Last Updated May 28th, 2019

6 Ways To Encourage Your Children’s Creativity Over The Summer

6 Ways To Encourage Your Children's Creativity Over The Summer

Everyone admires a child’s creativity. It’s amazing seeing what they come up with, especially when they’re young and utterly uninhibited about expressing themselves. How can you encourage your children’s creativity over the summer?

Encouraging your children’s creativity is a great way to pull them away from electronic screens. These can be useful in coming up with ideas or learning a new skill, however. My kids love looking up how-to videos on things they want to learn to do, for example.

The other key is to have plenty of supplies waiting for them, of whichever sort your kids prefer. We have a craft cabinet which is full of paints, different types of paper, pens, crayons, crafting foam, and much more. They are also encouraged to use age appropriate tools.

1. Encourage them to read.

child reading

Reading is a great way to encourage the imagination, whether you’re helping your child learn to read or they’ve long since mastered it. Let your child pick the books he or she enjoys for the summer – time enough for required reading during the school year.

Take advantage of any reading programs in your area that may encourage your child. Many local libraries have summer reading programs. Barnes & Noble usually has a program over the summer where children in grades 1-6 can earn a free book by reading 8 books and writing the titles in a reading journal. The free book titles are listed on the reading journal.

Don’t push your child to read something they don’t want to over the summer, even if it means they read very little or at all. Do keep looking for what they want to read – even comic books have value as reading material.

2. Encourage them to make things.

kids painting

There are so many ways your children can use their imaginations while making things, and so many different toys that make it possible, from the long-popular Legos and K’Nex to programs such as Minecraft. You don’t want your kids to overdo it on the computer all summer, of course, but Minecraft and similar programs offer a great deal of flexibility and much less mess than toys which can be left on the floor.

Don’t forget traditional tools and materials as well. Once your kids are ready, they can learn to use a drill, screwdrivers, hammers, saws, and other such tools to make more challenging things.

For younger kids, you can check with your local hardware store, such as Home Depot, to see if they have any kids’ workshops available. Some do, some don’t. These are mostly geared toward younger children and are a great way for kids to learn some of the basics.

Arts and crafts are a good choice as well. You can get cheap crafting supplies at most dollar stores. Older kids and teens may want better quality supplies, of course, but younger kids can be so hard on them that cheaper markers and such can make a lot of sense.

3. Encourage them in music.

child guitar

Learning to play a musical instrument is good for kids in many ways. Let them choose the instrument they’d like to learn if at all possible – they will enjoy the lessons more this way.

Even if they don’t want to learn an instrument, you can encourage their enjoyment by having music play during the day. Turn on something they’ll enjoy – they might sing or dance along.

We keep a variety of musical instruments available. We have the inevitable recorders they learned to play at school, of course. But they can also play on a keyboard or a small harp.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to let kids make music. Even if they don’t want to sing, you can teach them how to blow across the top of a bottle to make sound.

If your kids are really into music, you may want to encourage them to learn about electronic music production. This could be a great creative outlet for them.

4. Encourage them to play outside.

sandbox

It may be hot outside in the summer, but your kids can play outdoors anyhow, just as you probably did. Have cold drinks and treats available so they can cool down as needed, but get them outside. Encourage them to catch bugs (at least the non-stinging sort), have water fights, climb trees and play with friends. Let them roam the neighborhood as they get old enough.

Bikes are a great way to get your kids out and exploring. My son love to go out riding in the wash near our house. I usually have him go with a friend, as there’s poor phone reception in that area. Usually, they’re so tired at then end that they text for a ride home, even though it’s less than a half mile back.

It is, admittedly, hard to get kids out when it’s miserably hot outside. You probably don’t want to leave the nice, cool house either. Just remember that playing outside in the evening is perfectly reasonable – plus you don’t have to worry about sunburn.

There are also lots of fun summer night activities you can do as a family. Get everyone out and have fun together!

5. Don’t overschedule them.

child dress mask

Don’t overschedule your children’s summer days. Give them time to just be themselves. Classes of various sorts can be good for your kids, but more important is that they have time to do whatever they want.

Free time is truly one of the best ways to encourage your children’s creativity, so long as you don’t let them sit in front of a screen the whole time. Let them be bored. Boredom is good. Kids who are bored are kids who will come up with something interesting to do.

This can be one of the more difficult things to avoid, as kids who are in activities are busy kids, and that means a nice break for parents. Also, many kids want to take fun classes over the summer, to learn things that are of interest to them.

