, that is the most important.  After that, though, I think it is so important to raise our kids in a way that they can be successful adults one day. I think learning responsibility, even at an early age, can play a HUGE role in their future success.

I’ve always loved the ‘don’t do for others what they can do for themselves’ mentality when it comes to teaching children.  Sure, the socks might not get folded together exactly how I would like, but does that really matter? Is there really any eternal value in what socks look like folded? Absolutely not, but there IS eternal value in teaching our children how to function in this world and how to be responsible human beings.

Chores not only teach children to be responsible, but chores also teach children how to contribute to a group, in this case, a family unit.  It is important to teach our children that life is not about them. Requiring children to contribute to the family helps teach them to see life beyond themselves. Let’s not even mention how this prepares them for future jobs!

I personally think that it is never too early to start implementing chores into your child’s life. I do think it is important to have age appropriate chores and age appropriate expectations.  It is important to have chores your children can be successful in. You want this to be a positive experience! So, here are some chore ideas for you to teach your children.  Remember, every child is different, so tailor each child’s responsibilities to what you believe is appropriate.

Chores for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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  1. Unload the dishwasher--I recommend starting with the utensils.
    **Let's get some math practice in with SORTING!

  2. Match socks--as they get older, have them actually fold the socks.

  3. Fold rags and towels--This will not get done perfectly, so keep the big picture in mind.

  4. Put laundry away

  5. Make bed

  6. Clear place at table

  7. Wipe table off

  8. Dust

  9. Help Sweep--I have Emma hold the dust pan.

  10. Pick up toys

  11. Pick up dirty clothes

  12. Wipe down bathtub

  13. Wipe off bathroom counter

  14. Help vacuum--Emma likes to hold the cord for us while we vacuum.  She also has a play vacuum that she uses to *help* vacuum.

  15. Clean up messes--I think it is really important to not stress when children make a mess.  We don't want to teach them to get upset if they make a mess.  Instead, let's teach them to stay calm and clean up a mess they have made.

I hope these ideas inspire you to come up with different ways to have your young children contribute to your household.  I know that it can be frustrating sometimes to not have things done exactly as you like, so try to keep the big picture in mind!

10 Jump Rope Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

My preschooler LOVES jump ropes.  She is not yet able to actually use the jump rope as an actual jump rope, so we improvise to still get in some jump rope fun...it also doesn’t hurt to get all of that extra energy out!  You can purchase a jump rope at the dollar store, so these 10 activities are very budget friendly!

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  1. Lay the jump rope straight on the ground and walk right next to it like you would walk on a balance beam.

  2. Practice jumping over the jump rope with both feet off the ground.

  3. Roll dice (you can get foam dice at the dollar store) and jump that many times.  Since most toddlers and preschoolers don’t know how to actually jump, just have them swing the rope from front to back and jump up and down.

  4. Make shapes with the jump rope. Show your child how to make the shape, and then have your child make the shape by themselves.

  5. Stand away from your child and twirl around with the jump rope. Have your child jump over the rope when it comes in front of them.  Most of you will have to swing the rope extremely slow. This one might take a while to learn.

  6. Practice hopping over the jump rope on one foot.

  7. Lay the jump rope out in a swirl or another crazy shape and have kids follow the path.

  8. Practice jumping backwards over the jump rope on the ground.

  9. Lay the jump rope straight to create a line and bounce a ball back and forth over the line.

  10. Practice turning the jump rope together.

If you don’t have a jump rope for your toddler or preschooler, I highly recommend you buy one.  There are endless possibilities to all the fun you can offer your child with a jump rope!