You don’t have to deny them that. Just make sure that your children have a significant amount of time over the summer with nothing on their schedule. That downtime is healthy.

My personal suggestion for summer classes for kids includes swimming lessons. Even if they don’t have regular access to a pool outside of class, it’s a good idea. You never know when a friend will have a pool or you’ll have some other opportunity as a family to go swimming. It’s more fun when everyone knows how.

6. Spend time together as a family.

family climbing

You don’t have to do anything big, but do things as a family. Have game nights. Watch a movie together. Have a picnic. Go camping. Go on vacation. Have a water balloon fight. Read. Talk about things you’ve done and dreams you have. Big or little, do things together as a family.

You can also take on a family project for the summer. Work on a garden. Build a fort. Make it fun for everyone.

Volunteering over the summer can also be good. You don’t have to sign up for anything formal if you don’t want to – cleaning up the trash in a local park is always an option. But you can also see if any local retirement homes need volunteers, or animal rescues, or whatever you want to do. Get together and do something to make the world just a bit better.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 16th, 2017

Kid Gifts to Encourage Creativity

Kid Gifts to Encourage Creativity

Buying kid gifts is one of those things that can drive me up the wall. My kids are old enough to want a lot of things, and what they want keeps getting more and more expensive. That doesn’t mean they always get what they want – far from it – but it does make finding appropriate gifts within a budget challenging at times.

Kid gifts that encourage creativity are among my favorites. Kids enjoy movies and such, but creative toys really encourage them to explore. What works well varies quite a bit with age, of course.

One of the challenges can be that a lot of creative activities are messy. Painting, for example. My kids have a lot of supplies to allow them to create, and it does create a mess sometimes. But it means I know they’re having a good time expressing themselves.

Younger Kid Gifts

Magic CabinMagic Cabin isn’t itself a gift – it’s an online store. Their toys, however, are wonderful for encouraging kids to be creative. They have building toys, toys to encourage kids to play make believe, art supplies and so much more. It’s so much fun just looking at what they have.

HearthSongHearthSong is another online store I love to look at. They have wonderful creative play and outdoor play toys. Some of their exclusives look really amazing.

Cardboard Playhouse – One of the best gifts that my husband ever gave our kids didn’t cost any money at all, just time. He got a two layer cardboard box from Home Depot by having the night crew save it for him. He taped it closed on top, then cut appropriate doors and windows for a playhouse. This allowed the kids to color on it as they liked. The double thickness of cardboard meant that kids could safely climb on top.

If you like that idea but don’t want to cut one out, there are cardboard playhouses available at Amazon.

LEGO – When you’re talking about kids gifts that encourage creativity, you can’t skip LEGO. There are so many things kids can do with them. There are LEGO sets to go with just about anything your kids like. Personally, I’ve always loved the plain block sets where the kid gets to decide what they’re making. The sets where you’re supposed to make a particular item always struck me as a little limiting.

My Wall EaselMy Wall Easel by ALEX Toys is a great idea. Your kids can have fun drawing, and it doesn’t take up floor space. Kids can use a roll of paper or the chalkboard. The one problem I’ve always had with easels is the floor space they take, so this is great.

Perler Beads – It amazes me how long kids can sit and play with Perler beads. One year they even made homemade party favors with them for a Minecraft themed birthday party. Perler beads were perfect for that job.

These obviously require some adult interaction when the kids are too young to use an iron on their own. If you get more than one board, you can iron out a few at once rather than waiting for the kids to finish something.

Snap CircuitsSnap Circuits are one of the best toys we ever got for my son. My daughters played with them a little, but not like my son did. He was in second grade when we got them, and quickly mastered them. He has even done demonstrations at school with his Snap Circuits, and this is my quiet kid who hates to speak up in class.

If your kid ends up loving Snap Circuits, save on batteries and get the Battery Eliminator. It connects to the Snap Circuits set in place of the batteries. It plugs into the wall instead.

Garden Tools – Age appropriate garden tools are great for kids. They love to dig!

When possible, I’ve given my kids their own place to garden in the yard. They decide what to plant, if anything. They can just dig if they like. My oldest loved fairy gardens for a time when she was little. My youngest has a thing for marigolds. Whatever the kids do, it’s fun to just let them do it on their own.

Play Kitchen, Tool Bench, etc. – A play kitchen, tool bench or whatever suits your kids will encourage a lot of creative play. Children love to do things similar to what they see adults do.

If you want to get more realistic, go for an Easy Bake Oven or real cooking tools they can use in your kitchen. Real tools to make things are great as kids get older too.

Art SuppliesArt supplies of all sorts are ideal for encouraging creativity. We have a cabinet where the kids keep all their art supplies. Crayons, colored pencils, pens, paint, all kinds of paper, clay, play dough, glitter, craft foam – the list goes on and the cabinet gets cluttered. But that’s all part of the fun.

Lessons – What does your child want to learn? Art lessons, dance lessons, music lessons… what do they want to do? Learning how to do these things can help them quite a bit with their creativity, and makes great kid gifts. There are often good classes available locally.

Teen And Older Kid Gifts

As kids get older, they are so much harder to shop for. They also have a better idea of in which direction they want to direct their creativity. Some will make it difficult, however, and insist that they aren’t creative at all. Don’t believe them! Everyone can be creative; it’s just a matter of figuring out what type of creativity they enjoy.

YouTube videos can be great for helping teens improve their skills. There are lots of “how to” videos for just about anything your teen can imagine.

Art Supplies – Just because the kids are older doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy the right art supplies. My oldest daughter still loves to draw, so better quality colored pencils are good for her. My son is into steampunk, so supplies to work on that are better for him.

Drawing Tablet – Art on the computer may be more fun lots of kids, and a drawing tablet is a huge help. My oldest daughter has one, and she likes it. It’s a great tool for drawing on the computer.

Musical Instruments – While some musical instruments for kids could almost be considered instruments of torture, things improve as the kids get older. They get better at playing their instruments and may appreciate something of better quality.

Tools – As kids get older and reach their teenage years, real hand tools are definitely in order. Teach them to use the basics such as hammers, screwdrivers and glue guns. Then take it farther, depending on your own skills with tools and what you have available. A good set of tools that is all their own may serve them for life.

Soldering Kit – Take an interest in electronics up a notch from Snap Circuits and teach your child to solder. It’s also a useful skill for a teen who wants to make jewelry.

Camera – A decent quality camera all their own can be very encouraging to the older kid or teen interested in photography. It’s a creative skill that can be a lot of fun to practice. Younger kids enjoy this too, but a teen who enjoys photography can easily be encouraged. A cell phone camera is good enough for a lot of photos, but it’s not the same as having a camera that is just a camera.

Lessons – If your child has been taking lessons and enjoying them, keep them up. If there’s something they want to start, go for it.

Independent Outings – Make sure your older kids and teens get out and do things on their own. Gifts to encourage this could include movie tickets or gift cards to places they would like to go. They’ll be adults all too soon. They need to get used to acting independently so they’re ready to head off to college or career when the time comes. If they’re used to creative thinking and problem solving, so much the better.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 2nd, 2017

Encourage Your Child’s Creativity With Destination Imagination

Encourage Your Child's Creativity With Destination Imagination

Every school year, my kids talk about which clubs they want to join. My son does archery, which doesn’t start until later in the school year but is a lot of fun. My youngest daughter chose Destination Imagination this year. It’s a club I strongly recommend if you want to help your child be more creative. My oldest daughter has participated in Destination Imagination in years past, and I think it was a good boost to her creativity.

What Is Destination Imagination?

Destination Imagination is an organization that encourages kids to come up with creative solutions and apply them in a variety of ways. The kids are challenged to use a variety of skills. It’s not all technical, and it’s not all performance.

The challenges the kids choose from change from year to year. There are some basic types – fine arts, technical, scientific, structural, improvisational and service learning, as well as a challenge for younger kids. The details, however, are always different.

Choosing a fine arts challenge doesn’t mean your child won’t use their skills to build something. Choosing a scientific challenge doesn’t mean they won’t need to come up with a story to go with their presentation. Teams build multiple skills as they complete their challenges.

Then come the Instant Challenges. Your team won’t know what their Instant Challenge is until they walk into the room at the competition. They’re sworn to secrecy about the challenge until after the world competition is over. This is so that no team gets an advantage on the Instant Challenge by knowing what it is in advance. There are penalties for revealing what happened at an Instant Challenge after you’ve taken it. The revelation can impact more than your own team. Keeping the secret until after the World Competition is a huge deal, even if your team isn’t going that far.

Teams can practice Instant Challenges on their own before competitions, as old ones are released. These involve a lot of very quick thinking and planning. One of the most important things the kids have to show is teamwork – no leaving a team member out of the challenge.

Every school year, Destination Imagination puts out a variety of challenges for teams of children to work on. There are regional and state competitions, and an annual world competition for teams that make it that far.

Destination Imagination is run by volunteers, and that includes any team your children may join. Be prepared to volunteer, whether as a Team Manager, Appraiser at a competition, or other roles. Teams must provide a certain number of volunteers at competitions in order to participate. This can be difficult, especially if you have a small team, but it is an absolute requirement. It’s best to choose your volunteers as the team forms.

What Do Destination Imagination Teams Do?

The kids on the teams with Destination Imagination must do all their own work. Adults aren’t even supposed to give them ideas. The kids sign a statement at competitions saying that all work is their own – having an adult help can disqualify the team. Adults can teach kids skills needed, but the kids have to figure out what they need to learn and ask for it.

This is where the kids learn a lot about creative thinking. The solutions the kids come up with are amazing. They might build things out of old toys, cardboard boxes, or anything else they can figure out a use for. They might spin a tale that will keep everyone laughing.

There are some expenses you may need to help pay. Each challenge has a budget that the teams are not allowed to go over. Expenses must be tracked to prove that the team did not spend more than was allowed. This helps level the playing field. Keep your receipts, as they will be turned in.

Expect a scramble to get things done as competition time approaches. The kids will almost always seem to be running way, way behind, but somehow it comes together just in time for competition.

What Can Adults Do?

Adults can handle the required volunteer roles their kids need in order to compete. These roles may involve a couple training sessions. Appraisers have to learn how to grade team projects. That means at least one day of training done in person, usually at a reasonably local school. You’ll try out some of the old Instant Challenges with the other volunteers there so that you better understand what the kids go through. You’ll learn what to look for.

Being an appraiser is a lot of fun. They encourage silliness and silly hats. The idea is to make things comfortable for the kids as they present their ideas.

Adults can also be Team Managers. The role of the team manager is to keep the team on track, not to give ideas or help make anything. The team manager can store the team’s supplies, but there is a point at competition, where they aren’t allowed to help with so much as carrying supplies. They also cannot give guidance during the competition itself.

Being a Team Manager can be a heavy commitment. Teams will meet at least weekly as they make their projects, and may need extra meetings as competition approaches. The year I managed my oldest daughter’s team, I sometimes had them come over to my house to work. One student used my sewing machine to make a backdrop. Weekends get gobbled up as the team works hard to get everything done on time.

Adults are allowed to teach kids skills as well. If the kids on the team don’t know how to make something, they can find an appropriate adult to teach them the skill. The adult may not make the item for them. Adults may also make sure the team is using tools safely.

Overall, the entire process with Destination Imagination is a lot of fun. Everyone will probably be tired at the end of the competition day, but it should have been a good day overall. Whether your team makes it to the state competition or even World shouldn’t matter as much as what they’ve accomplished together.

I’d like to finish off with a TED Talk shared by the California Destination Imagination Facebook page. It’s about raising successful kids without overparenting. It goes well with DI’s rules.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 18th, 2014

7 Ways to Release Your Creativity

7 Ways to Release Your Creativity

Keeping up your creative side can be difficult at time when you run your own business. We all hit that slump sometimes where the ideas, of whatever sort we need, just don’t come as nicely. There are ways, however, that you can try to release your creativity when you’re feeling stuck, or just when you need a little boost.

1. Take a walk.

If you’re feeling stuck, taking a walk can be a big help. Get yourself away from working directly on your project and get some fresh air. Around the block, or a hike in nature if you can afford that much time away.

2. Play with play dough.

Fiddle around with play dough for a while. Don’t worry about what you’re making or if it relates to what you need to get done. Just have a little fun and get your mind off your work for a little.

3. Draw.

Draw anything. It doesn’t have to make sense or look good. Scribble if that helps you. Wendy Piersall has been doing one 15 minute art project a day, and has learned a lot about how she works and what she’d like to improve.

4. Write anything.

It doesn’t matter what you write, just write whatever comes to mind, even if it’s one word over and over.

4. Daydream.

Let your mind wander for a while. Trying to focus too long on your work can really kill your creativity. Take that mental break for a little while, even when you can’t get away.

5. Know what you want to do.

It’s easier to be creative if you know more or less what you want to end up with. It’s really hard to get anywhere when you haven’t defined an end point.

6. Look at problems a new way.

If you’re facing a problem, and a solution just isn’t coming to you, find a new way to look at it. This can be as simple as writing on paper something you’ve been working with on the computer, or solving a simpler version of the same problem and seeing if the simpler solution can help you reach the more difficult one.

7. Bounce ideas off someone else.

Talk out your challenges with someone. Even if they don’t really understand what you’re trying to do, it can help, and sometimes they’ll even have ideas that will get you moving in the right direction.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.